Monthly Archives: May 2010

The Edge

The Edge… there is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over. – Hunter S. Thompson

My friend Pat posted that on his Facebook page.  I felt I was on the edge.  I was writing about a very difficult part of my life when I read this and felt if I looked to see if I could see over the edge, I may fall!  So this put things in prospective for me… maybe I am not as close to the edge as I thought.  Most once thought the Earth was flat and if someone expanded their boundaries, they ran the risk of falling off the Earth.  But isn’t life close to the edge so much more fun?  The view is so much better than most realize!

Life is more exciting to me when boundaries are challenged.  I start my day usually with a cup of Colombian coffee like a lot of Americans do….but I am drinking my Colombian coffee IN Colombia.  I buy my bread at a bakery instead of WalMart.  I have no need for a car so when I go anywhere, I usually walk and see things I would never notice if I were in a car.  I buy my vegetables at a farmer’s market not at a grocery store.  I have created for myself a healthier lifestyle.  As different as my life may be, life here is routine.  Going to the bakery, going to the farmer’s market, walking where I need to go is typical to me now.  I feel I have adapted.

My weakness living here is my lack of Spanish….that I have not adapted to.  I also live in an English bubble here.  My friends all speak English and I know just enough Spanish to get by.  I feel this is a weakness of most Americans.  We feel everyone should speak English.  I have friends that get upset because they have to press 1 for English and there is even an option to have services in Spanish in the U.S.  I feel this is a beauty of American life… LAND OF THE FREE!!  Everyone is free to speak their own language.  Many Americans do not realize that English is NOT the official language of the U.S.  There actually is no “official” language, just English is the most common.  Why do we have such an arrogant attitude that everyone should speak OUR language?  Why can’t American say, “it would be good for me to know another language”?

Beyond the benefit of knowing another language… people could learn about other cultures.  After my first visit, I was ashamed of how little I knew and understood about Colombia and the Latin culture.  Most Americans only think drugs, jungles and guerrillas.  Knowledge is not something to be afraid of.  I know with school, I learned what I needed to pass and get by.  Sometimes even using Cliff Notes instead of reading the books assigned.  Now I am older and learning is more difficult, I regret that I did not make more of an effort when I was young.  Sarah Palin running for vice-president referred to the country of Africa…. I bet she wishes she made more effort also!!  I do not feel Sarah and I are alone.

If we expand our horizons – know more learn more – then our world become larger.

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I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.

The title is the last two lines in the poem Invictus by William Ernest Henley.

How many of us are inspired by challenges?  I wish I was one to say YES I am inspired.  The truth is – challenges weigh me down.  I am inspired by the movie “Invitus” as I learn how Nelson Mandela overcame many challenges to be the great leader he was.  I am inspired how a country turned to cheer for a team that many once hated.  I am inspired to do what?  I see these inspirational movies and ask – what do I do?

How does one take the challenges of life and turn them into inspiration?

I was a victim in childhood.  Through childhood, despite this trauma, I was strong and overcame and even thrived.  As an adult, this childhood trauma haunts and weighs me down.  Mr. Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years.  When released, he became president of South Africa and not only influenced his country but the world.  I write my little blog hoping people enjoy, are entertained, sometimes informed and most of all… are inspired.

People hear my stories and say it sounds like a movie!  Well… I hope to start with readers on a blog….then maybe a book…. then maybe a movie!  I find it very difficult to find inspiration in myself, but somehow think I can inspire others.  I may never inspire myself, others, my country, the country that has adopted me or the world… but maybe I can start small and inspire myself to belive someone is reading this and saying… he tries his writing… maybe I can try _____!  Try do express yourself maybe we can inspire each other to influence maybe not THE whole world… but influence OUR world!

I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul. – William Ernest Henley 1875

I need to be master of my fate: I need to be captain of my soul.  But how do I begin? – Thomas Johnston – 2010

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;-) Just Read!! lol

I was a DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) Essay finalist back when I was in the 6th grade.  Debbie Wilson challenged creativity when she taught me English. Even at Southwest Mrs. Craig was tough on complacent writing.  I remember writing as one of the few things I enjoyed in school.  Somewhere along my course in life, I forgot the pleasure I once found in writing.

Anyone that reads my blog knows…I love movies!  Blogging is like many things in my life, the result of being inspired by a movie.  When I watched “Julie & Julia”, I thought…. I can do that!  Okay – I am not so foolish to think my ramblings will one day be a movie.  Like Julie, little things involving my blog excite me.  I am thrilled to share my movie inspired stories, my political opinions and even exposing the pains of my past including lost unrequited love and childhood trauma.  One scene Julie (referring to her new blog) screams, “I just got my first comment!” quickly followed by, “oh, it’s just my Mom!”  My few comments began with close friends, then from friends I had not seen in years and now I even have comments from strangers.  Each comment excites me because it is evidence someone read what I wrote.

Another Julie & Julia inspired idea was the paypal link on the blog.  She actually had donations!!  lol  Now I feel foolish for having put it on my blog.  One day some publisher may pay a large retainer for me to write a book using my paypal ink! lol  But when (and if) someone donates… that will excite me as well.

Here is where I will ask a favor – no I am not going to ask you to donate lol – I am going to ask if you have read this far….you must enjoy my blog a little.  I am going to ask that you subscribe to my blog and if you are not already on my facebook fan page to join my fan page .  The links to do any of these things is in the sidebar on the right.  Living with a disability and being in a state of early retirement – I need to feel I am accomplishing SOMETHING and writing is how I can still feel I offer something to society.  I mean come on… Britney Spears is famous and I think I am as talented a writer as she is a singer!!  lol  The reality in that statement is there are some people who do really like and enjoy her music… so I am looking for my audience.  So to maybe I can even ask more or too much…. maybe if you have continued reading to this point…. you may recommend my fan page and blog to your friends?

Some of the markers in this writing journey :

  • December 29, 2010 – Blog began
  • January 5, 2010 – First Comment
  • January 31, 2010 – 50 Visits In One Day
  • March 23, 2010 – First Movie Review
  • April 7, 2010 – First Stranger subscription
  • May 26, 2010 – Over 100 People “Read Innocence Taken” in 2 Days
  • May 27, 2010 – Record Day With 80 Visits in 1 Day!

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Funny How Falling Feels Like Flying…For a Little While!


The title is a line from a song in the movie “Crazy Heart”.

I love that line, “Funny how falling feels like flying….for a little while!”  How true is this?  Nothing like a country song to tap into how I often feel. Sometimes we know we are on our way down, but we pretend it is a roller-coaster and throw our arms up like we are flying.  I am in a roller-coaster cart with lose seat-belts.  I am reminded how my life was as a struggling college student with little money!


 

Me with Mom & Dad December 2009 – 212 pounds, 97 kgs

My decision to move to Colombia was largely based on the exchange rate with the U.S. dollar.  Roughly 2000 (COP) Colombian pesos = $1 (USD) U.S.Dollar.  I live next to the Catholic University of Colombia and places catering to students allows me to buy lunches at a lot of places for 2000 – 5000 COP – that is $1 to $2.50 for some really good meals.  I have a 1,400 square feet, 3 bedroom, 2 bath apartment for less than I paid to rent 1 bedroom and share a bathroom in Las Vegas.  I do not need to own a car, eliminating that expense.  So, with careful planning, I can live on my social security check alone comfortably.


 

January 26, 2010 – 207 pounds, 94 kgs

The key to that last statement was “careful planning”.  Since being in Bogotá, I have lost almost 4o pounds.  That is all well and good, but none of my clothes fit me anymore and I need new clothes.  I do not understand with the weight loss why my feet would be growing because my shoes are feeling too small, but at least my socks still fit properly!  So there were no plans to buy a new wardrobe.  I have used a corkscrew remover to poke hole in belts to hold my pants up.  Anyone knowing me knows clothes are important to me.


 

February 20, 2010 – 203 pounds, 92 kgs

Moving first from size 38 waist pants to 34, the belt just was not cutting it anymore.  I bought a pair of inexpensive jeans size 34.  I never thought I would be that size again.  Then a couple of months pass and the 34 waist is too large.  Here is where I started flying…. I bought a pair of Diesel jeans to mark the occasion of needing a size 32 waist.  Rent from the 2 unused bedrooms financed this idea.  I never expected to be in a size 34… so investing in size 32 waist seemed a safe move.  Along the way I did by some Exito store brand shirts (Exito is Colombia’s version of WalMart).  For most… the fact I was buying discount store brand shirts was evidence I was falling, not flying.  But I was so happy I kept my arms up enjoying the ride.


 

March 20, 2010 – 194 pounds, 88 kgs

One roommate moved out, now the other roommates were moving out at the end the next month and was faced with living on the “careful planned budget” and still needing clothes that fit.  The rent from the rooms was not much money because I do not pay a lot to start with but the extra helped.  I kept flying with my arms up, eating out most meals.  The meals are inexpensive I thought and can’t add up to much.  Then I noticed I have 1o days until payday and only 10,000 COP ($5.00) in the “carefully planned budget”.  It is amazing how far I stretched that 10,000 COP.  I was able to buy a pack of ham, a loaf of bread and splurged on a pack of cheese also.  I would have sandwiches if nothing else, I would not starve those 10 days.  5,000 of the 10,000 COP was in coins. The other day I had 1,200 in coins left and the ham was running out so I decided to buy eggs.  I found eggs here for 300 COP each and I was proud to get my 4 eggs.  It is a humbling experience counting eggs and counting the change to pay for them.


 

April 5, 2010 – In the Diesel Jeans! lol 185 pounds, 85 kgs

The exchange rate was not the only reason for wanting to move to Colombia, I wanted to learn to live and fit in living in a new culture.  The common misconception is that all Gringos have money.  I am proof that is not true.  Most Colombians live on carefully planned budgets and I will now be right along with them, counting my eggs, sometimes paying with coins; but I will learn to feel like I am flying….even if it is just for a little while!


 

May 10, 2010 – 178 pounds, 81 kgs

I am not worried about starving, but worried about being hungry.  There is a difference and someone wearing relatively new Diesel jeans cannot say they are starving.  I fired my last egg a couple of hours ago and my pay for the month will be available in the morning.  I survived. The feeling of flying has passed and now I see I am falling, but if I can eat 10 days on 10,000 (COP) I know the next month will be more carefully planned and I will just poke holes in my belts again.  I have another problem that is also a mixed blessing, the Diesel jeans are too big now!!

No photo at this time… But May 24,2010 – 175 pounds, 79 kgs

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Thanks

No blog has received so much attention as “Innocence Taken”!!  Thank you for reading it and for sharing your experiences, thoughts, and opinions.  With such a personal matter being exposed, I am thankful that people are reading it and showing me there was a benefit for me to have writen it.

Thanks again!!

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Innocence Taken

*Warning* – This is the most personal writing I have ever done.  I wanted to challenge myself as a writer to see how I would be able to present the subject.  It is very personal, and unlike my other stories… this one is not presented as entertainment.   This story involves the account of a very personal childhood sexual trauma and its life-long effects… proceed with caution if you are sensitive!  I have tried to be true to the subject and give comprehensive descriptions without ALL of the graphic details!  This post was very difficult for me to write and I could not write it in 1st person… I had to refer to myself as “the boy” as I wrote.  I hope this to be therapeutic for me to write about this topic for the fist time.   I hope people are able to see and  understand there are a lot of kids we never know have secrets and carry pain we may never understand.  It is a tough burden even as I have become an adult.

There was a boy.  A boy who many met and said, “He will either be a politician or a preacher”.  His mother had small suits for him even at age 5 giving him the look of a young politician or preacher.  He wore these suits to church with great pride.  This boy would meet regulars and strangers as the came into the church giving them a warm welcome.  For most, they may not have understood much of what he said because he had his own language due to a hearing issue, but that never slowed him at his mission – make everyone feel welcomed.  He was such a politician that he even would work the room giving the little old ladies kisses.  He was such a politician in that he had a motive with this strategy…. some of the old ladies would give him some gum as a reward.  If the gum had been money… he not doubt would be a U.S. Senator or may even President today!

This trusting and outgoing personality worked against him with one person… a young man.  When this boy was 5, this young man (I will call Mitchel – of course not his real name) was about 15.  Mitchel decided that the young boy was a suitable target.  There were many other young boys in the church, but this boy (now an adult) has no idea why he was chosen.  You may ask want was he chosen for… I can only say the boy was chosen to lose his childhood.

The boy’s mother had bought him a trench coat… no less a London Fog trench coat for a 5-year-old was quite styling in small town Mississippi in 1971.  This was the beginning of forced integration in Mississippi, but this historical event was not the event he remembers from 1971.  This boy remembers being led by his hand by Mitchel to a bathroom in the church.  The boy was confused why he was inside that bathroom with Mitchel, but soon the painful truth was found out.  Mitchel did not need the bathroom…. he needed a locked door and privacy.  This day is what the boy recounts as his very first memory of his life…. nothing before is remembered even as an adult.  He remembers his London Fog trench coat being removed and spread on the floor like a picnic blanket would.  The next action was Mitchel beginning to remove the young boys clothes.  The boy remembers being lain on his trench coat but not as picnic blanket, but as a bed.  Soon the boy saw Mitchel was undressing as well.  The naked boy could not run out without his clothes, what was he to do?

Mitchel was a son of a trusted (and wealthy) neighbor.  The boy relaxed…. this was some kind of game.  But then Mitchel joined the boy on the floor.  The boy had not even seen his father naked that he remembers, so seeing the pubic hair on a male body was also new and confusing.  Soon the boy felt the grip of Mitchel’s hands as he was lifted and laid on top of Mitchel, but not in a position to be told a story because all the boy saw as the private area of Mitchel that was used for peeing.  “Why was hair there?  Why is my face here?” the boy asked himself.  Then another new sensation, the boy felt his “tallywacker” taken inside the mouth of Mitchel.  Then as the boy looked up again he heard, “Kiss it”.  The boy had kissed little old ladies with mustaches and knew this was not worth any piece of gum and refused.  He felt a slap on his small ass that was equal to discipline and not a game and he gave Mitchel’s dick a kiss.  This time it was a simple lips against the dick with no open mouth.  The boy had of course never had an orgasm and could not explain what was happening and reported to Mitchel, “I have to pee.”  But the boy did not know what was happening to him.  Many do not know (I hope) that a child can have an orgasm without ejaculating and there is a pleasurable sensation.  “Do not tell anyone because you did not stop me, you are guilty also.”, the boy heard.  I did say earlier this time… because this story repeats itself over 8 years.  The boy kept the secret out of fear and shame.

The boy began to lose fear about the encounters with Mitchel, because Mitchel refered to the encounters as “the game”.  “Do you want to play the game?”, the boy would hear.  At some point… it had become a game… even the boy found pleasure in “the game”.  The last time was april 16, 1979.  This day is marked for a couple of reasons. Tornadoes were in the area and the boys’ family went to Mitchel’s parents house because they still had power.  Mitchel was away for college and not living at home at this time, but was home for a visit.  The boy knows the exact date as not only the date of his last encounter, but also the day his best friend’s father died.  After “the game” the boy came back into the room with all the adults and saw everyone crying.  GUILT stabbed the boy in the heart.  He thought all the crying was because they knew what he had been doing.  He felt guilt for what he had done, he felt guilt for being more concerned about his situation than his 11 year-old friend who had just lost his Dad, he felt guilt because “the game” was a game that he had grown to enjoy.  That is a lot of guilt for a 12-year old.

There are a lot of ways to cope and the boy’s mechanism was humor.  He became the class clown or at least tried.  At 17 the boy was a good-looking young man himself.  He was tall and thin with a swimmers build.  He had done some modeling that would give most an ego or sense of pride, but not this young man.  This young man was still the boy. The guilt ridden, class clown was now alone at university.  He had few friends to be the clown for and Mtv was new with limited videos to pass his time.  This is when a bottle of pills began to feel comfortable in his hands.  The thought of taking them all at once would pass.  The more times the bottle was held in his hands…. the longer he held them, the more he thought.  The thoughts were only of how to find relief.  The thoughts consumed him even when the bottle of pills was not in his hand.  This continued until that he was not able to set the pills down.  There was a bottle of cherry vodka at his apartment.  He knew when purchasing the vodka that he would want or need some flavor as his plan was to drink all of the bottle with the pills.

The vodka was removed from the freezer and the boy, now a young man, prepared a large glass of ice to pour the freezer cold vodka over.  He drank about 8 ounces before the first pill found its way to his lips.  He sobbed as he placed pill after pill and swallowed the cold vodka.  Once the last pill was placed in his mouth he forgot the glass and killed the remainder of the vodka straight from the bottle.  The boy was dead.  As he felt his stomach heaving, he had no idea his friend was with him.  He woke the next day feeling hung-over and not dead.  He prayed for death as he began to cry again uncontrollably.  The boy was dead… but the young man with A LOT of problems remained.  His friend asked why the young man had drunk so much.  The friend did not know or realize the pills had been in the mix.  But getting sick from drinking too much cherry vodka saved the young man.

The young man wept as he told his friend the story.  It was the first time he had told anyone.  The 3rd grade teacher did not understand why the boy would break into tears explaining why he had not done his homework.  She thought it was because of the guilt of not being a good student, but little did she know about the guilt the boy had.  She missed it!  So did everyone that laughed at the clown.  The family, the friends, the teacher and preachers all missed it.  Actually everyone missed it.  The boy was now a young man with a headache and a friend that knew his deepest secret.  The young man told his family.  He did not become a politician or a preacher!  The healing began …. but as I write this – the scar remains!

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500 Days Without Snow

This is the story of boy meets boy…but you should know up front….this is not a love story!  That is a variation of a line in the movie “500 Days of Summer”.  Some movies should NEVER be viewed on an airplane.  “Secondhand Lions” was a mistake to view on the plane…. but not for me.  I had my headphones on watching “Secondhand Lions” on a Delta cross-country flight and the passenger next to me did not have headphones.  As I watched the movie (plot spoiler if you have not seen “Secondhand Lions”) the Lion gets shot.  I am watching the movie and thoroughly enjoying it, when the passenger next to me taps me on the shoulder and asks with a tear in his eye, “Is the lion dead?”  The man was watching the movie with no audio and was moved to tears at the scene.  I watched “500 Days of Summer” on my return flight from Bogotá after ending a relationship there. For me… “500 Days of Summer” was another movie NOT to be viewed on a plane!

It is a great movie, do not get me wrong, but in “500 Days of Summer” even the main character’s name is Thomas; making it an even more personal experience for me.  But as the movie begins, viewers are warned….”This is not a love story”.  As I watch the movie, I am thinking this is a great love story!  I even see parallels in my own “love” story.  This movie did not speak to me about my recent Colombian break up, but the love I have for someone in Las Vegas and this current breakup was a reminder how difficult it will be for me to love someone as much as I do my ex in Vegas.  Then as the movie turns darker (not violent or horror), I see even more parallels.  I see a man named Thomas pining for his lover that does not return his love.  Even as we learn that she had been honest and up-front about the situation from the beginning, “I do not want anything serious” she had said.  I see Thomas in me – Thomas.  We root for Thomas to have his love and as the movie progresses and ends… we begin to understand why.  He remembers things only the way he wants to remember them… not as they ACTUALLY were.  For the real life Thomas…. he still does not know why and is crying on the airplane (and blogging) for the world to see his lonely pain of love rejected!

As the movie counts the 500 days with Summer (the girl’s name is Summer), I realize to look at my calendar.  As I do… I come to a painful truth… the day I started this blog was day 500 from the last time I saw my love… my ex.  It snowed that day , the last day I saw my love… my ex…in Las Vegas and it was a record-breaking snow.  As I cried on the airplane and even now as I watch again and again on dvd – some movies should not be viewed on an airplane.  The last time I saw my ex, it snowed … so for me… it has been 500 Days Without Snow.  My personal movie still has not had its happy ending, but I did begin by telling you…. “This is not a love story!”

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