Saturday, March 23, 2013

The First Bridge at Yedo

One of my favorite movies, or rather mini-series was James Clavell's, "Shogun", back in the late 70's. The main characters, an Englishman named Blackthorn and a suave semi-sexy Japanese translator named Mariko. The two fell in love and had an affair, not a bad thing other than the fact Mariko was married to a big time samurai lord named Buntaro. Each their own I suppose, but for a wimp like Blackthorn, having an affair with the wife of a sword welding, bow shooting samurai lord like Buntaro, not smart to do.

Anyway, they headed on their journey to Yedo, the main guys kingdom. She told Blackthorn that their relationship would continue as long as they were on the road, but it had to end when they reached the first bridge at Yedo. For fear, I suppose, of their relationship being found out and both being beheaded, which was the Japanese remedy for adultery..for both parties.

They finally came to the first bridge at Yedo. They sat on their horses dreading the wooden bridge. Neither one wanting to cross over its planks, but both knowing they had to. Knowing that what they felt had to draw to a close or both risk serious punishment. The first bridge. They both had to cross. They both had to forget the past and move forward, crossing that single innocent bridge. And they did.

Now this is not another take on a movie as I have so often done. It isnt about  an illicit affair of any kind I assure you. I am not into affairs, nor would I wish to be. Especially with someone who is married or married to a samurai lord who is proficient with a sword.

It seems hard to explain for me but I feel so much of my past, so much with forces I cannot name nor wish to be able to do so, drawing me, pulling me in directions I have avoided my whole life. The reason I write this little blog is to better understand these forces myself and not alert anyone to some weird, misunderstood thing that only I can feel. For some odd reason, the reference to the First Bridge at Yedo best describes what I feel.

I see myself standing at this bridge, its actual construction design is unimportant, but it is a representation of something tangible which I must cross. My soul is filled with so much confusion that I lie awake at nights trying to sort through it and make some sort of sense of it.

I allow my mind to drift back over my life. I think of all the dreams I have had and wished to have seen them come to fruition, but never even got off the ground. I think of how I wanted my life to be, which never came. I also think of the ideals I have had which felt good while I was thinking of them, but never able to find a way to begin. Books I wrote, well books I call them, but ended up giving away more than I actually sold, well maybe. So many studies I found profane, yet never being able to give my studies the notoriety that they rightfully deserved. I now stood at The First Bridge, and soon I must cross over, on to Yedo.

I am not sure what it is really, I know that I have felt this way much of my life. Maybe it is the journey I have been allowed to take or maybe it is the choices that I have made which took me away from the predetermined course, planned in advanced by some unseen force. I do not know. But I do know that the journey is soon to end, or maybe it already has ended and I now stand at the very end of that long road I have walked most of my life and the end has brought me here, the First Bridge, awaiting the grand finale, the walk across its wooden planks.

I stand alone. I have always been that way. Maybe thats why I have enjoyed certain movies or TV shows as I have, always relating to them. Finding it hard to describe what I feel or what I fear, never trusting anyone for I have found none have ever shown themselves worthy of such trust. Maybe it is that I have little confidence in those who have been around me. No confidence that they actually cared or would show signs of worry, not that those emotions were what I looked for in them, but a semi emotional care.

The first Bridge. Now that I stand looking over it, listening to the soft gentle sound of the water flowing underneath it, the whisper of wind snaking through the tree limbs, the faint sound of the birds as they scurry about, maybe it isnt so bad after all.  Maybe it is time for me to cross the bridge, see what may be on the other side, forgetting the fear of the unknown.

I have lived a decent life I suppose. Maybe not have gotten what I wanted or dreamed I would have gained by now, but such is life.  I have stopped dreaming, stop desiring, stop craving. It no longer matters to me. Such was not mine to begin with I imagine. I now stand at the first bridge, something pulls me, draws me to cross over and I have no other choice but obey.

I have journey, maybe not as much as some, but more than others. I have seen the sandy shores of the Florida coast, climbing to the top of some of the most magnificent light houses ever built. I have explored the Kennedy Space Center, standing on a tower, spying the Challenger in the distance, sadly realizing that this is as close to space as I will ever be.

I have journeyed to the Maine coast, witness the sea otters as they played in floating seaweed. The magestic eagles flying over  the Androscoggin River, searching for that unfortunate fish who may swim to close to the waters surface. The old battlements, from Americas youth, silent but once the sound of  cannon defending the liberators of freedom inside its stone walls. Bunker Hill, and Boston, with the magnitude of stories, both handed down and forgotten. The Old North Church, my imagination running wild with visions of a lone Robert Newman as he carried a lantern to its steeple, signaling Paul Rivere of the British arrival.

I have explored some of the regions of California. The diverse countryside as you travel, leaving lush greenery for desert areas. The Pacific Ocean looking quite the same as the Atlantic, but never caring, as long as my heart knew I had seen it. The Queen Mary moored at Long Beach and the Hollywood sign. Each site leaving its memory embedded in my mind. Hopefully, they will remain and I shall keep my mental faculties in tact to preserve them.

Seattle, Washington and the space needle at sunset, still longing to see Mt. St. Helens, but unable to do so at the time. Maybe one day, but now at the first Bridge, I am not sure I shall fulfill that bucket list item.

The coast of Oahu at sunrise. The warm Pacific Ocean in winter. I have been to Pearl Harbor, and actually wiped the tears from my face as I watched the oil from the Arizona ebb to the surface. To me, she still weeps for those who lost their life on that fateful day. I have been on board the Missouri, the North Carolina, the Lexington, the Clamagor, the Layfette and others...imagining the sounds of battle and the cries of anguish their metal walls once heard. But no more, the first bridge beckons to me to cross, journeys end.

I have climbed to the rim of a once impressive volcano, in awe of the way it is formed by the forces of nature. Walked the grounds of the hallowed Punch Bowl Pacific Cemetary where thousands of Americas fallen hero"s now lay sleeping in eternal silence. Such a beautiful place to rest, even for the living.

Sights I have been blessed to take in up to the Great Lakes, winter not much to enjoy there, but it was the thought of actually visiting it. Down to New Orleans, and the enjoyment of Mardi Gras, not the demon possessed out of control party place as many think, but a host of enjoyment for all ages, floats and parades filled with so much wonderment. Walking along the shores of the mighty Mississippi River, drifting off with thoughts of ole Huck Finn, Tom Sawyer and Jim. Still impressed by it all including the southern hospitality of the folks down south.

But now, its time to leave it all behind. Not sure what awaits me. What is lurking on the other side. But I do know I must obey this strong desire to cross over. This feeling I have had since my childhood always knowing that this day would come and I would have not other choice but to follow its predestined course. So much I wanted in life but sadly will never be. So much I wished to have accomplished, yet left void and for another. So much, yes so much but knowing, always knowing that I was different, that my  impact in life would be little felt and unable to change that. Kansas sang about Dust in the Wind and at one time I thought of writing a blog based upon that song, but alas, never finished it. We are dust in the wind, a drop of water in an endless sea, one trickle fading with the water, never to be remembered. But a journey all the same.

I stand now at the first Bridge. I dont want to cross. I dont want to end my dreams, desires my hopes and ambitions. But this is out of my control. I know what needs to take place and what I have no other choice but to do. I have to take that step. Have to venture forward. It calls me, beckons me, lures me to move on, move on across that bridge, never able to turn around and walk back. That lonely bridge, the first Bridge at Yedo.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Encroaching Darkness

How long, do you think, should a man wait for his dreams to seemingly manifest themselves into the realm of reality that others deem real? How hard should he work to secure a future that someone else is always looking to take from him? And when will he realize that most, if not all, of his endeavors are futile in their attempts?

He see's something on the horizon that others do not see. He looks past the evident white whispers of clouds that loom in the distance. Others that he comes in contact with on his daily scurrying about in this world seem to be oblivious of what lies just out of view. But he  knows, he feel it in his soul his very essence tingling with the sensation of what lies ahead. The Encroaching Darkness!

He has exhausted all of his mental abilities and has failed terribly. It appears that every way he turns, every avenue he ventures down, becomes blocked, a dead end to a once magnificent dream, now fading from his mind, his thoughts.

Each one he shares his thoughts with turn. Perhaps not meaning to, but they turn, mocking his every attempt at realizing a dream. Never sharing his thoughts or those random dreams he has nursed for most of his life. Weak and tired, unable to carry on or unwilling to dream any more, he sits and looks off into the horizon. That horizon that gentle white, fake, artificial clouds shroud the truth, the inevitable ever moving, ever looming truth...The Encroaching Darkness!

He has a plan. Yes, a plan, yet not one he can share, nor does he wish he could. Each dream, each fantasy, each ideal always taken from him, robbing him of satisfaction, peace, tranquility and filling his soul with solitude. Regardless, it is taken away and none understand but he himself. Wicked souls laughing in the shadows, snickering at the mention of his name, his dreams, his view of reality.

A shadow of the fabled movie The Matrix. Would it not be ironic if what we have grown to know as reality but were a dream in itself? Ours but fed to us by some horrendous evil presence, hell bent on keeping us from realizing the truth. What if? But we know it can't be. The answer would be too simple, the reason behind it all, to logical. Understanding why dreams fade. Why those who do not need continue to reap bountifully while those who seek, never find what they sought? Yet failing to see beyond the ridge, beyond the pretty facade of mist we call clouds. Failing to listen to the sound, the thunderous sound of what must come next...The Encroaching Darkness!

He must remain silent. He must bite his tongue when he wishes he could reach out, reach out and warn others. He knows and realizes that he cannot, under any circumstance, for if he does, his goal will be realized by those who seek to rob him of it and leaving him once again, helpless. He wishes he could though, wishes he could reach through the shadows and find the very few who remain. Those rare kindred spirits who need no words or audible means of communication to calm his restless soul. They are there, but few they be, few who are still able to hold onto long thought silly and false abilities to see what others can't see or won't see.

He lies in bed at night, sending as deep as he can send, yet like some form of crustacean, withdrawing back into his own shell when a response or reply is felt. His distrust of all around him, the inability to confide or to share his intimate thoughts always being turned against him, thus never able to share. It hinders him from reaching out, touching those souls who seek the same as he does, yet fearing the truth behind that joining of minds in the night. But should he? Should he reach out, trust once again? He needs to, mainly because he knows that they see what he does. They hear the thunder that booms far past the horizon. They see the lightning flashing, searing the ground and electrifying the atmosphere around the powerful bolts. They know. They understand and are able to see...The Encroaching Darkness.

The plan, the only one he has left. It is the only way he knows to cheat those who strive to take his last bit of hope away, yet will he win in the end. He knows what must be done and sadly, he knows the outcome. None will understand, none will smile and think of him. None will say, "He had no other choice". None will remember back, think back on him and his  many illicit dreams that he worked so hard to find, to solidify, to change form a vaporous dream he had late in the night into a reality the next day. All forgotten, all lost in the folds of time and space. Yes, none will say out was a wise decision he made. he had no reason to hold onto the thin string of silk which bound his dreams together.

So he will do what he must and none be the wiser.

He stands on the hilltop. His eyes focused on the horizon so far away. His face saddened by what he knows yet no one else able to see. His ears focused on the sound that appears to be so far away yet so close. He stands alone as he always has. He never understood why he was this way, why he was unique in a world he is so separate from. A world he wondered if he was ever really a part of. A lifetime of being different. An eternity of searching, longing and dreaming, yet finding those endeavors to be frantic and unrealized. He stand on the hilltop, a slight breeze playing with his hair, tickling his ears as if nature itself was taunting him. He is aware. He is wise and feels the truth as no one else does and knows what is beyond the horizon he now stares at. And now, he waits for what must now be. What must now take place. Finally after all of these years, it has arrived and he must deal with it as he knows to do. He and he alone, alone as he has always been, he shall deal in the only way he knows how. He stands on the hilltop, looking off into the horizon, waiting for what must be, as prophesied, and now it is here...The Encroaching Darkness.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Demise of Freedom

"We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

Some of the most infamous words ever put to pen and paper, the foundation of the Constitution of the United States of America. Long forgotten and all but erased from the minds of those who we depend upon to lead and govern this once great nation.

Forgive me, for those who read the ramblings of the Keeper. I do feel that ours is the most wonderful nation on earth and that it still holds dreams for so many of its citizens, but my confidence in it's leadership is questionable.

Laws are necessary to ensure civilized way of life for all. Without laws, this nation, this world would be utter chaos. But when laws made, erase or erode the foundation that was laid by the founding fathers of this country, the words, the thoughts the vision of such men are no more.

Once, the people of the world envied us. They sought to leave their own home countries and journey to ours to share in its wealth and prosperity. Now, it looks as if prosperity resides in other places beside here.

What has happened over the years that have changed this nation? What has transpired to erode our own beliefs and confidence in a nation once built upon freedom? Sadly, the answer is simple. Those whom we placed our trust in and elected to office have, over time, torn down the marbleized concepts of this nation.

Money, power and the ability to participate in wrongful endeavors and manage to come out the other side clean as a whistle, tempted good men to turn their glare, their concerns away from the American public.

Current situation regarding "Obamacare". What happened to our rights and our freedom when the president tells us that we "HAVE" to have healthcare of else face civil penalty? Our freedom robbed because rich politicians decide what they want and not what we want. But keep in mind dear reader, these very hypocritical, filthy rich mindless politicians are exempt from many of the laws they say we need to live by.

Currently they enact laws that affect many people but have no concerns about the effect it has on us as a whole nation. Politicians are elected by falsehood and not based upon merits. Based upon the amount of money they have, the college they attended, or the businesses they own, are elected.

They now spend so much time with their noses in the concerns of other countries while neglecting the problems in their own backyards. Each one backing or supporting the needs of another politician as long as it will eventually benefit them in the long run.

Jobs are scarce, yet they say the economy is doing better. Gas prices soar, but yet they care not for those who barely can afford food, besides a tank of gas. Why? Simple! They do not have to worry about the price of gas for two reasons. 1) They already have enough money in their fat wallets to choke a mule, so gas isnt going to break them and, 2) the American tax payer allows them to fill their tanks on our hard work.

Every day businesses close down. Many move to other countries, setting back up with cheap labor, making their products and shipping it back here for us to buy. Every day someone somewhere in the US gets a lay off slip. Yet, those who are elected by us or hired by us to represent us in local, state and national government, have found ways or enacted laws that prohibit them from ever being dismissed from their post.

It would be so ironic, so humerous if we were able to fire them for not doing what we elected them to do. But I can't help to wonder, if we did have such power to lay off, reprimand or demote politicians, if they would do a better job.

The United States is not the worlds police department. Why should our own children die  because other countries cannot manage their own governments? Serving our country? It doesn't seem that way, it feels as if they are serving the interest of politicians.

Do not misunderstand these ramblings. I admire, respect and honor everyone who has ever served in our armed forces. They deserve far more than what they receive and it hurts me to know this. They did what their government ask them to do and sacrificed so much to do so.

To vent, rant or rave is possibly what I am doing here. Sickness or sadness to see where our country is going, based upon where it has been. Seeing that it is never going to change and that it will always be operated based upon what the rich, corporate minded people desire and not what We the people need.

The American revolution began because of such problems. The famed Boston Tea Party, far removed form the current political class of the same name, was solely due to no representation of the colonist needs in England. Our needs and voices were not heard or met in the King's court. Thus revolution!

Is it not the same today? Our voices are not heard. Our needs not met. Or problems not addressed. So very sad that our nation has falling from its true purpose. Now our freedom is taken from us little by little. Our society spoiled because of liberal beliefs from a ruling class. Democracy? Doesn't sound very much like it to me.

Sadly I feel that many of the ones who fought, died, built, devised and constructed this nation from its very inception would be so sick at how it has turned out. Maybe not the nation itself but the way it is ran. Our government is the best in the world, but those who manage it lack in so many qualifications and their responsibilities are to themselves and one another instead of those who, because of their laws, can never hold elected office.

Sickened by career politicians who have taken us to borders of a wasteland. Smiling at themselves in the mirror because of how they have made themselves filthy rich on the sweat of others. "I will continue to do a good job for the American people", they campaign promise...but yet the proof is in the pudding. We continue to fall behind, society is now ran by pathetic idiots who fear hurting someones feelings.

President elected because of his kiss ass statements and not his merits. Kissing up to those who he knew would secure his re-election. Where are the jobs? Where is the better way of life? I apparently have been in need of having my eyes checked because I do not see it here in southern West Virginia.

Demise of freedom? Yes, dear reader, sadly it is. Everything we have once loved is being ripped from out very own grasp. Hatred for those who are in office. So many who do not deserve to be there, over shadowing and over ruling the few who are honestly trying to work for the American public.

Sad, so very sad, I would not offer any elected official a drink of water if their mouths were aflame. And how could they be on fire, seeing many of them will not stop spewing their poisonous lies, constantly running, speaking, tempting, teasing, robbing ruining the American way of life.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Another Brick in the Wall

Sometime ago, years it appears now to me, I remember an old Victorian house that I would see on my way to school every day. The house was massive and had this inviting look to the front of it.

I could not recall when I last seen anyone living in this old place, nor do I remember seeing anyone ever tending to the lawn. Shrubs had grown and overtaken the place, the grass was over knee high and the paint chipping from the window seals.

But I loved this old house and of course being just a young kid in school, I never took the time to look into the houses ownership. But each day I would pass this old place and dream, thinking of the day when I would own it and spend hours repairing it, painting it, mowing the lawn and make this old place come alive once again. Allow it to become once more, the fullest of it's glory.

The years the school bus passed by that old house, each and every day, my eyes would fix themselves upon it. And each day, I would say to myself, "One day I will have a home like that".

One winter day, on the way home from school, I noticed something odd about the house. The foundation of it was constructed out of red brick, but on the left corner of the house, one brick had fallen out. Now I am not sure if that brick feel off because of the elements or maybe some vandal decided it would make them look big and bad if they just kicked the brick out. Anyway, one brick on the corner had fallen out of place.

I never paid much attention to that missing brick all winter long. Just focused on the house itself and my random thoughts of how I would fix it up and make it mine.

Near the end of the school year, the bus I rode on had stopped in front of the old house while repairs to the road were being done. This enabled me to really take a long look at the place and fuel my imagination with vivid details.

As I took in every aspect of the old house that I could, I noticed the corner of the foundation where the brick had been missing back in the winter. I had noticed that, not only had the one brick went missing, but now, the surrounding bricks were falling to the ground as well.

The first brick feel out, allowing the rain and wind to make their way into the cement that held the bricks in place. As time, cold, rain and everything else took its toll on the cement, the cement cracked, causing the surrounding bricks to loosen.

One by one, they feel to the ground. One brick leading to another and yet another. It appeared that, for every brick that cracked, another close by would fracture as well and soon, it, too, would fall silently, unnoticed to the ground. This broke my heart, sadly, watching this beautiful home be consumed by mother nature, forgotten by its owner.

The summer was spent as one usually was back in the 70's. Exploring the hillside, fishing, camping, playing with friends and all in all, having a wonderful time away from school.

When the fall season came and the yellow bus once again headed to school, carrying me to my final and senior year at Baileysville High. Meeting my friends for the first time again since school let out, we chatted, laughed and shared stories of our summer vacation.

As the bus passed the old Victorian house that morning, it stopped. A new kid was getting on the bus who had just moved into the house across the road from the old Victorian place.

There was my house that I would own someday. And now I can renew my memory of its glory and dream once again of the family I would raise there. But something was wrong! Something was so different on the old house and this had saddened me deeply.

The corner of the house where the first brick had fell off, causing other bricks to come crashing down around the vacant spot left, had changed.

The entire corner of the old house had sagged. That one spot with the missing brick had collapsed once other supporting bricks had fell off. The wooden wall had now been exposed and I could see the inside of the house form this corner.

Wooden supports that held the house up, now eaten away by rot, causing the old place to sag, the entire wall slowly collapsing in on itself.

My old house, the one I would buy one day and repair. Fix it up nicely and raise a family in it, bringing life once again back into it, was now rotting down.

Eventually, by the end of the school year, this once proud house, its frame exposed to the elements, had fallen in. Taking so much of the front and side that it was beyond repair. So sad to have seen such a beautiful place, forgotten and neglected go to waste.  Eventually, the old house feel completely to the ground and rotted away, now just a jangled mess of decaying wood. Barely noticeable of it ever being a home.

To begin building anything, one must first start with a corner. A foundation must be formed before anything can ever be constructed. From that corner the whole of the thing being constructed is supported. Without that corner, nothing can stand and eventually it all falls.

Life, is started at a corner. Something must be there to hold the rest of life together. And once that corner goes missing, like my old house, it becomes weak, unable to support itself and fades away.

Like my old house, the fallen brick is missed and anyone can tell that something is just not right with it. Eventually, without love and care, the whole of the structure will start to crack, allowing the bad things in life to seep in, working to weaken the whole. Over time, like I did with the old house, I forgot the old brick until I seen the corner of the house exposed. Then it became apparent of the damage to the frame, irreparable damage.

Perhaps, when the first brick fell, someone could have replaced it, repaired and and saved the old house. But no one seemed to care at all for it. I had wanted to but was unable, mostly because of my age and inability to make such changes to something I didn't own anyway. Wanted to stop the rot and decay, but was powerless to do so, thus, I had to watch my pretty Victorian house fall to ruin.

Are we like this house? Are we like that one little brick? Would we be missed if we weren't there? Those around us becoming exposed to harshness that will eventually weaken the family as a whole. Piece by piece, brick by brick we fall prey to decay and rot.

Once one brick has fallen, we notice the brick but do nothing to prevent the whole to rot. We say to ourselves that it is sad that such has happened and the brick will be missed, but never do we try to repair such damage and prevent future damage from occurring.

The support that one stone or one brick has made, although we may not see such support while the brick is securely in place, missed once it has fallen out. The once mighty, beautiful and proud house starts to fall. The cement that has held us together baring the elements until it can no longer stand strongly.

We notice how pretty the house was with the brick, but now see the bigger picture. If we refuse to repair the structure, saddened by the loss of the brick but make no attempts at repair, we will lose the house as a whole and thus, being forever forgotten.

Are we strong enough and willing to fix it? I would certainly hope so.

I have always felt like I was nothing in this life. I have always felt like I have made no difference to anyone and my "fallen brick" would not be missed. A few shed tears, perhaps, at my funeral, but my memory slowly fading away, and remembered no more.

But I think that assumption may have now changed for me as I think back to that once gorgeous old proud house. I look at life and my life in general and think of all the rot and decay that has it has fallen prey to. I go to the garage for the cement. I take that brick from the ground and dust it off, dress it up and cement it back into my life.

We all matter and we all are important in more ways than we think and our demise will affect more people in so many ways that we cant scarcely imagine. Our absence will make changes that ourselves and others are not even aware of and unable to even solidify in our deepest thoughts.

How do I know this? I just do and am amazed at how I came across its understanding. After all, everyone one of us is just, another brick in the wall.

Friday, April 13, 2012

It's Where The Wind Blows...

The human brain is by far, the most sophisticated computer ever created. It is able to copy, right, over right files, download, access information, learn, grow and store memories that can span over one's entire lifetime.

Safety features of that incredible organic computer allow it to shut certain memory storage areas down if it feels that those memories can or will possibly cause the body harm. Maybe this is also a short circuit fail safe device which keeps the memory intact but yet stores it safe in some obscure region of the brain, never to be played again by the act of remembrance.

In the female, the human brain has the ability and knowledge, from birth, to recreate human life. Argue me this? Sure, then I will have to ask you how such a life is formed inside of another life form, the body's own defense system shutting down while the embryo grows, thus stopping the mother's own immune system from sensing the embryo as a parasite inside the mother, thus killing it off. So, indeed, all of this is commanded by the brain. Running daily diagnostic of the body as a whole, even while we sleep.

I like to think of the brain as a large warehouse, filled with hundreds if not thousands of doors. Some locked, some hidden from the light of thought, stuck in the back, covered in dust, wanting never to be found. Inside those doors are where we store memories or certain feeds of information. And it amazes me how sounds, smells or some random photo accesses those doors, opening the memory where those items were fist experienced.

A weeping willow tree first shooting its leaves forth in the spring, remind me of Easter at my Grandma Della's yard. A certain type of pine smell, reminds me of a caroler candle my mom had since god only knows when, but we only seen and smelled its fragrance at Christmas.

Once the willow is seen every spring, that memory comes back. When I am somewhere and the odor of that candle captures my attention, I think of my mom's candle. Keys, if you will. Keys that open those thousands of doors that are hidden deep with-in my brain. Doors kept with a fail safe, hopefully preserving my memories for the remainder of my life.

Sometimes we smell just a hint of a familiar fragrance or hear maybe one or two notes of a song. "I know that", we say and wreck our minds the whole day trying to recall the name or the song or the place or thing we associate the smell with. Sometimes we can't figure it out and it ends in frustration, other times a friend may be the one who spent time on google looking up four or five words to let me know that a long forgotten song that I loved, although not knowing the name of it, was Strawberry Letter 22. Years of me hearing a few bars of it but never catching the words, thus never knowing the name of it...ending in frustration.

Sometimes those doors spring open or the keys are lost or forgotten and the contents behind the doors are lost forever. Such as the case for those who have dementia or alzheimer's. Keys lost or the owners forgotten ability to access the doors of the mind. The brains fail safe shutting down, memories lost forever.

In any case, we depend on those things to help us access long forgotten memories and where would we be without those? A man is the sum of his memories, all that we were, are and will become are based upon what we remember, so if we are not able to remember, what will we then become?

As I browse my warehouse...the one in my mind and not the one upstairs in the attic, I have found so many doors long shut and appears their hinges have even been welded tight to prevent my access to what lies behind them.

No matter how hard I try, I cannot seem to find the key that will allow me to open any of them. But desperate to unlock each one and peek to see what memories lie inside, long covered in mental dust, forgotten.

I need to know what is in them. I need to know why I hate the thought of my birthday and no, it has nothing to do with me growing old. Although I am ever more mindful of that now that I ever have been.

I need to know why I have hated the Christmas season. Why I wish it would become illegal to celebrate, being just two more days in December just like all the other days. But knowing how much money people make at that time of the year form buying the perfect gift for someone who can't be satisfied, it will never be outlawed.

There is a reason why I hate those days in particular. There must be some hidden memory that my mind has associated the hatred for these days with. I must know what that is so I can deal with it, find peace and move on. And yes, maybe letting those few who care for me find peace as well, able now to celebrate a holiday with them and them for me with joy as it was meant to be.

One song in particular, 10CC's "I'm not in Love", is one such song that stirs or jars a string of memory in me. The music, not the lyrics, has an effect on me and always has had. The first chorus part of the song, with the instrumental, hints of a hidden memory somewhere in my mental warehouse and one that I am unable to open. No matter how hard I try to associate that with any one thing, it eludes me, escapes me.

As Khan said in Star Trek II, "He task me and I shall have him, I will chase him round the moons of Nibia, around the Mailstrom Nebula and round perdition's flames before I give it up." I need to know what is hidden, the answers to all my questions may lie inside those doors long since shut tight.

But what if, what if those doors were permanently closed for a reason? The self preservation, fail safe mechanism I spoke of earlier? What if there is some traumatic memory lying inside that I so desperately need to keep shut and forgotten. If the door is open, will it cause so much mental anguish for me that I may never recover? Get really pissed at someone for doing me such an incredible injustice that I seek to do them bodily harm in retaliation? The answers to these questions will only come when the keys are found. When the music is associated with the memory. When that dam door is open and I can once again live whatever that was that caused my system to lock it down, shut it off and keep it from me.

Wait! Isn't it my brain? My memories? My body? Shouldn't it be me who decides if those doors should remain closed or open? Should not I be the one who peeks inside, sorts through the mess and comes out clean? It is my brain and I own it so should it not obey me and provide the answer to the keys location? GIVE ME MY DAM KEYS!!!

What right does my brain have denying me access to my memories? Isn't it already messed up enough over the last 49 years that, we should both open the closets and clean them out together and maybe, just maybe, set things in proper order once again.

Our brains...grey matter organic computer. Ruler of the human body. Allowing me to think I am in charge of this fleshly container, but denying me access to all of its functions. Denying me the ability to heal myself and regenerate aging flesh. If we can create life, why can we not reverse the same?

Our brains...grey matter organic computer. Always tempting us to look for those doors it has hit from us. Drawing us to them, arousing curiosity but never allowing us to gain access knowing we can't live with something secret being hidden in plain view.

Until then, I will listen, carefully, over and over to the song. i will search random thought processes and access any bit of data I can from that aging grey matter dictator inside my skull. I will outsmart it and find the key, then those doors will be open and God have mercy on my brain on that day.

Random memories, thoughts, feelings, association with things hidden. Drawing me, tempting me, harassing me, arousing my inner curiosity. It's where dreams are kept. It's why we dream, why I dream. Downloading and filing memories while I sleep, vaporous clouds of memory solidified into a dream, one which fades as my eyes open.

Memories..hidden, covered up, long forgotten. It's where I wish to be, where I wish to explore. It's where answers come to light, revealing things to me my mind chose and or decided I need not know any longer.....It's where the wind blows.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

A Date in Infamy, A personal perspective..

"Yesterday, December 7th, 1941 - a date which will live in infamy - the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan."..Franklin D. Roosevelt, President of the United States.

Being a history buff that I am and always wanting to visit such places as I have only read about or imagined seeing, my trip to Hawaii would not have been complete without a visit to Pearl Harbor. Actually, not honestly knowing what sights one could see on the island of O'ahu, the visit to Pearl would have made my vacation perfect, regardless.

Many people I have known, or rather those who feel they know me, can't understand the way my old brain works when I visit such places as Pearl Harbor, the USS Lexington, USS North Carolina, the USS Missouri and other magnificent places.

I have a wee bit of a problem. I can't just stand there and look at these vessels and admire their construction. I can't just look at them and say, "Wow! Thats a heck of a boat!" When I see them, I can imagine hearing their guns erupt in massive, thunderous clouds of smoke, sending their projectiles off into the horizon to destroy enemy forces.

I can hear the sounds of dive bombers making attempts to destroy such incredible ships. The crews running to do the job they were trained to do. Sounds of explosions all around and the scream of the ships alarms calling all aboard to battle stations.

To me, they are not just museum pieces, no longer alive thus fading from memory. These ships echo the thousands of people who lived, worked, fought and died on board. The tears that were shed when a friend or buddy lost his life, or shed once the battle was over, then realizing how close they came to losing their own life to an enemy they may not have even seen.

Of all the places I have traveled to in my life, I think that Pearl Harbor will always remain vivid in my mind. Tuesday, November 22, 2011, a date which will live on in my memory forever. The day that I would step on the shores of Pearl Harbor or its proper Hawaiian name, Pu'uloa.

Not having a car, and seeing the Hawaiian traffic firsthand, now glad I didn't, I took a tour bus out to Pearl. I remember the feeling I had as I watched the landscape change, see the road signs directing us to our destination. I can remember the bus coming over a small hill which obscured the harbor at first, then revealing it in its modern splendor. Like a child at Christmas time, anticipating his first visit to Santa's lap, I think I can recall the thoughts inside my mind when I saw the place for the first time.."Oh my god, Pearl Harbor!"

Now, I suppose, to save face, the following should be described as happening to someone else. Maybe the person who sat beside me in the auditorium, letting the excitement of the presentation get the best of their emotions. The Pearl Harbor presentation presented by the US Parks Service, told of the events which led up to the attack on December 7th. Even shown the explosion which ripped the USS Arizona in two that morning. The person setting beside me found it extremely hard to choke back tears. The poor fellow really fought hard not to embarrass himself in front of dozens of tourist. Who am I kidding? That person was me! Yea, I admit it and am proud of it. I found that, if you visit this place and your emotions are not stirred deeply, then, in my opinion, you aren't human nor an American!

The bus arrived at Pearl Harbor rather early, in fact, the memorial wasn't even open yet so I had ample time to walk the grounds and view the displays and museums. I stood near the shore and peered across the harbor at the Arizona Memorial. I honestly could not believe that I was here! Me, the Keeper, at Pearl Harbor! The place where the United States involvement in World War II began!

Now, keep in mind, the harbor has very few ships moored in it. A few supply ships, a battleship looming in the distance, as if keeping humble watch over the Arizona and her brave crew. A battleship I would later visit and recognize as another historical vessel which put an end to the war with Japan, the USS Missouri.

An unknown aircraft carrier sat idle as well. Her registry number unknown to me but read "8", a registry given to the USS Hornet, the one which Colonel Doolittle led the B-25 raid on Japan on April 18th 1942. But was sadly sunk by Japanese forces at the battle of Santa Cruz in 1942. A new carrier CV-12, was built and renamed "Hornet" to carry on the fallen carriers name. I have yet to identify the mysterious "8", moored at Pearl Harbor.

It was quiet that Tuesday, except for the ramblings of the tourist and a faint sound of big band music, circa 1941 playing on the overhead speakers. But I stood there, taking in the view and allowing my mind to drift back nearly 70 years. Back to that fateful day in December when thought the Japanese airplanes flew through Kolekole pass, which could be seen in the morning fog from where I stood. But rather following the large O'ahu mountains to their harbor targets.

I let my mind enjoy itself and do what it does so well...imagine. Drifting off in complete happiness as back in my mind, I began hearing the sounds of airplanes growing nearer. The sound of "Morning Colors" being played onboard the battleships, such as was being played on the USS Nevada.

I could see the many magnificent battleships, all perfectly in a row, the pride of the United States Navy. Smaller vessels cruising the harbor. A gorgeous Sunday morning, a morning that would soon be filled with the sounds of bombs exploding, screams of agony and machine gun fire all across the harbor.

I can't honestly describe how I truly felt that day, I was walking where many people may have died. I love history and the concept of actually being some place that I have only read about or seen on TV is quite incredible to me.

I walked the park compound, visiting the museums, reading the names of those lost on that day, according to the ship they were on. The USS Bowfin, a submarine which was launched December 7th 1942, nicknamed, "The Pearl Harbor Avenger", which totaled 43 Japanese ship kills during the war. A payback for the attack. Also moored at Pearl Harbor.

Many pieces of military equipment were situated along the grounds. Japanese manned torpedoes, which I had no ideal such were ever constructed, anti-aircraft batteries, conning towers and many plaques dedicated the people who gave their lives that day, many, never even knowing who, what or why they were even attacked.

It soon came time to board the little navy operated tour boat which took thousands of tourist a week to the Arizona Memorial. I made sure that I got a decent seat near the railing. I wanted the view of the Memorial to be as spectacular as I knew it would be.

The water was calm that morning as we crossed the harbor towards the Arizona. Again, my little mind drifted off where it loves to be, total imagination! Back, again, 70 years previous to December 7th, 1941. I am here! I am in Pearl Harbor! I could imagine the Japanese planes as they made pass after pass over the sleeping US fleet. Scraff after scraff, riddling the harbor and ships with machine gun fire. I was here! On the very water (yea I know, it wasn't the same water, but you know what I mean). I looked down as the waves came from underneath the tour boat. Raising my eyes upward, imagining the bullets as they covered the harbor. The sounds of the planes as they flew overhead. The whistle of the torpedo bombs now being laid down with intent on destroying the fleet as rest. Thousand pounders now being dropped and exploding on the decks of the vessels.

Moored peacefully in Pearl that morning, were the crews of the USS West Virginia, Arizona, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Vestal, Pennsylvania, Nevada, California and USS Utah, along with many other ships including heavy and light cruisers, destroyers and others listed in different capacities.

Crews who were awaken by a thunderous roar as Japanese plans began their onslaught against the US Navy. In the back of my mind, I could see them sitting there in the morning water. To this day, the mooring slabs are still intact for the West Virginia, Tennessee, Vestal and Nevada. Painted white with their respective ships and registry numbers proudly displayed.

The tour boat slowly pulled up next to the docking rail for the USS Arizona Memorial. I was here! Actually about to step on board one of the most magnificent and emotional war memorials in US history.

So many times in my life I have seen this place, either in a book or some TV show and always wished I could visit. And now I did! Now I am here! Now, I am able to look slightly beneath the water and not only see the weathered remains of a once proud battleship, but understand her purpose and what she still holds dear inside her battered hull to this day...Her crew!

As the boat came to a complete stop and the tourist, myself included, began to step onboard the memorial, I glanced across the harbor one more time. Again, here I stood, mere feet from the infamous battleship. Here in this very spot, nearly 70 years ago, an explosion ripped through the mighty ship, blowing it in two. Here in the very waters that now seem so incredibly peaceful, men screamed, fought, died AND survived the attack by the Japanese navy. In this very spot, young men gave their lives to an enemy they never even knew.

I glanced up at the name on the memorial, USS ARIZONA MEMORIAL. I couldn't believe I was actually here!! I felt tears once again began welling up in my eyes.

Now, some have mentioned how they have enjoyed my ramblings over the years. Some, bold as they may be, have stated that I have a way of writing stories that they feel as if they were there. But, I find myself at a loss for words to further describe what I saw or how I felt as I stepped inside the marble shine. Yes, I admit, my emotions were running high. It was a solemn place, if that is proper english. The Arizona was not just a relic that reflected the beginning of World War II. It was not a place for tourist to gather and gawk at..a rusting hulk. What it was to me, was not only a visible reminder of over 1,100 men who perished on that fateful day, onboard the USS Arizona but the 2,400 plus who lost their lives, both military and civilian.

As I walked onboard the memorial, I slowly made my way towards the open observation deck. If that is what it is called, or the open side walls of the memorial. I now stood where I only dreamed of standing. I am here! On the very platform where dozens of Pearl Harbor survivors have stood. But their numbers now amounting to only a very slim few.

I leaned against the railing, after patiently waiting for other visitors to take photos and pay solemn respects to the ship. I remember vividly, my first thought, "the Arizona!!" Lying below me are over 1,100 men who lost their lives on December 7th 1941. Still entombed inside the very ship that they died on. Many lives instantly that day, scared out of their minds from the sounds of general quarters and battle stations. Dazed and confused, many just awoken out of a sound sleep, never knowing what was going on, possibly thinking it still a drill put on by the captain.

Logic tells me that many may have been vaporized, cremated the instant the bomb detonated inside the powder magazine that morning. Igniting gun powder and fuel stores alike, instantaneously erupting in a massive explosion which ripped the Arizona in two. But in my mind, and I will always choose to feel this way, the crew of the Arizona, all 1,100 of them, still lay peacefully on the sunken decks of this proud ship. Still dressed as they were on the day of the attack. Now, eternally at peace.

Over the last 70 years, survivors of the attack, crewmates of those fallen, were allowed to be cremated and their ashes interred inside the Arizona, when their normal life ended. They, the survivors, were allowed to rejoin their crewmates in death. I can't help but envision something akin to the ending of the movie "Titantic", after the elder Rose passes away at the end. The ship glows in her splendor as Rose rejoins those she knew who perished. My mind see's those whom survived, now passed away, ashes interred inside the sunken ship...their crewmates standing by, welcoming them back, the faint sound of a Glen Miller song being played overhead.

I walked to the remembrance hall. so many names I could not even begin to read or count. So many pairs of brothers who were aboard this ship, eternally lost to war. The parks service Ranger answering questions, with the sound of the Japanese language being spoken in the background. I couldn't help but wonder, if they were there to honor war and those fallen or to gloat for such a surprise and victorious attack. Either way, the past is the past and those who perished, on both sides, should be honored and remembered. They gave their lives for what they believed.

I made my way back to the side of the memorial, the first place I stood when I first came aboard. I did what I always swore I would do if I ever visited this place. I was never in any branch of the military, but I would not allow that to stop what I wanted to do. I stood at attention and saluted the ship and crew of the USS Arizona. The same way I stood at the Pacific War Memorial, glancing down at the list of the fallen sailors from the USS West Virginia, my home state ship and saluted them. It is the very least I could do for so many valiant men.

It is roughly estimated that over 418,000 US citizens died during World War II, both Pacific and European theaters. Our remembrance should not only be for those who died on December 7th, 1941, but also for the other 416,000 who gave their lives for our freedom.

Unfortunately, time was not freely given to allow visitors to spend as much as they would like on the Arizona. I suppose, to accommodate the thousands of visitors, a set time limit had to be enacted. I crossed to the forward view section of the memorial. Peering at the balloon buoy out in the water, recognizing it as the forward bow of the Arizona, my eyes peered close by, almost directly in front of the memorial itself. I watched as quarter size globs of oil..70 years old, broke the surface of the harbor and slowly began to disperse. It is said that, the Arizona leaks between 2 and 9 quarts of oil per day. I think I can almost believe that estimate, because I seen numerous droplets of oil coming to the surface of the water. My first thought..the Arizona still weeps for her crew!

The Arizona still weeps!!

As we were exiting the memorial, I turned once again, looking up the harbor, my mind racing, dreaming, imagining. The sounds I could hear, the bombs exploding, the sights of bodies lying in the water, and those trying to swim to the shore, escaping the hell that was unleashed upon them by the Japanese navy. Above the mooring pile for the USS West Virginia, a magnificent site, the USS Missouri, keeping silent vigil over her fallen sister ship. Here, in this one harbor that time has not forgotten, two mighty ships, the Arizona and Missouri, a representation of the beginning and end of World War II. Fitting, to say the least!

Here you have it. Pearl Harbor, or at least through my eyes. I have worked on it for days, but never really wanting to post it until December 7th. A tribute, not only to those who still lie aboard the Arizona, but to the thousands of other people who lost their lives that day and the years to follow.

Once I got aboard the tour boat that took us back to the mainland, I never turned my head to look back at the memorial. Never, until now, did I wonder why I didn't. Normally, I would turn, as if catching one last glance at something I find spectacular, as if knowing I will never see it again. But tonight, while putting the finishing touches on this latest blog entry, an entry I know only 2 or 3 will read, I think my reason was something else.

A realization!

We can never go back to Pearl. We can never change history! It is just that, a part of our past. As Admiral Yamamoto was quoted as saying shortly after the attack.."I fear we have only awoken a sleeping giant and filled him with resolve..", and indeed, America fought back with a vengeance and won. I never turned to take one last look at the Arizona, because to me, she will never be forgotten! Her crew will forever remain lying at rest inside her hull, still dressed as they were on December 7th. They will continue to welcome the last survivors aboard, as they fall asleep in this life, to serve in peace with their fallen comrades for all eternity.

We, America, must always be ready! Always be posed for war. Ready to protect our nation from any enemy, foreign or domestic which threatens our way of life., our freedom and our resolve.

I am reminded of President Abraham Lincolns, Gettysburg Address, something which is fitting here, at Pearl Harbor, long forgotten, but should never be. Teachers teach this to your students, lest we ever forget the sacrifice made by so many, a speech which simply reads...

" we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth." Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States.

We must never forget!

To me, this tribute, or personal perspective, would not be complete without mentioning another gallant ship and her brave crew. One ship still remains sunk at Pearl Harbor with 58 men and one baby girl aboard.

The USS Utah, BB-31/AG-16, a Florida Class Battleship, was designated as a training vessel in 1941. She, as well as other ships in the harbor were attacked and sunk by the Japanese navy.

Utah is listed as "The Forgotten Ship", reason being, she lies on the side of Ford Island where the only access to the memorial is through a naval residential area, thus off limits to non-military personnel and tourist. I heard, during my visit to Pearl Harbor, that the navy was working on a way which would keep privacy safe for their residential area and also allow visitors to the Utah. I think I would like to return when that visit is made possible.

The Utah sank well with-in 30 minutes of the attack, taking 58 sailors with her to the bottom of the harbor. But the sailors were not the only ones who went down with the Utah that day. The cremated remains of a 2 day old baby girl, Nancy Lynne Wagner, the daughter of Chief Yeoman Albert Thomas Dewitt Wagner.

Chief Yeoman Wagner's daughter was brought on board for a ceremony at sea. A tradition of the Wagners. He was awaiting the chaplain to come aboard the USS Utah on December 8th, to perform the burial at sea.

Chief Yeoman Wagner survived the attack that day, but was unable to recover his daughters urn, which he stored in his locker on the Utah.

The childs surviving twin sister, Mary Dianne Wagner Kreigh, was quoted once as saying, "

In retrospect, "I don't think there is a better tribute to my twin sister than to have all those wonderful and brave men guarding her,"

"It would have been wonderful if she had lived, but since she did not, I feel nothing but pride and pleasure that she is in such magnificent company. I could have not asked for anything better than for her to be tenderly, carefully looked after by America's finest."

No, dear ship, you will in no way ever be forgotten!

The harbor holds many souls. Cherishes them and keeps them safe with-in her watery bosom. They are part of her and will always remain a part of her as long as we remember.

I saluted all who perished that day. It was the least I could do.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Mahalo Oahu Aloha

Seeing how I am now getting to be an expert on "stupid things to do, that I always wanted to but now do it and blame it on middle age crazy", I decided not to stay in West Virginia for Thanksgiving this year. I have always wanted to visit Hawaii. Never actually had a specific island in mind, knowing eight island masses make up the gorgeous state. I hit a certain travel web site and ended up on the island of O'ahu.

Now the other islands have their charms I am sure. After spending a week on O'ahu, I can only imagine what the other islands have to offer. Certain, one charm would be the Big Island of Hawaii and its still active volcanoes. Of course this includes the islands of Mau'i, Moloka'i, Lana'i and Kaua'i, each one certain to be a paradise all it's own.

Middle aged crazy! A title I have now labeled the downhill portion of my life's ride or momentary lapses in logical judgement have caused me to do some pretty silly things since I passed the age of 45. But I now feel that making a trip to the 50th state was no lapse of judgement. It was possibly one of the best ideals I have ever had.

My arrival to the island of O'ahu was well anticipated, not only for the shear fact that I had never been there before but also for the one reason of being on a flight for 13 hours, nursing an excessively soar butt, lack of sleep and the unquenchable desire to stand upright. Listen, if your legs were as long as mine, confined in a seat designed for a 1o year old and seated third seat over near the window, you would know what I meant!

Sadly, my flight to the island ended close to 10 PM Hawaiian time, or 3 AM eastern standard time, a time zone my body was still stuck in, regardless of what my watch attempted to convince it of, so it was rather dark outside. I had wanted to be able to look out the plane window and see the approach of the island, thinking that would be a spectacular sight in its own. But was unable to fulfill. After all that time in flight, my buttocks cussing me since somewhere over Alabama,( I knew it was Alabama because the plane had a moving map on the LED display in front of me), I was just as tickled to see land, or lights!

Now, I know people have things that they do not wish to be placed in general baggage. I, myself had a laptop I didn't want crushed, so carried it on the plane with me. But I have a problem with those who carry rolling baggage that barely passes the airlines size limit on board. Taking time to shove, push, tamp, cuss, coerce, pound and all but take dynamite and attempt to blow it into the small overhead baggage compartment, thus causing me to stand in the cramped isle waiting, seemingly, with patience, which I lost after my first plane landed in Atlanta.

Their next incredible feat came when the plane landed at its destination. One by one, isle by isle, they take their time getting out of their seats and standing, always looking back to the end of the plane, as if hoping someone was taking their picture or simply be nosey. Stretching a bit, those who were under 5 foot tall, then proceeding to take their time, opening the overhead baggage compartment and gently removing their precious bag that they didn't want roughly handled by ground personnel. Yea, right!....Of course, my seat assignment always placed me near the back of the aircraft so I had to find a whole hell of a lot of patience. And yes, that is what I lost in Atlanta.

Thankful, extremely so, when I did manage to get off the plane, I proceeded to walk inside the terminal. Airport terminals are not designed for simplicity. They are designed to confuse simple minded people such as myself and to help those health minded ones keep their workout routines. It felt like it took almost as long to go from the landing terminal to the departure terminal as it did to actually fly from one place to the other. Once off the plane you take out your ticket, look at the next flight and find the monitor which told you about all the flights. See, very, very quickly, what the number of the terminal was where your next flight will be leaving and hope to God you know where you are going.

Honolulu International was not much different. But this time, I wasn't trying to hurry to my next departure terminal, just simply find where my suitcase was going to be haphazardly thrown out onto a carousel amidst thousands of other suitcases. The walkways from one place to another took the passenger outside the terminals. The cold weather I was accustomed to in West Virginia was absent when I got to Hawaii. A breeze was blowing, warm, but not to warm and the absence of humidity made me smile. Palm trees waving in the breeze, the sound of Hawaiian music playing on the intercom speakers, mhm, I was in Hawaii.

Once I found the area where my luggage was suppose to be returned to me, I huddled among the masses who also were waiting. I quickly found that, there were a thousand people standing there, and only 9 of them spoke anything resembling english, of which, I wasn't sure I was one of them.

Somewhere, working at the airport, someone knew me. They apparently had a grudge against me or had a sister I once dated or knew someone I dated. They knew my past and felt it was required by Hawaiian state law to make me pay for all my past mistakes in life. They knew me! So, here I stood, at the baggage carousel, waiting for my luggage. Luggage which was not coming down that weird contraption anytime soon apparently. But I was patient! Patient until I realized one key important thing. I didn't remember what color my suitcase was!! Oh here was a new problem. The stark realization of waiting for something which obviously already passed me by a dozen times and stupid old me, not realizing I may have let my suitcase pass me by...simply because I forgot what color it was! Was it the red one? The black one? Was it the red one which looked like the one I seen in my closet at home? Did I pack the red one? Wait! No! It wasn't mine, it belonged to the Chinese! Or maybe they liked my red suitcase and decided to take it instead! Hmm, the Chinese stole my red suitcase!

I looked down at the little carry on case I had in my hand. Something resembling a purple material. Not a woman color purple, but a cool color purple. Perhaps my large suitcase was also this color. Could it be that I was color coordinated? Me? Yea, right!! So I took a gamble, walked up to another red suitcase, looked at it and placed it back on the wasn't mine!! And the Chinese hadn't stolen it. About that time, a purplish color case came through the mouth of the vile machine. Could that be mine? Was it even possible that after waiting for a thousand hours the baggage gods would grant me favor by allowing mercy from the handlers and I would receive my suitcase? I quickly jumped on that bag when it came around, willing and ready to fight the Chinese, Americans, Japanese, Koreans, Russians and any other nationality standing nearby. Yes, by gosh I was tired, worn out, sore, in serious pain, aching, throbbing, sick at my stomach, thirsty and staved to death!!! I was willing to start World War III over my suitcase and by god whoever tried to take it would feel the wrath of the Keeper of the Warehouse!!! I WANTED MY BAG!!! wasn't mine!

Damit, I wanted my bag! I wanted it now! Why? What did I do to deserve this kind of treatment from the airlines? Why were they finding such amusement in making me wait? Make me be the last person in the airport to receive their baggage! Wait! Maybe my bag was lost! Maybe it went to Hong Kong! Oh my god!!! The Chinese did have my luggage! What else do they want? They already own 98 percent of America and it's once proud industries. All of our jobs they now owned and the majority of what Wal-Mart now sells comes from there. Why did they want my baggage? What would I do if my baggage was lost and never made it to O'ahu with me? Would I have to buy new underwear? OMG! I didn't have clean underwear now! Mom always said to have clean underwear incase I was ever in an accident. Why, I was never sure of, maybe it had something to do with my HMO or medical insurance coverage. but now I am screwed since my luggage was apparently placed on another flight and is on its way to Hong Kong!

Just when I was about to go into a nervous fit, I saw the machine spit out another purplish bag. Not woman purplish mind you, but a cool purple. Could this be mine? Could my clean undies be in this bag? Did it miss me? Wanted me, desired to be held in my strong hands? Caressed once again by someone who cared for it?.....Wait,,sorry, that's a whole totally new blog! And nothing to do with my suitcase!

Here it came and I pounced on it like a starved Siberian Tiger, quickly took it in my hand and turned it to see the name on the label. Yes,,hallelujah!!!! It was mine! All mine! I am saved, I now have clothing!!!

With all the things which belonged to me in tow, not apologizing to the Chinese for accusing them of stealing my belongings, they wanted it anyway and I knew it, I proceeded to my next challenge. My vacation package also included a rental car and I needed information on where to obtain that thing. The trip to the hotel was not so much a challenge since I already mapquested the trip from the airport to the motel and was ready to tackle the island traffic to get there.

A wonderful lady who worked at the information desk was willing to assist me with my request. Again, keep in mind, not many people there spoke english! Now before someone ready this gets angry with me, I must explain my reasoning for this remark. In no way am I stating that the native people of the gorgeous state of Hawaii can't speak english. They do, with a slight accent of course, but one is able to understand them. My thing is this, there are so many immigrants in this nation and the airports have employed so many of them, forgetting that local people need jobs too. Their lack of skill at speaking our language leaves those less fortunate at language comprehension, such as myself, with the ability to understand what the hell they are saying. All I understood her to say was,,"outside, cross something or another, and wait for something or another".

I thanked her. It was shear politeness and thus required by common ediquette to thank someone for their attempt and thus not my fault I had no dam clue what she meant. I took my stuffage and walked out the door. The barrage of a thousand different languages filled the Hawaiian night air. Hundreds of cars, buses, and such were quickly moving up and down the street in front of the airport.

Ok, here I am, standing outside, baggage in tow, no ideal where I am going or how to get there. Information Lady's information being sketchy at best, I must now use my superior knowledge to decipher what to do or where to go. As I stood there, waiting, looking and exhausted, I noticed some of the shuttle vans having rental car logos on them. I looked at my intinerary and saw what company Priceline had used to provide me a car. Thus hoping I saw a shuttle bus with the word "National" written on it. Since, obviously, I had rented a car from National Car Rentals. Duh!!!!

Long story short, which may be the title of yet another blog entry, I did not get the car simply because my credit card was in my business name and did not have my personal name on it. I can't or won't even begin to describe what I felt at that moment and knew if I didn't mind myself and control my emotions, I would end up a guest at the Honolulu Police Department Regent Hotel. I was rather pissed. And that's being mildly stated! I ask, sort of in a controlled,kind but reserved tone, if the small lady with the huge accent across the rental car counter would be so kind to call me a cab since she robbed me of my right to drive a car there myself. She did with a smile, a smile I wish I could have crammed down her little immigrant throat!! Did I mention I was tired that night? Possibly!

The cab ride was another incredible adventure. Given to me by yet another incredible immigrant. Please let me clarify, I am not against people who legally come to the USA and become a citizen. As long as they do it legally! America is populated by people whos ancestors are from another country. Unless, of course, they happen to be of Native American decent. As I tried to look at Honolulu in the night, read the signs and still try to pray that the hotel didn't require the same thing on my credit card that the car rental place did...or else I was majorly screwed for 5 days. Now wishing I had not taken this trip, thinking what if I can't check into a room which was already paid for, like my rental car was. What would I do?

As I watched the meter on the dashboard of this mini-van and noticing how many times the driver hit his blue tooth ear piece talking in some language I had yet to identify, the amount of the ride was escalating! Hoping my motel was not on the other end of the island or that I would have enough cash in my wallet to pay for the fare, we pulled into the place where I was to stay. AT $35.50 FOR THE RIDE!!! Customary, I know, to tip cab drivers, I was not in any way feeling customary, nor after charging me that amount, were I going to fork out a, "here since you dont make enough money, get your kids braces with this extra cash I wont be needing anymore while I am here" cash tip! Screw it, get a better paying job!

I am sure I will follow this blog with yet another add on to the trip to Hawaii. In all truth, O'ahu was amazingly incredible. Perhaps after day one, and I rested, I ran out of descriptive words to describe this incredible place.

Once at the hotel, I proceeded to the counter. Dreading what was to follow but so seriously needing a shower and a bed, I waited on some young couple who didn't like the room they were given nor the floor it was on. I waited and waited, my legs almost ready to commit mutiny on me and go sit down without the rest of me. My ass and back were applauding the proposed coup against the rest of my body and thus overthrow if they could make it without me.

Sort of a relief when the lady behind the counter ask if I were checking in and gave me papers to fill out. "Oh god, I am close", I thought to myself, hoping the credit card thingy didn't stop my apparent happy time. The young couple in front of me were dragging their check in as long as they could. Apparently they knew who I was as well and knew how long I had been on that dam plane and how tired I was and how badly I wanted to go to bed. THEY KNEW!!! And like the baggage crew at the airport, they wanted to torture me! But finally, after seemingly hours of whining over their proposed room, it was my time.

Anticipation and a slight chance of being weary, yea the credit card thing, I completed my check in. Looking at the clerk behind the counter, I told her I didn't care what room it was, where it was located, what it looked like or if it faced the ocean or the freaking laundry. All I wanted was a place to stay, a bed or couch to sleep on, wasn't interested in a phone, refrigerator or amenities. I needed a shower and sleep. And thus the worry about a fallen, fracked up vacation came to an end when she smiled at me, explained the simple rules and reach me my credit card type room keys! I was smiling like a politician on facebook!!! I had a room and my adventure on O'ahu could begin.

I suppose I should come to a quick end to this blog. I titled it Mahalo Oahu Aloha ad have drifted so far from the titles meaning. I hated the flight over and the flight back, this is true. I lost money on my car rental and wasn't able to get it back. But the things I saw while I was there. The beauty of O'ahu and the hospitality of the Hawaiian people are without question.

In my travels along lifes road, I have seen many places. Well places that are found here on the North American continent. From the coast of Florida to the coast of Maine. Traveled down to the Big Easy (New Orleans) to enjoy the excitement of Mardi Gras. Journeyed to the coast of the Great Lakes to watch my son in Pass in Review when he finished basic training in the navy. Out to the California coast and seen the vast diversity of the state. Swam in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Seen the Mighty Missisip and the shores of the Gulf of Mexico.

I have seen the USS Constitution sitting in Boston Harbor, and walked down the very same path that Paul Revere walked. Sat in the Old North Church and imagined Robert Newman climbing to the steeple, at the ready to signal the oncoming army of the British. So many memories I have and things I hold dear to my heart.

But the island of O'ahu has to top it all. Yes, dear avid reader, those one or two of you who read my ramblings, there will be more to this Hawaiian adventure, but that place made such an impact on me.

The Pacific ocean was so clear and pristine, I have never seen an ocean so incredible clear. The lush vegetation that grew everywhere, even in the crater of Diamond Head. The flowers that are constantly in bloom in vast assortment and sizes. Mountains so massive that many of them dwarf the mountains of my own beloved West Virginia.

Food that is also incredible and the taste of fresh pineapple, macadameia nuts. Coconuts and now knowing that the water inside the shell isn't coconut milk, but rather made by crushing the flesh from inside of a coconut and squeezing it from that flesh. I will always remember the sights, Pearl Harbor, Diamond Head Crater and Waikiki beach. Honolulu at sunset and how spectacular the shoreline looks on the way up the coast to Laie and the show at the Polynesian Culture Center on a clear quiet evening.

When it came time for me to depart, I sat in the hotel lobby listening to the Hawaiian music playing in the background. Watched so many people with their Hawaiian shirts on, and the beauty of the landscape. I took a deep breath of fresh, wonderful Hawaiian air and listened to the sounds of the shore. I walked along the peir one more time and looked at the ocean floor, the pacific still so clear you could watch crabs walking on the ocean floor.

I watched the surfers taking to the sea, hoping to catch that one wave that will hoist them to superstardom. The kindness of the people and the shear beauty of it all. I didn't want to leave Hawaii and wish I had the time and money to have toured all the islands. Who knows? Maybe one day I shall return to O'ahu. One day I will be able to greet someone on the street with a simple "Aloha cousin". I will never forget this place. And hope my memory never leaves me, or I have indeed lost so much.

With this said and so much more I will add in later blogs about Hawaii. And as the title of this blog states, I will say it again in the language of the islands...Maholo O'ahu, aloha......simply meaning, Thank you O'ahu, and goodbye...