Creatures who are unaware of all their faults and yet think the world of themselves.
Is it better to be confident or to be doubtful? As I roamed the schools of this new high school in a new state, a state that I didn’t grow up in. I observed those around me. I quickly became friends with two people. One was a homely girl and I don’t remember her name. I remember she was nerdy and a bit doughy. I don’t say this to be mean but just to emphasize the fact that she was what would be considered an “outcast” to any group which you would say is popular.
The second person I made friends with was a skinny Indian kid. Again I can’t remember this guys name but he was frail looking kid. He appeared to be studious and wore sweaters, in other words he was a nerd. Ha. Does this mean I was a nerd too? I’m not sure but it goes to say that when people aren’t part of mainstream “groups” that is to say jocks, rockers, preppies, etc, they tend to form up into their own groups. I think this speaks to our history as social animals. We don’t have big teeth or huge canines, we have a big brain and that’s what sets up apart. We form groups and together we can survive or our chances get better. I was always a shy kid a product of my environment as a child, keep quiet and it’s better for me not to be noticed.
When I was in NY I would walk up the street to Hillside Ave. from my aunts house and take the bus to school every day. I would have to buy tokens down at the train station every couple of weeks. I think it was $1 a ride which added up if you think twice a day and 5 times a week. The bus driver used to get a kick out of the fact that I would pay everyday. The other kids had passes because they lived in the area which was Floral Park. I lived in a different part of Queens (Hollis) but I was using another address to be able to attend Martin Van Buren High School. The reason for this was because the school I was supposed to attend was in Jamaica, Queens, I rougher part of town so to speak.
I had my walkman with me and I would go to school and get there early. I would walk in the auditorium and listen to music while I waited for that first bell. Depeche Mode, INXS. some of the bands whose music I would listen to. I have good memories of this time.
The phrase “no one cares” is one that always appear to have a negative connotation but I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately. Anytime you want to try something or have a new experience and you deprive yourself of this need. You need to remember this -no one cares- whether you do it or you don’t, the only person you need to satisfy is your self.
So why not? Try it out experience new adventures for yourself. Try new ways of doing things.
No one cares – when you know this and understand that only you are putting limitations on yourself. There is a freedom. There is a sign of relief that you should feel in your soul. Your mind can be a prison if you let it be, but we can rise above.
To say that Army life contrasts with civilian life doesn’t capture the vast difference between them. Basic training was as shock to the system even for me. We were yelled at and threatened. My hair was shaved off along with my mustache and it was a new me that looked back at me through the mirror. We were prodded thru like cattle through different stations as we were issued standard Army gear, uniform, boots, steel pot, canteen, etc. We received equipment including a ruck sack that included even a blanket, a shovel, wet weather gear. At this point in the journey I tried to stay low and just try to not get yelled at. We were dropping to do push ups for any offense that the drill sergeant deemed. My home in Los Angeles might have been on the moon at this point because I felt so far away from my family and my former life.
We were issued a small new testament version of the bible. I read it mostly every night where I prayed that I “would be delivered from the valley of death”. A sense of camaraderie was starting to develop among my platoon and the other recruits in the barracks. Real basic training hadn’t even started at this point unbeknownst to me.
The standard issue of equipment was done at a large scale and now we were broken down to smaller units. We were stuffed in cattle cars with all our new gear and brought into another part of Fort Knox. Another town if you would. It was here that basic training started.
The human tendency to ruminate on the past without consideration for the future. A bad joke played on us because all we have in the end is the now. The past doesn’t define you and at times it feels like you’re a prisoner to it, but it’s gone never to return.
When I got to Fort Knox, KY in the winter of ’88 I was full of wonder and excited for my future. I had enlisted in the United States Army. I was 18 years old and had joined the Army on a whim. You know those advertisements that the Army would send in the mail? The ones saying “We do more before 5am, than most people do all day”? yeah, that’s the one. Don’t ask me what I thought was so appealing about being up at 5am. I guess I wanted to belong to something & maybe learn some sort of skill on the way. I didn’t score very high on the Army aptitude test. There was no one to tell me that I should study. I just went in and took it.
When I got to Fort Knox it was late at night and it was cold and windy. I had a thin wind breaker on and I was cold as shit. What was I thinking coming from Los Angeles on a Greyhound bus across the country and didn’t even have a proper jacket. This would be the first lesson of many. Always be prepared and have with you what you will need. We didn’t sleep that night as they prodded us into WWII barracks, I was scared. I knew no one there, but I knew that I would be ok. I was waiting for the fun to start.
I’ve always liked books. The first books that I read with frequency were Dick & Jane, Encyclopedia Brown, and the Holy Bible. When I was young my parents would visit garage sales quite often. I found out early on that I could get my hands on some very good books. Some of the books probably didn’t have a kid of my age in mind as a reader.
What I’m trying to stress is that reading allowed me to enter worlds and experience events like I’d never experienced them before. I especially liked horror and the feeling of being scared. My father hated the genre and my mother loved it.
One of the books I picked up in a garage sale was The Demonologist a book about Ed & Lorraine Warren. I remember reading this book from cover to cover in 1 day. I couldn’t sleep all night because of the stories I read in there. I was terrified and looking back at it now I think it’s funny.
I was transported by the books that I read and I learned about other worlds, sometimes they were fantasy and other times they weren’t.
I went to live with my aunt in Queens, New York to finish out my senior year in high school. A hot New York summer was coming to an end as I made my way out of the plane at Kennedy airport. I called my aunt on the phone first speaking with my cousin Mario. “Is your mom home” I asked. My aunt and her husband Mario arrived to pick me up. I remember driving through the streets and the NY neighborhoods so strange and new to me.
I slept that first night in NY and in my dreams, my mother came to me. I felt her and could smell her…and her voice. She called out to me and I was happy. Life was good. I woke up then in a strange bed and a strange house. Wait I heard my mother call me downstairs and I knew it couldn’t really be her. For a millisecond I remembered what she sounded like because I heard her voice once again. It hit me then like a punch to the head, it was my aunt, she sounded exactly like my mom. I never noticed until then that their voices were identical and for a moment I paused.