Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Simple Joys of War...

It was a long ago Christmas. 1970 Vietnam to be exact. We were 18,000 miles from home and secluded in a bunker high atop Khe Sahn, just a few miles from the demilitarized zone and North Vietnam. We were Military Police leading convoys up and down QL1, the main "highway" west to east. It was only a lane and a half wide dirt road through mountains and valleys and elephant grass. At some points we were curling round a mountain pass with a 150 foot drop on one side and a sheer cliff upwards on the other.

We had no armored vehicles, no Humvees, nothing but an open jeep mounted with a machine gun. We didn't call them IED's but simply mines. Ambushes were commonplace; they usually hit the middle of the convoy trapping half on that narrow dirt road. We would have to go back to the truck that had been hit and push it off the cliff so we could continue. It was pretty tricky duty.

This day, in our sand bagged bunker, the incoming was non-stop while Charlie was trying to take out the airfield behind us. Every so often a short round would land near us and shake us to hell and back. The sandbags would tremble and dust would cover us from head to toe. We had built it solidly but a direct hit would have sent us all to the promised land.

The concussions were so constant that the ringing in our ears never stopped. We would wrap our arms around our chests so that the innards wouldn't shake out. But, like GI's and Cops and Firemen, when you're in a situation like that, you use humor to get you through. You laugh or cry but you have to choose one.

The names I will use are to protect the guilty, because none of us were innocent then. The gentleman I am referring to, Standish we'll call him, slept on a pillow full of marijuana. Everywhere he went, his pillow went, too. We didn't care as long as he took care of business, and he did. Never smoked it on duty as far as I knew.

So, with the calamity around us, with the walls shaking to beat hell, Standish decides to fill his pipe. Dust all around now mixing with the smoke we all started to catch a contact high. Then, of course, the pipe started moving around the bunker. There were 6 of us and only two had ever tried the stuff and one of those wasn't me. Up until then I was a straight arrow patriot.

Well, it wasn't long before the giggles started; the pot from the Golden Triangle was some very potent stuff I discovered. Then the giggles turned to hilarious laughter as the explosions continued. Booom! Boooom! Dust everywhere to the point we couldn't even see each other. But, boy, that pipe continued around.

Pretty soon we began to rate the explosions on a scale of 1-10. Whaammm! Uh, 7, no shit, that was only a 6! Laughing and choking and rolling on the dirt floor. It hurts we're laughing so hard. Boooom! Oh, shit, that was a definite 8, Jesus! That was waaay too close! Bullshit, man, I give it a 4, you're a wuss! The metal roof is shaking, the sandbags are shifting and we're 6 crazy people on a raft filled with pot. I think we just bilocated, all of us as a group!

We had constructed a toilet in the elephant grass about 50 yards from our bunker. It was a milk carton with a toilet seat we had stolen from the Cam Rahn airport. It was the only toilet seat in Khe Sahn. Through the dust and the smoke and the shaking roars, Bricker says he's got to go. Of course, we all stopped laughing long enough to look at him like an idiot. Ah, fuck, he says, I can't do it here!

Gathering himself as we started laughing at him, he low crawled out the hole into the night. It was silent for a few moments, Charlie deciding to take a coffee break, I guess, and then came a huge explosion that knocked us all to the floor. Fuckin' A! That was a 10 for sure, yelled Standish. Oronsky seconded that and we all lay there stunned but still giggling.

A scream like a banshee ripped through the night and we thought Bricker was a goner. No matter how hard we tried, we couldn't stop laughing, though! All of a sudden, through the hole comes Bricker, low crawling like a madman. His head was high, his neck outstretched, tendons taught and he had a deathly grimace on his face. His eyes were wide and he was covered with dirt, chunks of it sticking in his hair. There was even a shaft of elephant grass caught behind his ear and he was making these grunty little sounds with a growl that seemed to start deep in his throat. Spittle filled the corners of his mouth while tears ran rivers down his face.

Of course, we all stopped laughing for a moment; were far beyond sober but we took turns holding him till he calmed. We could find no injuries, no obvious trauma so we laid him down on his cot. He told us, voice shaking, just as he got 20 yards or so from our 'men's room', it took a direct hit, blowing the only toilet seat in Khe Sahn to hell. Ah, shit, I said, pass the pipe, we'll have to dig a trench like everyone else.

And that's how you survive war...

Friday, December 25, 2009

Terrors Past...

It's the Eve of Christmas Day and, with my family around me, I find myself reaching back to my past. Not of volition, not of choice but almost as if it's pulling me. I can't seem to escape it.

An astrologer said just yesterday, or the day before, I can't remember, not to fall into the trap that the past will hold as Saturn and Pluto square off in their dance. I vowed to follow, to think of the present and what the future might bring. But I've found myself defenseless to the lure of choices made long ago.

As the planets surround and connect with me natally it seems that I've lost all control. A conjunction here, a T-Square there and another just waiting in the wings. A trine and an inconjunct, another a square and the energies flash around in a fury. When one planet is touched, the rest are afire and spin in my head like a blur.

Back my heart reaches to times where I've hurt and caused my loved ones such pain. If I could only return and do it again would the pain in my soul would go away? But I can't and I know it and this causes such sorrow on a day when all hearts should be free.

That it hurts so deeply I can't sometimes breathe is a wonder to behold on it's own. I raise my eyes and pray for my soul, insistent that I was the cause for such heartache and that I was the cause for my own. The past is a terror that frightens me now and I've never been scared of a thing. I've marched into battle and into the darkness where my life has been there for the taking without thinking if it mattered at all.

But this is new, this past that haunts me and I cry to please be released. May the ache in my heart begone and the spirit of life be with me. I love my family so...

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A Chrismas Tale...

After the other day's rage, I find that the Pisces moon has brought me some needed solace. I wish I could write like Billy Joel in "We Didn't Start the Fire," but I can't. At least at the moment.

It has been one of those months that could be covered by "It's been the best of...and it's been the worst of." I am so thankful for all the new friends I have made, the new things I have read and the things that my Muse helped me to write. Actually, it's been a blockbuster of a month for those things.

I have learned about myself through some amazing experiences and I have been slapped silly by events that I don't wish to revisit. I have always wanted a spiritual Christmas and not a material one. This year I got my wish. First it was repairs to the truck that took away most of the Christmas presents we had planned to buy. Then, it was the Gas and Electric company who continued in their indomitable way by threatening a cutoff - erroneously I might add - followed by one of nature's most torturous visits; a major toothache for my wife, which took away the rest of what might have been a material Christmas.

But, in the positive column, my family is healthy - my wife, too, after some surgical dentistry this morning - and my pets are all fine. I got some free mood cards in the mail for stocking stuffers and though my Wii was blown away, there's still my birthday. I've been wanting the Wii for a couple of years but something always seems to come up. Well, I guess that's ok because it would have made a material Christmas for me. Now, a material birthday is something I could handle. Do you hear that, my Angels?

We have the Congress and the Senate but we also have a white Christmas with my family all together. We have the war in Afghanistan but we have...uh, there's nothing to compensate for that.

Pluto and Saturn are battling in the skies but they have no effect on us if we don't allow it. The Jupiter/Neptune conjunction can confuse us but I prefer to let it bring more of the beautiful spirituality we all need, while Chiron says, "Be healed."

After all, it's attitude that makes the difference in our lives as well as our reactions to events. When we surround ourselves, our friends and our family with White Light, it will be the most wonderful Christmas of all...No thanks to you, Lieberman.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Advocating Revolt...

After writing so many posts and talking about the things I've learned, I cannot let this slip by and keep it to myself..

Listening to the morning shows today, I believe that Mars may have taken hold of me as it begins to retrograde. The anger I haven't felt in so long is burning deep below the surface. And it has to do with our government, our democracy which is no longer "of the people, by the people and for the people." It has become "of some of the people, by some of the people and for some of the people." And this is the tragedy.

I listened to the pundits discuss the Health Care Bill with it's watered down consistency and wanted to cry. It was obvious to both sides, Democrats and Republicans alike (Oh, my God!) that the only winners in this one are the health care companies as a direct result of the lobbies.

What is happening here? I understand that it's been going on for a while now but it is definitely getting worse, way over the top. With the majority of the American people wanting the "government option," that was the first thing to go out the window. Let's thank God that the tanning salons will be taxed 10% while plastic surgery is left alone! I realize the media throws this out there just to poke and aggravate the electorate to upset us enough to throw things at the TV.

But it's so obviously deeper than that. The populace has no say anymore in anything that goes on in Washington. Big business and big lobbies have complete control. Why do we stand for this? Why don't we revolt and take back what used to be the greatest country in the world? Why are there so many starving in the world while we fight two ridiculous wars of attrition? It's so way over the top now.

I'll tell you why: because they've got us by the (fill in word) till we can't breathe, can't fight, can't survive, can't pursue the old American dream at all. The oil lobbies, the insurance lobbies and the wall street bimbos who give not an rat's ass for we the people have it all. We are out-gunned, out-moneyed and out sourced while we cry and whine about the predicament we're in. Helpless, hopeless and horrified we watch our lives hanging by the precipice until we think we can only hold on by our fingertips!

We need to do something and that something is not write letters. We need to act. We need to march, we need to all go to the offices of our government leaders. We need to show these half-assed legislators that we mean business!

We need to say that this is how much you get to get re-elected and you will only get additional contributions from individuals. We need to blow the lobbyists and special interests out of the process. I really hate to say this but who has more guns, the people or the insurance lobby? And I'm a pacifist. Not "lets write more emails" but "lets load our own ammunition."

It all has gone beyond the pale and our survival stands at stake. I'm a veteran of Vietnam, my life is compromised by my service and my very life hangs in the balance, but I'm ready to act. What about you?