HIDDEN FIGURES

Movies can transport us thru time; that’s one of the qualities I most appreciate about them. We’re still discovering how memory is created and maintained in human beings. There are savants who struggle to interact yet are capable of accessing unthinkable amounts of data, musically or mathematically. For most of us, our past is somewhat like a book thru which we page and find some images blurry, others sharp and crisp…and some altogether missing.

Now I’m not referring to the experience of entering the kitchen and pausing, without any idea for what purpose we came. That’s waiting for all of us, sadly, sooner or later…or like, now. 😉 But I know I have friends here who have survived a trauma with resulting brain injuries and memory loss. I wonder what this experience is like for them, how they regard it and describe it? My brain’s right half was without a blood source for over an hour. Mercifully no paralysis…but blocks of memory, entirely random simply vanished.

Thanks to the internet, many past acquaintances have returned to my life and have served me to help recreate some of those losses. There is no pattern, no consistency to my gaps. At times someone will recount a shared past adventure; something dangerous or funny, something seemingly unforgettable. At such times there is a…DING! And I am flooded with familiar, long lost images…somewhat like discovering a brand new room in your home, filled with icons from your youth. And at other times, I hear the retelling and I may laugh or cringe but it’s as tho all that happened to someone else, not me. I would surely remember that…wouldn’t I?

Memory is an enigmatic aspect of our consciousness. So when I watch something like HIDDEN FIGURES, I struggle to imagine how it could be, that such momentous events were afoot in the world…yet I have no memories of my own opinions about them. Since I have an opinion about pretty much everything that happens in my universe, that deficit strikes me as seeming strange.

If normalcy or routine is a horizontal line across my life graph, impactful events are spikes, like a seismic event. Here I broke my wrist, there I landed on my head, here I was strangled until I passed out, there my heart was crushed…I am all of me, all of my past, good and bad. I’d prefer to hold onto my life experiences that differentiate me from all others…but that power seems above my pay grade.

CROSS OF GALLANTRY

I’m smiling as I think about and remember my counterpart, T.U. Dai.  Nguyen Van Dai…

Americans will intuitively pronounce it correctly.  Those literate in Vietnamese will miss a diacritical mark that makes this a hard D…rather than a soft Yieee.

I’m about to purchase a t-shirt from a company that creates and sells to sentimental veterans.  This specific t-shirt depicts the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry, awarded to men who served as advisors under MACV.

I’ve written extensively about Dai and our friendship.  He was a soldier; he was a warrior.   In all our time together, it never occurred to me to submit Dai for a medal.  He already had two Bronze Stars…and he was Vietnamese!  (We don’t just hand out OUR medals to allied soldiers, unless they have seriously distinguished themselves.)

No question we shared many dangers.  I think we also shared a perception about our jobs, our responsibilities.  A lotta stuff we did was dangerous…but always “our job”.  And he never, to my knowledge ever submitted me for any award.  Nor needed he to…But he knew the regard I held for his soldiers and their well being…and they knew as well.

We share this medal.  Awarded not for any individual deed…but for service.T1777T.U. Dai, my counterpart and my brother (2014_01_23 19_03_15 UTC)

COLONOSCOPY

And really, who doesn’t love a good challenge, right?  The next twenty four hours promise to test my patience, my will, my resolve…and my sense of self control.  At 6 AM on Friday, I’ll report to West Hills for a colonoscopy, my first in 8 years…but I surely remember past drills.  Today will involve fasting; broth, black coffee, water…

My cleanse has already begun…but shit will get downright medieval around 6 PM tonite.  And oh joy, the gods, in their whimsical way have scheduled for me A MEETING at 2:45 this afternoon.  That’s right.  It’s a bedroom scene with my wife.  You think you sometimes get a little…tense from time to time in front of that camera?  Imagine the stakes when your performance includes all manner of authentic Inner Life.  Gas will not be our friend.

This is not a laughing matter to me.  I am a man of color, I live on red meat and alcohol and spicy foods.  I AM the demographic for which this procedure was invented.  And it’s hardly academic to me, for it was colon cancer that initially challenged my own fathers well-being…so I know my genetic predispositions.

This too will soon pass.  Well hell, pretty much EVERYTHING I’ve recently ingested will soon pass.  Under such conditions, one tends to seek privacy and proximity to my new best friends, the three alabaster thrones in my home.  But first I must sally forth into the outside world.  Good characters often have secrets.  Boy, have I ever got a rich preparation for these scenes.