I learned early on that one should never stick up for friends. I went to a school we affectionately called Saint Monkey’s Penitentiary. In third grade all hell broke loose when a new kid arrived who was advanced a grade. His name was Nikki and he was my friend. He was smaller than most kids and the fact that he was smarter was a danger to those who needed to be top dog. In a prep school grades also went along with sports in the popularity game. On the playground Nikki and I would runaround, play on the merry go round and crawl through the concrete tunnels pretending god only knows what. Everyday a group of kids would surround Nikki and ask him questions, stupid questions like “are you a faggot?” eventually they would start taking turns hitting him until he fell on the ground and then they would take turns crawling on top of him and punching him. Nikki never fought back and why would he? Four or five against one didn’t seem like good odds with a smaller kid and most of these guys would later be jocks in high school. Eventually Nikki never returned to school. All was normal again and the future jocks could claim their shitty positions in the pecking order of things. A year later I heard from Nikki, he was in town and wanted to hang out. It was actually his mom. They picked me up and we hung out that day. During one of the rides words were used that I had only heard on shows like The People’s Court. Lawsuit and damages were thrown around. Nikki had a disc in his back that had been dislocated during his beatings at St Monkey’s and the doctors were saying it could be a life long condition. She asked me to write a statement testifying about what I had seen happen to Nikki. I remembered him being kicked and punched on the ground. I also remembered the time I fought back and kicked one of the kids off of him. That kid cried and screamed, running off to tell momma, I guess. I was the first and last time I stood up for Nikki. That night my mom received a phone call. On the other end was a woman screaming saying words like “lawsuit” and “white trash”. From the other end of the phone that woman convinced my mother to put me over her knee and smack my ass until the scream could be heard on the other end. That was the thanks I got for sticking up for my friend. A year later I was being asked to do the same thing. I went home and wrote up a fourth-grade level statement about the kids that beat up Nikki on a daily basis. I handed it to my mom asking her to tell Nikki’s mom it was done. She took it and told me she wouldn’t. there are some things you have to let go of and if I was involved in the lawsuit, I couldn’t go to that school anymore and be with my friends. At the time I was okay with that idea, I saw what happened to my friend at that school and at some point, I was going to be next. The statement was never delivered and to this day I wish it had. I don’t know what ever happened to Nikki. I remember playing with his chemistry set and how he freaked out when I started mixing acids and basis together. I was supposed to learn something at that time. I sure it sounds like “the preservation of the institution is more important than blah blah blah” or some such shit. I wasn’t really hearing too much as the hand was hitting my ass. To this day I hate that school. Any place that has to hide or lie their way into looking good doesn’t deserve my respect. The school stated that what happened to Nikki never happened. Doesn’t seem like a very Christian stance to take on the subject. There are other things that the church tried to deny happening over the years and the hundreds of millions of dollars later isn’t looking to good for them. I will admit that for a long time I was hesitant to do anything when I saw someone in trouble. Hell, there are times I am ashamed of for not doing something. I think that bug is finally being kicked to the curb. In a world where most American’s don’t have more than one person they could call if something bad happened I am fortunate to have a few and when they are in trouble I am there. I’m sorry Nikki, I wish I could have helped, I tried. As for my other friends, I may be spanked again in the future but know that you are worth it.
Listen to the most recent episode of my podcast: Dressed to the nines https://anchor.fm/matthew-gilman/episodes/Dressed-to-the-nines-e4klev
As the clock approaches midnight, the embers glow in the neighbor’s fire, and the neighborhood cats roam the streets I sit here typing on my laptop contemplating how things may go for the unforeseeable future. Have you ever had a moment when doing the right thing might be the worst thing you could do?
My wife is currently pregnant with our second child. We have bills and some debt but we aren’t hurting with two incomes. I have a job that is comfortable and pays better than any that I previously have had. I have the best insurance that one can have in my state. And yet, there is the possibility I am risking it all.
For what reason, to what goal, would someone do such a thing? I have friends who are not as fortunate as me, who are at the mercy of people who do not respect them and treat them as expendable. Recently an email was sent out naming names and putting blame on people for things they didn’t even do, in one case they did what was appropriate and yet they were seen as a threat. I have been watching from the sidelines, taking notes and trying to figure out what to do with the information at hand. After that email, I made my own, a jerry Maguire moment, and sent it.
My nerves are shot, I didn’t tell my friends what I did, I can’t even tell them do to the fear that they might be viewed as having something to do with it. For twenty years I have watched as good people were treated like shit by people who didn’t know or respect them and I can not do it anymore. Who stands up for the little guy? Who says enough is enough? At what point do we finally see something good happen instead of the usual shit that drags us down every day?
I don’t know what will happen tomorrow when that email is opened and three months of information is looked over and dissected. I know at some point that I will be sitting in an office and be grilled for the information that was stated in that email. I will be asked for names and after what happened recently, I won’t give them. I’m tired of the little guy being tossed aside while a polished turd is moved up the line. Sometimes there are more important things in life than yourself and your own selfish needs. People need to know that there is hope and someone who will stand up when things are looking bad. Those that will be by your side when there is no one to listen.
At the moment I am scared out of my mind and yet, somehow, through all of the maybes, I also know things will turn out just fine. There is a big difference between my friends and I, I have the Union behind me. I don’t know how much of a difference that makes or if it will help with the situation at hand but its better than what my friends have and that is nothing. Absolutely nothing.
I have been where they are. That feeling of being abandoned with nowhere to go and no one to talk to. Sure, there is HR but god only knows how they will look at things. One could be playing dice and have a better idea what is happening. As I sit here wondering what will happen one phrase comes to mind, if the worst-case scenario happens at least I can die with some dignity knowing that I did something good instead of just watching as shit happened to someone else.
There are somethings that you can only go all the way in on.
This was one of the first typewriters I ever bought, the second in fact. The case was rotted and had to be thrown away. The typewriter was well used and was covered and filled with dirt and grime. I remember sitting on my couch typing for the first time and over the years, after buying more typewriters, I had forgotten this small gem and let it collect dust as it had before. It sat for more than a year at an antique booth that I had and nobody bought it for the $30 I had it priced at. I pulled this guy out of the basement for the sake of this project and found that I had been overlooking one of the best portable typewriters that I own. The keyboard takes some getting used to with the backspace key located on the right-hand side instead of the left like so many others. Besides cleaning I never had to do anything to the machine except for switching the ribbon that had dried out.
I wrote a letter to a friend today for their birthday. Typing on the Olympia was no different from typing on a computer. The action was smooth and clean. Overall the machine was quiet without the rattling and thumping of other typewriters I have used over the years. I never understood until today why so many people are willing to dish out large amounts of cash for an Olympia. It might not be the colorful model from the sixties with a curvy case and chrome trim but it works like a charm and that is what I like something that is reliable and faithful. In a world of planned obsilesence these are traits you rarely find these days.
In my basement there is a series of cabinets along the wall that are filled with all kinds of long term food storage items, cans, bags, and boxes. I have a wine cellar in the darkest and coolest part of the basement. A gun safe keeps a few items free from dust and rust. A few typewriters wait under dust covers for the moment this computer and the electrical grid goes down ending civilization. Then there is the doomsday vault, a trunk filled with rare bottles of wine, a survivalist handbook, a few pipes and several cans/ tins of tobaccos that are not in production anymore. If the world comes to an end I am all set for the roaming horde of zombies, aliens coming to the planet to steal water or cows for rectal probes, or maybe the Chinese invasion. I have everything I need, what do I do now?
There was a time when I feared the world was coming to an end. I grew up hearing about end times and thinking that Saddam Hussein was going to kill the planet, Chernobyl was going to turn everyone into mutants, the planet was going to deep fry everyone into crispy chicken wings, the list goes on and on. Nothing happened. Nothing ever happened. The nation has been run by the incompetent and the mentally retarded on and off my whole adult life and yet we are still here.
Nothing that I listed off that I keep in the basement is stuff that people didn’t have a hundred years ago. It was common to have root cellars, can food, and keep a gun or two just in case. That was called living and people knew they were responsible for themselves. These days I roll my eyes when people talk about their guns being taken away, trump pushing the button and ending the planet, and while I have a fear that global warming might end the planet that my daughter will grow up in I have to accept that there is less than nothing I can do about it. I have my habits that this hobby has built into me and while people may think that it is crazy to keep extra food of guns that haven’t been shot in a year or two it does come in handy at times. A friend mentioned that she didn’t have any money and her food situation had dwindled to rice and beans for lunch until payday. It only took a few minutes to put a box together from the basement supply and bring it to work for her to use. When I was done the pantry didn’t look any different but she had food for a few days or more.
I don’t have that fear anymore. That notion that something wrong is gone. Maybe its from not watching the news anymore? I look at the world these days and I have my life that is no longer dictated by a group of guys in bad suits yelling and arguing with each other about stuff that doesn’t really matter. There is something satisfying about no longer caring about people who don’t really matter. I don’t care about Trump and neither should anyone else.
Early on I learned not to buy the gizmos and tech stuff that preppers dish out their hard-earned cash for. I don’t own an AR-15 and still think jeeps are one of the biggest pieces of crap ever built. I didn’t sink a ton of money into this because it’s not needed. One doesn’t have to feel like Rambo in order to be secure. If there is anything that one needs to do in order to get their life in order and be prepared its paying off your debts and making sure you have cash on the side. Stop buying stupid shit and most of your problems will be solved. The financial stress that comes with being in debt is worse that the Chinese eventually, possibly, marching in and sending you to an iPhone factory center.
Living in fear is exhausting. There are companies and economies that depend on us being fearful of the unknown. While we go about our lives and try to fix our problems having somebody else breathing down your neck about a maybe is a waste of time. There comes a time when one has to realize that maybe “surviving” is not living. There might be some mental illness involved in this prepper thing. I know at moments I wondered about my own mental health and looking back maybe I was correct to be worried. Prepping is in the past now. I’ll keep the canned goods and a handle pistol close by but I’m not going to let them rule my life. What is the point of life if you aren’t living?
I just finished reading Aeneid by Virgil the other day and it is fitting that the assigned reading for day 6 is also a section from this book. I read a post from another blog discussing the odyssey by homer and questioning why the Iliad was not also included in the classics? Aeneid is the same story, told in a different way, but if you were looking to diversify a set of books and two classics told the same tale why not pick the version by a different author. Perhaps this was regarded as the better version? In school, Homer was always discussed, but the Aeneid was either mentioned or forgotten entirely.
Aeneid reads like an old testament book of the bible with unfaithful fives, gods making deals with one another, and fight scenes that leave one on the edge of their seat. There were times when it would have been nice to have listened to a great courses lecture on the Aeneid first and know who certain characters were in the mythology. This is one tough aspect of reading old text, you didn’t grow up in the culture so the knowledge of these characters isn’t as powerful when they appear. Just about anyone could read a Christian text and understand certain references when they are brought up, we were raised with it. However, throw in a dead religion and a group of gods and goddesses that nobody learns about unless they take a college mythology class and it is easy to become lost. Don’t be surprised when I tell you that I had to pull the phone out and google different characters at times.
The most fascinating aspect of Aeneid to me was the mention of the Romans from time to time and how the Trojan culture survived through them. This was something I either forgot about in school or it was never brought up. The romans of course at one time defeated the Greeks and the power of the region was handed over. The Etruscans were also mentioned, regarded as a mysterious group in Greek history, I was surprised to see one mentioned and wondered how much I missed out on in school. Fortunately, there is a Great Courses lecture I can listen to discussing the Etruscans and their culture.
The Aeneid, like so many other books, is not one that you can only read once to get the whole story, and thankfully with the Harvard reading guide I am sure I will be coming back to it again in the future.
The Soaring Eagle and Contented Stork by Mazzini from volume 32. This essay was a piece from the enlightenment regarding Goethe and Byron comparing their personalities. Bryon was a soaring eagle while Goethe was regarded as a Contented Stork. The essay drifts off onto some tangents discussing subjects that must have been lost over time. Mazzini was exiled from Italy while attempting to fight for the freedom of the country, it should not be a surprise that he would write an essay about an English and German poet who attempted the same thing in their own homelands. Some of the poetry and backgrounds would have helped with this section.
This essay was a test of my reading abilities since it was supposed to be a fifteen-minute read and came close to an hour when everything was said and done.