Another semester finished.

My last post was over a month ago, and that was something I had been writing so that I could show some of my friends the blog.  Now it is time for a recap, hopefully a small one.

This was not just any semester, it was my last semester at Framingham State University, that will be a post.

    When the semester was starting I got to experience one of my favorite things, back to school season.  When back to school rolls around it allows me to reconnect to a set of memories in a tangible way.  I can always call them up when I want them, but they are best experienced when there is something to engage the senses.  The best part about back to school for me is the crayons.  I love crayons, Crayola crayons the most.  When back to school rolls around, there are rows and rows of crayons which are lined up on shelfs, and nifty pop up displays.

It makes me happy.  I love taking Liam to look at them.  The 24 pack is the best.  I have crayons all over the house, and yet I bought one and carried it around with me in my back pack all semester.  I would randomly break them out to scribble with if the semester was driving me crazy.  The most interesting note was when my friend Alex bit the tip off the orange one.  It is a long story about him making a joke about Marines (he is a Marine) and us electing him Vice President of the university Veteran’s club.  It was a fun time, and maybe one day I will tell it, but the point here is the crayons.  They saved us on one occasion because the veterans were supposed to participate in an event and we did not have anything ready for the event, so we colored.

Full on coloring and finger painting.  Good times!  The reason I love the crayons and back to school though is because of when I used to get to go back to school shopping with my mother.  Mom would take us to one of the office supply places in Hixson and we would go through the aisles with those pieces of paper that the store kept for every school and every grade, and we would pick out what we needed.  My first semester of college (age 27) I went shopping with my VA book stipend for school supplies.  I encountered a bit of sticker shock, buying all my favorites and I promptly realized “wow! Mom must have had a third job to afford the good stuff?”  

Now that I am older I still enjoy the aisles of crayons and school supplies, despite the fact that I’m fairly certain we did not school shop there, it specifically calls up memories of the Winn Dixie store that we shopped at.  That store is a Bi-Lo now and the strip mall that was built with it is very depressing, but that is neither here nor there.  I think it calls up the Winn-Dixie because I also enjoyed going on late night grocery shopping trips with my mother.

What’s else did this semester entail?  Well it was hands down my hardest semester for all the right reasons.  Some things I have learned.

  • The comma splice is my enemy.  I will learn it and fix it.
  • I need to learn Russian.  Grad school prep.  I have a “For Dummies” book to use during the moving road trip.
  • Apparently I missed acting.  

Hands down the biggest part of the semester, I went to an open audition for “Our Town,” and ended up getting to be the Stage Manager.  I even got invited too compete at some kind of competition put on by the Kennedy Center, but I will not be able to go.  There are people that were in that play who really deserve the chance to go and compete for that scholarship.  The play could have a post all on to itself.  I have a long list of things I was going to blog about, and about 4 of them are still relevant.  However, here are some photos. 

Needless to say, “Our Town,” was amazing.
That is all of the recap for now.  Oh there is a bit more here.  We are moving to Texas, and I intend to write a novel while we are moving.  I have nothing so far.

Ganger-Bjorn

Dead Man’s Story

Tonight I kind of have to post something.  It gives me a reason to put my blog on my page.  I got to spend some time with my cast mates, tonight, a story I though I had put on here…I could have sworn I did, I’ll have to check my drafts.  The Ganger got into a play.  The university is putting on “Our Town,” and I get to be in it.  More than a few people are surprised to learn that I was involved in theater in high school.  That is not the point.

The point is I have some awesome cast mates.  They allowed me to run my mouth for a while and explain to them that I am unconcerned with saying things like, I love marathon dungeons and dragons games, or sorting pencils, or sorting stamps from the Soviet Union.  It is because I do not have time to care.  No one can afford to, these are my quirks.  I am so very aware that I will not be here one day, and I needed them to know that I am always on the lookout for the next thing to make into a story.  I dress up with my sons for Halloween, I go to New York by train on a whim, I audition for plays, I start M&M fights with Liam, because I may not get to do so tomorrow.  As you have seen I write it all down, because the next biggest tragedy would be for the stories to be lost, because then who will remember?

It was on the thought of writing it all down that I realized, I write a lot as if I were already gone.  Which inspired the idea to write a terrible little poem.  It is not finished, but it seems to cap off the night.  Judge it all you like, I will as well.

 

Dead Man’s Story

Hello my dear diary of a dead man!

My gunna be the biggest to do for all the people to see

Like Wellington the people g’on come from all around

The g’on come and bury this hillbilly

They come and stay for days and live a little bit like me

There g’on be song, drink, and dance, but my hope is for you to get a good story.

What you sing, what you drink, and with whom did you dance?

You see that is how you live a bit like me, you put down the phone and begin making a story.

Now me? I am nobody from nowhere, but when I tells you about it, I’m the biggest somebody from the biggest some where you ever heard of.

I was born to the prettiest lady in the daisy land, we together one big family in one big house.

Whole family on a plot of land with a dirt track and a forest filled with dragons and demons and their ilk

My cousins and I the only thing kept them away, our blood, sweat, and play kept those big ole baddies at bay.

Yes we loved it there in the daisy, we went to the same school, the yellow building where mamaw brought the mail to the Allen.

The Allen so old that momma and uncle went there like granddaddy too.

I wish I could show it to you like it was in my day

we moved on to a fancy new street where we was the last generation of kids and a fancy new school that taught me about classes, but where I learned little in class

Now you want to live like me? You g’on need four daddies, you g’on need camping and fishing and movies with your momma across the big old sea.

You gunna live like me you gotta have tobacco, coffee, and tea

You gotta kiss a girl with bright red hair in the photo machine at the gate to the north, you gotta dance with those who cannot speak, you gotta fight when you know you will lose and play nintendo in the tops of trees.

Now you see I wanted to do all there was to see, and surprisingly I am always getting to.

Now I seen London, and I seen France, and I got asked silently by a pretty German girl to dance.

I smelled the channel salt, sailing by a white wall.

 

Follow me and youll see the black guards of a queen, you’ll sleep in castles in the hills, youll trod the boards with the most creative the nooga had, and you’ll ride horses in a circle every time you see them

To live like me you g’on have to put your name in the big book of an army

you g’on have to go to the man in the round brown hat and do what he say

you g’on have to go to the land of the eagles and learn how they fly

you g’on take up you gun for you destiny, and meet the people who like in the big sand sea

you live like me and you’ll see big crossed sabers, a baghdad sunset, and if you lucky you’ll get to swim in the pool of a dead dictator

you gotta fight in the war, and wonder what for

livin like me get you called doc, if you know some broken body

With me you’ll ride the steam engine to get a pencil and see the big city, gettin back just in time to win moonshine to help the kiddies, while a man tells you that its in the fruit.

To be like me you gotta plan your funeral and write your obituary just to make sure they gets it done right, who else g’on throw that good a party and tell that good a story?

BB-10-27-16

 

Gone for a bit…

The title in this case is correct, I have spent some time away.  Oddly I have gotten some more readers, which is not something I am going to argue with, welcome, and I hope what you see here makes you want to stay.  Reasons I have been gone?  I am glad you asked.  School of course always takes up a good bit of my time, but the semester has been out for a while now, I am actually finding that I need to begin preparing for a return in September, that is no easy task as I have to figure out child care for Zander.

FACT:  attempting to retain suitable infant child care, even before you factor cost, is enough to put anyone into a “dealing with beuarocracy” coma.  I am one of those people who hates having to call the bank, fix errors at the post office, deal with insurance, and the registrars office, daycare in the state of Massachusetts is a tangled nightmare of laws, rules, and stuff you are not sure about.  The daycare provided by Framingham State University is excellent, however my son was bitten by a problem child, and I may have lost some of the composure I pride myself on when I asked which child and the worker stated very simply the law did not allow her to tell me.  I wrote her an apology, she did her job very well, but that is one of those laws that I just do not quite understand.

That was all just a side note.  It has been quite a while since we go into the gear and rules.  A brief recap, at this point you have some form of a bag you are comfortable carrying for a good bit, and either in it or your pockets is a note book (and a spare) some pencils (maybe pens too) and a knife.  The Knife also makes rule #1, always have it.  I recommend of course, out of all my others, a good Swiss Army knife made by Victorinox, do not by knock off, your paying for your own security here.  In all seriousness, I used the tweezers out of mine to pull the thorns out of my son’s hand the other day, no waiting, just work.

So your new rule is going to sound familiar.  In my world we say “know your route of ingress and egress before proceeding.”  In army medic terms that means we were taught to not go after the wounded before we knew we had a way out.  It sounds rough, but the medic is a resource the entire team needs, and cannot be wasted being shot by the same guy who created your casualty.  You may have heard it as “when in doubt know your way out,” from “Zombieland.”  Mine goes deeper than that though, it is this “Rule #2 Have a plan inlcuding going in and getting out.”  In this case it refers to travel, but also the ability to lodge or travel.  This is where you ask yourself what could go catastrophically wrong with this trip, and render me unable to continue on, eat, lodge, or if am hurt.  This is the contingency phase, think up the problem, write it out and fix it.  In my story the catastrophic thing was relatively small, the possible death of a debit card, but the consequences were possibly immense.  

Here are a couple of stories to go with this.  The aforementioned travel.  The Ganger took a little trip back to Tennessee for a wedding.  My Cousin decided some time back to ask his girlfriend to marry him, she says yes, much more recently they had a very lovely wedding.  Everything was excellent, the music was superb if I do say so.

The trip is rather long, and as I took the four year old with me, rather stressful.  That is not to say it was not a good trip.  It was actually an amazingly good trip, but I am a planner.  There are too many variables in long distance, long time travel, many dangers.  Add in a kid and the risk goes up fast, The Bear intends to come out on top of everything from a car accident to an attack.  Call me paranoid, but we all made it through right?  I prepare, I follow the rules, I drive one of the safest cars in the world (Outback, 2016) and I ready myself and my tools.  We had stopped in Washington D.C. to go to the National Postal Musuem, when we left the gargage my debit card would not register when I tried to pay.  Here is where my plan came in, I do not hit the road outside of my main stomping grounds-where friends can help-without about $120 in my pocket.  I called my wife and told her I would stop and test the card as the boy and I needed some food.  I had used some of the cash to pay the garage, and I sized the situation up calmly.  I was calm, as I knew that I could provide a meal for my son and I, and if I shopped around well enough I could get us a room, or if my mileage math was right I could get us back home on about $60 with room for another meal if need be.  Whichever way it went, my son and I had the basic needs covered for that night until help could be Western Unioned, or we could go home.  That peace of mind came not from money, but from a rule that was followed to the letter.  In the end, the garage machine must have been faulty, as my card worked fine and the trip proceeded as normal.  I had given this kind of advice to a friend who lives abroad.  She did not follow it, and was not registered at the embassy when the Paris attacks occured.  The only real consequence was that she had to listen to the ganger gripe at her.

     This is just one possibility.  Most of my problems can be at least “treated” by a small amount of cash until help can be gained.  We also carry a first aid kit, maps, and my edc kit, which now includes a pay as you go phone and minutes card.  My phone failed while we were there, but again we established reliable communication, and borrowed a GPS, but if not we had maps.  Rule 2 is have a plan, so sit back and say, what’s the least that could happen and then plan for it.  

This is just kind of a comeback, we will get back to all of those things we love to do here and more.  You will notice a name change as the Ganger decided to not simply copy the title of his ancestor.  More posts to follow, after I have made some decisions how far I want to take this in some ways.  Follow on for pictures from the trip.

Ganger-Bjorn

Couple of notes, we went to the PEZ visitor center, yes just yes.  The chain on my cousin is a Grimfrost King’s chain like I recieved for father’s day, and speaking of which I got to spend mine at Fenway parl with my family and run the bases with my sons.  During my son’s birthday we played a record breaking 65 games of skeeball.

Never should we ever…

Right now my adventures, and for that matter my blogging is at a minimum, the semester started just under two weeks ago and the laser focus is back.  That is not to say that college is not an adventure.  I have already taken this farther than you ever could have convinced me back when that I would.  I have committed fully to the experience, minus living in a dorm and such, I am married and have a child after all.  Maybe that is why I always show up to school with a smile on my face, I live with one child, not five thousand adolescents experiencing freedom for the first time.  I am sorry if that seems low, but I have lived in the barracks, it seems to be about the same.

Anyhow I have created a small group of pencil junkies at school.  Two of them asked for care packages when I took my little trip to CW earlier in the month, and they were well provisioned.  Now in all fairness one of those people was Carl.  I already knew Carl, the fact that I applied to the college he works at is pure coincidence.  The other person is Tyler, who graduated right after we met, but we decided we would make such good friends that he drove from Rhode Island to come and see us, talk pencils and watch X-files.

These two are innocent of something I have committed before.  I have witnessed this going on some at school and at various places at large and this is just my take on it.  No matter what our passion or how passionate we are about it, never should we ever be snobs.

I have done it, I probably still do, although I would say I do it in the privacy of my own home, but even then I fight it.  I have recognized my need to be appreciative and thankful and I try to work on it.  That is why I am here, with an exhortation against stationary snobbery.

First let us recognize that many of the pencils, pens and notebooks we love are luxury items from a relative perspective.


It is ok to admit it.  They are luxuries, they are indulgences, they are the exploration of our passion.  We also cannot allow them to be what causes us to belittle something that is ALL that someone else has.  This is not a rant on equality.  It is simply a consideration.  Imagine a middle school child among us whose family keeps them supplied with all their needs school supplies included, but a blackwing is simply out of reach.  That does not mean that we should not write about them, that we should not post pictures of them.  I simply beg that we stop to consider before we describe something that is functional as “cheap” or “garbage.”  Let us consider some of our less expensive utensils and paper.

There is very little to be called fancy about these items.  They are filler paper in a binder, a notebook with no name, and pencils selected from the brands of staples, CVS, office depot, Dixon, and the novelty holiday sort given away at school parties.  They are also the the items who witness the labor and drive of those who want to succeed.  Those who have had the supplies they needed and maybe had to erase a little harder to use the hard red eraser, but wanted to ensure their homework was perfect.  As I said they are not fancy.  The paper has no name, the pencils are mostly named after the store they are bought at, but you can put a point on them and do work.

When I was in school my mother made sure that within reason we got the supplies we wanted when the school year started.  FiveStar and trapper keeper were common, along with boxes of Ticonderoga and Elmer’s.  Now that I am paying for my school supplies I still buy the brands I like for college, but I stare very hard at what a five star notebook costs (and for the price realized I could take school notes on Moleskine) and wondered why my mother didn’t tell me I was insane that paper is paper.

I am not innocent in this.  I must constantly flog myself with the memories of Iraqi children who were living in relocation camps who aside from probably being excited to have enough to eat, could not contain themselves when they found out that we had sent word home that there were schools, but no supplies and people had come through and shipped us boxes and boxes of supplies.  The generosity of the human spirit never ceases to amaze me.  This is my exhortation, that before we call something garbage, before we describe it as cheap, that we consider for a moment those who treasure these tools as their own, that they are more careful with their no name number two than we are with a 602 due to having forgotten.

I write this not out of self righteousness, but out of the awareness that I have never shown the gratitude and joy that I saw on the face of a very specific Iraqi girl from the camps when I sat down beside her on the hood of a small broken yellow car in the camp, and from my pack pulled out a small backpack full of supplies for her.  We should live to achieve that kind of satisfaction and appreciation.

Hrolf The Ganger.

There are two kinds of people in history…

I have been away for a while.  I believe at is or a similar phrase are the beginnings of most of my posts.  It is true though, I was taken away by my School.  Ah yes I have completed my first year of college.  For a high school dropout who has actually realized the dream of using my military benefits to better myself (in my opinion), it is fairly amazing to be attending college and by some miracle coming out on the Dean’s list for both semesters so far.  I know that it is a very long road to be sure, but when you say a year is down, then the next three do not seem all that long.  We have had a good year here.  I am behind in posting the journal posts, but the idea is that I am not going to go back and type them all out.  What counts is that they are in the journal for my family to read, not that they end up in here, all further ones will be posted.  The idea is not to spend all my time in life rerecording, just the once will do.

I will give a brief recap.  There was a second post about camping.  There is a rather good entry espousing to my son(s) the dedication that you have show if you wish to succeed at anything.  That little gym was written at about 0300 one night when I stayed up to do homework rather than working on it while Liam was awake.

I want the boys to see that you must be prepared to sacrifice if you want to succeed.  You have to be ready to skip movies, concerts, sleep.  I managed my goals this semester, I kept my grades up and I still managed to spend time with my family.  Liam has been in daycare the few days that I am class and it has done him a world of good.  He has learned at a faster rate than he would have cooped up with me.  The baby is due in February and I had intended to take the semester off.  However my advisor has asked me to take at least one online history course and Katie believes that I should keep moving as well.  Our family has come through in fine fashion to help us get through the coming semester as I have been offered (and hopefully will get) the chance to be a student instructor in history.  That is the kind of thing that grad school applications are made of as my grades and high school drop out will only walk me so far.

Our family had a nice Christmas.  Our pajama theme was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

The day before Christmas Liam became sick.  We have all had a cold, but Liam’s got worse.  I hoped he would kick it but he didn’t and two days later it was apparent that he had pneumonia.  We were going to make him an appointment Monday morning, but during the night he kept getting worse.  At 0430 I finally took him to the hospital.  It was there that they confirmed that he had pneumonia.

The raging fever, accelerated hear rate, trouble breathing, the infection…this could have been a death sentence a relatively short time in history ago.  That is what leads me to my main point.  In some parts of the world today, pneumonia, especially in children, is still a death sentence.  We were at the hospital for maybe an hour and a half. Basic medicine (which we had at home, and were already using) to bring the fever down, couple of chest x-rays to confirm the diagnoses, and a dose of and prescription for antibiotics, and we were on our way, with the certainty that my son would survive the night.  It is only my studies of medicine and history, I feel, that make me sensitive to what a modern miracle that is.  I walked out thinking “everyone should have that.”  That is where the point of this post begins.

Firstly I have always had a bent towards history, and realized my passion in an epiphany when trying to pick my major.  However our long educations make us insensitive to certain things.  I have the theory that in history there are two kinds of people: Historical Figures and just Figures.  Your historical figures are someone remembered.  We will work with examples like Jamestown colony.  We know names like Captain John Smith, he is a historical figure.  However your “figures”are just that, they are numbers.  From elementary school onward we learn things like “over half the colonists died of…” the figures were worse than that, but you get the idea.  The death figures we read over, to us they are facts and figures.  We get accustom to them, and our currently low mortality rates do not help us to think of the ones in the past as being something that borders on fiction.  It is true that a certain normalcy forms when something happens often enough.  A situation in Brazil proved that maternal instinct is more cultural construct than it is total instinct, in that it can be overridden by prolonged and truly desperate circumstances. They were people though, starving, freezing, dying of disease.  They were husbands, wives, CHILDREN.  They were peoples children.  Children died too.  We forget to think about when we read “children that survived to adulthood.”  Let that sink in.  You may have seen my graveyard posts.  The end of all anti vaccine arguments is “I am sorry that you enjoy being able to name your children before they are six.”  We are not so far into a time when children don’t just die.  At least to the people reading this.  That is the second half.

My studies have made me aware of problems in the world.  I knew about them, more than the common man anyhow, due to service in Iraq, seeing the people so poor they didn’t eat enough.  I won’t go into all the details, but with my school I’ve realized it isn’t just war zones.  There are places where people just do not have anything.  If their children had gotten the same sickness that my son had and I consider it minor, their child would be dead.  I am grateful that my son has that, but I am aware of the imbalance in the world.  My son lives, countless die.  I avoid things like commercials of the kids starving because I know I cannot do enough, like I could not do enough in Iraq.  The weight of millions bares down on me.  Past and present.  I ignore the fact that I enjoy the products of this situation.  I sit here on my fancy made in China computer, wearing my Singapore and Vietnam clothes not knowing if they get a decent wage or if they are modern slaves.  The more I study the more the weight heaves on thinking about how there are children forced to be soldiers.  Someone posted an article saying minority children in America do not get to be children.  Fine that may be true in some cases (race put aside) but I wonder if the ones saying we must broaden our thoughts want to broaden far enough to the places where nine year olds carry AK-47’s.  I am thankful my son had a hospital and care and insurance, and I wish everyone had that, but I have this fight club moment when I sit on my Ikea couch and wonder if the guilt will win, or if I just accept that is the way it is?  We journey on, but we wonder, will we always have it so good?

Hrolf the Ganger

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