The Red Badge Project

I attended a Red Badge Project class today.  They are writing “classes” for women veterans.  The focus is on self-expression.  I was anxious but chose to stretch my limits and go anyway.  It was a new environment.  Fortunately two friends were there also.  That helped me feel more comfortable.  I was also concerned about critique.  Although I share my blog, my writing is for me.  I don’t worry about impressing anyone or being perfect.  No criticism. The other attendess gave feedback about how the writing touched them and what they enjoyed.  Yet, we could still touch on sensitive topics if we wanted.

One of the exercises that we did was to write one continuous sentence.  One gigantic run on sentence.  I found it diffult not to use ending punctuation.  We were allowed to use commas, colons, semicolons, and dashes.  I want to share my long run one sentence.   The topic is my paretner.  The one who doesn’t exist.  My writing turned into free thought, tangetical exploration of relationships and independence.  

Romance is overrated; pressure to marry and have children- Mom really wants grandkids, talk to my brother and sister,  they’re married: no one had children, deal with granddogs, grandcats, and grandferrets- no one should be pressured into having kids: relationships are risky and confining- there is freedom in being alone- I can do things I wouldn’t be able to: I have my own destiny but I am not selfish- I help others, I honor obligations, I treat others with respect and am supportive but still, maybe I should have gotten married- religion and society demands it- why can’t I feel free from who I am supposed to be and what I should do; so I rescue those who were thrown away and are misunderstood by people but ferrets are intelligent and hilarious and they are crazy wild but yet domesticated, I understand: they depend on me -and I wonder who rescues who- Brighid was a young kitten, another castaway; I’m adrift too and she chose me and I chose her- two lost souls and I wonder who needs a partner when the ferrets and cat provide the unlimited, non-judgmental, simple love and trust that people never do but still, I have to wonder why there is so much judgment on different because everyone is- yet, here we are, all grouped together, marching toward something but nothing; society’s expectations: hide being different – because different is dangerous-  yet  I still can’t change who I am; I can’t lie to myself anymore but still I hide the truth from others behind a mask of normal to just be another lemming jumping off the cliff into insanity.

Punctuation makes a difference.  Still, the style of free writing offers a different way to communicate thoughts.  It requires patience on the part of readers.  I think it also provides more opportunities for each person to find a meaning unique to them. 

I think this style also illustrates the inner jangle of thoughts that just never shut up.  Almost everyone experiences this.  Often they are fears, self- criticism, and lists of “I need to..” or “I should…”

Really, life is a run on sentence.

Thank you for your service

As a Veteran, I often hear the phrase “thank you for your service.” At one level, I appreciate that people recognize, at least on some level, the sacrifices members of the military make daily. However, there is more to appreciating the impact and costs of service than saying thank you.

Veterans struggle with issues such as Traumatic Brain Injury, PTSD, depression, homelessness, and suicide. We need more than “thank you” and a referral to the nearest VA. The VA has its problems but does provide needed services. However, there is more demand on the system than VA is staffed and funded to address.

Have you ever helped a Veteran? It doesn’t have to be complicated, or a large time commitment, or monetary gift. Consider volunteering at a VA. Or donating to programs like Wounded Warrior Program Give to Wounded Warrior ProjectAn example of a need that is often missed: the VA gets HUD/VASH grants to help Veterans who are homeless get into affordable housing. Frequently, these Veterans have little or no resources. They may have a roof over their heads but lack cleaning supplies to clean their apartment. Or they have no furniture. One Veteran I know slept on the floor in a sleeping bag for over a month before he could buy an air mattress. Now, he has a regular mattress with no frame. But, he’s happy. He’s no longer homeless. What you can do to help: contact a local VA homeless program and ask if they need something for a Veteran going into housing. Another person I know has one bowl, a plate, fork, spoon, and knife. His apartment came with a microwave. Everything he eats is either something not requiring cooking or microwaveable food. Something small like a set of plates, bowls, and cutlery can make a difference.

I’ve blogged several times about fundraising for Riley. I have service connected PTSD and a Traumatic Brain Injury. Riley is primarily being trained to help with my TBI, as that is the most limiting medical problem. However, he is also being “cross trained” in several PTSD tasks. So far, only 12 people have donated to my GoFundMe campaign. Part of me is frustrated, thinking that since my TBI is not combat related, it’s not “sexy” enough to get donations. Meanwhile, I see a report about a fundraising campaign that earn $14,000 so a woman could pay for an abortion. What is up with that?

Please, if you want to thank a Veteran, or a service member currently on duty, do something tangible. We need more than words. I’d appreciate a donation to my campaign, but if you choose to donate to another Veteran or program, I still appreciate the fact you chose to help.

Have a wonderful day.