Thursday, October 1, 2015

My Skin, is

By: Shanice Green

My skin, is
too dark to be seen, but not too dark- not to be missed
only considered a good thing when-
it is doing a “good thing” like-
going to school or driving the speed limit-
to a job I have held longer than the last six months

My skin, my skin, is a sore thumb-
sticks out on paper from the Jessicas-
the Carys-
the Wendys-
long before I step into the room
their eyeballs etching confusion deep into my skin

My skin- my skin
like, are you in the right place?
did you make the right turn?
the Cosmetology Department is at the other campus.
 My skin- my skin- my skin- my skin-
is what separates me from you
it is the reason I avoid certain streets- subconsciously-
praying to my God that the cop car following behind me-
for the last seven blocks-
is a man or woman who shares, my skin
My skin, my skin, is ugly!
or at least that is what I would think when my mother would try to buy me-
a black Barbie-
that was supposed to be-
the same as the white one-
except with fewer accessories-
most of which-
was “sold separately” – which meant
that she would have to spend twice as much money to equal what the white doll had-
for the low, low price of $19.95
but the sign on the shelf read – “Rollback Special”
so in essence, it would have cost $10 more?
too much math- she’d just settle and buy  me the white one

 My skin- my skin- my skin
is confused!
all of these white celebrities in the news
The Angelina Jolies
The Kim Kardashians, and her sister-
and her sister’s sister-
and her sister’s
sister’s sister-
and her sister’s
sister’s sister-
and their mother-
and their father-
all paying good money to be “bronzed” or “blackenized”-
as people of my skin would put it-
adopting and birthing black babies is probably the trendiest way of saying-
I am not a racist
My skin- my skin-
my skin, my skin- my skin-
is tired.

“Life on Legendary Mode”

By: Dallas Jones

I’ve spent years procrastinating on starting college. When I graduated high school I had already spent one unpaid year and one paid year as an intern for a small mortgage company, and that chair at their front desk had already molded perfectly to me. After graduation I planted myself in that comfy chair, and that’s where I stayed for the next two years. It never occurred to me I should be trying to go to school at the same time. I already had my foot in the door of the grown-up working world. So I worked, and I worked, and I worked.
That was eight years ago. Finally I’m here, a college student at long last, college student who also works full-time, college student who not only works full-time, but is also a mother. As a friend so kindly put it the other day, “You’re playing life on Legendary Mode.” The first three weeks of school I felt invincible. Now that week four is closing out, I feel like my body is mostly composed of Red Bull, espresso, and trail mix.

At this point I’ve skipped a class solely because I was tired. I’ve missed an assignment because I didn’t write it down properly. I’ve discovered only on the day that a particular assignment was due that I didn’t even have the proper edition of my textbook and I’ve been using the wrong textbook for the past four weeks. I’ve watched dozens of YouTube videos, and I’m still fairly certain I don’t have a grasp on D2L (though from what I’ve heard, that may never occur.) However, I’ve really been hit hard by something that is said to every generation: you have to fight for what you want.

Every minor obstacle has felt like another sign that I shouldn’t be doing this. Sometimes it’s overwhelmingly discouraging. Especially since it is just my first semester here at Trident Tech, but I know what I want. I’ve known since middle school what I want to do with my life, and I know that the pursuit of my degree is the first major step of accomplishing it. So, I’m going to grab my gear, grab my espresso and trail mix, and keep at it. To any other students out there who are feeling discouraged: keep fighting. You can do this. You are legendary.

Monday, September 28, 2015


By: Jennifer Harris

Where Ignorance is Bliss…

We are living in the age of New Consciousness. Some people still speak of the Industrial Revolution and the Technological age but we outgrew them a long time ago. Science is no mystery even to a child in grade school. We’ve explored this planet with planes, boats, satellites and spades. We’ve duplicated every part of the human body with the best machinery we can design. We’ve explored our space and reached further than our ancestors. Although, it is possible, we’re not as superior as we think in that arena.  Time will tell. But, some people still don’t seem to be getting it and where ignorance is bliss you dwell in your own folly.

Charleston made the list AGAIN. We are number one when it comes to VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN.

But not just violence; murder. Is it wrong for a woman to have a desire for a man or a man to have a desire for a woman? Certainly not. In today’s society, we know as much about desire as the Buddha and he was a master in the subject.  Pleasure is a blissful state and so is love and happiness, but without self- control and wisdom, these ‘states’ of desire will kill us faster than prejudice or hate. But, what is the root of violence? Is it really jealousy or anger or even passion? No, it is neither jealousy nor anger nor passion. It is ignorance; the lowest state of the human mind. An undeveloped mind, starving for light, is like a child behind the wheel of a racing car. You will crash and burn carried away by your own unbridled excitement.

If your mind is incapable of growing along with your money, education, titles or position, then you are still an ignorant person. If your desires are incapable of controlling your senses, then you are still an ignorant person. Ignorance means ‘lacking knowledge or awareness in general’.  Ignorance does not mean stupidity; it means I lack knowledge or general awareness of what’s going on, but I am capable of learning the knowledge and awareness of what’s going on.

Unfortunately, misunderstanding our own ignorance of why something is not going the way we expect it to go, leaves us with no choice but to fall into a state of nonchalance or misplaced bliss. This ‘bliss’ has many conditions. The dictionary says bliss means to reach a state of perfect happiness, typically so as to be oblivious of everything else. There is great suffering in thinking you are blissfully happy in a relationship based on passion to such an extent that you become oblivious to all its imminent dangers. The outcome of such thinking, whether you be a man or a woman, is violence that can lead to death.

Knowledge teaches us to be patient, become a person of reasoning, seek counsel, or even create a space between the two opposing forces. For men to be engaged in violence so willfully speaks for the need of an educated male within today’s society. Neither men nor women are superior genders as long as we rely on the same elements to survive (air, water, sunlight, and land). I spoke with a man about these numbers reported in the New York Times. He smiled blissfully in response and exclaimed, “Yes, number one again!” I looked at him and replied blissfully, “I guess this means that today’s educated woman will have nothing to do with a man from Charleston”.  We need to come out from our caveman era. A fool is not born. A fool is made.

BECOME A STAR – TTC Annual Talent Show 2015

By: Jennifer Harris

It’s time for the stars to come out and shine! The Trident Technical College Annual Talent Show, presented by the Student Activities department, is two months away. This is a ‘bring down the house’ event. Hot! Hot! Hot!

When? November 20, 6:30pm – 8:30pm

Where?  Building 410


Production crews are already signing up. Are you ready?

Solo Acts or Groups Welcome

Live stream Radio broadcast and video recording, social media exposure, photographers, stage, TTC Media Arts full production crew, professional DJ, Master of Ceremony, CASH prizes for 1st , 2nd and 3rd place, TTC faculty/staff judges, food, fun, all your friends and fans. Do not wait. Do not hesitate. Bring us your talent. November 20, 6:30pm – 8:30pm, Building 410.


Friday, September 18, 2015

A Breath of Fresh Air

By: Levena Lindahl

It’s that time of year, and students like me have been buckled down into the semester for about four weeks of college life. College can get busy, and if you aren’t on top of it, things can get put off to later, and that can sometimes include deep cleaning your apartment. This can lead to times when these spaces might not smell so, well, fresh.  Being away can make them smell stale or sometimes smell like the neighbors and their garlic steak cookouts.  One way to combat these invading scents is with essential oils, or potpourri.  The best thing about these odor fighting tools is that they are inexpensive and can be made to fit any décor or scent preferences.  Don’t be afraid to experiment to find something you really enjoy!  (Right now my house is rocking some orange and vanilla potpourri I made myself and it smells crisp and refreshing every time I open the door!)

I have written about essential oils and potpourri before, but that is because it is a very easy ‘set it and forget it’ way to help keep your place smelling fresh and not like your neighbors.  Here is a bit of a refresher on potpourri, and a recipe to get you started.

Potpourri is a mixture of dried, naturally fragrant plant material, used to provide a gentle natural scent inside houses. It is usually placed in a decorative (often wooden) bowl, or tied in small sachet made from sheer fabric.  Keep in mind, some potpourri can be toxic, so be careful to keep it out of the reach of young children and pets.

Typically, potpourri is used inside the home to give the air a pleasant smell. The word "potpourri" comes into English from the French word "pot-pourri." In English, "potpourri" is often used to refer to any collection of miscellaneous or diverse items.

To make fresh potpourri in the 17th century, herbs and flowers were gathered in spring and throughout the summer. The herbs were left for a day or two to become limp, and then layered with coarse salt, like sea salt.  This dried the plant material, and prevented molds and fermentation. In fall, spices would be added to the aging mix until a pleasant fragrance was achieved, and then scent preserving fixatives in the form of other plant material or essential oils were added. Did you know that there was a potpourri vase specifically designed for holding potpourri? In the traditional designs a potpourri container is provided with a pierced fitted lid, through which the scent may slowly diffuse.

Much modern potpourri consists of any decoratively shaped dried plant material with strong natural or synthetic perfumes, with colored dyes added.  Many times the scent often bears no relation to the plant material used. Sometimes, items which do not originate from plants are mixed in with the potpourri, to give it bulk and to make it more aesthetically pleasing. It is possible to spray scents onto potpourri; however, a fixative is needed so that the scent is absorbed for slow release. Generally, orris root is used for this purpose.

Now, on to making potpourri!  There are several different ways to make your own potpourri, and it’s easy to customize the scent that you want to achieve.  If you are interested in other ways of making your own, follow the instructions here.

 Simple Rose Bowl Potpourri

The earliest recipes for potpourri always used rose petals and were often referred to as "rose bowls". That’s why I picked a rose potpourri recipe to share.

Assemble the following ingredients:

    • 8 cups fragrant rose petals, dried (if possible, use "geranium red" rose, as it mimics the scent of rose geranium)
    • 3 cups rose geranium leaves, dried
    • 1/2 cup orris root powder
    • 3 drops rose oil
    • 2 drops rose geranium oil.

Place the rose petals and rose geranium leaves into the mixing bowl. Add the fixative and stir thoroughly.

Add the oils, drop by drop. Stir constantly as you add the oils so as to distribute them evenly.

Place in an airtight storage container. Store in a dark and dry place for six weeks or more to cure. Shake the container from time to time to help redistribute the ingredients evenly.

Use in a display container. Use the revival method above when the scent begins to fade.

And there you go!  You have made your own potpourri to give or enjoy all year long.  Try different scents and different flowers to get your own personal look.  Have fun, and enjoy your personal potpourris!

A Bird in the hand

By Sarah Ethridge

I look at the little bird sitting in my hand

It’s small and delicate and silent.

I look at a thorn bush there sit two birds.

They are fat hearty and singing.

The little bird in my hand looks at me then at the two birds.

“What do you think they can do for you that I can’t?

“Well” I answer “They are big and strong you are small and weak.

“I’m only as weak as you make me” said the bird in a small quiet voice.

“So said the little bird you would crawl through thorns to get to them,

when you have a perfectly good bird in your hand.

I looked at the birds again and the size of the thorns.

“But they can do so much more for me”

The little bird sighed and shook its tiny head.

“You must see past the size of something before you can measure its worth”.

I stopped looking at the big birds and started looking at the small one.

Thoughts came pouring into my mind and I was startled when the little

Bird began to grow in my hand.

I looked and smile and the little bird smiled by “I told you I could grow”.

“But how I questioned the little bird?”

It smiled “I am an idea and an idea is only as small as you let be”

So little bird was right I didn’t need stronger birds I just had to feed my

little bird, my little idea for it to grow.

Healthier Choices: A Healthier Me

By: Levena Lindahl

            I will be the first to admit it, when I am in school everything else kind of takes the back burner.  (I have been known to have a one track mind!)  My house  wasn’t spotless, my to read list was falling off the shelf, and I am pretty sure my cats forgot who I was by the end of my Spring semester as I was hardly ever home.  So when I decided to take the summer off and not take classes, I decided to take some steps to be a healthier me.

            I have a weakness for pasta, and I love to feed people, so there is always food in my house.  While I am a vegetarian, I was still making some pretty unhealthy choices (I am looking at you, delicious Coke Icees!), or just straight out overeating because my focus was on other things and it was time for a change. 
          I walk a lot, and usually in the mornings or evenings when it is cooler.  It’s easy, and it gives me time to just think if I am trying to work out an idea for a story or if I am stuck on something.  I also listen to podcasts; they make the time and miles fly by!  One of my favorites is Welcome to Night Vale, which is kind of like community radio meets HP Lovecraft.  Others that I enjoy are Stuff You Missed in History Class (or any of the podcasts from the How Stuff works group; you guys are awesome!), Lore, The Pod Delusion, The Thrilling Adventure Hour, and the Memory Palace.  (Lots of history and weird things as I am sure you noticed!)

            The other major change I made was diet.  No more pasta at my house, we made the switch over to a lot more salads and lower carb options instead.  I made a cauliflower bake the other day that was seriously awesome.  I also love the fact that there are more vegetarian options in stores than ever before; I make an epic cheesy scrambled egg and veggie sausage scramble that we turn into breakfast burritos.  YUM!   I also gave up soda and made a real effort to drink more water instead of teas or juice.  Flavored additives like Mio or Propel powders helped me to make that transition a bunch easier. 

            While I know the changes I want to happen won’t happen overnight, I can see a difference in myself.  I can walk faster and farther, and I am not as tired all the time.  I just feel better about myself, and sometimes that is the most important thing.  Do things for yourself, be kind to yourself, and everything else seems to fall in place.  That’s what I have seen anyway.  (And in the words of Shia, JUST DO IT!)

Books that Change the World

By: Levena Lindahl

   September is National Literacy Month!  I thought I would share with you one of my favorite books, and at the end of the month give you a list of reading recommendations in a variety of genres to look at and enjoy during the break between semesters.          

I am sure everyone has the one favorite book, the one that just changed things for you.  I have had a few of those over the years, from Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card when I was in high school, to Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher by Bruce Coville when I was in elementary.  However, the book that still racks as one of my all-time favorites would have to be Imajica by Clive Barker, which I was introduced to in 2008, when I was first in college. 

            Imajica is not a book for the faint of heart, as it is nearly 1000 pages long.  It is a fantasy epic, based on the journey of a man named Gentle, his companion Pie, and his friend Judith.  There are planes of existence called the Dominions, and Earth is in the farthest Dominion, meaning magic here is very weak and hardly usable.  The closer a person gets to the center, the more powerful the magic gets.  There are many forces at work throughout the book, all trying to bring about the Reconciliation, which would reconnect the Dominions.  

            There are so many layers to this book.  There is the journey, there is a romance aspect, and there is magic.  There is also a really interesting parallel history and religion between the dominions and Earth, which I really loved.  The story just flows, and every time I read it I notice something new.  I read it at least once every year, and that is because even though I know where the story ends, I still fall in love with the journey every time.  To give a hint of how deeply this book moved me, I will quote one of my favorite lines from the novel; “I love you, I will love you until the death of love.” 

Baby Bird Rescue

By: Levena Lindahl

            A couple of weeks ago, there was a really bad storm where I live.  Trees lost limbs, there were some power outages, the whole works.  (And, of course, downtown Charleston flooded, but that happens when the humidity gets too high.)

            I convinced my husband to go on a walk with me the next morning, to see how things looked in our area.  There were a lot of branches down, but nothing too major, so we headed out towards the library near our house.  About halfway there I heard a noise that sounded a lot like a rusty gate, or a rusty swing chain.  I stopped and looked down and saw a baby bird on the sidewalk, clearly unhappy.

            I could see remnants of a nest nearby, and it wasn’t hard to figure out what had happened.   Zac and I retreated a safe distance away and waited and watched to see if its mother would come back; it was crying out with increasing insistence.  After an hour, when no one showed up, we scooped up the baby and brought it home.  (As a note, had the parent returned, we would have just moved the baby from the sidewalk so it could have been in the shade.  If at all possible PLEASE return fallen baby birds to their nest and their parents! )

Meet Rescue Bird!  We called her Sage.

            When we returned home, we made a small nest box with old towels and some leftover fabric to keep the baby warm and cuddly.  I called an animal sanctuary for instructions on what to do, and was informed as to how to feed and care for the baby until she could be picked up for rehabilitation and reintroduction to the wild.  While I was on the phone, Zac ran to the store to get some nesting fluff, a dropper, and food for the bird. 

            Bird parents work hard, because baby birds like to eat a LOT.  As in, every hour or two hours, and they will announce their demands with a louder chirp that you would not think possible from such a tiny creature.  While I am still not sure what Sage was, some sort of finch perhaps, or a sparrow, she had some lungs on her.

“I demand you feed me!”

            We had Sage for about a week before she was taken by the local wildlife rescue.  We fed her, kept her clean and made sure she was warm during that time, and got to see her fluff up and perch for the first time.  I am really glad we took that walk that day, as it is unlikely Sage would have survived on the sidewalk in 90 degree weather.  I am glad to know that she is out there somewhere, flying and making that rusty chain noise. 

            If you find a baby bird, here is what you should know.  If you can, please try to re-nest them.  Their parents will still take care of them, never mind that old wives tale about human smell and abandoned babies as it isn’t true.  Call the local animal rescue to find out how to get the baby to people who can rehabilitate it.  If you are going to care for the baby until they can be picked up, bear in mind it is a LOT of work!  They need to be fed frequently with a special food, and they need to be kept clean and warm.  However, it is pretty rewarding knowing you saved a creature’s life.  Also, if you can, try and support your local animal sanctuaries!  They do an awful lot of work caring for all kinds of animals, and any kind of donation or volunteering is a big help.

School Shopping: A Survival Guide

By: Levena Lindahl

            When people mention any kind of school shopping, I shudder to think of everything I still need to do, mostly because I am a bit of a procrastinator.  I am not a fan of crowds, but I also really dislike being unprepared so it is a vicious cycle.   However, there is hope!  This year I made a list, which I shall share with you, of things that you will likely need over the course of the school year, or the semester.  I also included some items that I have found handy that you might not have considered.  These are some basics, along with stuff for apartments and the like.  I strongly recommend checking out your ‘must have’ lists as well as this before you start packing!  And now, for your reading pleasure, I present to you Levena’s List of Getting Things Done.

School Supplies!

1. Scissors- always handy for treads or fixing paper issues

2. Binder clips or paper clips- hold your papers together

3. Tape- fix minor tears

4. Pushpins- attach things to your cork board or wall if allowed

5. Corkboard/whiteboard and markers

6. Stapler and staples- don’t rely on the library’s; it is often broken. 

7. Sharpies, highlighters, and writing utensils- be able to write your thoughts!

8. Post-it notes and flags- find that one paragraph you wanted to cite quickly and easily!

9. Binders- durable way to hold your papers together

10. Folders- you might need one to turn in papers, so it’s a good idea to have a few

11. Notebooks and loose leaf paper- please take notes in class

12. White out/ correction tape- for when you mess up in your class notes

13. Rubber bands- holds your writing utensils and note cards together and good for getting your roommates attention. (Not that I ever did that.  There were no rubber band wars.)

14. Index cards- great for studying, and if you color code the edges it’s easier to put them back together when you inevitably knock them all over the floor.

15. Hole puncher- good for handouts

16. Resume paper and envelopes- hey, this is super useful if you are job or internship hunting during your semester.  This says you are a young professional and it looks good.

17. Day planner- stay organized and on top of your classes and social life!

18. Desk shelf- Well, that’s what I call it; it adds another level to my desk, and on one   side it has five slots where I can put various folders.  It’s a really useful organizing device!

  Assorted other things!

     1. Surge protector- protects your electronics!
2. Alarm clock- Don’t rely on your phone! Most of these have a battery backup which is important in power outages.
3. Lamps- Most dorms are sadly lacking in the light department.  This will let you get the light you need, where you need it.
4. Backpack- are you carrying your laptop?  Get a good backpack as it will get heavy fast walking across campus, especially with books added in!  I love my Swiss Gear back; it has lasted me for years.
5. Cube organizers- these are great for holding books and papers throughout the semester.
6. Hangers-These are so important.  You don’t have much drawer space, so make the most of your closet.
7. Cleaning supplies- Again, so important.  Clorox wipes and Mr. Clean Magic Erasers are lifesavers. 
8. Wall calendar- Helps you to be organized and on top of things.  (Works really well in addition to your day planner)
9. Umbrella- Stay dry!  Avoid getting sick!
10. First Aid kit- For all of those minor injuries like scrapes and paper cuts. There are a lot of tips online on how to build your own.
11. Sewing kit- It’s really handy to be able to fix a missing button or a small tear.  These are great.
12. Clean removable hangers or blue tack- to hang things around your area. 
13. Candle warmer- most dorms won’t let you light candles as they are a fire hazard.  This lets you enjoy your candle fire free which lets your candle last longer.  You can also use these to keep your ceramic cup of coffee or tea warm, who knew?

And that is that.  I know I didn’t cover bedding or clothes and laundry things, but it is difficult to say what people need there.  This is why I again recommend that you check your list of items to double check what you might need.  I hope this list makes your school shopping a bit easier, and that I gave you some ideas that you might not have remembered otherwise.  Have a great semester!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Meet the Elect

Article: TTC, Ambassadors 2015 - 2016
By: Jennifer Harris
The following students have been appointed Trident Technical College Ambassadors for the Academic year 2015 – 2016.

Sarah Hassell, Reyna Mamani, Grant Delgado, Shelley Groves, Thomas Martin, Kaitlyn Dempsey, Andrew Czeresko, Rhonda Cox and Darrell Sims.
We applaud you!
And, we also thank you for caring about Trident Technical College. We are a multi-national college that strives to be who you need us to be, by encouraging you to become what you can become; the best. And, it does start with you. The duties of an Ambassador are never easy. It involves the commitment to do tours on campus with high school seniors, recruiter assistants, ushers at ceremonies, attending to various departments, such as Marketing. Yet, most importantly, ‘A night in the Valley’. This is an important event hosted by the Foundation members for all of the friends and colleagues of the school. It’s usually held in January of every year; it’s a great networking opportunity for the Ambassadors to show off their skills to the crème de la crème of Charleston.

All of the Elect are given official ID’s, Trident polo shirts with jackets and an Ambassador portal page. The college also pays for one of their classes per semester .

Congratulations Ambassadors of Trident Technical College, Academic Year 2015 – 2016!

Active Shooter Training

Public Safety
August 5, 2015
By: Jennifer Harris

One month ago, Public Safety department graciously shared with us that we shall be seeing a new kind of training being conducted on the Main campus. Lieutenant Locklair, 3rd in Command hinted, that all officers will be expected to step up their vigilance and skills techniques (TT / Yellow Zone interview).
Naturally, no detailed descriptions of what will take place was leaked. That is, until the fateful email showed up in the student account stating ‘Active Shooter Training’ on Main campus. Trident Times leaped at the opportunity to find out what it all meant and, of course, we got ourselves invited. Since there’s no way we would ever leave you in the dark, here’s what we did to get you the breaking news.
Sunday, August 2, 2015:
I arrived as planned at Main Campus, Building 910 at 12:30pm. I was armed with a notepad in my hand, my camera and ID badge hanging around my neck.  I wore a pair of old faded blue jeans and a red t-shirt that clearly read Society of Broadcasters (so everyone knew I was a friend). The smell of rain was in the air.  As I pulled into the parking lot, I could see a few white vans and other vehicles were already parked, so I parked my scooter between two cars and dismounted. That’s when the rain started drizzling. I had no idea what to expect but, as I approached the walkway I noticed an official sign was blocking the main entrance. It read ‘Police Training in Progress’.
I reached the door but before I could touch the handles, it swung open. That’s when I saw two Officers in black uniforms, Captain McFadden and Officer Manchester. It looked like they had seen me a long time before I even saw them. Manchester was my liaison so I went to him after greeting the Captain. In the meantime, more and more officers were coming through the doors heavily armed.
They explained that the exercises being conducted on campus were based on the Federal Law Enforcement training, which Manchester himself received in Georgia. “Each officer”, I was told, “will be given the same scenario. An active shooter has entered Building 910 and your job is to remove the perpetrator and secure the entire two story building”. The officers would be armed with a .40 caliber gun, a patrol rifle, magazines, Go-bag (that has a long knife, flares, tourniquet, flex-cuff and more). All radios have been re-programmed to communicate with the local North Charleston police stations. Officer Manchester pointed to the control room behind him and said, “We’ve been doing this for the past two weekends. Every drill starts around 7:00am. I’m about to run another drill and you’re welcome to stay and take some pictures”. This I had to see.
Officer Manchester took the lead and prepared to gather the team.
Control room:
I could see that altogether there were nine officers (6 males, 3 females) and a table neatly arrayed with many different types of security gear including long gun patrol rifles. Before he prepared them for the task, they first had to double check to ensure that their guns were properly holstered since rifles were about to be used. The room began to fill with the choreographed sounds of weapons being drawn, cocked and released, with voices saying, “All clear”.  I sat in the back scribbling away. After he completed his brief, he took two officers to the side. He had special jobs for them; one was the shooter and the other was a hostage. He looked at me and said, “We’re headed to the 2nd floor. You can come if you like”. Needless to say…
Second Floor:
We twisted and turned through the hallway before we got to the farthest back room. Manchester took position in the center. He faced the ‘shooter’ and the ‘hostage’ and gave them final instructions then, he placed a bomb (dud) strategically by the door and spread a lot of empty case shells throughout the passage and the ‘hostage’ room. He left the two officers and headed back to Control; I was with him all the while.
He selected one officer and told the others they were ‘dead’. He took that one officer outside the building where a police car was parked some yards away.
Then the radio resonated, “Active shooter! Active shooter! Building 910. Approach with caution! Active shooter!”
Flashing blue lights.  Officer Linda Luck exited the car and proceeded to the trunk. She withdrew a long rifle and a Go-bag which she draped over her shoulder and tucked behind her back. She positioned her rifle in her shoulder and with her eyes glued to the building, she stealthily approached a side door. I tucked myself behind the garbage bin, pointed my camera and…click, click. I followed her into the building and we were both already sweating. The search that ensued was tense and thorough and culminated with an actual combatant confrontation with the ‘perpetrator’ on the upper floor.
I was either crouched low to the ground or braced hard against the wall and I could see how serious and real this had all become. I was in the middle of a real life or death scenario with one of our Public Safety officers and there was only one way we were getting out. Alive.
Staying in the Action:
Safety is the number one priority when it comes to survival. We must ‘survive’ in our plans to ‘thrive’ in life. The four people who ‘died’ that day had left the ‘front’ door unlocked making it easy for anyone to walk in off the streets and make them sitting ducks. The tendency of people bent on doing harm willfully is to go from door to door checking to see which one will open easily. All they want to do is create havoc. Some have a plan and some do not. Some go by the numbers, telling themselves, “Since I’ve already killed 4, I’m not stopping. You will have to shoot me”.
A locked door can act as a big deterrent. Remember, a locked door does not put us in a prison but it may save us from a tomb. We should never think that we are being overly cautious when we take steps to ensure our protection. Officer Manchester reiterated what Lieutenant Locklair had said before,
“If you hear a commotion, turn off the lights and move AWAY from the windows”.
Sometimes, we may have a natural curiosity for things morbid but, why draw attention to yourself and possibly endanger others? We do not need a GPA of 4.0 to understand that we must stay in the action to come out the winner.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Bombs, Bullets and Blood

By Jennifer Harris
“My child you are chosen whether wrong, whether right,

To find your way, you must aim for the light”.

If you believe that war saves the innocent, then you should not read this story. But if you do, perhaps you can help someone to find their light. This tale separates my life into four seasons – winter, spring, summer and fall.

A lot of people suffer with PTSD; did you know that? I didn’t. It doesn’t even have to be caused by any one particular incident either. Stress can be buried like a worm in your consciousness as you lie helplessly connected to the womb of your mother, your first Earth.

This is where it all began for me.

In a place that was cold and frigid like a winter season, I was nourished for nine tumultuous months. From streams made dark, bitter and lifeless by a mother who poured her contempt for her failures of life into me; I drank daily.  Helplessly I suckled until I was born loveless and nameless like the family around me. I grew up without any real knowledge of self, or self-esteem or even a sense of self-identity. I took to wandering from city to city like an orphan. My only possessions were, ‘my boots’ (power), ‘my jacket’ (substance) and ‘my hat’ (knowledge).

Then one day, an unexpected event occurred. I joined the Army.

It was like the beginning of spring for me. For the first time ever, I got a real job. I pushed the buttons on the plane that dropped the bombs on the ground. So, they gave me my first real name ‘Bombs’. I even met my first real friend ‘Bullets’. He fired the machine gun on the plane that killed the people on the ground. We had some good times together. We would be clapping and laughing when we hit the right targets. It turned into the summer season of my life. For the first time ever, I had a family.

But then, like all seasons, change must come. And when it did, it came with an unexpected bang that was so severe that my life stopped its rush to freedom.

Now, I am right back where I started. In a place as dark and unfriendly as my mother’s womb.

Will I ever find the light again?

This is my fall season where my story shall begin.

Special Trauma Housing Units

I knew it was him the way my doorbell rang. Three shrill clanging sounds when it should just be one flat buzzing. I parted the curtains, looked out and saw him standing there waiting and I wasn’t surprised. He wore his dress blues uniform, a broad smile on his face and his eyes looked bright as ever with mischief. I snatched the door open grinning from ear to ear. Then I froze. He had vanished, just like that, gone. I looked all over the neighborhood for him. I had no idea where he took off to, but I knew he would come back. And he did.

 Chapter 1:  PTSD

It’s funny how you can get to know someone so well that you know exactly what they’re always going to do. They were that predictable. Take my buddy. His nickname is Bullets and my own is Bombs. We did a few stations together with an M16. The man was so good with a gun, he just couldn’t miss anything. We pulled each other out from some real holes in the last few years. Some of them could have been six feet deep, but we made it together.

It’s just that my time is up and I want to go. In a few more days, I can be a full civilian again and I need that in my life. No more bombs, no more bullets, no more blood, just find a beach and lay back. I’ve been trying to explain to him that we can get out together but the man just doesn’t want to talk. He would show up at my front door every night, ring the bell and vanish when I answer it. I’m on my way to talk to my doctor, maybe I’ll get some help for Bullets.
Chapter 2:  Doctor Hardy

He was 6 feet 4 inches tall. He wore a khaki uniform and had Captain Bars centered neatly on his shoulders. His office had a wall decorated with plaques of achievements and a window that overlooked the ball park. He could see anyone below him at any time day or night. He was deep in the heart of Base Command and head of the Psych department. It was Monday, 8:00am and he sat behind his big wooden desk ready for work. He opened his window before preparing to look at the manila folder in his hands. Briefly, he looked at the people on the ground before turning to read. For quite some time, he made only sipping sounds from his steaming cup of hot coffee. Then he reached for his phone. It rang once and a woman answered,
“Yes Doctor?”
“Is the poem his?”
“Yes Doctor?”
“His life story in a poem?”
“Yes Doctor”.
He put the phone down and pushed the intercom to the CCTV in the waiting room.
“Come in Sergeant”.

Chapter 3:  My poem

I opened the brass door and walked in with my cap in my hand. The Captain actually stood up, came around the desk and greeted me. He grasped my shoulders with strong hands.
“Good of you to come by Sergeant. How are you?”
“Fine Sir”.
“How was your treatment?”
“Excellent Sir”.
“Good. Sit down Sergeant, sit down”. He released me and turned away.
I sat in one of the leather chairs facing him and looking out the window. Captain Hardy sat behind his desk for a moment. He picked up a pen as if to write then put it down and said,
“Sergeant, good soldiers are hard to find and even harder to let go of”.
He opened the manila folder and flipped through a couple pages. He pulled out three and laid them in front of him.

From where I sat I could see he had my poem. My life story. In a flash, I remembered clearly what I wrote and my head bowed slowly. The Captain saw the movement and said firmly,
“You are very talented Sergeant. Before I sign off on your discharge papers, I was hoping you would read your poem for me. I understand that it’s from the time of your birth up until now”. He handed the three pages to me and sat back to listen.
“Of course Sir”.

Chapter 4:  So I did.
I felt it really like a tightening, a tension,

It was hard to explain even hard to mention,

Of course I was still too young to understand,

I was in her womb, unformed and unplanned.

I was spoiling things for her; her life, her dream,

Her hatred nourished me like a stream,

With no sense of time I just lingered on,

Then in a moment I was born.

She pushed me, pushed me out from her,

I screamed from pain, then, she was a blur,

She relaxed in relief while I started crying,

From then until sixteen I felt like dying.

She spent her time always on her other children,

There was nothing for me; no family, no friend,

I went to her one day as they were talking,

My mind was made up while I was out walking.

"I'm leaving!” I said. I was done being a fool,

My hanging around would just be cruel,

"I'm going into town while the place is still bright".

"You'll find your way," she said, "just aim for the light".

So I did.

I took my boots, I took my jacket and I took my hat,

I headed off to where the city was at,

It was twenty miles by foot away from here,

Nonetheless, I had no doubt that I would get there,

I sheltered by some trees when it started to get dark,

Next day I kept on walking through the park,

After a while I finally entered the town,

When I did I got a job with a man called Brown.

He had a food store so I got something to eat,

I stayed at his house, I didn't live on the street,

He did things for me and I did things for him,

When I turned eighteen I left on a whim,

I took my boots, took my jacket, took my hat and was gone,

I told Mr. Brown that I had to move on.

I followed the street; I had no load to carry,

I didn't look back even when I joined the Army.

Sergeant Stone said, "Go on touch that bomb."

My hand tingled before it went numb.

I felt it really like a tightening, a tension,

It was hard to explain, even hard to mention,

He said, "You'll know when the target is right,"

"Just push the button as you aim for the light."

So I did.

Now they call me ‘Bombs!’ I'm the best they've got,

I've got a friend called 'Bullets' cause his hand is real hot,

He could line ten men up against the tallest wall

And shoot their heads off. We clap when they fall.

When I turned twenty-one my Sergeant pulled me to the side,

They were going on a mission, I was chosen for the ride,

He said, "Your target's a hideout." I hit a school instead,

At the end of the count thirty children were dead,

He said, "We take orders then we follow through,

We shoot bullets, drop bombs there's nothing else we can do."

It happened more than once no one took the blame,

The longer I stayed 'Bombs' became my only name.

'Bullets' was okay he just seemed to settle in,

As the years went by he did everything with a grin.

He said it was, "…his job" to pull the trigger,

I didn't expect he'd kill himself. So, go figure.

He stuck his gun in his mouth and smiled goodbye,

It took years but now I don't even ask why.

They shipped me to a hospital 'cause I couldn't go to sleep,

When they let me out I bought a car that was cheap,

I took my boots, took my jacket, took my hat and took flight,

All I wanted to do was to aim for the light.

Chapter 5:  My buddy ‘Bullets’

The room went silent at the last line but the words hung in the air. Captain Hardy sat back as I leaned forward and laid the pages gently on his desk. He picked them up and glanced quickly through the poem then, he raised his head and repeated quietly at me,
“Good soldiers are hard to find and even harder to let go of”.
“Yes Sir”.
“Bullets was a good soldier”.
“Yes Sir”.
“But now we’ve got to let him go correct?”
“Yes Sir”.
“You’re a good soldier also Sergeant. I believe that you can let this one go and move on”.
“Yes Sir”.
“Very well Sergeant. Your discharge papers are at the front desk, you’re dismissed”.
“Thank you Sir”.
Chapter 6:  Discharge

The administrative clerk smiled broadly at me as I signed off for my package. It was almost her quitting time so I asked,
“Going anywhere after work?”
“Take a ride in my car”.
“Sure. Where are we going?”
“Well, we could pick up my buddy Bullets and just aim for the light?”
“Yeah. That’s a plan”.

I walked to the car and sat down to wait for her. I started thinking that I hope Bullets doesn’t mind the extra company for tonight. And I just started laughing because they all think he’s dead but only I know differently.

The End