jsgover the place.

This story is going to be all over the place. Now that my Leica camera is in the shop for the third time, I have a little time to write. Cranberry juice destroyed the electronics. The Leica report states neglectful operator mishandling abuse of unexplained non-manufacture damage. Or to the effect that the owner broke this camera through bad handling and operation. The three-year warranty is still good; however, the camera is going to be in the shop for a month.

I was kicking myself yesterday as I was in the field, in the Ôhood, and my eyes were capturing amazing scenes, colors, abandoned buildings, exotic street people, drug dealers, pimps, hustlers, poor people, people hanging out, and an assortment of the things I love to photograph, some of them that may turn out to be award winning photographs. Not that I have entered any photographic competitions in the last decade. I had no camera and I had to appreciate what I was seeing without capturing the visions to share them with others.

I had invited two girls, young women, separately to spend the long weekend with me in the Catskill Mountains. Neither one of them was willing to follow through and join me. My mind tells me that if they had, they would then have wanted to spend the rest of their lives with me, because it truly is like paradise up here (I’m in the Catskills now). I was meditating, while drinking my coffee by the stream watching the skittish trout. Wondering how on earth can they find anything to eat? I was trying to distinguish between the introduced brown trout and the native brook trout, and the rainbows. I could definitely see two types of wild trout. Contemplating that these trout have been here since the glaciers formed the stream and they survive the harshest winters, and even the huge flood this year.

I was hoping a Merganser duck would float by like last week, but no such luck. A very friendly butterfly swirled around teasing me, as if it were an incarnation of one of my dead friends.

I am sure it’s the same black and white butterfly from last week that kept appearing on my porch. I feel pretty bad about killing three butterflies last week to scan on my scanner and post them on my website. This butterfly may be completely lost without his companion butterflies that were sunning themselves on the porch. I am becoming more and more Buddhist in the aspect of not hurting any living creatures, except annoying insects.

Driving up here, a six hour drive from Washington DC, I was thinking of all the games we played. And how I usually win most games. Now my incredible luck plays a good part in that. I do always lose when gambling, when I am in Las Vegas or any casino for that matter. I guess the odds always benefit the House. Growing up in the Foreign Service, some of us take a long time to grow up, and never do. I dealt with stress by staying high the whole time, so my coping mechanism was avoiding reality at all costs. I was isolated and spent my youth completely alone or around adults in social settings. Now I talk about problems with friends to relieve that same stress, which most adults keep bottled up, hence staying old. I stay youthful because stress is now dissipated by my sharing my problems and fears with others. I have no secrets today.

While other American kids were consumed with TV and that materialistic culture, I was playing games such as Bridge, Hearts, Spades, Canasta, Cribbage, Mahjong, Backgammon, Chess, Poker, Tennis, Badminton, Croquet and Boule. I never fit in, wherever I was living, overseas or in the United States. I do feel extremely blessed to have grown up in so many different cultures and countries, experiencing a totally privileged life. I was able to travel, visit, and live in many interesting exotic faraway places that were totally amazing.

We were also expected to represent our great country, and we learned other customs from the countries that we lived in, sometimes adopting and adapting those habits and mannerisms into our own lives. My greatest source of information about back home in the USA came from Newsweek Magazine and the Herald Tribune, which were often shared by several families.

I can remember getting to watch weekly football games sent by courier. Sometimes, the most fun part was the American Express commercials. TV was usually non-existent. I have to admit I had a better time because in many of the activities I was involved with I would not have been able to participate in the United States unless accompanied by an adult. I could go to motorcycle races, boxing matches, adult movies, and casinos.

I was a young smoker and a drinker acting like an adult. We grew up quickly but remained childish. I came home one night with some beetle nut wrapped in a large brown leaf. My mother freaked. Little did she know that I was already addicted to tobacco (Nicotine), Alcohol, and Marijuana. The locals called it Bhangi and it could be found anywhere. Paranoia was prevalent and healthy. One time I was almost kidnapped by some gentlemen in turbans driving a Mercedes. I fled before I was grabbed. We usually hung out in the International Hotels.

I saw the great movies: Easy Rider, the Hells Angels, the Boston Strangler, Blow Up, Shaft, and Superfly. These movies all had a great influence on me. I was counterculture and anti-establishment. I was going to smoke as much Marijuana as anyone possible could. I could also get it very cheaply, by the garbage bag full, for a small amount of cash.

I led a double life because my father and our family were representing our country. I was proud of our country and believed we were the greatest nation on earth. The other children that I associated with were children of missionaries, CIA agents, foreign diplomatic children, oil company children, also spies, and military brats. The most messed up, juvenile delinquent and radical, were the missionary kids because of their parents’ values. Also they were completely lost and disconnected.

Occasionally someone from my past contacts me because they have stumbled across my web page. Usually they have conducted an obscure search using the Google search engine on some subject we have in common. I am guessing this time: the search must have been on the Barlow School in Amenia, New York. Dana would have to have included the remote town of Amenia, because that was the trigger, as the word Barlow gets too many hits. My memory is pathetic; I cannot remember who Dana is. Dana says he/she was a friend of Lonnie, and stayed in the new dorm, which was close to all the girls, near the HeadmasterÕs house. Barlow had only 50 students, and I am thinking Dana was this scrawny, little skinny brat, punk kid.

He had a role in the all school play Hair. I, however, was probably the only student enrolled at the Barlow School who was not participating in the all school play, because I was so out of it, being intoxicated out of my gourd. I must have got kicked out of the cast, which was extremely hard to do in a school where everyone partied without any negative consequences.

I don’t remember Dana whatsoever. I ask Dana to send a picture and all he/she has is a link featuring low calorie cookbooks that he/she has written, and the promotional picture reveals a large woman with black hair that resembles Dana. I don’t have the nerve to email Dana back to ask if he has had a sex change since the ninth grade. I have a few transgender friends who have made that transition, reassignment surgery, and are not offended by all the confusion.

Back in the Catskills. Suddenly appearing this Sunday morning at 10:00 a.m., a young fawn strolls down the driveway inquisitively looking at me without any fear. She pauses, waits, and then heads down to the stream as if she has done this before. I stay quiet to see how long the fawn will stay without being frightened off. I am thinking this is one skinny deer, but maybe the summer is young, after all the seasons up here are a month later, and maybe shorter too. There must be plenty to eat. No fear of being hunted from those awful cruel hunters until winter. This innocent looking deer could be eating up all the baby white pines and other indigenous plants. I see this as yet another sign from God. A visitor to remind me that I am not alone, and life is one beautiful journey.

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