Friday, December 31, 2004

2004 in Review

Happy New Year to all...

and to all a good night.
Last year at this time I was knocking on my neighbor's doors with a sleepy child in my arms letting them know there was a fire in the building. What a way to start the new year. The highlights of my year were:
March: My manuscript almost finished, I focused on cleaning it up by working with 2 other writers in getting feedback in 2 trouble spots.
April: I was assaulted at work by a crazy temp they hired at work.
May: My hands began to bother me so one of my writer friends offered to transcribe my dictations of the final edits to my manuscript.
June: I was out of commission from blogging, letter writing, and my creative writing and out from work on short term leave after being slammed with spam, viruses and DOS. Being sidlined from a digital life made me climb the walls of idleness.
July: Got back online and back to work after being out 8 weeks, only to discover all the data on my pc was gone, hard copies of documents lost, and my desk and projects in shambles. My house was in shambles too as the major part of the restoration from the fire was underway. My book was shelved until things in my life could get back to normal.
August: It was my son's 5th birthday and I had lots of fun planning and throwing his party after my home was almost back to normal.
September: My hands were still a problem, so I took vacation time. This time I enjoyed myself in the process by seeing lots and lots of movies and handwriting letters to all my soldiers.
October and November: These 2 months were crazy busy months at work and actually became a blur of activity.
December: Missing my deceased friends, I decided to finish the book and get it out to publishers so that I could share my memory of them with others. After failing to contact the writers that had volunteered to help me with the edits, I learned the book was submitted under their names and accepted for publishing. After many weeks of intense negotiation, I learned from my lawyer that because I didn't mail a copyrighted copy of the manuscript to myself my claim of authorship cannot be legally proved.
On the bright side, (not!) I received a promotion at work with a hefty pay raise, which comes with more responsibilities and more people to deal and work with. After much thought about all the positives and negatives of my job I decided to turn in my resignation today, which will become effective on 4-1-05.
As for my book, I was furious at first. Even thought of possible means of revenge, but have since calmed down. I believe in Karmic principles, so I know these ladies will get theirs soon enough! Because my lawyer never gave up and did raise enough enough doubts, the publisher has put off publishing the book for now. We will see what happens with it in the end.
As for blogging and writing? I will wait till I get better before coming back to write here about my musings. I will write from time to time. But if I'm to get better, I have to be a good little girl and stay off the keyboard as much as possible. This means not visiting my favorite sites including those of my blog family and friends.
Family: Although I may be in a digital void, you will remain in my heart and mind. I will especially miss my blog dad, Harvey and Sgt. Hook. They are special people those two.
H: Thanks for being such a terrific, and faithful supporter. You always managed to put a smile on my face during my sad or tired days.
Sgt: You are indeed an awesome and impressive man, and I'm referring to your character. As for your writing, I will miss it the most, for you continually inspired me through your own incredible writing. You will remain in my prayers until you return home to your loved ones.

One last note: at present I'm helping Catholic Relief Services, an organization I did relief work for, many years ago. They have sent every available body overseas to help with the tragedy in Asia and so I'm helping out, organizationally and planning wise, from NY. I can't stress enough how this area will need our support in the years to come. My fervent prayer for this New Year is that somehow the survivors of the So. Asian tragedy are able to find solace and a reason to go on with their lives in the days ahead. I hope they are encouraged by the support the world is showing them and I hope the support continues until their lives are restored.
Till we meet in the D-space I am sending electronic (((((((((((HUGS))))))))))) to you all. 

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Christmas Past

Christmas of 2001 was pretty non-existent for me. I was still numb from the loss of 6 close life long friends in the attack of the World Trade Center. I was so numb I was silent. It wasn't anything that I planned, it just happened that way after the people that I called, spoke to and emailed daily were gone.

That numbness helped me cope with the gaping wound that had been created in my heart from all my loss. It enabled me to show up at work, take care of my young son and function on a daily basis. To help me forget about Christmas that year, I decided to use my 4 weeks of vacation and return to Asia with my son and live amongst Buddhists, where Christmas isn't celebrated. It was the only way I knew to breach the void I felt.
Throughout 2002, I attended memorial services for 4 of my friends who had been identified through DNA. My numbness enabled me to plan memorial services for 2 of them and to be of support to their families. As the holidays approached numbness gave way to a slow emerging grief. Ironically, it was the ones who were identified who I mostly grieved over. I guess my heart and mind were still refusing to accept what was evident and instead I clung to the hope of a miracle.
Although I traveled for business over the Thanksgiving holiday that year, I stayed home for Christmas. I eventually forced myself to buy a few presents and put up a small tree for my toddler's benefit, but the sadness kept me from venturing out of my cocoon, even for services
By Christmas of 2003 only my oldest and dearest friend remained to be identified and honored in a memorial service. A good deal of my numbness had slipped away thanks to my writing about my wonderful friends to some new friends that were deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq. In my letters to these wonderful soldiers I shared fond memories and they shared with me about their loved ones. It was in sharing my memories and their lives with these soldiers that I was able to get in touch with my grief over each individual loss.
Without knowing it, these letters became my bridge back to life. Through them I found a way to grieve without being overwhelmed by the deep and profound loss of my close friends. To these incredible men and women I will be eternally grateful, for without knowing it, they helped me rise out of the ashes of this disaster and empowered me, through their quiet and resilient strength, to overcome this tragedy.
May God bless each and every one of them. 
Posted by: Michele at 03:01 AM | Comments (11) | Add Comment
Post contains 459 words, total size 3 kb.
1 {hug} Thanks for posting this :-)
Posted by: Harvey at December 12, 2004 01:25 PM (ubhj8)
2 I can't say it any better than Harvey, so I won't try.
Posted by: Salt1907 at December 12, 2004 01:46 PM (T8AyJ)
3 That was so beautiful. I am sorry for your losses. I hope your child is bringing you the joy you deserve.
Posted by: Rightwingsparkle at December 12, 2004 05:15 PM (qiDkw)
4 You inspired me also, because of you I have adopted soliders through Soliders Angels. You really are an inspiration to a lot of people, I am glad to know you. {{HUG}}
Posted by: Machelle at December 12, 2004 07:22 PM (74P7F)
5 What a beautiful post, written by a beautiful soul. Thank you Michele. It's good to see something from you, I've been worried, as I do know how difficult the holiday's can be - for any number of reasons. Take care - and don't forget - we're here if you need us. I have no doubt you supply as much comfort and healing to the soldiers you correspond with as they offer you. It's a wonderful thing. **Huge Hug**
Posted by: Tammi at December 12, 2004 08:57 PM (QSZLe)
6 Just checking in... [draws Michele a hot, flower-smelling, bubble-bath] You just relax for a while :-)
Posted by: Harvey at December 19, 2004 12:15 AM (ubhj8)
7 [sets down a little music box that plays "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas"]
Posted by: Harvey at December 22, 2004 11:02 AM (tJfh1)
8 Merry Christmas, Michele!
Posted by: That 1 Guy at December 24, 2004 02:31 AM (bKaU5)
9 {Christmas hug}
Posted by: Harvey at December 25, 2004 11:00 AM (ubhj8)
10 Uh oh, naked blog. You ok, sweetie? CTS acting up again?
Posted by: Harvey at December 28, 2004 10:07 AM (tJfh1)
11 Damn-blasted comments spammers. Anyway, I just stopped by to give you a kiss under the mistletoe at midnight: *smooch* Happy New Year, Michele :-)
Posted by: Harvey at December 31, 2004 05:04 PM (ubhj8)

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Our Family & House Rules

In This Family:

1. We follow the 10 Commandments. Especially the commandments about not lying/cheating, envying/jealousy, and disrespecting parents/elders.
2. We love, honor, respect and pray for each another.
3. We tell the truth always.
4. We consider one another's interests ahead of our own.
5. We speak quietly and respectfully with one another.
6. We do not hurt one another with unkind words or actions.
7. When someone needs correction, we correct him in love.
8. When someone is sorry, we forgive them.
9. When someone is sad, we comfort them.
10. When someone is happy, we rejoice with them.
11. When we have something nice to share, we share it.
12. When we have work to do, we do it without complaining.
13. We take good care of everything God has given us.
14. We do not create unnecessary work for others; it's called being conscientious.
15. When we go out, we act just as if we were in this house or church.
16. When we disobey or forget any of our family or rules of this house, we accept the discipline of our parents and elders.
Because my son's social filter is still not fully operational at age 5, his total honesty, under Rule #3, has gotten me into trouble a few times. Sigh! All I can do is smile, bite the bullet, and apologize for his rudeness. Once he went so far as to say "Excuse me mommy but I wasn't being rude, I was being truthful." Five years old and already dealing in semantics.
House Rules: In This Place:
1. We walk calmly from room to room and do not run, jump, skip, hop, or throw things around.
2. We go to speak directly to a person in the room they are in, instead of yelling at them.
3. We do the chores that are assigned to us daily as soon as we can.
4. We respect everyone'’s property and pets, and touch things that don’'t belong to us ONLY when given permission.
5. When called, we answer “Yes” and go to the person directly.
6. We let other’s know how we are feeling and let them know if we are: upset, unhappy, sad, frustrated or angry. No one understands silence or frowns.
7. We write or draw only on paper or art materials.
8. When we open something, we close it.
9. When we turn something on, we turn it off.
10. When we take something out, we put it away as soon as we’re done.
11. When we make a mess, we clean it up.
12. When we don't know what to do, or if we need help, we ask a grown-up we know for help.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004


Dealing with a flare up of Carpel Tunnel and colleagues so obnoxious they defy the norms of social behavior. So today my mood is reflective of the character Eeyore in Winnie the Pooh stories.

I'm hoping my mood improves and I'm able to see Bridget Jones/Colin Firth movie this weekend!
I feel so drained by the antics of several petulant children at work, that when I went to meet a former co-worker for lunch today, at one point I became amazed by the intelligent conversation we were having. We were discussing Christian monasticism and Indian mysticism's influence on Sufism. That really made my day. Thank you God for scattering brilliant people throughout our planet. 

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Guess How Much I Love You?

There's a story book that I like to read to little children entitled: Guess How Much I Love You. It's a book that Amy gave me when I was recovering from cancer at age 25. My biggest worry at that time was whether or not I would be able to have children after undergoing radiation and chemotherapy. The book was meant to inspire me and help me think positively about my future.

After The Cat in the Hat, which I know by heart, this book is my favorite. There was a young marine who I used to write to who's innocence and strength of conviction reminded me a great deal of Little Nut Brown Hare, the main character in that book. After corresponding with him while he was in Iraq, I was glad to hear the news that he was finally home in Long Island. For me it meant that one more Marine had done his duty and was now safely home.

After he returned, our communication dwindled and we lost touch when I was going through my battle with carpel tunnel, my computer getting infected and my website getting hijacked.
Several days ago, as I was doing my daily walkabout on the net, I came across his name in the most unlikeliest of places, on a French website that I visit daily. In disbelief I followed the link to where I discovered that not only had 1Lt. Ronald Winchester gone back to Iraq for a second tour of duty (after serving 7 months), but I learned that 8 days into his second tour he was killed by a roadside explosion while he patrolled on foot outside of Baghdad. He was my fist soldier correspondent to be killed in action. My heart still reeling from 9/11, was scattered to pieces once again.
In the storybook Little Nut Brown Hare talks about how much he loved Big Nut Brown Hare and goes through several wonderful motions to show how much he loves him. Ron loved our country very much, and he showed us how much with his untiring dedication and willingness to serve, remaining positive and extending his hand to Iraqi's throughout his time there.
In the end, Little Nut, while being held tenderly in Big Nut Brown's arms, falls asleep. Big Nut Brown Hare then places the sleeping Little Nut gently on a patch of soft green grass for the night. That's how I want to remember Ron, sleeping peacefully on a patch of soft green grass.
Ronnie, may you rest in peace. I'll remember you forever, and just in case you didn’t know it, "I love you to the moon and back."

Saturday, September 11, 2004

2001 - 9/11

Two thousand one, nine eleven
Five thousand plus arrive in heaven
As they pass through the gate,
Thousands more appear in wait

A resplendent man with haloed hat
Steps forward saying, "Lets sit, lets chat"
They settle down in seats of clouds
A greeting angel calls names aloud

Groups of soldiers in blue and gray
Others in khaki and green then say
"We're from Bull Run, Yorktown, the Maine"
The Newcomer said, "You died not in vain."

From a man on sticks one could hear
"The only thing we have to fear.
The Newcomer said, "We know the rest,
Trust us sir, we've passed that test."

"Courage doesn't hide in caves
You can't bury freedom, in a grave,"
The Newcomers had heard this voice before
A distinct Yankees twang from Hyannisport shores.

A silence fell within the mist
Somehow the Newcomer knew that this
Meant time had come for her to say
What was in the hearts of the five thousand plus that day.

"Back on Earth, we wrote reports,
Watched our children play in sports
Worked our gardens, sang our songs
Went to church and clipped coupons
We smiled, we laughed, we cried, we fought
Unlike you, great we're not"

The tall man in the stovepipe hat
Stood and said, "Don't talk like that!
Look at your country, look and see
You died for freedom, just like me."

Then, before them all appeared a scene
Of rubbled streets and twisted beams
Death, destruction, smoke and dust
And people working just 'cause they must
Hauling ash, lifting stones,
Knee deep in hell, but not alone
"Look!  Blackman, Whiteman, Brownman, Yellowman
Side by side helping their fellow man!"
So said Martin, as he watched the scene
"Even from nightmares, can be born a dream."
Down below three firemen raised
The colors high into ashen haze
The soldiers above had seen it before
On Iwo Jima back in '44
The man on sticks studied everything closely
Then shared his perceptions on what he saw mostly
"I see pain, I see tears, I see sorrow - but I don't see fear."

"You left behind husbands and wives
Daughters and sons and so many lives
Are suffering now because of this wrong
But look very closely.  You're not really gone.
All of those people, even those who've never met you
All of their lives, they'll never forget you
Don't you see what has happened?
Don't you see what you've done?
You've brought them together, together as one."

With that the greeting the angel said
"Take my hand," and from there he led
a legion of Five thousand souls,
New angels to heaven and heroes to all. 

anonymous 11/12/01

Saturday, August 21, 2004

My NU Home

Apologies for any filth that might have been here while my site was hijacked. Some kind digital neighbors used their mad tech skills to help recreate my posts at a new home.  I vow this will be the first and only time this happens to me!  

I'm now living at: Letters from NYC

Monday, August 16, 2004

Can Bloggers really make a difference?

For those of you, who like me love Florida, know someone living there. or have family living there, they are in great need of assistance.

Having lived in the caribbean and knowing first hand the devastation to the environment and to one's life that occurs from a hurricane, I'd like to use this forum to ask that you consider helping those greatly affected by donating to the American Red Cross. In that way Floridians can receive immediate assistance in an organized and effective manner.

You've only seen limited coverage in the news about the devastation becaues the McGreevey affair, the Olympics and the Najaf Offensive are competing with Florida in the headlines.

If you want to see/know more please visit the Orlando Sentinel or the St. Petersburg Times websites. Walk a mile in their shoes and consider how you might be able to help. As one Florida (now homeless) Arcadia resident said: "this is a loss of enormous proportions, but it helps to know that there are people that care and want to help.

Update: Via Sgt. Hook, is a link to the Command Post's efforts in helping Floridians more directly by organizing bloggers across the web. If you're a blogger or a websurfer, interested in joining the efforts across the digital landscape, or you simply wish to make a more localized impact, go to Strengthen The Good. There you will see how bloggers are getting organized and directing readers and other bloggers efforts, in finding local Florida charities giving help by spreading the word. I've already reached out to help, I hope you do too.

Let's show everyone we can really make a difference!


Saturday, August 14, 2004

Cosas/Things by Gabriela Mistral


Pienso en umbral donde deje
pasos alegres que ya no llevo,
y en el umbral veo una llaga
llena de musgo y de silencio.

Me busco un verso que he perdido,
que a los siete años me dijeron.
Fue una mujer haciendo el pan
y yo su santa boca veo.

        Things [my own translation]

I think of a threshold where I left
happier paths no longer tread,
and the footprints now seen
are full of moss and silence.

I look for a verse that is lost,
which at seven was told to me.
It was a woman making her bread
and her blessed mouth I still see.


Posted by: Michele at 01:34 AM | Comments (1) |
Post contains 113 words, total size 1 kb.

1 Well, I torture Harvey when he posts a poem, so let's see what I can come up with here ... Things [my own version] I remember a home I visited in the past I've not been back yet these memories last, The address and street I still recall but I wonder if the house still stands at all. The things I learned there, the experiences we shared. It was so fleeting - I've left it behind, yet so permanent it all is in my mind.
Posted by: _Jon at August 14, 2004 09:29 AM (RZ4Hy)

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

"This one goes out to the ones I love"

Where did the time go? It was just yesterday that I was in Grad school, working 3 part-time jobs and teaching. Living and loving my life and friends with great intensity, at break neck speeds. Time was measured in semesters and the length of school breaks.

Having survived cancer at age 25 many years before, I lived life with a drive and eagerness known only to cancer survivors. I remember clearly the excitement I felt the semester I was cleared to go back to school. I decided that no matter what, I would not have any regrets about school or life in general. I planned my life so that I could go to college full-time and have "the full experience", as my friends used to call it. I became very involved, joining one of the top sororities on campus, then later becoming student government president for 2 terms. The list of things I accomplished, as if time were running out, were endless. I was living faster and harder than Lance Armstrong.

During that time, my friends were my stability. they were there during all the high’s and lows of my emotional and financial life. I would never have made it without there help and support. During every joyous moment and accomplishment in my life, they were there. During every major disappointment and crisis, they were there.

Last night, while I sat in the emergency room with my son, waiting for the results of his X-rays to come back, I missed them very intensely. How I wished that a few of them had survived. Last night, I believed I would feel less isolated if at least 1 or 2 of them had made it. Who knows, maybe I’m just kidding myself. But there were a couple of anxious moments last night that I would have given anything to be able to talk to one of them on the phone, or to have at least looked forward to receiving one reassuring hug.

So the dream gone, I focused on being comfortably numb, in order to be there for my 4 year old son.

Hearing my son was OK was a relief; but I still missed them. After I put my little angel to bed, the void felt more intense. It always does after a crisis. Curling up in bed with the cell phone next to me, I hoped that the phone would still ring, just as I did for many nights right after 9/11. I did so in the hope that a miracle would happen, that I would hear one of their voices calling me peanut, shortstop, or doll face.

Eventually, the tears faded and were followed by the comfort of silence found in the pre-dawn hours. That time of night always provides my spirit with the solace it so desperately needs. The silence being the resting place for all my prayers of hope. Prayers for souls departed, and for some new dear ones fighting the good fight overseas. They are all I have now. They are my only hope for a safer, better and brighter tomorrow. May God bless and protect them all!

Posted by: Michele at 01:31 PM | Comments (4) | Add Comment 
Post contains 540 words, total size 3 kb.
1  Wow. What an amazing post. This is the first time I have been here. -Q
Posted by: Queenie at August 11, 2004 04:17 PM (3+LTh)

2  I'd never read your blog's history, had no idea about your cancer (something which has had a major impact in my life), and I didn't know how great your loss on 9/11 had been. I doubt I will go back and read, as it is probably too much for me. When I lost My Love to cancer, it had very a bad effect on me. I had countless nights in the hospital, doing as you did. Just kinda phasing out, hoping to be strong and supportive. For the most part, I was successful. But it wasn't easy. I've never curled up with a phone, as there never were calls. But I've looked at the PC next to me, with no one sitting at it, and missed My Love greatly. I used to check the e-mail account, then notify cyber-friends of what had happened. But I don't even do that anymore. I am sorry for your loss.
Posted by: _Jon at August 11, 2004 09:13 PM (RZ4Hy)

3  I'm so very sorry you had such a rough day/evening/night. I understand, to an certain extent, about the loneliness you are talking about. And I do know what you mean about curling up with the phone waiting for that encouraging phone call. For what it's worth, you are in my prayers everyday (honestly). Plus, if it gets bad, shoot me an e-mail. You'd be amazed at how late/early I'm sitting here. I'll always answer.
Posted by: Tammi at August 12, 2004 02:55 PM (4Ls5e)

4  Well, I don't pray, so I can't say what Tammi said, exactly. However, you're on my blogroll and I stop by religiously, which is about the equivalent for me :-) And my inbox is always open :-)
Posted by: Harvey at August 13, 2004 11:45 AM (tJfh1)

Saturday, August 07, 2004

Star Light, Star Bright...

It's Mike's star I look for tonight...

Dear Mike
Last night, I had yet another one of my rough sleepless nights wishing you still lived down the block. It was the kind of night where nothing filled the ache in my soul, and even surfing didn't help me remain grounded in the present as I sometimes descend into the quick sand of emotional turmoil. I surfed and read in search of healing until exhaustion set in and I surrendered to the comfort of my bed. While there, I stared at the glow in the dark stars I glued to the ceiling. It’s one of the things that I miss of living overseas, looking up to see a blanket of stars light up the night sky. I remember as a little girl spending hours looking out the window identifying constellations and seeing what other figures I could make out in that brightly lit sky. 
In my sleeplessness I missed you greatly, as I always do in those quiet early morning hours. As I lay there, I searched for why this sadness had been coming on so slowly since the afternoon. After all, nothing interesting or different had occurred at all.
As I reviewed the day, I began to get a glimpse of what might have made me think of you. I had scheduled my day so that I could tune-in and take notes during the last 90 minutes of the women’s marathon. I made a point to watch because I'’ve been thinking of fulfilling the promise we made to each other of running the NYC Marathon at least once in our lifetime no matter what happened. Suddenly I remembered what triggered my sadness. It was seeing the Kenyan woman, whose teammate was running behind the crowd, cheering her on, as he kept pace with her. The memory of you doing the same for me during my first 15k, just when I was struggling and thinking about quitting, as I neared the finish line... it came flooding back to me as if we were there again.
That’s when a little gasp escaped my throat and the realization weighed so heavily on my heart and soul. The deluge of silent tears quickly began to fall, coming as if they had been ready for some time for my soul's recognition of a memory that is no more. All I could do, was hug my pillow tightly around my face so as to muffle my uncontrollable sobs.
There are times that I wrestle with the fact, that had I gone on that morning's training run like you and Larry wanted, you both might be alive today. But then I realize I'm only lying to myself. No matter where you were or what you were doing you still would have gone up, into the bowels of hell to help others.
Eventually, exhausted from my emotions and the late hour, the room became quiet again. I was finally able to think of the kind but firm words you used to say to me whenever I wanted to give up on anything. The words you told me that day during that race that not only made me finish, but helped me finish 3rd. Through our 15 years of friendship, you never, ever let me give up. You used words of encouragement, words of inspiration and when none of that worked you would simply say, "I know you have it in you if you just dig deep inside. Come on, go deep....".  I so miss my cheering section, of which you were the head cheer leader.
Last night I would have given anything to have you, my best, oldest and dearest friend, back amongst the living. Towards the early morning hours I pinned my hopes that you were on one of those far off stars I often look at through my telescope. I guess since they never found you, I'm still hoping against hope that one day I'll be able to have that last goodbye. Where I could hold each and everyone of you very tight and tell you all that "I'll love you forever".
This morning, tired and yet even more exhausted from not having slept at all, I just felt grateful for having had you all in my life during the years that you were here. 

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Cartier-Bresson Dies at age 95

The New York Times reported today that "Frenchman Henri Cartier-Bresson, one of the great photographers of the 20th century and a founding father of modern photojournalism, died at age 95 in the south of France on Monday."

Cartier-Bresson made a name for himself by capturing exceptional images in black and white at "what he called the `decisive moment'.''

During his career he travelled extensively, capturing important people and moments in the most poigniant or evocative moment.

To see some of his exceptional work, where composition, space, and black/white hues converge into a dream like image, visit Red List or Photology.

I modeled or patterned much of my photography after Bresson's style. Unfortunately a fire in the apartment above me on New Year's eve destroyed all my photos (including my award winning pictures), negatives and equipment, so I'm not able to show you any of my work. Instead, please visit his and I'll guarantee you'll be visually swept away.

Friday, July 02, 2004

Waxing Patriotic

"In the beginning of a change, the patriot is a scarce man, brave, hated, and scorned. When his cause succeeds however, the timid join him, For then it costs nothing to be a patriot." -- Mark Twain

"America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves." -- Abraham Lincoln

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Time To Think

Well, I've received a nice number of emails on my little soul searching here. Some are nice, some not so nice with interesting points in them, and another few were given the click into the bin rather quickly, lest I soil myself from the filth they espoused.

Reminder: I asked for suggestions on my political edification. Nothing else will be read thank you!

I was so busy answering emails, that I didn't get a chance to write the Apologia I had promised. For students of Critical Thinking, Greek Studies and English, I'm basing my Apologia in a similar format that Plato's recounting of Socrates Trial ocurrs. Now how did I know, I was going to be excoriated and tried publicly, hmmmm? Simple, I knew who some of my readers were going to be.

Till I return, be nice or I'll have to get Casandra Porter to sit in for me and write the next entry. You really don't want that to happen now do you. Isn't the net wonderful, she can write from her little chair over at the DOD in DC and doesn't have to come back to NY at all.... that is unless enough of you piss her off. Remember her saying: HELL HATH NO FURY LIKE A WOMAN STABBED IN THE BACK!

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Letters from Baghdad

Hi y'all,
Below are 2 letters Michele recently received from 2 of her military correspondents. She was so touched by them, that she asked I post their letters here to share with others. Let us know what you think.

Dear Michele,

I am writing you from [somewhere near Baghdad]. Earlier today I walked in from a mission that took us five long hot days. Upon our return we found out that we would be leaving out again in the morning on yet another mission – length unkown. My unit has been in this area for one week short of one year, and last month we were informed that we would be extended longer than our original 365 days.

Today was cooler than it has been lately (only 112 degrees). Please don't misunderstand, I’m not complaining. I was no longer even in the National Guard, but reenlisted when my old unit was mobilized. I only want to give you some perspective on the situation in which I found your postcard.

I walked into the tent and it was just lying there on my cot, under a fine coat of dust, like everything else. I blew it off and felt a painful knot growing in my throat before I could finish reading it. I don't know who you are, or where you got my name and address even, but I will say this, Your kind words have added much meaning to these past twelve months. To put it very bluntly, my men have worked very hard, for what seems a very long time, and it is good to hear from someone who gives a damn about us.

Though we are from different parts of the country, lots of people from my home-town area felt the loss and sorrow, and many even wept with you when they heard the awful news of 9-11, and I am truly sorry for any pain or heartache you have had to endure since your great city fell under attack. I will read the card you sent to the guys later tonight in their briefing. I am certain that they will appreciate your prayers, thanks and well wishes, as much as I did. Thank you once again Michele.

Your friend in Iraq and fellow American,
Capt. JR



It's been a long day for all of us and I can't wait till it is over with. It started out ordinary enough but that quickly changed into quite an active day for mortar. Mosque Day has taken on a new meaning here. It has become a day of mortar attacks and prayers. In fact I had to change my whole message because those insurgents can't remember what Mosque day is supposed to be about.

Nevertheless the FOB overall took a beating, we had some casualties, and once again we had two rounds land near our command post and our vehicles. It was an experience that rattled a few of our newer soldiers and left me once again feeling pretty lucky to be alive. I thank you all for all your prayers, because I know that's what got me through.

This mission will someday end for us and I can tell you that we are better for it or should I say that I am better for it. The daily mortar attacks have been a true test of our resolve. [snip] I feel much honored to be here with these soldiers as they struggle with the heat, the bad food, and the lack of luxury items that one could easily find at any 7-11 stores in the states. I feel very lucky to be here and it is an experience that I will always look back on.

I have tried to learn everyday, to make myself better, to improve the lives of my soldiers, to uphold standards that seem so high, yet save lives in the long run and finally I have learned that Memorial Day is for the living not the dead. It is a day for us to remember those who have served and given their life for a cause, it is a day to celebrate their legacy, by this I mean what they left for us to emulate, and most of all it is a day to sit back and understand how better our lives were because we knew them.

I, or should I say we, have all been affected by this conflict, for most of us the terrible tales we all have can only be shared with those who have been here. I have seriously considered what I am going to tell people when they ask me, "How was it, really?" It is a question that I will be asked by many and yet there is truly no right or wrong answer. However I believe that my answer will be the following: "I am very proud of my unit and the positive impact they had on the Iraqi people that no one ever cared to write about. I served in an artillery unit, who had 8 soldiers killed and a unit whose soldiers were awarded the most Purple Hearts in the division. I had the pleasure of serving with the best soldiers, NCOs, and officers, who were not always perfect, but cried when they saw the aftermath of a car-bomb which left many Iraqi men and women dead. I had the honor of meeting many very warm and friendly Iraqi nationals, who seemed no different from people that I know it the states. But most of all I served my country for 14 months and received the thanks of many grateful Americans who showered me with cards, emails, and boxes filled with love and generosity."[snip]

I thank you again for all your generosity and your thoughtfulness. You all have made a tremendous difference in my life and the lives of those who serve with me. God Bless you all and I hope that all of you have a very good Mosque Day and a better weekend. Godspeed and I'll see you on the high ground.

Texas Red Leg

Monday, June 07, 2004

Terror & the Men in my Squad

All morning long, and on all the major news media outlets there have been reports about this "new" credible threat.

Nothing new to us. I work for one of those large financial institutions who were targetted on 9/11 and continue to be so. Not many people know that Al Queda planned this attack so well that it purchased stock "Futures" in a few select companies that were located in the World Trade Center, as well as the airlines affected. Shortly before the attack they dumped the stock, greatly impacting the NYSE. Bottom line, they made money off their own actions. Since then the SEC has put in place measures that help to prevent financial instability, however, another terrorist attack would go a long way to hurt our country's recovery and alter our elections (as happened in Spain).

Post 9/11, I received one of those lovely packages, laced with an interesting residue that went out to be tested. My firm and I kept quiet about it for a number of reasons, mostly the need to protect the sanity of our friends and WTC survivors. Just like I don't open email from unknown senders (and even attachments from familiar ones) I don't open packages from unknown entities without calling to confirm the recipient sent it before opening it. I was lucky by having that rule, others in the media industry and the post office were not.

We have also had bomb scares at my firm aimed at demoralizing staff. I for one, now react the opposite, I get angrier and more determined with each new threat. On my floor we've got an incredible life safety team that meets monthly and practices scenarios quarterly. We're prepared for anything.

Since 9/11, my firm has put incredible security measures in place to ensure we minimize the effect of hostile actions. We are very well prepared to handle anything that may happen in the workplace. Part of the credit is due to some incredible guys who are the head of our security division; their former intelligence and military training serves us well.

Unfortunately, on a personal level, I am as vulnerable as any New Yorker when I travel throughout the city. The difference between an ordinary traveler and me, I'm finally at a place of strength and peace. I'm at peace with myself that this is the kind of world I will live in for some time to come. And although I am vulnerable, the reality of this does not make me afraid for I have found the courage and determination I needed to move forward with head held high.

My inspiration for courage has come from a wonderful source, our servicemen. Since April I have been the faithful correspondent of nearly 40 US servicemen, one of which is my youngest cousin deployed in Afghanistan.

Through our letters we have bolstered our morale and inspired each other to stand firm against any threat or action that threatens our beloved country. Their incredible feats in the face of hostile action have been amazing and inspirational. They continue to show me what determination and dedication can accomplish. I credit them for my being able to move from grief, past fear, and into the light of a new day with the same hope and strength they have developed. This is the group that I call my squad. They come from different branches of the service, from different backgrounds, but mostly they are an incredible group of brave, selfless men that have given up much so they may serve to protect me. So that I might finally walk the streets of New York not feeling like I have a target on my back.

I greatly admire, respect, and salute each and everyone of these men. They have done much to fill the void left by the murder of my 7 friends. These are the men who have rallied around me, supported me, who have watched my back and have enabled me to get my life back. They are: 1Sgt Jim, Sgt. Matt, Sgt. Rob, Capt. Elliot, Sgt. Joel, CWO Roy, PFC Manny, LCpl JJ, most recently Capt. JR and Col. Peg Leg.

There's also a few others who have inspired me through their blogs. When my site was hijacked digital jihadists I lost my blogroll and my links to them. I'm still working on getting the list together for when I move to my new place but until I move, I list them here and urge you to visit regularly if you wish to be inspired:

Sgt. Hook
Sgt. Missick
Eject! Eject! Eject!

I am greatly honored that some of these men consider me [and I them] a friend. Terrorist action or not, I am not afraid. I am prepared emotionally, mentally, and spiritually for what may come. I have my Last Will  completed, my son's Guardianship Papers signed and my spirit free of any thoughts of things left undone or unsaid, for I have now said them here.

Words cannot express the gratitude I have for these men, for their sacrifice and that of their families. They are all incredible men of honor and courage, and are very dear to me. My fervent prayer is that God provide them with the continued strength and wisdom needed to perform their jobs and the inner peace needed to continue their fight daily. God bless them all!

Update: To those who have emailed me expressing concern and sending well wishes, I thank you. Your emails are heartfelt and much appreciated. They too add to my strength. I am back at work again, thanking God for the love and support I've received, and for the peace I'm experiencing in my spirit. God bless you all too!

Tuesday, June 01, 2004


La vérité, je la dirai, car j'ai promis de la dire, si la justice, régulièrement saisie, ne la faisait pas, pleine et entière. Mon devoir est de parler, je ne veux pas être complice. Mes nuits seraient hantées par le spectre de l'innocent qui expie là-bas, dans la plus affreuse des tortures, un crime qu'il n'a pas commis.
- Open Letter from Emile Zola to the President of France published in L’Aurore Jan. 13, 1898

The truth, I will say it, for I promised to say it, if justice, uniformly seized, did not do it plainly and fully. My duty is to speak, I do not want to be an accomplice. My nights would be haunted by the ghost of the innocent one, that pays the price, in the most horrible of tortures, for a crime he did not commit.
- Open Letter from Emile Zola to the President of France published in L’Aurore Jan. 13, 1898 [translation my own]

My birthday is a time where I re-evaluate, how I’ve either contributed or harmed society through my personal action or inaction.

In looking back over these past 2 years, I've realized that I allowed my grief, to both rule my life and blind my judgment. I no longer have the luxury, nor do I want to live in that level, of grief stricken ignorance. This re-examination of my life comes at a time when I normally look at where I’ve been, in order to forge the path of where I need to go.

Actually, my nights have been haunted, heavy and often as of late. Perhaps it’s Mike smiling down at me, nagging me out of this political hibernation that I’ve been in since 9/11. Perhaps its Larry, reminding me, through my subconscious, of our debates on the issues of education, defense spending, social programs and our respective ideas of government and how the business of our republic should be conducted. I've been haunted by silent accusations and of complicit action through inaction.

Par conséquent, Je dois appeler la partie responsable. Jai'Accuse Moi!

Yes, I accuse myself, of political indecision and hypocrisy! Of being too afraid, of extremists on the right or the left, to explore what republicanism and conservatism is all about.

Yes, I accuse myself, of letting loudmouth extremists, on both sides, intimidate me into a feeling of political inadequacy which fueled my political denial even when they accused me falsely and their political beliefs were not congruent with my belief system.

Yes, I accuse myself, of having been a harbinger for the left when I was young, naively believing that democratic principles should be observed in all areas of government, with liberality going towards those who were less fortunate than I.

Yes, I accuse myself, of being complicit, through silence, during a time when I should have spoken up against the acts of an immoral and spiritually corrupt President, who I still believe in my heart is a sexual predator.

Yes, I accuse myself, of letting labels blind me to men of greatness, simply because I was afraid of “what might happen” and never did. In doing so, I allowed fear to prevent me from supporting some incredible changes that transpired, while I sat on the sidelines.

I think my specters have been calling on me these past few months, because the time was ripe for me to re-examine my conscience and political leanings. As a result, I must out myself hear and now, in order to put an end to my political purgatory. I can no longer outwardly support a party or a political ideology that I have not supported and have not affiliated with for more than a decade. Yet, I'm unable to say or even figure out where I belong in the new political landscape. 

Am I a reluctant conservative or a former recovering liberal? With each passing day I realize I am more conservative than I once thought, and have successfully argued against the radical left for some time now. Yet, how are my political views to be discerned and defined? These unspoken questions lay there, waiting to be embraced, while I sit here and stare into the darkness that these extremists have created ... and fear begins to rise once again.  Well, no more!  Mike, Larry and the others didn't rush into the towers wondering or questioning.  They ran with a fierce determination and conviction. That is the conviction I must now seize upon to get to the other side of fear.

Fear of the ramifications of what awaits me; of the fact that it will usher in the demise of my last surviving friendship. I have probably postponed writing or even saying all of this out loud for that fear. But the pain of inaction is greater than the pain of uttering the truth.

The truth is I can no longer remain subdued in my arguments, just as I cannot temper my level of disgust with the DNC. I am at the point of revulsion. I can no longer debate like a lady. I simply want to take my gloves off, get into the ring and throw a few well placed punches and kicks of my own. I can no longer stand by silently and know that brave Americans are being accused of untruths and vile things. I can no longer live with that lie silently.

So now my birthday will marks the birth of my independence day. Today, I communicated with various political figures and organizations requesting they remove my name from their rolls, as I no longer want to be called or be associated with them or with their political positions in any way.

In the end, what motivated me the most was believing  certain individuals were responsible for the death of my friends. For some time I have been bothered by the fact that Pres. Clinton missed several key opportunities to rid this country of a problem which has plagued us in the Middle East & elsewhere for some time. His inaction caused the death of thousands during his term in office. And on the eve of his benefiting from these indiscretions, by publishing his memoirs. I can no longer sit idly by and hold my tongue.

Aujourd'hui, J'accuse Clinton de trahison, et prononcez-le coupable comme chargé! [Today, I accuse Clinton of treason, of betraying the safety and well-being of the American people, for political expediency. Of this he stands guilty as charged!]

As I think of my friends deaths on 9/11, my rage rises to a boiling point, when I wonder if he and Monica were Cigar playing, at the time they were looking for him to give the order to wipe out OBL.

On Saturday I will post my Apologia and to see what I intend to do about defining my political leanings.

Suggestions are welcome for I find myself feeling the rage rising after being dormant from the grief and shock of my beloved friends. 

Thank you!

Friday, May 21, 2004

To My Fallen Friends

To: Mike, Jack, Tony, Larry, Amy, Rick & Nancy

My Dear Loved Ones,

It's soon to be Memorial Day, our most favorite holiday. I know that I used to love Memorial Day because it ushered in our summer antics. Later, through Mike and Rick's military stories I grew to understand that Memorial Day was a day to honor and celebrate those who served our country and who lost their lives doing so. When thinking about this day during these past few weeks, I've experienced an ebb and flow of unrestrained emotion that has been a long time coming. And in the process, I've missed you all the more than in these past 2 years.

It all started just over 2 months ago with Mike's birthday. For me, Mike's birthday always marks the round of subsequent birthdays, anniversaries or important milestones in our lives that we all celebrated. Now it's a reminder of what will not be. Sigh.

Every morning for the past few weeks on my way to work, I've finally begun to shed tears. Whether reading the newspaper or writing to a new friend stationed at the front, there have been tears to be shed over memories long past. Tears, for moments left unexplored. and events that will never be. My grief, though late in coming, has begun to emerge, slow and unrestrained. I fear it's full arrival, for when it comes I fear its full force, and the full paralysis of my voice and writing.

I think what has begun to hurt the most has been remembering the phone calls I received the morning of 9/11. Jack, Tony and Lisa's calls are still with me till this day, replaying every so often as I wistfullly look downtown through my window. That window is the only connection I have with all of you of that morning.

For a long time after you all left, I was devoid of feeling. A living numbness that I thought was permanent. I remember sitting at our favorite restaurant 2 days later as we had planned, waiting to meet Lisa; still in shock; still unwilling to accept the truth. As I sat there, I kept half expecting all of you to show up, all dusty, having freshly escaped your mausoleum. It was as time and I were suspended in mid air, waiting for gravity to kick in. That is I waited until just recently.

What I remember about the day after, was the deafening silence. No phone calls, no conversations, no jokes, and no tears. There was no TV as all the network signal antennas were atop towers 1 & 2, and no ringings of cell phone or doors.

Each night I returned home hoping to hear from one of you. I wanted to call, but with the fall of the towers all the lines were down. Knowing how fiercely independent you all were, I kept believing that if you had survived you would be right down there in the pit helping in the rescue effort. So night after night, I curled up in bed with the phone clutched to my stomach. Each night I hoped against what was reported, that no survivors were being found. Each night I prayed that somehow a miracle would happen. For many days I went on thinking that I would wake up from this nightmare state, and everything would be just as it was before it began. When I slowly began to realize you guys might not be coming home, I prayed even harder.

My miracle never came.

Now all I have left of you are remnants of tangible objects. Your voices have long since been erased by new and improved technology that was installed after 9/11. Your birthday and christmas cards and gifts are all that remain of you with me. Just yesterday I was finally putting away my winter clothes and came across Mike's blue v-neck wool sweater I borrowed the weekend before when we went hiking. I lovingly held it in my arms inhaling it's scent and trying to conjure memories of you back to me.

You were all such an integral part of my daily life, and are missed so greatly! I'm truly thankful that we lived and shared, as if each gathering would be our last. There were never any unspoken truths or emotions held back. Our love for honesty and for each other made that impossible.

Although I miss you all more than words can say, I know that you are all in a wonderful peaceful place, smiling and watching over me from heaven.

Mike, I want to thank you for staying with me in spirit and finding new people to inspire me the way you did. You always said that replacing you would take at least 3 people and you were right. You've given me one friend that has helped inspire my writing as you once did. Another that has inspired my love of working out again. Yes, I've got a ways to go before that marathon we were supposed to run, but as you always said, "The journey of a thousand miles begins with that first step". You've given me a third, who has basically had his family adopt me, very much like you did when our friendship first started.

All of them are incredible individuals and greatly admired by their men, much like you were. They, like you once did, serve our country, working hard every day to protect my way of life and the principles our constitution guarantees.

Mike, you've been looking out for me, just as you did when you were on earth. I remember when I went to live overseas and I admitted to you that I was scared about my new life, and everyone being so far away. You said to me, "nothing really has changed, other than you'll be in a new location. You'll be just a little farther away from us, so it'll be a bit harder to have dinner together, but we'll still call and email you everyday like we do now."

Although you're a little further away now and you can't email or call, I am grateful that I still feel you with me from time to time, cheering me on when I'm moving forward, and nagging my mind when I'm not.

I'm glad that you dispatched the rest of the gang to The Front, to watch over these incredible special men you've put in my life. They are the ones helping me bridge the chasm of death, and slowly bringing me back to life.

Thank you, my dear beloved friends. On this Memorial Day I salute you all. On Sunday, I will place a wreath in the Hudson River in memory of you and those fallen, both for your past service to this country, and for the legacy you left in those you touched: a love of country and service to it.

As usual, I'll be going to Veniero's to celebrate Rick's birthday. Know that I'm sending you promises of writing soon, with big bear hugs and sandwich kisses to keep you in love until we're all together once again. Till then, I'll leave you with the same words I used to say whenever we said goodbye,

: )  Miss you already...
and now its more than you'll ever know!

Friday, April 30, 2004

My heart is broken

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