USMC Bootcamp PTSD #metoo

I saw a story today about a drill instructor who hazed his recruits, called them names, and destroyed them in some cases so badly that they killed themselves. I’ve been suffering from post-USMC bootcamp PTSD for more than twenty years. I remember being put in the dryer at MCT in California, I remember being brutally beaten, I remember having our platoons lined up after hand to hand combat training and being told that only the best of the best could be sent to Iraq and to get ready to kill or be killed by the recruits in the other platoons. We believed it, it was the eve of the first Gulf War, we were told that we were heading to our deaths every day. We had a recruit break on the firing line during M-16 qualifications and turn the gun on the rest of us – no one was hit. We had low crawl excercises with (we were told and I believe it to be true) live weapon fire over us as we crawled through concertina wire. We were beaten, called every name you can imagine and instilled with a disgusting and racist hatred of Arabs, Muslims, and Russians. We had boxing ‘smokers’ where little guys like me got the shit kicked out of us over and over again by big hulking monsters. The drill instructors were like demons. I asked for help dealing with the nightmares and the constant panic attacks after I got out – I’d developed a severe self-medicating and debilitating alcohol dependence during my four years in the service – I had multiple alcohol related incidents – I was sent to rehab and then put back in the hard drinking barracks environment – I sought help for that too when I got out and for that and the panic, and the ptsd, and the night terrors – I was assigned to a VA psychologist who didn’t ask me anything but used our sessions to reminisce about killing Vietnamese and fucking prostitutes. Now, at forty-five, I feel like I finally have things under control – but those twenty five years of severe PTSD and ill advised self medicating with drugs and alcohol – it’s no wonder I don’t own a home, haven’t built a career, and haven’t managed to save anything for retirement – thanks a lot USMC. Happy Birthday. Uh-rah.

Cocoo the Coconut – A Tropical Children’s Story

I’ve written a nice children’s story. It doesn’t have any of the dark themes that I usually write about in it. It’s simple, lyrical, and nice. You can have a listen to it here

And, if you are interested in seeing it in print – you can help by claiming some of the fun rewards I’ve put together on my Kickstarter page. I’ve found a wonderful illustrator and I’m trying to get enough money together to pay her to illustrate the rest of the story. I only had enough to pay her for one watercolor painting so far, but I’d like to have each stanza illustrated.

Thank you for your support! Even if you can’t support it financially – any help you can give in sharing on social media or websites or personal contacts would be greatly appreciated! Thank you!

Cocoo the Coconut

I’m a Dam Idiot – Really, it’s my ancestry

We always had stories about Native American ancestors and suspiciouns about some Asian ancestors and a lot of other stories in our family. My surname was always a bit of a mystery – it sounded Italian but we were told we were French German on that side. So, recently, I got a genetic test done to see. It turns out that we’re white people through and through. My DNA test showed that my heritage is roughly 50% Scotch/Irish/Welsh and 47% French German with about 1% English 1% Greek/Italian and .5% Eastern European and .5% Iberian (Spanish,Portuguese). The genetic test also came back and said there was a very high probablility that my ancestors were among the first European colonists to North America. It was all pretty interesting so I took a free membership the ancestry site and did some late night digging. I found some interesting brances of the family. My 4th great grandmother was the sister of Daniel Boone the great frontiersman. And, from many sides, my family had indeed come to North America with the earliest colonists – even on one of the most famous ships of them all the Mayflower. There were many prominent great uncles and such- but honestly, no real stand out historical direct ancestors. On my maternal grandmothers side there was more of that as well as a lot of McLeods, McDonalds, and McKinnons. And of course, following my name back was the most interesting. The Damitios came from France to the United States in the early-mid 1800s and always kept going west. They were probably trying to get away from the memory of what their name had once been – but even here in Hawaii – as far west as I can go – the origin of the name has finally caught up with me. Tracing the name back to the mid 1500s in Alsace-Lorraine in modern day France, I find the earliest ancestor with my name – well, the earlier version of it – Nicolas Damitio didn’t spell it the way his descendents did – back then and for a couple of generations following – our proud name was spelled in a more descriptive way. Damidiot. Yeah, I’m a dam idiot. I’m descended from dam idiots. It all makes sense now. So, let me summarize – I am a white dam idiot. If I didn’t already have a child who shares my name, I would probably consider changing it to something like Darndummy or Dangfool or maybe just Nincompoop. I’ve tried to look into the origin of the Damidiot name, but it seems that my ancestors were at least smart enough to change it and try leaving it behind – not so me, however. I’ve pulled it right back out into the daylight. Chris Dam Idiot.

Moving is Hard Work….

Just in case I forgot to mention it – moving is really hard work.Mentally and physically it is extremely challenging and the past month, I’ve been working in a state of hyper-overdrive. The amount of stuff that has been accomplished seems insurmountable when I look back on it…this is just the major list…there were countless smaller tasks and heavy objects…

1) Selling our antique store
2) Selling our little community paper
3) Training the new owners and taking care of details
4) Finding a job in Hawaii before moving here
5) Finding an apartment in Hawaii before moving here
6) Coming to Hawaii on a brief trip to secure said job and apartment
7) Packing our lives up into a 10×6 trailer
8) Delivering the trailer to Oakland and then driving back (1000 mile trip)
9) Liquidating our entire household (except what we shipped in the trailer)
10) Selling our vehicles and other cargo trailers
11) Storing my Vanagon
12) Flying across the ocean with my wife and five year old
13) Buying a car
14) Renting a storage unit
15) Furnishing our apartment
16) Starting a new career
17) Selling the trailer
18) Selling at the Hawaii All Collectors Show
19) Unpacking
20) Registering my daughter for school
21) Changing my phone anddrivers license over to Hawaii
And the list goes on and on …. technically, to be fair, this process started at the very end of May, so it’s been about 40 days … I’m exhausted and my body and mind feel like they’ve been through a serious beating…thank god it’s time to get to work. My vacation is now almost over.

Busy Busy Busy Busy and Busy

I have a lot of stuff. It all needs to go away from where we live by the end of the month. My wife has a lot of stuff. Our daughter has a lot of stuffed animals. All of this is keeping me pretty busy. Packing, sorting, pricing (for a total estate liquidation) and more. I’m thankful that I bought a quality trailer, but not so thankful that it started leaking in one of Oregon’s wettest and gravest winters since they started keeping records. And the rain just keeps on coming…that complicates things…but my options are limited so I pack it in the trailer in tubs the best that I can. What else can I do? I am working very hard to figure out exactly where that trailer is going to go and how it is going to get there…moving us is easy, moving the stuff is more problematic. My Vanagon isn’t made to pull anything larger than a utility trailer – so it won’t do. I sold my Jeep Cherokee which is good because it wasn’t really up to the job either. I’m working on selling the Vanagon to raise money for our transition – but much to my surprise – the market for Vanagons seems to have cooled a bit from where it was a few months ago. This particular market seems to have peaked and then gone a bit higher before dropping down and leveling at a still very reasonable price range which is several thousand dollars below the peak. I’ve noticed a huge increase in inventory availability on craigslist in the past month – which means that for the moment – everyone who wants one and can pay for it probably has one. It probably also means that now is a great time to buy a Vanagon or VW but not the best time to sell one. So, Misefrou may come with us when we figure out exactly where we are going. That wouldn’t be a bad thing – but the money would be useful at the moment. Still, I’m doing everything I can and trusting in the universal to bring about the right circumstances. This last week was busy – my daughter had her kindergarten graduation – I was proud as punch as all the kids walked on stage and said what they wanted to be when they grow up “army, jet pilot, mother, vet, basketball player” and then comes my little girl – the smallest girl in the school and she walks up and they have to pull the mic down for her and she says in a clear and confident voice “When I grow up I want to be a paleontologist.” There were audible gasps – I’m guessing that a large number of the adults in the room didn’t know what the word meant, but she did. So proud of my little genius and the math we do every morning, the reading we’ve been working on together for years now, all the fun study we do together and the smart conversations – this was payment in full with interest. Wow. Yesterday I looked at my annual list of goals for this year and was able to put check marks next to many of them or to update with positive progress…things are happening. I am so thankful. So very very thankful. Things are happening. Good things are happening. I’ve become cautious though about counting my chickens before they hatch. There is lots and lots of work to be done still. I’d better get to it.

The World Is Not Ending unless I’m a Kastanza

So much of my life has been built on the suggestions of others. Not the least of which (actually, almost the greatest of which) was that the world as we know it was going to come crashing down. I’m naive and gullible. I believe it when people I love or respect say things – even when I should know better. Things like the big California earthquake is going to destroy us all (1975-1979) nuclear war is going to destroy us all (1980-1988) AIDS/HIV is going to kill everyone (1984-1994) there is going to be a huge race war (1976-1988) the Russians are going to invade like Red Dawn (1984-1988) Saddam Hussein is going to use chemical weapons and WMDs and destroy the world starting with the Middle East (1990-2003) Al Queda/ISIS is going to destroy America (2001-present), Y2k is going to destroy the world economy and create chaos (2000) Ebola (1994 &2011) Zika (2016), the Mayan Prophecy is going to destroy the world (2012) Obama is going to get assassinated by right wing hate-holes and a race war will rip apart the USA (2008-2012) and now Donald Trump is going to turn the USA into Nazi Germany or start a nuclear war with North Korea. I realize I’m late getting to the party, but I’ve finally reached the conclusion that the world is not going to end in my lifetime or any time soon. So I’m sharing it with you.

The problem is that in my naïveté, I was so sure that the world was going to end that I didn’t bother making preparations in case the world didn’t come to an end. I’ve lived my life in such a way that I could feel good about making the most of the time I have been alive and not worry about what will happen when I become old and unable to take care of myself. Oops.

Of course, I might just be a George Kastanza in which case now that I am preparing for a world that won’t end – it might just.