Monday, June 30, 2003
The reason I am unable to access my original yahoo.com email account is that they for some unknown reason deactivated it -- I am most pissed . . .
So, anyone out there who may be reading this, please email me at the following new yahoo email addy, so I can reestablish the list with those of you who want to stay connected with me:
It is an incredible group of people, most dedicated, intelligent, spiritually centered, committed to nonviolence and peace-making. I am so blessed to be here.
It has been raining almost continuously for the past three days, but it is absolutely gorgeous in heavy mountain mists. I have successfully downloaded pics from my new Fuji camera to meMac, but hope to find a wireless connection so tomorrow I can load some of them up here . . .
Yahoo account still maximally snafued, fubared and totally inaccessible -- I am pissed . . .
Thursday, June 26, 2003
This morning up on the mountain at the Retreat Center I looked out over the mountainscape past a beautifully flowered garden with clouds dancing on the distant ridgeline and my heart near burst with gratitude that I have been so blessed to survive not only Vietnam, but also myself the past 36 years, to be experiencing this incredible adventure of ever-expanding opportunity "to live, to love, to serve."
Right now I'm jacked in in an Internet Cafe run by an advocacy organization for the disabled for about 50 cents an hour -- can't beat that -- while outside there is a heavy monsoon afternoon shower. This is so utterly sweet, especially the old style bottle of coke which tastes more like the real thing than I've tasted in many a year . . .
Last night I learned a hard lesson that only can best be learned through experience -- never take the upper berth in a sleeper. No window and about half the size of the bottom berth -- Very claustrophobic !~!~! As well, it is a pain having to contort one's body, especially since I'm an elder, up the tiny ladder and twistingly propel oneself in an awkward half-ganor onto the berth without disturbing the person below or breaking one's neck.
Have met about half of our crew: they are a wonderful group of folks, dedicated and committed to make peace. This experience just keeps getting better and beter.
So far the day has been spent walking around the Old City of Chaing Mai within a walled moat with four gates and many ancient wats of Buddhist worship. This is much more like what I experienced in Vietnam, much more authentically Southeast Asian; Bangkok was too urban a Western Euro-american kind of a City, too modern, too chic and sauve, too neon-sprited and urban-congested with an Asian flair of Mad Ave hipness.
Bought a good Fuji digital camera with a 6X zoom and lots of space & features, so when I'm able to connect meMac G-4 up to the Internet I'll be uploading bunches of pics. Y E A H !~!~! Gonna sign-off for now and go to the same cafe where we lunched and get a couple of latte's -- I'm not jonesing anymore -- and get familiar with the new camera before I hook back up with the group to return up the mountain to the paradisial Retreat House. Even the cold showers are refreshingly quaint
Prolly won't be back until July 1st when we have a day's break between the next three-day assessment process and the start of the training for the project in Sri Lanka . . .
Hug each other for me . . .
Wednesday, June 25, 2003
Had a wonderful first night back in the "urban bush" getting to a hotel in Don Muong. Up early this morning at daybreak, cracking golden-lining clouds through morning mist for a short run, finding a park with a heron and a wonderful Buddhist Temple.
The day spent in Bangkok shopping and sight-seeing . . .
I love being back in Southeast Asia. It is like I am home again. I felt such a rush of exhilaration stepping out of the air-conditioned climate of the big NWA 747 Flight #1 which brought us here and feeling the heavy, humidity filled air and smells of the urban bush. I love it . . .
Later when I can -- hopefully tomorrow I can get a wireless connection in Chaing Mai, where a bunch of us are traveling together by train tonight . . .
Tuesday, June 24, 2003
Very frustrated and upset with yahoo mail, which was out all day yesterday, and now won't let me in because they say I am using an invalid password.
Oh well, so it goes . . .
Peace to all and know that I am with you as you are with me . . .
I mean really, really real, and it shall become realer.
Once again in the lovely City by the Bay, and of course the weather is gorgeous.
Sitting in International Air Terminal, jacked-in via T-mobile, rejuicing my battery. Just finished a DECAF venti latte, and I know where I will get at least a couple more before I board at 1:00 p.m. It really tasted good -- and I got a bit of a prelude of jonesing from Starbucks in Phoenix when my first latte this morning got spilled all over the "security" checkin counter while I was putting all my stuff in the plastic pans to go through the X-ray machine. Security personnel were not pleased. It made quite a mess all along the counter and dripped profusely off on to the newly polished tile floor. With my bags plastered with Peace stickers, I was sure that I would get detained for a wand-down and search, but I breezed easily through.
San Francisco is so much easier and more civilized a place to travel from -- nothing like the hoards of people and long quays I experienced when the TOP Vietnam Tour went to Vietnam February of last year -- geez, I sure am, thank all Spirits, far away in time, space and heart from that experience. Now I go to Southeast Asia not as a war warrior or as one healing from the longtime aftermath of being a war warrior, but as an enlistee for basic training to be a Peace Warrior, to put my feet where my beliefs and heart have been for a long time. I am most blessed.
Finally got all packed and loaded up Bonnie's truck about six o'clock yesterday afternoon and took the Miata over to Tommy at his work. Haven't heard anything from him so I guess he hasn't wrecked it yet or blown the clutch . . . ;)
After a lovely evening, Bonnie drove me to the airport and with a minimum of hassle -- 'cepting for the spilt latte -- got on the Air West flight which flung me safely here to the shining City by the Bay where shortly I will go through the security gates to board Northwestern Flight 27 for Tokyo, then on to Bangkok . . .
Incredible !~!~! On April 5, 1967, I also boarded a Northwestern Flight, in Baltimore-Washington International Airport enroute to Vietnam, a pretend war warrior as a scared, skinny, unprepared 2nd LT.
What a marvelous difference this trip shall be; how incredibly blessed I am to have survived not only Vietnam, but my self-destructive self afterwards, to manifest this trip for my highest good . . .
We'll connect up here when we can . . .
Monday, June 23, 2003
Tired, the calm before massive change; also, tired due to having come off caffiene totally in the past two days with no real problems . . .
So, not much else to write at this point; will connect in if I can from San Francisco tomorrow -- if not, be peaceful and kind to each other until I can reconnect after the training in Thailand. I'll be maintaining a journal with pics from a new digital camera I will purchase in Bangkok that I will load up here when I can after I return from Thailand on July 20th . . .
And so I go . . .
Friday, June 20, 2003
A real bummer for me is that it looks like I am going to have to find a home for Chutney, my loveable, laughable, loyal, and on so true, English Standard Poodle. Here he is last year with his then companion, Lady, on the Santa Barbara beach, when Peter and I took our PCH journey in the ltbrinmobile:
And here he is earlier last year, shorn clean, when I was traveling across country in the ltbrinmobile up in Michigan visiting a dear cyber friend from Howard Rheingold's Brainstorms:
Yesterday, I spent some time in terror trying to understand what compells me to return back to war. This was prompted by my reviewing this week The Killing Fields and Swimming to Cambodia. I'll be thinking, praying, meditating a lot about this major theme in my life as partially expressed in this longish poem written in 1983, twenty years ago:
Deep grief rages unresolved within me
unquenchable tears squeezed dry unreleasingly flow
no bottom no relief no end
always there just behind awareness ready to spring forth
at the drop of a memory the turn of a thought about war
like just what happened on this silver bird
winging its way skyward toward Buffalo
through this brilliantly bright New York State early summer morning
over checkered fields of sundry muted green-browns
and haphazard windings of rivers and roads
with the tears just streaming again down
my sun-glassed-and-deeply-tanned countenance
while my fellow yuppie business-person passengers
pass the time behind designer attaché cases or Wall Street Journals
W . . . A . . . R
It haunts me It pursues me It badgers me
casting a pallor of gloom throughout my being
My dark obsession with war
My love-hate relationship with war
My intrusive preoccupation with war
It seems has always been with me
Jesus -- I was a war-baby
conceived at the turning point of “The Good War”
So hurtfully shamed I was that Daddy stayed stateside didn’t fight
teaching navigation to the poor bastards who got shot up over Dresden or Okinawa
when taunted by snot-nosed playmates in wooded forts -- no trophies for me to brandish
An early memory is listening with Mom by the new kitchen sink
to a radio broadcast of Eisenhower consummate Father-General explaining Korea
I remember how precious was the black plastic Tommy machine-gun
so shiny with the bright blood-red bullets
a ten-year-old’s Christmas present to celebrate
As a barely aware boy child voraciously I read
every war novel and voluminous war history I could clutch my chubby hands on
On Saturday afternoons again and again and again we’d watch the heroic endeavors
splashed on silvered screen in darkened matinees of Wayne McQueen Murphy & Peck
or see reruns in flickering tv black and white of Combat Flash Gordon Blackhawk
Very ironic my disappointment and already seething resentment
fearfully whispering to buddies in dimming Boy Scout campfire light
that we wouldn’t have a war to valiantly perform acts of courage in
when the ‘56 Suez Canal crises sputtered to a truce without hostilities
just as Vietnam loomed miniscule still to stain inexorably darker
blotting itself right in the middle of our generation
We got our war after all
Compelled I was to go to volunteer
to experience that little war would-be and dirty of my generation
despite my abhorrence and disgust my soul-quaking doubt
For Christ sake I was a Peacenik demonstrator
and an advanced ROTC cadet in college
both horrified and fascinated by my role of officer-soldier
Manically I dreamed blood-dark dreams of gallant glory violently suicidal
charging up some thickened jungle slope into a hail-fire of slicing AK-47 rounds
to have Charlie do to me what I was too chicken to do to myself
even when blitzed on shots of bar whiskey and San Miguel
And it so happened despite my fervent death-wish to the contrary I survived
* * *
Now almost two decades later son Thomas barely six
despite Sara’s and my strong prohibition against guns or war toys
is fixated upon Ninja Turtles GI Joe Transformers Commando Karate Kid
Thusly do we teach our gender the race-consciousness of war
Just this Saturday past in K-Mark he wanted so passionately the guerrilla-style M-16
“Please, Dad, Please. It’s only a toy, Dad. Please,” his beaming face begged up at me
So much a part of me wanted him to have it
and one for me too
Then I could take him to some deep dark sun-patched wood
to charge through some mutually fantasized virtual image of heroically routing
a dreaded dastardly enemy’s ambush in gallant uphill rush
for freedom for the redwhite&blue
for Momma and the darlin’ little sweetheart way back in some homeland
To show him the ropes the tricks the little secrets
of successfully challenging fate again and again by repeated rolls of the combat dice
To play war games (again) with him
Sweet Buddha sometimes I despair
how I can ever teach him to abhor what so much a part of me still so loves
Star Wars The Road Warrior Enemies my precious New York Giants even
sublimated wish fulfillments to go forth and kill
Sara wishes for me not to be a woman
to suffer through the monthly cycle of hormones
I wish for her not to be a man
to suffer through this obsession with killing
* * *
So what do I conclude
from all this fucking shit
Maybe just perhaps
via this process of working through
once yet again my meta-grief about war my war in particular
I shall somehow become more a peacemaker
Hmmmph, twenty years ago I manifested this by my ardent desire then to:
I shall somehow become more a peacemaker
I wrote briefly the other day about the strange devu feeling all over again when I tried on the pair of jungle boots . . .
Here I am 36 years ago in my first pair of jungle boots at a Cham Tower outside of An Nhon, Vietnam:
Sorry about the red line down the middle of this very old scan . . .
Looks like I have insisted to manifest an opportunity to experience one of my favorite poetry quotes by TS Elliot:
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Dear oldest friend, Peter, and I sharing a moment of gifted laughter while Bonnie and I were in San Diego this past weekend. He knows me better, longer and deeper than anyone, even my parents or my three wives . . . ;)
Exhausted. Long day getting ready, vacillating between ecstatic joy and stark terror, doing some shopping, getting Tommy on the car insurance, doing a half-hour radio interview on KXCI, the Tucson Community Radio station, etc. etc. etc.
Bummer about no Internet connectivity during training, though this will really give me an opportunity to focus without world of the world distraction on preparing myself mentally, emotionally, but most important, spiritually for the 2-year deployment to Sri Lanka to be a channel for the good.
I am so wonderfully blessed . . .
Going nighty-nite-nite now . . .
Thursday, June 19, 2003
Just got an email that I will not have read Internet connectivity while in training in Thailand -- I kind of suspected that when I read in the email I previously copied here that the accommodations at the Retreat Center on top of a mountain about 30 minutes from Chaing Mai provides a simple single room, a mosquito net and candles to read by . . . ;)
And that's how that goes -- hopefully, I'll be able to get down to an Internet Cafe in Chaing Mai a couple of times during the training.
Stay tuned. I'll be in touch quite abit between now and Monday when I fly out, and I have a couple of days in Bangkok that I should be able to connect in with . . .
Of course, I had to watch again The Killing Fields and Swimming to Cambodia. I stared, again, in horror, sobs again caught in my throat, at the hollywoodified faux images of our species' incredible power to wreak violence, suffering and death upon each other.
A nagging perfectly sane query once more tickled my consciousness like a fly buzzing around one's face. This query is the same one that I asked myself on:
dust cakes into pores loosened by streams of sweat
the back and butt rebel at each rutted jolt
eyes tear with irritation and grime
fear like a tickling dream
scurries wetly about in gut
i gaze up the steep barren-stumped cliffs
below which are scattered about
like carcasses of dried locusts
debris of other war machines that didnít make it
as we wind a snail’s pace way up
somewhere beyond the far ridge line
a grinding rev-straining
filled with crates of 105 ammo
presents of death for sir charles
on this valentine’s day
lumbers through the dust
trailing after my gun-jeep
i wait watching i wait
listening jerkily all
around for swish
of rockets plop
of mortars thud
of grenades whine of
bullets the terrible
swift suddenness of
one mine which
flitting visions pass the mind in quick revolutions:
--a girl baby tiny and cuddled cooing
--one woman young lonely and fretting
--parents stoically speaking to a uniformed stranger
--sisters huddled around a flag-draped closed coffin
--a mumbled plea for some god to maybe forgive
--the disturbing perfectly sane query
WHAT THE HELL AM I DOING HERE???
for small comfort is one meager carbine grasped more tightly
February 14, 1968
I also bought myself a pair of military spec Jungle Boots today. It was an incredibly bittersweet, terrifyingly grateful mix of feelings when I pulled them on and laced them up. First time I've done that since early April, 1968 when I was in Vietnam. Very, very strange deja vu all over again feeling -- queasy sinking yawing in the pit of my stomach.
Maybe I was just hungry.
Here is a view of the sweet, sweet ocean which I visited this past weekend, camping at San Orofre State Beach under a full-mooned Friday the 13th. Scrumptious !~!~!
It gave me some considerable solace and comfort as I am busily engaged in the harrowing final days of making preparations for my trip to Thailand on Monday for training . . .
Tuesday, June 17, 2003
Camped in San Orofre State Beach high on a bluff, a short, scintillating walk to the ocean through a lovely canyon filled with birdsong.
Yesterday met with dear friend, had lunch and a glorious walk about La Jolla Cove, seeing seals, pelicans and my favorite, cormorants.
Hard to believe that this time next Monday, I will be on a Northwest Airlines flight winging my way out of San Francisco towards Tokyo and Bangkok . . .
Saturday, June 14, 2003
Here is an excerpt from the logistics email that describes the "Retreat Center" where we shall conduct the training:
The training site is a Retreat Center run by Catholic Sisters. It has two large training rooms, eating space and a private sleeping room for each participant.
The rooms are simple: bed, pillow, blanket, mosquito net, and candles for reading. There are shared bathrooms.
When I fly into Bangkok, I make my way via a 10-12 hour train trip to Chaing Mai. I'll get a chance to ease myself back into the bush, so much the same, but so radically different from when I went to the Bush 35 years ago in Vietnam . . .
Friday, June 13, 2003
Gotta do whatever I can to raise money through the selling of Peace Bonds. Got an email from the project coordinator, Donna Howard, yesterday letting us know that full deployment is dependent on NP continuing to raise sufficient funds to deploy us. They have funding for the training for sure, and are still gathering funding for full deployment.
Welp, my die is cast cuz I'm definitely blowing Tucson and Lafrontera a fond goodbye . . .
Let me see if I can upload the Press Release to VVA -- nope. Gotta find out how blogger operates in the Mac environment; I have no prob in the clunky world of MS.
Later -- Falling asleep as I type . . .
Wednesday, June 11, 2003
Here's an article I just received this morning about those of us chosen as candidates for final assesment and training:
For the Sri Lanka Pilot Project Field Team
Over the course of several months Nonviolent Peaceforce staff developed a plan for recruiting, assessing and training up to 50 field team members for the first pilot project to Sri Lanka. This included establishment of a Sri Lanka Management Team, further investigative trips to Sri Lanka and major help in recruitment by many of the member organizations. From over 150 applications received, we selected an initial group of 18 candidates to attend the assessment and training at the end of June in Chaing Mai, Thailand. Plans are to hold another training at the end of the year to expand the Sri Lanka team early next year.
The candidates include three Africans, five Asians, one Australian, two Europeans, six North Americans and one South American. There are twice as many women as there are men. Five are in their 20’s, six are 30-somethings, two 40’s and five 50’s. All have terrific backgrounds, including international development, nonviolent conflict transformation and third-party civilian intervention.
The assessment will last four days and will consist of explorations, exercises and presentations designed to be a mutual process of selection and self-selection. Thereafter the training will begin.
To create the design of the training, Nonviolent Peaceforce has worked with Training for Change (TfC), a non-governmental organization which has years of experience doing third-party nonviolent intervention trainings. The TfC team of Daniel Hunter and George Lakey has compiled a wide collection of nonviolent intervention training materials, consulted with groups engaged in similar or parallel activities, collected a wide assortment of training tools and activities, and networked with groups currently involved with third-party nonviolent intervention around the world. Out of that research a list of two dozen "core proficiencies" has been developed. These proficiencies are the centerpiece of the curriculum.
Throughout the training, participants will engage in various exercises to cover: team-building, theory behind peacekeeping (such as deterrence theory), security, personal well-being (e.g., handling fear, dealing with trauma), and more.
Those consulted include: Nairobi Peace Institute, Naga activists (India), American Friends Service Committee, Cambodian trainers, West Africa Network for Peacebuilding, Norwegian peacekeeping specialists at the United Nations, researchers at Eastern Mennonite University, Nonviolence International, and many NGO's that do peacekeeping work (Christian Peacemaker Teams, Guatamalan Accompaniment Project, Witness for Peace, Fellowship of Reconciliation, Peace Brigades International), among others.
The training is thus the most researched third-party nonviolent intervention training ever. Starting July 2nd, the nearly 3-week intensive training will deepen candidates’ existing skills for doing NP's peacekeeping work. The training will be led by George Lakey (US), Ouyporn Khuankaew (Thailand), and Gerald Gomani (Zimbabwe).
-- Article by David Grant and Daniel Hunter
It's beginning to get really real. Got an email today from David Grant, the recruiter from Peaceforce with a listing of the 17 folks who shall join me in Thailand for our final assessment and training. It is a most diverse and international group that consists of:
3 USAians besides meFineself
And one each from:
I am the Elder and the youngest is 23; here's how the age cohorts break down by decade:
20-somethings -- 5
30-somethings -- 6
40-somethings -- 1
50-somethings -- 5
60-somethings -- 1, little ole me . . .
There are 7 men and 11 women.
Talked with a woman tonight after the AA meeting who has spent bunches of time in Thailand; she suggested to do what I thought about on my run early this morning in the cool morning air of Tucson around Reid Park with Chutney -- to buy my clothes in Thailand because they are so cheap. Did I put up the link to the resort hotel where we will be staying in Thailand??? If I did, my apologies for the repeat; if not here it is:
Mai Rim Lagoon Hotel in Chiangmai . . .
Tuesday, June 10, 2003
Here' me doing in meatspace yesterday afternoon at the Going Away Party at Nancy's what from time to time I shall do here in this cyberspace at lot -- Pitch Peace Bonds
Monday, June 09, 2003
I see that I've been upgraded to blog*spot plus, which means I can upload pics and play around with formatting a bit . . .
Course, all my pics and stuff to upload are safely home resting in the G-4 Powerbook -- oh well . . .
So, I entreat you to BUY PEACE BONDS, puh lease . . .
Met Faith Edmund, who has been affiliated with Peaceforce for the past couple of years, having found the website on the Internet when she googled nonviolence. She will coordinate an Affinity Group here in Arizona. Most cool !~!~!
I am, indeed, extraordinarily blessed. Yes, absatively -- Most Cool !~!~!
Yup, it's official; the time is winding down, wending its slow tick-tocking moment by moment meandering way to me getting on another big, ole jet plane to take me swooshing outta Phoenix International airport at circa 7:40 a.m., Monday morn, June 23rd to San Fran. Then, I fly on Northwestern Flight 27 with a stop in Tokyo back to Southeast Asia, back to the jungle, back to the bush . . .
This time I go Thailand, a place I've only ever been to in my mind, for 3.5 weeks final assessment and training to be part of the first project of Nonviolent Peaceforce in Sri Lanka. A peacekeeper, a world citizen committed to nonviolence, willing to sacrifice all for peace . . .
Weird, the first time I flew to Southeast Asia, April 5, 1967, it was via Northwest Airlines as well. Then it was on a Northwest Airlines chartered plane full of WAR warriors, on my way as a shitbrown-bar LT on my first active duty assignment to fucking Vietnam. Sweet Buddha, I could hardly march a platoon, much less know what the fuck to do in a hostile, guerrilla war combat zone.
Full karmic circle -- now I fly to Southeast Asia to train to be a PEACE warrior with 17 other compadres from around the world.
Can't make this stuff up -- but we do . . .