Author Topic: DO take this personal. (A Shrapnel Essay, and yes, it is a positive one)  (Read 3584 times)

AFK

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We all have that person or persons in our lives that had a significant role in how we turned out, or at least, how we are up this point and time.  And I’m talking beyond bloodlines and close personal friends.  I’m talking about people, who, in the totality of our lives, was but a blip on the timeline.  Someone we knew, but for a brief segment of time, and then they vanished into the ether.  Or, we got really lazy and stopped sending them letters or phoning them from time to time.  These were positive, human pieces of Shrapnel, that embedded our flesh with new ideas, new knowledge, new credos, or maybe, just new vigor. 

There are two chaps in my past that stick out for me.  One was this guy named Greg.  He was the guy who hired me at my first Retail gig when I moved into Portland to start Graduate School.  He was something of an odd fellow.  He was deep into mythologies, spiritual energies, and other kinda “new age” thinkings.  At first, I didn't like him much because my first duty on the job was to go get his coffee.  But as the months wore on, we discovered a camaraderie.  We would spend our down times discussing politics, music, feng shui, and the fact that Ottmar Liebert is an egotistical prick.  He was one of the first people I met who was really “real”.  He didn't put on pretenses and he didn't put on shows.  He was perfectly willing to delve into chaotic and joyful anarchy.  Like that one time, when the store was full of customers, he declared a ping-pong gun war.  It was a beautiful thing to behold and to be a part of.  We hit customers, and aside from a couple of sticks-in-the-mud, nobody cared.  I really miss that guy.  He moved off to Seattle and vanished.  But he had a huge impact on me just by the way he existed.  To not give a fuck and just be how you want to be. 

There was this other guy named Dave.  This was from a little earlier in my life when I was in High School.  To make money I worked at the local Pizza Hut.  He was the morning guy who did all of the prep work for the day.  We called him Dave the Pizza King.  (yeah, kinda corny)  He was a laugh riot.  Again, he was this cat who would just come in and be Dave.  He would sing loud, mildly inappropriate songs.  He would tell dry, awful jokes.  And the dude made everyone laugh.  Everybody wanted to work with him and I was given the privilege of working with him many mornings.  He was one of the most carefree people I've ever met.  He had a very take-it-as-it-comes way about him that was hard not to be inspired by.  It was an opportunity for me to learn that the best thing I had to offer this world was me.  Not me trying to be what THEY want me to be.  But me being what I want me to be.  Eventually, he left The Hut, and I never heard from him again.  However, his impact has carried through. 

I would be quite a different person, I believe, had I these encounters with these two individuals.  Together, my experience with them probably at best represents 3 years of my 33 year life.  It is a testament of how much this Shrapnel can stick with us.  Perhaps we don't recognize it initially, and its only later upon some random reflection that we realize, “Yeah, that person was huge in my life.”  So how about you?  Do you have one, two, or more of these acquaintances that really affected how you've navigated your paths?  What was it about them that helped shape who you are today?  I know, it is kind of sad that we lose touch with these people.  I would shit bricks if Greg or Dave were to knock on my door right now.  We still have the memories and the stories.  And by sharing those stories with others in our daily lives, we can allow their influence to live on, far beyond the days when we were in their presence. 
Cynicism is a blank check for failure.

Manta Obscura

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Re: DO take this personal. (A Shrapnel Essay, and yes, it is a positive one)
« Reply #1 on: December 16, 2008, 02:13:38 pm »
This is excellent, RWHN!  :mittens:

Whenever Shrapnel is discussed, it always seems, to me, to be discussed from a big picture, social-structure's-impact-on-you kind of way. This illustrates how Shrapnel is sometimes very positive (instead of becoming an embedded mark in your flesh, it becomes a cool decoration? An earring?), and how it is always personal and often conveyed through personal interactions with definite characters.

Very good essay.
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Bebek Sincap Ratatosk

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Re: DO take this personal. (A Shrapnel Essay, and yes, it is a positive one)
« Reply #2 on: December 16, 2008, 02:17:13 pm »
:mittens:

- I don't see race. I just see cars going around in a circle.

"Back in my day, crazy meant something. Now everyone is crazy" - Charlie Manson

AFK

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Re: DO take this personal. (A Shrapnel Essay, and yes, it is a positive one)
« Reply #3 on: December 16, 2008, 02:34:53 pm »
Danke. 
Cynicism is a blank check for failure.

Richter

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Re: DO take this personal. (A Shrapnel Essay, and yes, it is a positive one)
« Reply #4 on: December 16, 2008, 03:24:08 pm »
I like.  Ties in the concept to experiences that everyone can relate to, and gets you to reflect on good parts your own life.

Like the previous essay on bars, it also addresses BIP / Shrapnel concepts without the underlying negative attitude that gave me the "Fuck off and die" attitude towards the concept at first.  Thanks for posting this  :)
Anyone ever think about how Richter inhabits the same reality as you and just scream and scream and scream, but in a good way?   :lulz:

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Re: DO take this personal. (A Shrapnel Essay, and yes, it is a positive one)
« Reply #5 on: December 16, 2008, 04:00:30 pm »
I like it a lot!  It's a positive side we don't think about often!

Thanks!

:mittens:

AFK

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Re: DO take this personal. (A Shrapnel Essay, and yes, it is a positive one)
« Reply #6 on: December 16, 2008, 04:40:56 pm »
There's another guy I wanted to include in my piece but it would've been too long.  (WARNING: boring story about past life.  Nothing of much meaning contained within.  Read at your peril.)

His name was Sven (well it probably still is Sven).  I met him while I was attending college in Machias, Maine.  Machias, Maine is the county seat of Washington County and so that is where the County Jail is.  He was a correctional officer there and also a member of the Navy.  While attending UMaine Machias (UMM), I was the editor of the literary magazine, and one of the functions we put on to advertise was an Open Mic.  4 hours of the college and local spags reading poetry, playing music, telling jokes, etc.  Sven came one day and read some poetry about his time in the first Gulf War.  It was some pretty moving stuff.  Eventually I convinced him to join the staff of the zine.  He and I were also a part of the Machias Town Band.  We played Xmas Tree lightings, old folks homes, parades, etc.   

He was a good person to know because it was an opportunity to be in a social circle that was outside of the typical generic college party crowd.   It was a chance to share conversation beyond, "Holy fuck, I'm wasted!" It was a sad day when he moved away to OK.  And like an idiotic spag, I misplaced his address and didn't keep up correspondences with him.

I think one of my most fondest, yet madcap, adventures was when he, his GF, my GF (at the time), and myself travelled to St. Stephen, N.B. for a night of billiards and booze.  First, we were stopped at the border by Canadian Customs.  I have no idea why, but they sniffed something not quite right about us (metaphorically speaking).  So the 4 of us had to go inside.  For whatever reason, they separated the two guys from the two gals.  Eventually, they discovered that Sven was carrying this little leather-encased mini club that he used at the jail for personal protection.  The gals were deemed to be OK, and were allowed passage into Canada.  We men had to stay behind.  Eventually we convinced them to just let us leave the club with the State Police in Calais and so we were then allowed into Canada.

We finally get to the Billards hall.  We had a great time, but then it got a little weird again.  This short guy decided to start shooting pool with us.  I don't really recall how it happened, or why, or what precipitated it, but, the guy basically asked me out.  I mean, I'm not quite sure how he didn't figure out I was straight considering I was accompanied by a buxom red-head female.  All I know is that Sven came in to the rescue.  And again, I don't really recall what it was that Sven said to this stringy little guy, all I know is he left in a hurry with a very concerned look on his face.  Good times, good times. 
Cynicism is a blank check for failure.

Jenne

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Re: DO take this personal. (A Shrapnel Essay, and yes, it is a positive one)
« Reply #7 on: December 16, 2008, 05:04:58 pm »
I've had people like that in my life...great 2 pieces, RWHN.

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Re: DO take this personal. (A Shrapnel Essay, and yes, it is a positive one)
« Reply #8 on: December 16, 2008, 05:47:08 pm »
:mittens:

Yes. Very very yes.

Off the top of my head I can remember of two people whom I knew for three measly weeks that had the same effect on me. Both of them were teachers at "The Summer Institute for the Gifted" (pretentious name, yes, but one of the best and most fun things that ever happened to me), essentially a glorified summer camp where we slept in college dorms. In my case, I attended Vassar College campus.

The first guy was named Greg (no connection to RWHN's Greg, I think), and he was an Improv comedy coach. I think anyone who's done a serious amount of improv knows the kind of effect that can have on your life, especially if you started out as a timid and shy kid. The second guy was a physics teacher named Jonathan, a tall guy with iconic curly gray hair and full beard. He was the equivalent of a personal Carl Sagan or Jacob Bronowski: I'd always liked science, but he elevated the idea of the scientific mindset ("The more evidence, the better" and "Neither you nor your instruments are as accurate as you think," for example) to something awe-inspiring.

I knew each of these guys for three weeks. In fact, I calculate that I spent about 22.5 hours each in their company, total. They are probably the two most important people besides my parents who made me who I am today.

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Re: DO take this personal. (A Shrapnel Essay, and yes, it is a positive one)
« Reply #9 on: December 16, 2008, 05:58:36 pm »
Frag Bombs:

1. My brother, pre-crazy.  Introduced me to Punk.

2. My High School music teacher. Introduced me to Drums.

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Re: DO take this personal. (A Shrapnel Essay, and yes, it is a positive one)
« Reply #10 on: January 23, 2009, 03:19:44 am »
Mmmm shrapnel. Tasty.

Pieces stuck in me would be:

 Alex, a former coworker who was a ROYAL PAIN IN MY ASS. Got promoted but showed what I didn't want to do with my life. ("You guys! It's 12:21! You guys have spent over twenty minutes on break! We have to get back to work!!!!")

Kirk, comp sci prof, damn it. He actually understands how education should be; reinvigorated my want to not fuck it all and work on a fish farm.
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