1. Reading and Writing the Childhood Demons Away
There were invisible demons in my life as long as I can remember. Reading was one of the few places I could go to get away even though I didn’t know what I was trying to get away from; the dream of writing my only hope. I gobbled up mysteries and science fiction in my preteen years. Edna St. Vincent Millay was my favorite poet through high school and deep inside I knew I wanted to write poetry and books—each poem would be a little book of its own.When I turned fifty, the demons took shape and became clear through dreams and good counseling—I was horribly sexually abused by two men at my father’s place of work at least weekly from ages 8 through 12 or 13. My father didn’t do anything to help me because he abused me too by showing me pornographic movies in his office. God knew. I’m the one who didn’t know that I was a classic case of child abuse having blocked it all from memory.
The poem and my first poetry book, “The Boy in the Mirror,” was a public declaration of the abuse I suffered. More so, it was a statement saying that I could talk about it, live with it, and have hope in life and in God. I wanted to give others hope as no one deserves abuse of any kind.
Years later, when I lived in Arizona, I learned through EMDR administered by an excellent counselor, that I was also abused by my mother at home. Isn’t this where I thank my parents for making me who I am today? Hmmm. I’ll pass on that. But the truth of the matter is that the abuse in my past has helped make me who I am, how I write, what I write about, etc.
Because I see the world and people differently than you do, my writing is different. I had to learn how to turn fantasy and imagination off to discern what was real and what was not. My fantasy world was better and safer than my real world. My poetry is different—it is from a different place, mind, heart, and soul that sees things differently indeed. I love reading and writing.
2. Soldier—My most famous role
In 1965 I joined the Army to beat the draft. I was a Vietnamese linguist in the Army Security Agency. After a tour in Vietnam in 1967-68, I returned to Ft. Meade, MD assigned to NSA. I drove up to NYC to audition for the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. So, in September 1969 my role as a staff sergeant came to an end; in October, I became a student at AADA living and working in NYC. Although I was invited back for the coveted second year, I couldn’t continue. School was fine, but my life became more complicated and difficult than I could endure, so I returned to the Army and picked up where I left off.
While serving in the Army, my love affair with writing and reading continued. I loved being overseas most of all; country after country, assignment after fascinating assignment. For example, language section NCOIC (7th RRFS, Thailand), basic training drill sergeant (Ft. Dix, NJ), small unit tactics (Cavalry) instructor (Ft. Knox, KY), Pershing missile battery operations sergeant (41st FA, Germany), US Army recruiter (Superior-Duluth, MN), emergency action center NCOIC (G3, 8th ID, Germany). I also served as a Vietnamese, Cambodian, and German linguist when I was in Vietnam, Thailand, and Germany.
If I was that good an actor, my most famous role, was that of being an excellent soldier until I retired in 1987.
3. The Only Jew in Duluth, MN
In the Army’s infinite wisdom, I was sent to Duluth, Minnesota. As it turned out, it was God’s infinite wisdom.While on assignment covering much of northern Wisconsin south of Lake Superior and parts of Minnesota, God for me was no longer an abstraction, an intellectual exercise, or merely the cause of my Jewishness that I could not fully understand. Answers replaced questions. Grace and truth replaced the Law. I believe that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is who He has said He is and has the power to do all that He has promised—and that Jesus, the Messiah, is the Lord of Lords as stated and revealed in the old and new testaments of the Bible.
Now what? I’m a Jew from New Jersey; I felt like I was the only Jew in this part of the world, who believed that Jesus is the Messiah. God led, I followed. I asked questions; God provided the answers. God said reenlist.
Years after my retirement from the military, I wrote full-time for industry as a technical writer honing my writing and editing skills. Along the way, I got to teach bible studies where I was stationed. Also, I was ordained as a reverend in a local church in Indiana to teach weekly bible studies to former offenders transitioning back into the community and to be a volunteer chaplain at the Newcastle Correctional Facility where I held church services weekly.
Abuse, the Army, technical writing, and faith in God are at the core of who I am—how, what, and why I write.
The subtitle on my Shift Key blog on WordPress (and Shift Key series of poetry books) says in part, why I write to give you hope: Adjusting to Life’s Changes with Hope… Through Poetry, Haiku, and Commentary.