How You Doin’ Blondie?


I AM JACK’S BLEEDING HEART

My senior year of college, a month before I was supposed to graduate, I got a letter from the bank that had issued me my student loans. The letter started out very friendly, almost like the bank president was on old friend of mine and would like to do lunch someday. It explained that everybody at the bank was really proud of my accomplishments, and they couldn’t wait to see what I did with my future! They also said that, because we were friends, they were going to bestow unto me a one-year grace period, starting the day I graduated, during which time I did not have to make any payments on my student loan debt. Then at the veeeery end of the letter they explained, in excruciating detail, exactly how much I was going to owe them. I believe I almost experienced total organ failure.

I sat down and crunched some numbers and I realized that unless I moved in on the Columbian drug trade, I was going to be making payments until I was well into my 50’s. So I started exploring my options, and one of them was to enlist in the Army Reserve. Although at the time we were officially at war, we hadn’t reached (or at least no one was revealing we had reached) a troop-shortage crisis yet, and the Army Reserve was offering, in addition to a $20,000 signing bonus, 100% student-loan reimbursement. So I figured that next to the Navy (which I had already ruled out because I get as seasick and as claustrophobic as a motherfucker), the Army Reserve was a pretty good way to reap the benefits of the GI Bill without having to see any actual combat.

Then I started doing some research, read some fine print, discovered words like “stop-loss” and “Improvised Explosive Device.” I started seeing pictures of soldiers missing the lower half of their body, or the main portion of their face. I started reading about the disgusting things local insurrectionists did to the bodies of US Soldiers…and that’s when I realized, the US Armed Forces was probably not for me. I realized that I would be the angriest, most pissed off motherfucker on the eastern seaboard, if I got my legs or an arm blown off and all I had to show for it was 20 large and some tuition reimbursement.

So I didn’t enlist. But I realized then that there was a whole group of people out there who did, and they did it in spite of the potential cost. I also realized then that there were people who had already paid the price, who had already made the sacrifice. I realized that those people, the ones who had already paid – the lucky ones in that group were the ones with a fake foot or only one eyeball. The lucky ones were the ones who went home and pushed their kids on the swing-set or made love to their spouses with pieces of shrapnel still in their skull. The unlucky ones were the ones who never made it back alive. The unlucky ones were the ones who were honored for their bravery and courage – posthumously. The unlucky ones were the ones whose families opened the door one day to two somber looking soldiers in a black Lincoln towncar who said nothing other than, “May we come in?” The even unluckier ones never made it home at all. They’re the ones whose families keep that battery-powered candle in the front window, or that yellow gift-wrap ribbon tied to the tree out front, in hopes that one day their loved one will come home.

I realized all this, and I cried. I remember sitting on my bed in my apartment, about two weeks after graduation, and just crying. And it wasn’t one of those Miss. America crying jags, the ones you could almost mistake for laughter if not for the streams of tears running down her cheeks – it was one of those major cries. It was the kind of crying that you don’t expect, the kind that suddenly hits you with a fierce blow and finds you totally unprepared – I was crying like that, for people. I was crying like that for human beings. Humans that sign up to do super human work. I was crying for soldiers. I was crying because you can throw in all the body armor and 21st century technology that you want, but a soldier is still a human, just like everybody else. I was crying because these soldiers suffer unspeakable loss and shoulder impossible burdens, and sometimes it’s dismissed as “just part of their job.” And I was crying because yeah, it is just part of their job, but their job is a great one, and it’s too much for one man, or one family, to try and carry alone.

Since that day, I’ve been very actively involved in organizations whose goal is to support deployed and injured soldiers, and their families. Although there are several, there is one organization I’ve publicly supported the most, chiefly because there is no “organization extraction” – 100% of the purchase or donation price is given directly to troops and their families.

Regardless of your political affiliation, please don’t confuse the war with the warrior. Please support our troops.

 

 I’ll get off my soapbox now.

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Reviving The Old Art Of Lying
May 18, 2008, 2:49 pm
Filed under: Dishonesty, Family, Friends, Humor, Life, love, relationships, sex | Tags: , , , , , , ,

I hate parties. I never know what to say. And I hate introducing myself to people. I can usually solve this problem by only going to parties as the date of some guy, that way I don’t have to worry about starting conversations by myself. Every once in a while though, I think to myself “it sure would be fun to have a little soiree with only my closest friends.” And then I remember that, strictly speaking, I don’t have any. I do have friends, but they’re friends that I could never in a million years have in the same room as each other, because then they’d eventually unravel all the little lies I’ve told. I lie a lot when I meet people, not to impress them – mainly just to cover shit up.

For instance, I have one category of friends, and they’re known as “Friends Who Have Seen My House.” This group consists mainly of people in the neighborhood (so I’m using the term “friends” here loosely), but there’s also a couple of people from the Garden of the Month club in there too. The lies I’ve told this group were created in an attempt to explain why a young, single woman who spends far too much time around the house to have a traditional 9 to 5 job and who keeps very, very odd hours; can afford to live in a 6 bedroom house. The lies vary from “My husband is an officer in the Marine Corps, he’s currently in Iraq,” (which is actually my favorite and the easiest to remember) to “My uncle died and left me this house,” (which I only use when I’m talking to a man who could possibly ask me out and all other good lies have escaped me).

Another group of friends is “Friends Who I’ve Met In An Academic Capacity.” These are people I either went to college with or met through some University alumni function (this group also contains my old Mathalete team mates). In addition to the “personal” lies I tell the “Friends Who Have Seen My House”, I also tell this group “career” lies. For the most part, my friends in this group are all in the same tax bracket, so living a life of luxury, in itself, is not going to raise many eyebrows. But these are the “elitist” friends, the “intellectuals” – so they don’t necessarily care what you have, but how you used your superior education and brainpower to acquire it. To these friends, I’m a mathematician crunching stats and formulas for a defense contractor (which serves the dual purpose of impressing them AND preventing further questioning, because you know, defense contracting is all hush, hush).

And the problem with all this lying is not the big lies that I’ve told, but the tiny little “supporting” lies. Because if you want to really sell your story, you’ve got to have background information…and I get a little carried away with my “background” information. I can’t even remember all the jobs I’ve had, men I’ve been in relationships with, or reasons I’ve moved to the area. I should have started writing it all down so I could reference it all in a pinch, but I didn’t, and now I just have to avoid small talk. And parties.