Archives for category: My Journal

I spy them looming nigh, glimmering gray
With approaching night. Oh how pernicious
Those cold orbs gleam! All eightfold, malicious
and bright. “My dear,” they sickly sweet do pray,
“Come out, don’t hide. We merely wish to play
With you. Do you think us so suspicious?
Truly, we are not so very vicious
Though some, it’s true, our fangs would scare away.

I find that I inexorably cling
To words so honey sweet, and I, like flies
Entrapped, or like the moth, poor little thing,
To fatal lamplight drawn, consumed by dreams.
Of dreams defying death that voice implies,
But wait! I wake, and fantasy it seems.

With temperatures rising to bearable levels in Chiberia, I could finally engage in one of my favorite hobbies: Ice Skating. Having lived in Florida most of my life, learning to ice skate was no simple task; but I practiced enough during intermittent visits (School Field Trips) that I managed to get the basics down which means I can skate in a straight line without taking a dive. (I’m not embarrassed; some people who have lived up North their whole lives can’t even manage that much.) I have always enjoyed this once-a-year activity. So much so that my Dad bought me a pair of ice skates even though the nearest indoor rink was an hour’s drive from home.

It’s a different story, now. There’s an outdoor rink about ten minutes from my residence. Ten minutes on foot, I might add. Furthermore, I get free admission since I don’t have to rent the skates. I could finally learn to skate like a pro. Just one little problem… the weather. I don’t mind the cold that much, but a polar vortex… Forget about it! 15º F is about as low as I can handle without a parka, and I don’t like to skate looking like the Michelin Man.

2014-02-15 14.59.37Then the temperature rose to 20º F on Saturday. Hooray! I packed my skates, tugged on my nice stylish jacket, and charged out the door. Naturally, the rink shut down for cleaning just as I arrived. With nothing else to do, I retreated indoors, sat myself on a bench, and scrolled through some Facebook pages. There’s a popular site at my school where people post their crushes. In the anonymous realm of the internet, they confess their innermost feelings that they can not express to the object of their affection. Being the day after Valentine’s, the site was overrun. Some posts were obviously jokes, but others were rather sweet. I occupied the time trying to match the descriptions to classmates I know.

2014-02-15 15.25.15At 20 minutes past the hour, the gates were open again. Carefully, I tread onto the ice. Yikes! Was I wobbly! For a moment, I feared I had lost all my skill. But after a shaky spin around the rink I realized that the ice was just rougher than I was used to. Outdoor rinks, constantly exposed to the elements, tend to have that problem. The kiddies on the ice were having the time of their lives. I had to remain on guard because the little mites were tripping up all over the place, many on purpose.

At this time, a figure skater joined the surging ranks. As I watched her elegantly maneuver through the crowds, I entertained the thought that one day I too could display such skill. I turned my attention to a skill I had struggled with on my own: skating backwards. From experience turning my ankles in and out tended to start the backwards movement, but I would have to desperately clutch the wall after only a few motions. Then I tried shuffling backwards.

2014-02-15 15.32.12I imagine I must have looked rather funny, because the rink monitor slid right up to me. He was a young man with red hair and a bright red jacket. He demonstrated the beginner’s technique. Apparently, the key to skating backwards is to keep one foot steady and move the other in a c-shaped motion. We proceeded to engage in a long conversation about where I learned to skate, my hobbies, and such before he had to return to his duties. I was on my own again.

But not for long. I don’t think 5 minutes passed before the next guy noticed my efforts and offered some advice. Then the next guy showed up and even held my hands to keep balance as I practiced this new motion. You know, I’ve heard jokes that the best way to meet boys at the skating rink is to fall and act helpless. I have to say, I didn’t actually believe it. I now stand corrected. The men were only to eager to be of assistance. With their gracious help, I managed to scoot, awkwardly, on my own.

2014-02-15 15.10.16A wintry haze obscured the sun all day. Rather mournful, one could say. But I had fun, and I’m sure my smile shone a little brighter.

Some people are said to have a competitive streak. I cannot deny that I am one of them. My appetite for victory is rather voracious after all. Nothing gives me such satisfaction as leaving my rivals in the dust and glimpsing their stunned expressions as I surpass their best efforts. But losing is a bitter, bitter pill for me to take. I don’t like to lose. I really, really don’t like it.

In front of my school gymnasium, a Track and Field course bathed in the sunlight. It was an ugly concrete beast upon reflection. No springy rubber cushioned the clunky steps taken on that stretch. The gray material breathed in the sunrays and exhaled waves of heat back into the atmosphere. Still, I looked forward to running on it and testing my mettle against its brutality.

One November day I was put to the ultimate test. For Thanksgiving heralds the arrival of a special event: the Turkey Trot. That is such a euphemistic title for such a miserable experience. Trotting? If only. No, its participants must strain their bodies and their minds, maintaining a brutal pace over 5,000 meters. Being a foolish, competitive turkey I naturally signed up for the event hosted at my school. Victory and glory awaited at the end of that finish line.

Naturally, I forgot the date. On the day of the race, I arrived at school dressed in jeans only to find my rivals in gym shorts. ‘Uh Oh,’ I thought, ‘The Turkey Trot’s today.’ I had brought no outfit to change into. Thankfully I had worn my sneakers so I figured “Screw it. I’ll just wing it.” Still I stuck out like a sore thumb, woefully dressed as I was. I could practically hear the skeptical thoughts of my friends and teachers. ”Is she really going to run in that?”

A whistle sounded and the competitors gathered at the starting line, all 80 of us. Volunteers dispersed to the distant track markers to guide the runners when the asphalt bled into concrete and grass. As the course was set up, the runners jostled anxiously for position. Unfortunately, I got stuck in the back of the pack. Then the gunshot! We were off!

I became trapped in a tangle of limbs. Too close. I was too close. I slowed down to escape even as my competitive mind screamed, “No! Don’t slow down! Faster! Faster!” My rational mind knew better though. ‘Open space and a steady pace’ was my mantra. I skirted to the outside of the curve. The distance was longer there, but I had no choice.

I settled into a rhythm. In, Out, In Out, Left, Right. Left Right. The world faded away. Breathing and running. That was my full existence. I was vaguely aware of crossing from the asphalt track onto the grass path but I can’t be sure. My mind was very far away. The pack had fallen behind, but I could still here the thumping of their shoes against the ground. Although, that might have actually been my heart.

The race continued in that fashion. Then, disaster! A stitch appeared in my right side. At first I tried to ignore it but the task became impossible. With every step my side throbbed and my breath hitched. My not-for-running pants clung to my joints, impeding my progress. Was I wading in muck? I gazed ahead. A fourth of the course still remained. Sweat ran from my forehead into my eyes. It stung and I blinked furiously. I had to continue. I couldn’t lose! Again I concentrated on my breathing. In and out. In and out. Forgetting the pain, forgetting the discomfort.

As I approached the final stretch, four competitors remained in front. I pushed myself as hard as I could go. I was gaining! But the finish line was too close. I couldn’t catch them. But I tried. How I tried!

I can’t tell you how disappointed I felt at that moment. My heart cried that I had lost. I was such a silly turkey because I had come in first. Boys and girls had competed in the same group but were judged separately. I was the first girl to cross the finish line.

As I regained my breath and my wits, this fact dawned on me. I would have liked to have beaten all the boys but I had far excelled expectations. Everyone wondered how I could have won dressed as I was. In response, I smirked. Though I blushed when presented with a medal and a frozen turkey. As competitive as I am on the field, I am surprisingly bashful in front of the crowd.

I still display that medal proudly. The turkey on the other hand…  

Born
Of an immortal night
A lonely soul arose,
A sole ray of light…

Beyond
The shifting sands of time
A radiant sun had shone,
Destiny divine…

The wayward soul strode,
Born
To walk, to run, …to fly,
But how the wind had blown
On that long road called Life…

It’s an old saying: “One man’s terrorist is another person’s freedom fighter.”

 It brings up the question, “What exactly IS terrorism?” The general definition states that terrorism is the use of violence for political ends. That’s…quite broad. According to that definition the Boston Tea Party was an act of terrorism. Then… is terrorism the purposeful targeting of civilians? Most of 20th century warfare would be considered terrorism. The bombing in WWII and Vietnam was committed in order to “demoralize the enemy:” the enemy being everybody including civilians who contributed to the opposition’s war effort.

Western countries of course conveniently excuse their own actions saying that terrorism is a crime of non-state entities. That argument ignores the word’s very own origin. Terrorism derives from the French word, terrorisme, which referred to violence officially sanctioned by the state against its own citizens.

Of course the same holds true for the other side. Those that are labeled as terrorists consider themselves to be freedom fighters. They feel they must resort to immoral actions out of necessity. The sheer power of the enemy renders military confrontation useless. The only option is to create an atmosphere of fear that will deter military action.

By expressing his or her anger and bitterness, the freedom fighter hopes to inspire others within their community to take up the cause and at the same time demoralize the enemy. There’s a risk that the enemy might retaliate. However, severe retaliation will only create more followers of the cause. 

In the end “terrorist” and “freedom fighter” are merely political terms. The good guys are “freedom fighters”; the bad guys are “terrorists.” This holds true regardless of which side one supports. This is why “-ism” words are so useless. Their meaning depends on the person using them. Terrorist or freedom fighter: Does it matter? Either way the result is killing. Whether that killing is justified is determined by the one who holds the power… 

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