Dead Men Tell No Tales: The Memory That Fuels the Fire

How and where to start – that is always the question. Twenty years of life, remembered in pained echoes and splintered moments; jumbled images and juxtaposed emotions. You spend years trying to figure it out, piecing things together like a puzzle – trying to solve the mystery of your own life. Weren’t you there, living it? Weren’t you there, breathing it? How can you fail to remember?
Everything is tainted by some corrupted lens – or then again, is it? Perception is reality, and you’ve always been able to prove whatever argument you want someone else convinced of. Where are the lies and where is the truth? Does the truth even matter anymore?
Who are you, where are you, how did you get there and why can’t you remember?
The only commitment you hold sacred is the promise to torture yourself. You don’t feel the heat of the flames anymore – the pillars of fire in the place of bridges that cross an ever deepening divide. Every word, every thought, every person and every experience just deepens the abyss. You endure, you will always endure, because death is too sweet of a release for you. Suffer in silence and keep your emotions private – that is what a man is to do.
Every now and again, as the smoke clears, you see her figure at the other end of the divide. Why won’t she fade as all the others have? Why won’t she leave you alone? The lies you told yourself – that she had left you, she had grown disinterested in you – replaced with a terrible truth. It was you, all along, that had pushed her away. Why yearn for her still, then? Why would she be interested in you? The confusion and pain and torment provide fuel for the blaze – the memory that fuels the fire.
And the cycle continues. The flames rise and you see HER figure in the terrible heat and destruction. There since birth, SHE left you with no choices. Caged like an animal, you played by HER rules and learned HER tricks to survive. You yearned for the freedom and thought it would save you; thought it would make everything the way it should be. Nothing changed and now you wonder how much of the pain and conflict was internal, and how much of it will be eternal.
How and where to start – that is always the question. None of these thoughts are a beginning at all. They are the present story. What birthed the fissure, why is the man stranded and alone, is he a man at all? Somewhere, hidden away from the world, is a small boy crying silently to himself. Don’t show the world your pain. Don’t let them know you hurt. Don’t let your mother know you love her. Things will be easier this way.
SHE says it’s because of your sister – that’s why you aren’t close. The day your sister was brought home, things between you and HER were never the same. SHE tells you this, years and years later, drudging up the guilt and the hurt, and you pity HER. SHE takes that pity and she twists it, turning it into a dagger and piercing you right in the heart; twisting the blade so the wound will never close, the trauma hardening it until it feels no longer.
But we’re jumping around in time, aren’t we? Chronology, chronology. Cause and effect. That must be the key – what happened and when did it happen? Remembering your life as a series of disjointed episodes and fleeting impressions fails to answer fundamental questions. Isn’t there some way you can rebuild? The years of malnutrition and insomnia deadened the neural networks that house those elusive ‘truths’ – those memories. But what you remember must be right and must be true, mustn’t it?
You are hurt and lost, your protector wallowing in the irony that is failing to commit suicide – he is far, far away from you. Your shield has been stripped of you, exposed for the failure that he was, and SHE won’t tolerate his behavior anymore. You remind HER of them and more – you are everything that SHE hates in this world, and they aren’t there to block and divert her. You bear the full brunt of it, and it permeates. You think you are handling it well and that it has no effect, but you are so young and you know so little. The world isn’t fair, and you don’t yet know it, but you will learn. Holding back tears, once you have learned you will remember and all you will want is to reach out and hold you, embrace you – it’s all you ever needed.
SHE tells you what you are – defines you. You are unlovable. You are greedy. You are a fucking worthless son of a bitch – and the irony of this statement does not elude you. You are a fuck up and an embarrassment. You are an accident. You are an ungrateful whining sniveling little shit. This doesn’t bother you, but the contrast does: You are loved. You are the favored son. You are the source of pride. You are the pride and joy. You try to add it up in your head – you are the unlovable favored son? The fucking worthless son of a bitch that is the source of pride? You are an accident and loved? Nothing makes sense, nothing makes sense. Every single day, nothing makes sense. There are no patterns.
Why won’t anyone touch you?
No one – you knew it then and you know it now – will ever understand you. But out of nowhere, you catch her eye and she yours. She listens and she understands and she cares. Yet there are others, and you are young and you don’t know what love is. How were you to know? For you, love only immediately followed punishment. Love was the band-aid used to excuse the worst kind of psychological trauma and abuse – the festering illness that no one would ever acknowledge. It’s all in your head, it’s not a problem. It’s all in your head. Stop being such a whiner. Stop over exaggerating. Just think better – that’s all! You are such a fucking failure.
The days turn into weeks turn into months turn into years and suddenly she is no more. You are in a different place – a place you’d never been and a place you’ll never be able to return to. Only later will you uncover the records – the words that cannot lie – and discover what it was that you did. You told her that you did not trust her, that you did not care, that you did not want her in your life. You told her that you were done thinking about her and caring for her. Coincidences – she turns to drugs and falls deep into her own abyss. Responsibility – you bare it like a cross.
You can’t be sure but later you believe she is the first person you hurt. There will be many, many others. But as much as you hurt others, you hurt yourself. You can’t even be sure – beyond all doubt – that it was you that caused those things to happen to her, but you don’t believe in coincidence. And you certainly don’t deserve providence. Those things that SHE said are all adding up to be true.
Compartmentalize, compartmentalize – hide yourself away in writings you intentionally lose, journals you will later delete, and letters you will never send. Adopt a song as a form of release and allow the pain to be sung away. Soon, the song replaces the memory as personal history, and you can’t remember the origin, only the feeling. The more you cope, the less you remember and the more people want to know. What to do, what to do? Who are you, who are you?
Your name is John but few call you that – is that even how you know yourself?
You disappear and hide away. You disguise the reasons in intellectual pursuits, you forget the pain in exile. Everyone you know must no longer know you. You commit apostasy and you make radical changes. Nothing you do allows you to escape this, the essence of who you are. Nothing you do allows you to escape from the memory that fuels the fire.
These thoughts, these feelings, they only reflect a small kernel of truth. They are a small part of the real reason, a tiny piece of the puzzle that comprises the memory that fuels the fire. But it is all you can do – to come any closer to that memory renders you immobile and useless. It will consume you just as surely as it has consumed everything else, and the pain of reaching out for it is unbearable. What would happen if you were to actually touch it? Would you be undone?
Thoughts like these will never end. No full explanation can ever be provided. There is always more to say and more still that will remain unsaid.
All the other explanations you have offered, all of the intellectual posturing and rationalizations, are just disguises – distractions for the memory that fuels the fire.
It’s a silent murder

It’s a grave that sings your song
It’s a quiet failure
It’s the one that makes you strong

This, this is why I can’t love.


Three complete tales and one half complete one (the Epic one, no less). The incomplete tale could take a long time to finish, as I’d have to synthesize about 350 kb of chat logs… ugh.


Introducing: Dead Men Tell No Tales

Hello, nonexistant audience.

It’s been a long while since I’ve really been a good blogger. I don’t update very often, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been thinking. Recently, I’ve been trying to organize the history of my life and collect it all in one convenient location – this blog – and to that end I am starting  a new feature here. It is called Dead Men Tell No Tales; reason being, if I were dead, I wouldn’t be able to tell any tales! No, seriously though, it is because otherwise these stories and thoughts would be lost to time, and I think they are (at the very least) articulate accounts of my thoughts and feelings at the time of writing.
I will be posting them according to when I wrote them, so they shouldn’t show up on the main page; however, every time I complete a new DMTNT episode, I will write a quick post with links so you can enjoy the new content. The first such episode, my side of a debate with LW, is up. (I don’t include HER letters because I feel as though it violates her privacy, and that is also why I don’t fully name her.) 
Without further ado:

Dead Men Tell No Tales: The Keesler Saga V: The Wedding

What is Dead Men Tell No Tales? It is a selection of (hitherto) undisclosed, private ruminations and epiphanies. Most take the form of (slightly) edited letters to unnamed recipients, but some have been scavenged from the depths of private journals recently rediscovered. Over the next little while (however long it takes – days, weeks, months, years?) I’ll be posting them in episodic fashion for the reading pleasure of my nonexistent audience.

In The Keesler Saga, our melancholy author reflects on his experiences at his MOS School. The Wedding wraps up the saga, recounting a fond event I shared with friends.
Been a while, I know. I’m terrible at these things. I just don’t like writing about myself any more. I used to love writing. But that’s all for another time.
I got back from my buddy’s (Echo 3 Zulu) wedding yesterday. I left on Thursday after school. I’m going to try and recount the trip as fully as I can while it’s still fresh in my mind, mostly because I really enjoyed it!
My flight on Thursday featured a stop off in Atlanta, Georgia (out of Gulfport, Mississippi) before finishing off at Chicago O’Hare airport. On the flight to Atlanta, I sat next to an elderly gentleman (by elderly, I mean fifties or so) who noticed the book I was reading: Idlewild by Nick Sagan. The book was kind of a niche one, so I was impressed he recognized it; further, he knew of Nick’s father Carl Sagan (the man who was responsible for the nuclear winter theory, which was pretty influential in saving the world from nuclear annihilation in the days of the Cold War). So we chatted a bit about books (Orson Scott Card came up, and he liked Speaker for the Dead too!) and history.
Found out the guy worked at the Pentagon and used to be an Air Force officer. He was very familiar with the Marines and their multiple contributions to warfighting innovations, so that was cool. He also stated that “The Marines’ best kept secret is the fact that they’re actually very smart. They let people get away with the whole dumb brute facade…” In a small world moment, he mentioned he knew pretty much all the big wigs here on Keesler AFB, including the black two star General (not sure of his name, but I mentioned I saw him handing out chows and the gentleman said he had talked to this General about that the other day) and Brigadier General Touhill (the commander for the training squadron on Keesler).
Stopped off in Atlanta, chatted with my brother, flew into Chicago (finished reading Idlewild for the second time on the flight) and had to wait forever to get my bags. Echo 3 Kilo picked me up from the airport (part of Zulu’s class – they graduated September 26th and were on leave. Zulu is going to Okinawa, Kilo is going to Cherry Point, N.C.). In his vehicle was this chick named Victoria. She seemed kind of annoying and looked a bit like a skeleton. Turns out she’s not too bright either: according to Kilo, she doesn’t know what words like “possess” mean, and she’s been fired from something like 12 jobs in the past year because she’ll make personal phone calls while people are waiting to be serviced. Excellent! 
I got picked up around 2330 and we went over to Kilo’s brother’s house. Kilo’s brother was this larger (in the gut) Russian guy. He greeted us outside his cheap apartment in a shitty high-rise wearing only an overcoat and some shorts (ironically in dress shoes). The coat was not buttoned up, so his large, hairy gut was hanging out. It actually endeared him to me, for it reminded me of my own brother (although my brother is skinnier in my memory). Along with Kilo’s brother was this guy named Paul – apparently Kilo’s brother only hangs out with Paul to make fun of him. Paul is a 24 year old virgin who doesn’t work or go to school, and says shit like “I wouldn’t mind drinking HER piss!” 
Kilo’s brother proceeds to drink a lot (which he’d already been doing) and gets on Paul’s nerves. Paul and Victoria fight – Victoria constantly calling him a pussy and a faggot. Of particular queerness was the way she picked on him for, of all things, his hands. Apparently she has a fetish for hands. In any case, Paul constantly calls her a bitch, while Victoria constantly calls him a homo. Khait and his brother trade off turns on the computer, looking up random Russian rap videos, and Khait’s brother leg sweeps Paul into the deck a few times. Eventually this gets boring and Victoria wants to go home, so Kilo and I oblige her.
Kilo and I stop off in a shitty restaurant that reminded me of Shari’s in Bellingham or the Village Inn in Utah; it was called the Omega Restaurant. The food pretty much sucked. We go to Kilo’s parent’s house and crash. It’s 0300 on Friday, and we need to be up by 0600 so we have time to get to Utah by 1500 for the wedding rehearsal. When we wake up three hours later, Kilo gathers his shit together. I have awkward run-ins with his family, who don’t speak a lick of English (and I don’t speak a lick of Russian): kind faces and unsure handshakes ensue, with Kilo offering no help to bridge the language gap. When I inquired later as to why, he explained “You aren’t ever gonna fuckin see ’em again, so what’s matter?” Touche.
The drive over is pretty uneventful. We take some photos of Iowa novelty, such as the rolling corn fields or the convenience stores named “Kum and Go,” listen to news radio, and laugh when Victoria calls completely distraught over losing yet another job. We arrive safe and sound by 1200, check in to the room and dump our crap off, and call up Zulu. He was going to get picked up by one of his aunts but we grab him instead so we can hang out.
We go over to a nice little restaurant (I think it was called the Granite City) and I got a typical Donner dish: salmon with rice pilaf. The food’s pretty good. We’re all eagerly looking forward to the wedding. The greater Urbandale/Des Moines area is pretty nice too: a clean city, not too crowded, well landscaped, good climate. It would have been great growing up there, and I wouldn’t mind settling down there. After lunch we head over to the mall; again, not to crowded but still really nice and clean. It was two stories and had some pretty good stores and selections and what not.
We go to the rehearsal and meet up with Echo 3 Kilo 2, thus completing the groom’s party. Kilo 2’s wife, Allison, is there, and introductions are exchanged. The rehearsal is kind of a joke, since all we have to do is walk and stand, so we kinda fuck off for a bit, doing facing movements and the like (much to the chagrin of Allison). We meet the bridesmaids for the first time: Nicole will be walking with me, Marie with Kilo 2, and Karlee with Kilo. Karlee and Nicole are kind of overweight and plain, and they don’t seem to have very interesting personalities. Marie seems pretty cute, but she’s got this huge nose ring which is kind of offputting. 
We go to dinner at a nearby restaurant (close to the Stony Creek, where we stayed) and get some grub. What seemed odd was the way the bride’s party stayed separate from the groom’s party – I thought dinner would have been an appropriate time to get to know each other, but alas. I tell Zulu to tell his brother (in law?) that he should drop out of high school, like me, which prompts Zulu to say  “Don’t listen to that man over there. He may be very intelligent, but he dropped out of high school which means he isn’t as intelligent as he’d like to think!” All in good-natured fun!
We go back to the Stony Creek and mill around for a bit before heading out to get Zulu his wedding present. Kilo and I decide to go in on an Xbox 360 for him, since they were brought down to two hundred bones recently. We go to Target first but they’re out, so we hit up a GameStop next door. We were going to split the price but the stupid fucking cashier billed the whole thing to me, so she canceled that transaction and we ran it again; basically I got hosed out of $270 for a temporary amount of time (still waiting on those transactions to go through as of writing).
Once our shopping’s over, we all go to Ashley’s room and everybody proceeds to get pretty drunk. I don’t drink and I don’t usually have much to do when drinking’s going on, and I usually get reminded of my brother so I tend to be a bit subdued. Marie shows up a bit later on, and to my surprise, she doesn’t drink either. She’s looking very good (being in a two-piece swim suit, she is in great shape and is well endowed, plus I got a closer look at her facial features which I found to be attractive). I mostly keep to myself to start out with, but mosey over and talk with Zulu and Marie while they’re in the supposed “hot tub” (nothing more than a regular bath tub).
Small chat’s made. Marie seems somewhat similar to myself. Conversation’s necessarily awkward; I’m a strange fuck, and really reserved. Being around alcohol already makes my mind wander to unpleasant thoughts, and being around unavailable but really attractive women (who also seem like a great match for me!) doesn’t help anything at all either. I probably talk too much about my brother or how weird I am. We share some similar tastes in books and movies and what not, poke fun and disgust at the behavior of the rest of the wedding party (careless drunken words having been slung by many; Kilo 2 accidentally insinuated that Ashley was fat on her wedding night, and the best man and maid of honor are apparently talking about how Ashley and Zulu’s marriage is doomed because they fight too much). This goes on for hours, long after Zulu has left to sleep. I stay around ostensibly because Kilo’s around; really I just wanted to chat with Marie and he was my reason to be there. When he’s ready to go, I bid adieu. It’s something like midnight before we hit the room for sleep.
We get up around 0900 and get ready to head over to the church. We get dressed up in our Blues at the church and take a bunch of pre-wedding photos, just generally having a good time. It was the first time I’d worn my Blues and it felt pretty cool. I hope I looked good; I haven’t seen the wedding photos yet (just photos from Kilo’s camera). We also see the ladies; to their credit, they look very good in their dresses (still, Nicole and Karlee just aren’t my type). Marie’s moved her nose ring and looks absolutely great. Sigh!
After photos, we have a few hours to get lunch, so we (Zulu, Kilo and I) offer to grab the ladies something and get something for ourselves. Leaving the church we almost get in to a wreck because of a blind corner (and because Kilo’s a terrible driver) but even a near-brush with disaster does nothing to sully the mood. They get some Jimmy John’s (some kind of sub shop) and we get Wendy’s (blegh!). Then we head back and the actual wedding kicks off! 
Overall it was a decent ceremony, but two things stuck out as weird. Firstly, the deacon related the relationship to our job in TMDE, saying shit like “love is like the gear these marines work on; it needs to be recalibrated over time. Jesus helps us recalibrate our love for each other.” Furthermore, he completely forgot to bless the rings (having urged Kilo to step off and not realizing his folly, he looks to me to corroborate his unspoken opinion that Kilo had forgotten his cue, at which point I remind him of the rings and he just stares at me with his jaw open saying “Oh God, Oh God” over and over).
We head back to the Stony Creek for the reception, where the food is good and the mood cheerful. It is spoiled a bit, however, by some domestic troubles: apparently Allison is butthurt over the night’s previous follies (where the bridesmaids had apparently made her feel unwelcome) and is not initially present for the reception. She misses the toasts and the formal dances (I get my first slow dance with a girl during the dollar dance, and it’s ironically with my best friends’ wife. I am, needless to say, terrible, and let me also say I didn’t really want to dance in the first place), after which point we all change over in to more comfortable clothing. (I’m offered many alcoholic beverages but refuse them all.)
Marie again looks great: she’s got this sleek and sexy little black dress with a short skirt and black heels and still has that nose ring out. Sigh. Her boyfriend’s around so I don’t really talk to her much. I’m kind of at a loss for things to do; everybody else is drinking, Kilo’s trying to pick up on Karlee (who apparently breaks up with her boyfriend of four or five years because of his jealousy over Kilo’s maneuvers), Kilo 2’s got his wife and of course Zulu’s got his. The other two bridesmaids, Nicole and Marie, have their boyfriends here at the reception, and the only other single lady of age just isn’t my type at all, leaving me a bit of an odd man out (at least the other single lady had alcohol to fall back on).
I go upstairs a few times, call Laura once (whom I’d recently reconnected with – much to my surprise, she still answers and returns my phone calls with a decent amount of reliability!) and go online for a bit. I come back down finally and loosen up and dance like a moron. Some karaoke happens (Cheap Trick’s I Want You To Want Me) and I do some stupid dancing just for shits and giggles. (I adapt marching into dance, stepping on every major drum beat, and pausing each movement of a facing movement and the like. I even dance at parade rest in honor of Hudacek! Other terrible moves include that raising the roof bullshit, the Macarana, and an incorrect box step for the country tunes). Kilo 2’s wife got pretty drunk and was wanting to dance with me what felt like a bit much; then again, maybe she was just trying to get me to come out of my shell. 
All in all, it was a pretty fun night. I just wish I’d gotten some contact information from Marie or something, but she seemed to be in a pretty happy relationship with her boyfriend (and she’d been going with him for a while also). We get back to the room around midnight, and Karlee and Kilo are already there. They leave to go eat and drive around for a bit, and I release my sexual tension with some long awaited porn (my life sucks) before passing out and going to sleep. In the middle of the night I hear Kilo and Karlee re-enter; I inquire in the morning and he did not in fact get any, much to his own chagrin. 
And that was basically it. We woke up at 0930 or so to get me to the airport at about 1020 and leave Kilo with enough time to get back for the gift unwrapping at 1100. I arrived in Gulfport at 1700 and got picked up by Echo 4 Whiskey, whom I shared the stories of my adventure with and went out to eat with. The wedding was the most fun I’d had in a very long time and I’m extremely glad I went up for it. I’m really happy and excited for Zulu and Ashley and I wish them the best. 
Still, though. That Marie. I should ask Ashley to let me know if she ever becomes available. Wish I wasn’t such a douche and wish she didn’t already have a boyfriend. Maybe it’s better that way; I probably just would have made an ass of myself. And besides, I’m still stuck on Sara anyway – who, by the way, recently messaged me again and wants to see me before I go to Japan. It’s so hard to get over her when she keeps coming back in to my life at the most inopportune times! I don’t want to go back to Bellingham at all, but if there’s even the chance to see her for a half hour… Sigh.
Well, that’s about it from me. My heart’s aching in that strange, lonely way it always does late at night when I’ve done too much thinking and too much reminiscing. Don’t get me wrong, the wedding was great, but that greatness reflects and intensifies the voids in my life; reminding me how great it must be to have a family that loves you while at the same time remembering that my family consists entirely of one drunk with a wife and kid you’ve never met. Seeing my buddy get married and seeing all those other people in seemingly happy relationships didn’t help me cope with my own lack of romantic prospects either; but that’s largely my fault, being stuck on Sara as firmly as I am. Without further melodrama, I’m off. (2326 reads the clock as I close this document out.)

DMTNT: Letters never sent

Sorry I haven’t written you in a while. To be honest, it’s not because I’ve been too busy to write (I have been busy, but never in my life have I been too busy to keep in touch with friends), it’s been because I wasn’t sure if you’d like me to write, or even what to write about. I know you must be getting tired of my routine (pop up once or twice a year to write you some crazy emotional nonsense) and you’re probably equally tired of me apologizing for it. Can’t teach an old dog new tricks, I suppose.
It’s almost 1 AM where I am right now (which is Biloxi MS, by the way, on Keesler Air Force Base) and I have to be up at 5 AM for physical training and to get ready for the rest of my day. I wouldn’t even be writing you right now if it weren’t for my certifiably insane and suicidally depressed roommate (who is getting kicked out of the Marine Corps in a few weeks) – you see, his cell phone keeps going off while he’s texting whoever matters to him and I can’t get any sleep like that. I was up thinking about you anyway, thinking of a possible letter to write, and after his cell phone went off for the fourth or fifth time, I decided that I wouldn’t be able to write this tomorrow (as I’d have forgotten most of the good parts or how I wanted to say them).
I’ve just been mixed up lately, and not sure who to talk to. I, honestly, don’t have anyone I trust with my feelings these days, and I’ve never had anyone in my life I’ve ever trusted more than you, so it only makes sense that I think of you when things are rough for me. Of course, I very rarely get a chance to talk to or with you, let alone know what you think about me, but that doesn’t stop me. I know I’ve told you before, but I’m pretty sure I think about you on a daily basis. Not in any kind of fanciful way, mind you – it’s not like I sit here and think about running off with you or meeting up with you and other such nonsense. I just often find myself reflecting on how good of a friend you were and how much of a great help that was for me, and how I miss that. Is that really such a bad thing? I guess it’s kind of silly, isn’t it? It’s been, what, 7 years since we met…and 5 since the last time we really had a good sit down chat with each other? Correct me if I’m wrong, my memory is very crappy. Just ask my brother. Some of the time I just wonder if you think about me (probably not, but I could be wrong!) and if you do, what are you thinking about me? Does she think I’m crazy and annoying and stupid? I wouldn’t blame you. (Just so you know, I still think of you much the same way as I always have: strong, compassionate, grounded, beautiful.)
He’s having a kid, by the way. He got drunk (surprise!) and got an 18 year old girl pregnant (he’s going to be 28 this year). He wants to name it after me (what an honor!) and he wants me to be the godfather (how wonderful!).
I remember the last time you wrote me, and you mentioned how Tyler still keeps in touch with you, and you don’t even know why. Heh. That part stuck out to me, and I wondered, does she feel that way about me? I sure hope not! Of course, it’s impossible to tell, and I’m not very…forceful(?), I guess you could say. I think I wrote you back, and when no reply came, I just did what I always do: nothing. I figure, if people want to talk to me, they will get in touch with me.
I don’t talk to people very often.
I don’t mean to guilt trip you or make you feel sorry or anything like that, either, so please don’t be thinking that way. Like I said, I’m just all mixed up and don’t know who to talk to. If I were a normal person, I’d have a friend I could talk to right now instead of bothering you! Heck, I wish I did. And if I am bugging you, do let me know. I’ll leave you alone, I promise, Marine’s honor! The last thing I’d want to do is bother you any more than I already have. I am capable of getting by on my own (I’ve been doing it for a while) – but some part of me always hopes that you still think I’m an interesting and worthwhile person, and some part of me always hopes that you want to talk to me, even a fraction as much as I like talking to you.
One thing I always loved about you was the way you wouldn’t just pity me or just be one of those “yes-friends.” You didn’t just sit there and support everything I did and think I was great and all that. Sometimes you’d downright tell me I was stupid and needed to get my shit together, even though that’s not what I wanted to hear… and damn it, you were right! You were always great for that. I haven’t met anyone else in my entire life that had whatever it takes to tell me that. Guess it must take a bit of balls – most people say I intimidate them. I think that’s kind of funny – don’t you?
I don’t have much specific to say – I could go on and on and on about my feelings and all that nonsense, but, seeing as how your reception to that is unknown, I want to keep this a bit brief. I know, it’s long already, but brief for me, I guess, right? I hope you’re not too angry with me for not writing you sooner or more often. I hope you don’t think I’m dishonest when I say I want to write you. I’m just…afraid to. Afraid of being rejected, I guess. Which is stupid, of course! By being afraid of rejection and afraid to try, that’s just the same as getting rejected! And hopefully you can be honest enough to tell me if you’re tired of my antics, because I can just leave you alone if you wish. If you want me to write you once a month, I can do that too! Or once a week, or every day. Well, maybe every day. Some days are busier than others in the Marine Corps.
I’m gonna get to bed and send this in the morning. You know, it was helpful to even just write some of this down. Maybe I should just…keep a journal? Heh. I hope [letter left unfinished].
– PFC Durden (the only name I hear anymore) Or, you can still call me J (it’d be kind of nice, actually…haven’t heard it in a while!)

Dead Men Tell No Tales: The Keesler Saga IV: Foreshadowing

What is Dead Men Tell No Tales? It is a selection of (hitherto) undisclosed, private ruminations and epiphanies. Most take the form of (slightly) edited letters to unnamed recipients, but some have been scavenged from the depths of private journals recently rediscovered. Over the next little while (however long it takes – days, weeks, months, years?) I’ll be posting them in episodic fashion for the reading pleasure of my nonexistent audience.

In The Keesler Saga, our melancholy author reflects on his experiences at his MOS School. Foreshadowing is aptly named as it is the last journal entry for a long time (and second to last overall); I just have a hard time with these things.
Haven’t been as studious in updating this as I wanted to be. I can’t even remember what we did on that last PT I bitched about; I know Echo Five Hotel led it, and he’s pretty quick…oh yeah! We went to the fucking beach! We ran off base and down to the beach, did a bunch of running in sand and other crazy shit, then we came back. It sucked, of course. Anyway.
For the longest damn time, my roomate has been a whiny shitbaggy slut. He’s finally getting kicked out (he claims that his parents used to beat the shit out of him while he was sleeping, so he has PTSD, and he’s “mentally unfit for service”) so that’s great. He’s always extremely disrespectful to NCOs and just about anyone. That’s been degrading my motivation and will to keep this journal and what not.
Tomorrow we’re supposed to be “killed” at PT again. Today was pretty bad – we did log drills, and the log fucked my shoulder all up. It’s like my shoulder has blisters that are popping, because it’s oozing and shit, but that’s just from the log rubbing on it. I had a headache all day after PT, probably from the log bouncing against my head, and I just wanted to sleep all day… but we had field day (which means cleaning before the 1830 formation) followed by mandatory study at a cafe across the street from the barracks for about an hour followed by me having to go get chows for the platoon… I got about an hour nap and cleaned at around 1730 and just had chow at the cafe. The nap took some of the edge off of the headache.
Weekend’s coming up. Oorah!

Dead Men Tell No Tales: The Keesler Saga III: Venting

What is Dead Men Tell No Tales? It is a selection of (hitherto) undisclosed, private ruminations and epiphanies. Most take the form of (slightly) edited letters to unnamed recipients, but some have been scavenged from the depths of private journals recently rediscovered. Over the next little while (however long it takes – days, weeks, months, years?) I’ll be posting them in episodic fashion for the reading pleasure of my nonexistent audience.

In The Keesler Saga, our melancholy author reflects on his experiences at his MOS School. Venting recounts the daily stress of training at Keesler while trying to maintain a positive attitude.
Today we had PT at 0600. It was just my class, the “baby” class, which consists of 11 Marines at the moment. Echo Four Whiskey, Echo Three Sierra, Echo Three Asa, Echo Two Delta, Echo Two Alpha, Echo Two Golf, Echo Two Alpha Deuce, Echo Two Charlie, Echo Two Hotel, Echo Two Bravo, and Echo Two Hotel Deuce. We did a deck of pain – each of us had a hand of cards, the number signifying how many repetitions of an exercise (determined by the suit) we did. Diamonds were POW push-ups (do X amount of push ups, and then X amount of military presses with weights on your knees), Spades were Hindu squats, Hearts were lunges, and Clubs were military presses. We each had ~20 lbs in weight the entire time and we went through the entire deck. (Face cards were 15 reps, and aces were 20.)
Class was terrible. We’re in the semiconductors block, learning about power amplifiers (which involves transistors in various configurations – single ended, phase shifter, push-pull, complimentary and darlington pair to name a few) and doing Labvolt. Labvolt consists of plugging a circuit board into a computer and “having at it,” while the directions make little sense and the math hardly works out. (1/1 is slightly less than 1? 6.2 is more than 8? What the fuck?) On the plus side, we got to joke around with Echo Five Hotel a bit.
We didn’t get out until 1740, and so Alpha and I went straight to chow. We had a field day formation at 1830 that we just barely made, and from there we had to field day. I was secured around 1920 but had to go pick up chows for the morning, which I did with Hotel Deuce and Echo Two Sierra Deuce (the only female student in all of TMDE). I got back around 2020 and realized I needed to do my laundry so I started that. When I changed it over at 2100 or so, ONE OF THE WASHERS WAS MALFUNCTIONING AND BASICALLY SOAKED MY CLOTHES WITHOUT DOING A SPIN CYCLE. So that’s pretty fucking gay. Hopefully shit will dry, BECAUSE WE HAVE PT A HALF HOUR EARLIER TOMORROW SO WE CAN DO SOME GOD DAMNED STUPID LONG ASS RUN OR SOME BULLSHIT. Ugh.
Our next dynamic learning exercise will be Labvolt. We will be doing a lot of them. Ready…learn! Red, red, green, ONE! Red, red, green, TWO! Red, red, green, THREE!
Funny/awkward moment of the day: as I’m returning from putting my laundry in the wash, my foot crashes into the door in the hallway (so it sounds like I ran into the glass door). I don’t make it very far into the hallway before Echo Four Whiskey, Echo Six Romeo, and Echo Three Zulu look straight at me. I freeze, awkwardly, unsure of what to do and milking in the awkwardness. This of course drags me into a discussion with them, in which I get to tell Echo Six Romeo about my brother’s bastard child, much to the amusement of all. “Built on a foundation of love, trust, alcohol and unwanted children, his is a marriage born to last! By the way, the first two were sarcastic.”

Dead Men Tell No Tales: The Keesler Saga II: Reflection

What is Dead Men Tell No Tales? It is a selection of (hitherto) undisclosed, private ruminations and epiphanies. Most take the form of (slightly) edited letters to unnamed recipients, but some have been scavenged from the depths of private journals recently rediscovered. Over the next little while (however long it takes – days, weeks, months, years?) I’ll be posting them in episodic fashion for the reading pleasure of my nonexistent audience.

In The Keesler Saga, our melancholy author reflects on his experiences at his MOS School. Fresh Start is an earnest attempt at journal keeping.
I suppose I should keep a diary of sorts. It has been a long time since I’ve logged my life. A lot has happened in the mean times. It’s been nearly…three(?) years. I still haven’t talked to Haley, though I have tried to once or twice, I think. I noticed one day, for instance, that I was listed as a “hero” of hers on her MySpace and tried to send a probing letter… it was probably fairly scathing, and summarily ignored. This was, of course, before I made the decision to join the Marine Corps.
There is much to write of that. I am nearly done with my first year of service, after all, and I haven’t even written anything about it. Reflection is a skill I tend not to employ. I have become an extremely private person. I don’t like sharing myself with others. I remember how I used to desire so ardently to get out of my house and “live my own life” free from the influence of my mother. Away from her I could be my own person. Yet as soon as I got away, I didn’t know what to do, and met with several failures, I receded further into myself.
I don’t really count myself as having many friends as this point. I am well liked by the people I like, I suppose. And I suppose, in some way, I am cared about. And yet, I am uncomfortable sharing myself with people. I just don’t trust anyone with my feelings. I don’t know if I am afraid of rejection or afraid of being thought less of. I don’t know. I am afraid of being alone but that fear of isolation is separating me from the possibility of ever being meaningfully close to anyone.
These are all general statements that could be elaborated on later. I always do this in my first entries. I need to discuss my family, life in Bellingham, life in exile, life in the Corps. I need to talk about people I knew, things I did, things I’m doing. The night is late tonight. I need to wake up in two or three hours and do some homework for my semiconductors block (we are learning about transistors as used in amplifiers – common emitter, common collector, and common base) and then PT at 0600.
But I’ll leave with a funny story of sorts. Last week, on Thursday (before we were released for the weekend) I’m taking a leak in the head. I fill in from the left, as dictated by Man Law, when suddenly someone fills in the stall to my direct right. This being a breach in Man Law, I look over, expecting to see one of my class mates and to engage in some awkward conversation. However, instead, I see Echo Six Romeo, the chief instructor of the school. I lock my head forward and awkwardness ensues.
Then he says something I definitely didn’t expect. “That’s a nice watch you’ve got there, Durden.” Mulling that over, reveling in the awkwardness, all I can manage to say is “Uhh… thanks, Echo Six.” After we finish our business, on my way out, I say “I would have complimented you for your watch, but I was afraid of the implications.”
This is a long running joke at the school house (the “nice watch so-and-so”) and I’ll relate the original tale some other time. I feel like “signing off” but that’s rather stupid. I do wish to say, however, that I am more used to being referred to by my last name or by a nick name than my first name at this point. No one calls me “John” anymore. My heart sank a little, writing that. I used to want to be special to someone, anyone. 

Dead Men Tell No Tales: The Keesler Saga I: Arrival

What is Dead Men Tell No Tales? It is a selection of (hitherto) undisclosed, private ruminations and epiphanies. Most take the form of (slightly) edited letters to unnamed recipients, but some have been scavenged from the depths of private journals recently rediscovered. Over the next little while (however long it takes – days, weeks, months, years?) I’ll be posting them in episodic fashion for the reading pleasure of my nonexistent audience.

In The Keesler Saga, our melancholy author reflects on his experiences at his MOS School. Arrival was a reflection from a few scant days after reporting in to the detachment.

Every so often, I think it would be a good idea to start a journal. I have a bad memory, you see, and even though I sometimes hate my life, I’d hate even more to forget it. And yet, so far, most of the important details ARE forgotten. Where to start?

I used to hate my family. That used to define me, shape my very being. I couldn’t recall much of why – my mother was cruel and emotionally abusive; my sister was a dramatic, trust-betraying bitch; my father was an empty-promise flingin’ wreck full of self pity, if he was around; my brother was a tortured alcoholic with so much wasted promise. I don’t speak to them much now – my mom seemingly realized her mistakes after I left almost two years ago, so we’re on better terms.
I don’t get along with, understand, and most of the time, desire the company of women. I have, as most males have, been smmitten with my fair share of girls. I had a girlfriend. I even think I fell in love, once (may still be in love, in fact), though it was an unrequited one. I know all of the right things for my friends to say, but rarely know the words for myself.
I have few friends, and the roster grows slimmer as years go by. Even before I left for boot camp, Kai and I had grown apart. Katie tolerates me, at best. Nick, Jake, Nate…all buddies, but little more. Rachel could have been good, but I messed that up by wanting more. Abigail? Never had much of a chance.
Which brings me here, to the Marine Detachment on Keesler Air Force Base, serving as a Private First Class in the United States Marine Corps. Where else was I to go? Give me free time, and I brood. See?
There is much to write about, and at the same time, very little. Odd? Perhaps. The two most important things in my life – Sara, and the novel – seem so far away. I miss them.
Today was the end of my first weekend at KAFB. On Friday, I went to the mall with Sierra (arrived last week), Bravo (buddy from boot), and Kilo (cool guy from Chicago). Kilo had to drive Ruthy, his Navy broad, back to base, so we rendezvoused with Zulu (shares similar views, good music taste) and Whiskey (wrestler) and ate at El Ranchos. Saturday I saw Step Up 2 with Bravo and Sunday I spent watching movies on T.V.
I am unfulfilled. 20:57.