Archive for May, 2008

just mumbles!

May 31, 2008


Originally uploaded by jayfherron

I look back into time within the limits of my own life span-as far back as I can think and can see the many changes there have been. I once found a 1951 Cadillac for sale complete with power windows. The guy that was selling the car had put plastic over the top of the car because all the windows were stuck half way down-he didn’t know how to fix them. I managed to hook the guy up with a character that bought that old Cadillac and he fixed the windows right away. All they needed was a few cans of brake fluid to fill the pump-and a slight bleeding of the lines to eject the air. Hydraulics operated the windows-and dang I bet that was high rolling in them days….now a person can come out of the big store and push a button whilst walking across the parking lot and unlock the car-and roll the windows down.
So I know that was 57 years ago-the newest things…aluminum siding. And television. We had a television in West Virginia that came on for a short period in the mornings-and then returned later that evening for the news and the current programs. I remember how crazy it was for who ever had to climb up on the roof to twist the aerial around-a frequent job…and our house in West Virginia sat a precarious way on a hillside which was part of a gully…so it must of been like changing a light bulb on a skyscraper somewhere.
Soap operas were heard on the radio.
I remember my Father hired this man to paint our house. The guy had glasses as thick as soda bottle bottoms and had to have zero fear of heights. Our house in West Virginia was built into that hillside-there was hardly any flat ground at all….but yet that old guy had this ladder that he moved around from one side of that house to the other,rigging it up in ways that defied gravity and proved insanity works for some and not for others.
In a sense the 1950’s were softer days,but I suppose that had to do with where you came from and where you were at the time. When I think about it I have to understand my mind just began working towards absorbing this stuff-memories,when I was about six and seeing my dead sister in a casket. I actually remember further back than that…but as a gauge of how deep a memory can go,Jo Eileen is a good marker. So is Mr.Hoke-but that was three years later,there abouts.
The impression of that time is lasting. It did have its innocence in certain ways. Because television was so limited in the more rural parts we weren’t as exposed to the news as we are now. Everything was more distant and exotic-mysterious…and simple. Seemingly pure. National Geographic was how we learned about these far away places Now we have CNN 24/7.

Things changed really rapid after we moved away from West Virginia-there was things that happened in Virginia that followed me to when we moved to the suburbs of DC.
I’ve never really talked about those days in Tuckahoe,a community near Richmond.
The things I have to say and have not said are too deep to try to imagine any one could follow them and not shake their head like I do…it’s just so hard to believe.
It is almost like a big huge switch was pulled somewhere between being a kiddie with paper birthday hats and the annual Halloween costume,watching uncle somebody teetering on the roof to adjust the TV reception to what I began to see for real in Washington DC.
In many ways I am thankful for seeing the things I have seen. I have learned a lot.
It’s a strange sense seeing so much history-and changes. I remember when banks closed at noon on Wednesdays,so did the barber shop…I learned later in time that it was so folks could get to church for mid week services. I can also remember when you needed shirts and a suit you went to one store-socks and shoes came from another.
I don’t really have a point to ponder…just rambles and feelings of sadness that we have gotten so fast and advanced-and in so fast a time.
I once worked in a truck stop from midnight to morning. I would take my oldest son to work with me-he was just an infant and I had him bundled in blankets and asleep in a drawer for a bed….just steps away from the fuel island.
We’d fill the trucks with diesel at .07 cents a gallon….and to fight fuel costs the truckers will fuel half on diesel and then pull over to the kerosene pumps and top off at .03 cents a gallon….tax free.
I had a ’54 Chevy that at less than .25 cents a gallon I could fill up with three bucks in cash. I used to drive that car everywhere with bad brakes….and never had a wreck. I had to carry a case of brake fluid with me to keep the cylinder filled. In a ’54 the brake cylinder was on the floor by the pedal…I kept a funnel handy and a can of fluid,but sometimes it got testy just as the windshield wipers would. They ran on a vacuum from the carburetor. Well,only when the hoses were all tight and sealed,otherwise-a rain storm was quite a ride.

Funny place.

memory-memorialize-memorial day…

May 26, 2008

Sir in WW 1

Originally uploaded by jayfherron

My grandfather ‘Sir’ was always a quiet man. I remember once being sent down to my aunts apartment when ‘Sir’ told my grandmother to “be quiet” (I believe the actual phrase was-“shut up”) because the times ‘Sir’ spoke were so rare. I learned later that it had been a few years since he had said anything to my grandmother-that was why ‘shut up’ was so special.
I remember ‘Sir’ when he spoke to me. He told me very quietly to be in the bed by a gawd awful time in the afternoon-this to be done on the next day,no explanation,just go to bed.
I remember feeling kind of hurt that following day. My ten year old mind thought the worse-this quiet man must have been upset with me…but it turned out to be one of the most better memories I have.
‘Sir’ was an iron worker. He built the red iron and riveted structures-most of his employ was in Washington DC,where my grandparents lived.
‘Sir’ was a part of building the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.
That afternoon lingered into evening and ‘Sir’ came in and woke me (I suppose I went to sleep) and out we went to catch a car ( buses,street cars,and taxi’s were all referred to as ‘cars’ by my grandparents) to go into downtown.
We rode the car as far as where the monuments are-from there we walked up and sat on the lawn at the Washington Monument.
‘Sir’ had this brown sack with the driest hard boiled eggs ever made in it and we sat there and ate them mixed with salt and pepper from a pouch made from wax paper.
We didn’t talk,that is sort of the way it was. But a short time after it got dark we could see  flashing lights coming off a reflection from the buildings towering and blocking our view-but you knew they meant something was going on-so over towards the lights we went.
On reaching New York Avenue the sight was the best a kid my age could ever have. Coming down the street were dozens of police cars with the big red lights going and between the parade of squad cars was a giant truck pulling a rig that held this magnificent locomotive on it…it was so surreal seeing this rail road engine being pulled down the street.
We followed it-all the way to the Smithsonian building where ‘Sir’ was employed with the iron work.
The memory of the cranes that picked that engine off the rig and the excitement from it all has always influenced me.
After it was all over the quiet old man took me back to catch the car home.
I remember a few other times-most specific was after the union made him retire. He worked structural iron way into his 70’s. My family lived in West Virginia then-in Charleston,where ‘Sir’ took me each day into town to watch the iron work and other construction on a hotel there. I remember him telling me the strangest thing that an old man can tell a boy-that his retirement was going to kill him.
He did die-I was about 12.

As an adult my grandmother gave me this photograph of ‘Sir’…they called these guys ‘doe boys’. I often wondered if it had something to do with the innocence of the young soldiers of WW 1 as they were forced out of the trenches into sure death,just as a deer in the sights of the hunters rifle.
We called my grandmother ‘Wickie’.
I asked her once about his silence-why was he so quiet,why did he never speak to any of us-except in such brief moments?
Wickie said it had to do with the war-and gave me this photograph.

I never much gave WW 1 a particular amount of thought until a few years back viewing a movie about the war-a very famous film with Jimmy Cagney ….but dang if the title is not a part of my memory. It showed the way that war was-and made me interested in seeing others,and there are others.
As a kid-we were more in tuned that WW 2 was the real war…and it was,just as the Civil War was real and as the Spanish American War and the Viet Nam War….just as war in any place is real. But as a boy the war we played games about was WW 2.
I was shocked to see the things these men endured in the trenches in WW 1.

Today I have an understanding. I understand the reason I am the way I am is because I suffer from a condition known as ‘post traumatic stress disorder’ or PTSD.
Even today the big leaders of wars in the Pentagon are trying to convince anyone conceivable that PTSD does not exist.

I did not go to war…but would have-I was prepared to go to Viet Nam if that order came up.
But I was ‘wounded’ shamefully,never the less.
Yet learning this condition of PTSD has existed and troubled many who never saw any attention for thier injury says to me ‘Sir’ most certainly had to suffer.
The images of the battles I have seen from WW1 are frightening as to how the men battled by rushing the opposite side-knowing they could be shot down instantly,and so many were.
My childhood games did not know about his-even as we played the GI’s that sought out out the bad guy nazi’s,we never knew as boys the troubles that came home from those wars.
We played games.

I never can get through a veterans day or memorial day with out thinking about it.
As a teen the Viet Nam war was going on big and brought to us on our home TV’s.
I remember seeing the Buddhist monks burn themselves in protest-I remember seeing one death after another being flashed on the screen each night….the days dead. We were memorializing then,each day-it was the way it was.
I remember seeing the movements rise up in anger against the war-the protests from all around the world.

It always galls me….’Happy Memorial Day’….have a nice ‘holiday’….”come over to my house cause we are having a cook out’!!
It was bad enough having to go through these wars…and now have this newest one (over 4000 dead-and more amputations then any war since the Civil War!!) and folks celebrate the long weekend with a BBQ.
Makes sense?
I can’t get my head off of all the names engraved on the Viet Nam Memorial in Washington,or all the graves in Arlington-or in the National Cemeteries across the USA and even the graves in Normandy-and the graves of those lost in wars before.
That is Memorial Day-to our fallen.

the conference-attended!

May 24, 2008

the hall to the banquet room

Originally uploaded by jayfherron

As I had written the previous post-I attended the ‘sexual battery’ conference in Gainesville.
I was not too sure if I was going to attend-my anxiety of crowds and large places was paramount….but afterwards I am glad that I got through it.
The conference was held in a church. The church was large as any small college-actually,I never even saw the ‘sanctuary’ because the campus was that large.
The only seminar I intended to sit in was presented by two doctors from the Gainesville Florida Veterans Administration Hospital. The topic-Military Sexual Trauma (MST).

The VA doctors were’nt expecting me.
They showed a slide presentation to enhance their points-the points of self praise in how good a job they are doing.
I could not help to get stirred up when the speaker said that they were going to concentrate on female victims as the number of male victims was in a lower percentage and was insignificant.
They showed a figure of 2%….I offered a figure of 6% in which the speaker counter reacted with these are VA numbers….which I counter reacted with “so are mine,and since your numbers are from 2002 and mine 2006-my numbers were more up to date”.
I expressed that a difference of 4% may not seem significant…but is very significant.
To say it best-the VA doctors presented a sexually biased presentation-completely leaving male victims out of the picture as if we hardly even made a difference.
And…they insisted the health care in supporting survivors was upper scale-I only wished I could have asked how completely severing survivors from the only one they had come to trust-our therapist,was good health care?
And,again we were treated to a ‘wag of the dog’ by them saying the newer facilities they had moved into was proof they were doing a good job.
They failed to mention almost every department in the VA is being moved to outside locations to make room for the additional construction that is going to be underway at the VA Hospital….not a sign of improvement-a sign the problems are growing with the return of Iraq wounded and Afghanistan wounded.

I proudly stood up for other veterans who survive the silent wounds that they received while in military service-the wounds of rape and personal violation to ones body….I stood up and said I was a survivor of MST to a room full of twenty or more persons-strangers to me,a mix of professionals from law enforcement to doctors to mental health care practitioners.
I stood up and refuted the numbers and asked the doctors what the VA was doing to prepare for the fall out from the military enlisting over 100,000 convicted felons and how they were planning on dealing with the down hill effect that will have when these felons (among them over 4000 sexual offenders) commit a crime while in service-for example,repeat offenses in sexual misbehavior are very possible and should be expected.
There was no answer.

I know my questions and remarks were well accepted by the rest of the audience-several came up to me afterwards and told me so.
It was too easy to see how generic and UN-informative the VA presentation was. Something straight out of elementary school.
I cannot believe intelligent people bought very much of it-the slides were old…and as I said,so were the numbers. And worse-the suggestion that the ‘male numbers’ were insignificant was insulting.

The morning began at a breakfast with a keynote speaker. Although the speaker is telling her story of survival across the state-I wish to respect her privacy and not say much about the crime she endured.
I do need to say-the hours she spent being victimized made my two months in barracks D seem easier to accept….but they were words of a survivor that said the same thing I have said all along-I will never forget the incident. This woman was blinded by her attacker…she lost so much,but yet turned around with it and is now a deputy director of the Division of Victim Services for the Office of the Attorney General in the State of Florida.
A survivor who took the crime against her and turned it into a full time job as an advocate for others.

The moment I heard her speak I knew that I had found someone who could help me find the way to reach those in powerful places-like the state senate….to edify those in charge of laws ans systems that there is a problem with in the Veterans Affairs officers who no training in ‘sexual assault’ cases. I expressed to the deputy director that we need to provide survivor’s of MST a sensitive and trained individual for the MST survivor to be able to assist the survivor in processing a claim for compensation for the damages done while being victimized at the hands of those who are in the same ranks as the victim.

I felt like an angel from heaven has coordinated my going to the conference-for these past years of writing these installments of my personal account of being a survivor is so I can reach those who can make a difference in the survivors future…and by being handed this one survivors business card has said there is value in patience and faith,and I know there is soon to be a newer level to my activism for veterans-survivors of Military Sexual Trauma.

a conference and the anxiety

May 22, 2008


Originally uploaded by jayfherron

This morning begins just as any other morning does with me-the mental inventory begins… the moment I awake I feel an anxiety and a memory of barracks D. I feel the poorness of the way I live and know it is a direct result of the way things happened back then.
I’m not too certain what I can pin point what sets it off-I just know that it strikes me as soon as I can think,as if it just had happened a few weeks ago instead of 37 plus years.
The trip to the toilet marks it for sure-I never miss having to think about it when I do the toilet.

This morning the ‘Sexual Battery Committee of the Gainesville Commission on the Status of Woman’ is presenting the 27th annual conference on ‘sexual battery’ (there we go with that sexual title) -which this years conference is called ‘Pathways to Healing:From Trauma to Recovery’ and involved in this conference is a ‘workshop’ (such interesting names) which is titled ‘Understanding Military Sexual Trauma (MST).
I am trying to build up the mental energy to attend.

I am a a member of ‘The Alachua County Rape and Sexual Assault Advisory Council’ and why I sought to be enlisted to join this group was to seek a stepping stone towards whom can help facilitate a change in how veterans who have been sexually (oh gawd-even I’m using it) assaulted are provided with the proper care when they depart the active role of military and enter civilian life.
My hope for being in this group is to bend enough ears to earn the audience of yet more ears to educate that there is a fault in the Veterans Affairs Administration where those who have been damaged by this crime while in service to the United States military-and citizens.
I am incredibly ashamed to be writing about this. My heart thinks of those who have done battle and have sustained  unbelievable injuries and deservedly should be provided with special care and help through their lives.
But yet,those like myself who walked up to the recruiters office with out any other thought but to enlist and do our part as Americans…we did not anticipate being hurt in this manner by the violence from the hands of one of our own.

There is no way to explain the humiliation it is for me to have every morning begin with the reminders of barracks D. To attend something so personal as ones hygene in something so general and usual as going to the toilet and come out of it with such guilt and emotional hurt….to have every morning begin that way.
And this morning-my anxiety level is on extreme high because I need to attend this conference and sit among a crownd and try to concentreate on the speaker and learn as much as I can.
I need to do this because of there being other veterans who need these changes so they can have justice.
It is ‘homework’ for my building up towards what I hope to present to this ‘advisory council’ I am on.
I don’t think that I’m going to have an easy time. I don’t know where the place is I’m going-although I know it’s in a church,I am postive it is a large building-ugh. But I am extremely hopeful that my mind can concentrate on the task at hand and not fail (and….I can fail).

My experience with the system the Veterans Administration has in the avenue of veterans advocacy is not arranged for the benefit of those who have experienced the crime of rape-or the crime of unwanted advances and touches….there is nothing it appears in place for these silent injured.
My hope is to try to bring awareness that we have a large number of vet’s who have have been harmed and keep quiet because there is no advocacy available for them.

I would have kept all this bottled up and to myself. I sometimes wish I had-now there sets a computer in my house and I am hopeful my words touch the hearts and minds of others and they think about what I am saying and will help bring this voice to a higher set of ears and seek a change in this poor system.

I was sickened when the reality set in as to whom I gave my lifes private history to when I was sent to by my local VA to report the rapes to a veterans advocate-employeed by my local government….the stupidity in his comments about how amazed he was to think that “homosexuals had a need to rape each other”….a comment of great ignorence.
How many more survivors are there?
How many more have to seek the advocacy of someone that bigoted?

I have to shower now-to get ready to attempt to go.
Another place where the reminder comes,the shower-the clean up of my days in barracks D will never stop.

the gallery and the event and the reward

May 18, 2008

the gallery

Originally uploaded by jayfherron

One of my friends and readers inquired if I might have given myself a ‘self reward’ for my taking on the challenge of going to the art reception.
The reward was there,and I am grateful for every one of them.

I am grateful for the experience to participate in the ‘survivors art exhibit’. It fills many voids in my life since I have discovered it. I have made friendships because of it-one such is with the main couple who have been putting this thing together for 12 years. I know no other friendship that has ever been offered to me like the way each of these two people offer it. You feel a genuine spirit of goodness when in thier company.
And there are others I know for sure are as special as they-but none have had the contact with me as Rob and Deborah have had ,and our relationship goes deeper.

It is hard to speak of the things that took place as the evening and reception progressed.
I want to describe the thrills that I had as another artist expressed great interest in owning something I’ve painted-a third artist,a very well established artist pulled me aside and told me what price I should ask,it was impressive coming from this man-the sum was quite impressive. But what happened at the end is what has my mind occupied-and what I believe is the real reward.

The artist I mentioned who took me aside and gave me pricing advice-we have known each other for as long as I’ve been in Florida and we are also very old friends.
We had weeks before discovered likeness in our lives-we usually always have in a broader sense,but things came closer to home for my friend when I gave him a flier for the exhibit to invite him to attend…I had no idea then that he too was a survivor,so he participated.
During the evening at the reception we talked more about things-mostly how we were about them now. I described how the crowd and the building scared me and what life was like with PTSD. We shared a lot of comparisons and actually had understandings of the same feelings and results of pasts and experiences.

The thing that was so profound-the very real reward of the night was as we left the building together. Both of us confessed how we hated crowds and reception type gatherings-and we were walking out the east side of the building and below us in the ampitheater was a gathering. There were hundreds of people watching what we thought at first was a film. There was a screen and projector and the music was loud and it is on campus where these kind of events are common.
The ampitheater is a half moon which is centered by a large pond-years back there was once a floating stage and there were concerts there,just to give you an idea of the size of the place.
My friend and I were walking outwards towards the parking lot-there is a wooden walkway that surrounds part of the pond and it was about at that point that there was something odd about the music coming from the speakers and we both stopped to listen. It was oriental and enticing. We stood there and looked across at the crowd-all of them had candles and thats when we realized it was a candle light vigal for the easrthquake victims in China.
It was interesting that we were both talking about our anxieties about being in crowds-but this was something bigger than us and it made us go over and sit down. It was in the middle of what could have easily been a thousand people-and we found a spot to sit almost in the center.
I was making my typical frantic glances around taking in the many many people-and from way off in the very side of the crowd there came this Chinese man and he brought us candles. We both commented as how did he see us without candles-there were so many people. Someone immediatly reached over and lit them for us.
The most amazing thing was the wind. It was steady and enough to blow out the candles…but the candles stayed lit-even the shape of some symbol down on the stage area,it must of been made up of over a hundred candles and yet it stayed lit. All around us-the many people and many candles.
I was taking this in and all of a sudden I felt as if I had sat down in another land. The faces of most every body in the crowd were from China. The girl who was speaking down by the candles on the stage area spoke in Chinese. On the film screen were images one right after the other of the back packs of the children lost-all dusted with debri and after those images were more-sad sad images of the earthquake there.
Then the crowd broke into song-the girl speaker must have said thats what we were to do as the crowd began so automatic. The crowd sang in Chinese,again I felt transformed to another land.
It was a very strange-good strange…sitting there looking around at each of these people all from a far home and being helpless to know the awe of what has taken place in thier homeland.
It was provoking to have just left the ‘survivors art exhibit’ and be speaking together with a friend about the phobias that crowds and recepetions bring on-agreeing as to the anxieties,and then God just takes us out one exit and not the other.

Bill and I have often in our friendship exchanged thoughts and realizations of God in our lives and a Greater Spirit that leads us through one thing and another. After the song we set or candles on the on a spot where they would be safe and walked on out into the evening. We walked away with a profound feeling.

That was the reward. In perfection of what a reward can be-that indeed was the most needed to able to be humbled about ones self in such a perfect manner-to be able to recognize the significance of where we were and where we had come from and being guided into a larger vision of grief.

I am full of praise to have been given the direction we went Friday night. I remember we hesitated on the first floor lobby,which way do we go to get out of here?. The Reitz Union is a very big place. The boost to exit to the east was purely Spiritual. There is no doubt in my mind.
And that is the finest reward one can ever get.

the ‘long hall’

May 14, 2008

the ‘long hall’
Originally uploaded by jayfherron


The trek to ‘the gallery’ at the J.Wayne Reitz Union is not at all an easy one for me. The building is huge-I’m not even sure how many floors,I think four;but it is also connected with the parking garage and the campus hotel.
The gallery is on the second floor-the corridor in the photograph is a part of that floor-there are four such and the same length.
It is easier to say it is like running for shelter from a hard rain-like running across the grocery parking lot to avoid getting wet. That is what it is like for me to get into the building and into the gallery. It is like a sanctuary there-almost like going to a funeral home to pay respect to a lost friend…peaceful.
The compression of the doors closing behind me begins the rain storm…begins the phobia of some crazy deja vu’ and makes me anxious.

I haven’t been faithful to the exhibit this season-in the sense that I’ve only visited once since it has opened,that was Sunday.
It is not by choice-gasoline and my distance into the city has limited my travel. I actually am sad that I haven’t been able to make the trip-it was a therapy for me to go there each day…last year on Tuesday I went from seeing Charlotte to cross the highway and walk across campus to the gallery.
My plan is to try for today-I have enough gas to make it in and back.

My usual steps are to park on the street behind the VA hospital and walk through Shands. I go the 11th floor there to use the restroom (it is almost as if it is my private restroom) and then back down and through the hospital I go.
Shands is connected to the VA by a tunnel. It is a rather long tunnel-very brightly lit and very often used by indoor speed walkers,it is measured for how many miles you walk by how many times you go back and forth.
The tunnel reminds me of the tunnel at the Pan American Union in Washington DC. The tunnel there connects the Union to its administration building-two blocks away.
As you walk through the tunnel at the VA the scene is almost too bright from the lights and the white walls and floor tiles…so bright it is dull.
I often think about the mural in the tunnel in Washington-some 200 yards long,painted by Carlos Paez Vilaro (titled “The Root of Peace”). The tunnel itself is very dismal-low narrow and grey except for the mural. Bare bulbs light the way-not the bright lights like at the VA. It always amazed me how the artist had to spend such a long time in that tunnel…my research is poor-how it took is unknown to me,but in my own speed of painting…it must have taken months and months.

(actually-the tunnel was painted in 1959-1960 and was repainted in 1975 by the artist.It is the worlds longest mural-it took 900 pounds of paint and 300 brushes-the brushes were contributed by the Inca Paint Company in Uruguay,the home of the artist)

Just rambles of notta from the head today…empty, just like this long hall.

the survivors art exhibit

May 10, 2008

my studio

Originally uploaded by jayfherron

This day will be a new kind of day for me.
Today is the day the art exhibit is ‘hung’…I guess you could say-I am going to a ‘hanging party’.
Actually-these may just be my words,they may have another name for it in the gallery world…but this is the day,and this time I am going to be a part of the group that does the hanging.

This day will be a first for me.
I have a long story to tell-you have only found a part of it here in these pages of past. I have only written basics….I’ve never set the real foundation of what happened to disrupt so much in my family as a boy and a teen and how I ended up not finishing high school – and entering the Navy.
I may have said a thing or two here or there-but never have written all of the things that happened in Tuckahoe (Richmond Va.) when I was 13-14 years old.
I once told Charlotte (my former therapist) and we talked about it a number of times-but I told her that it is hard enough for me to comprehend the things I’ve talked about to date…more less try to expect any other to believe it all happened as it happened. All of it-from Mr.Hoke to my brother Carl-and for this that I have left alone….and the Navy? All of my life has such a pattern of one wheel off the track,it is hard to explain.

All that said has to do with this-my participation in scholastic activities in junior and senior high school were nil. There was none-plain and simple.
It was a mistake I wish I could turn around-but…not what I wanted,it just was.

Three years ago when I learned about the survivors art exhibit-you could’nt believe what a genuine thrill it was to be standing in the lobby of the great building of the where the gallery is and seeing up to 500 people come through (at the opening reception) and see our art-and my art. I never did finish high school,getting my real high school experience through my sons…I was a band parent! You cannot imagine my feelings seeing my art hanging on the walls of a gallery in the center of the University of Florida campus.
Today I will experience something new.
I will be working with a group of others to carefully place the paintings of other survivors on the walls of this gallery. I am nervous and afraid of the beginning-but I know who most of whom will be there and that relieves me.

My life of working with others has been in a world far apart from this one. My life as trucker made sure I worked alone. I wanted it that way.Building scaffolds-that too was work where you were apart from the group. It is hard to entice others to climb 90 feet and higher on a pipe 2″ diameter,so it is a job you do alone.
The mortuary work speaks for itself.

The other part of this….being in a building like the J.Wayne Reitz Union-this place is huge. The minute the doors shut behind me and I hear that whomph sound of the pressure of the air as the doors close…I am afraid.
But I know the group of people I will be with-and these are gentle good people all of us are survivors. So I believe this will be a truly good experience.
It will be a new kind of day for me.

in one city

May 5, 2008

gated community-jay herron 2007
Originally uploaded by jayfherron


There is too much in my head to make sense about anything. I heard this morning that a man named Charles Chatman was released from prison after 27 years incarcerated for a crime he did not commit.
I feel very strange sometimes about how I lament about my circumstances and how my life has been affected by my time in barracks D…short of two months,and yet the memory was with me when I woke up this morning….what memories this man will have.

Here I am going through my morning routine checking emails and reading the obituary section of the local paper and the news on NPR has this piece about Chatman-his words were so interesting…”life has to go on where ever you are”! That comment after being wrongfully convicted and sent away for 27 years….whew.

Then I learned there have been others…15 wrongly convicted men sent to spend their lives in prison,all from Dallas Texas,have been released because of DNA samples as proof of their innocence.
To date-they have 450 more cases under investigation,just from Dallas.
This from the same state that has recently taken the 400 plus children away from their mothers because of a religious belief.

Another snippet of news comes across my zone this morning-about how the military has accepted convicted felons to fill the ranks…some of these include those convicted of sexual assault and child related sexual convictions.
I found this information which was based on study by The Michael D.Palm Center,at the University of California.
It appears the Army has reinstated the second chance program-which means not enough men and woman are coming forward to stand up for their country.
And yet…when someone becomes victimized by these criminals…they say it did not happen.
How is it a city like Dallas can screw up and allow (so far) 15 innocent people go to prison for life?
How can we teach young people to respect their country and laws and the honor of serving in the United States Military-when they fill the gap with men convicted of rape and child molestation?
How will newly freed men be? What will their lives be like?

I really wish I could comprehend it all and sort it out. This morning I am going out to walk the streets of the city to post the poster for the art exhibit-these are the slick and finer poster,so these require going into shops….I’m already stressed,I fear this every time.
And why is this? What kind of lives did these men live-and their feelings and futures taken away and the freedom to post posters would be a dream….
and then,how fair is it in such as the case with Charles Chatman having been wrongly convicted of rape and being sent to prison for over 27 years-and yet in other states (if not even in Texas) men that are criminal and are also convicted of rape can go work it off in the military?…and potentially harm those innocent who enlisted because they were taught it was an admirable thing to do?
I know I sound confused…I am.

survivors art

May 2, 2008

survivors art invite

Originally uploaded by jayfherron

The Survivors Art Exhibit is just about a week from beginning and this one will be the third time I will have art on display.
The artists are comprised of individuals who have experienced some form of interpersonal violence in their lives-not limited to sexual assault,and does include artists who have survived various forms of attack from the hands of others.

As a male rape survivor it is difficult to explain the way your personal esteem is so damaged by the events of sexual assault. I guess this is partly that in my particular case I was arm-stronged into the assaults almost daily-with no authority offering to protect me. When someone forces you like that you become less than anything.
I just fear the more I try to explain it the more confused it sounds,but the way things were after the opportunity for the men that were assaulting me ended was that it never ended for me…they were gone,but the damage was always going to be with me.

I have always goofed around with drawing-when I built scaffolds my sketch work was often as I had to quick draw some parts of buildings for reference. I’ve always found enjoyment by making something come out of my mind through a pencil and paper,and paints often dreamed-but never imagined,that my art would be seen by others.

My paintings are’nt easy works-most of them are not pleasant and most likely are more startling and bizzarre…but that is my release-and my tension goes out into the object onto the ‘canvas’…in my case,plywood!
My paintings are more medicine than an attempt to be artistic. Most everytime my paintings are just as much a surprise to me as they are to the viewer because I don’t have a plan to paint the things I do…they just come out-usually I go over to the studio (which is what the walked home home now is) the next morning to see what it is I did the night before. Sometimes I go into a slight form of ‘damage control’ and try to destroy what I did the night before-only to find out it added to the painting in a postive way.
Yes…sometimes my art is mingled with drinking,I bring home a few quarts of beer and put on my music and stand in front of my work-sometimes never doing a thing.
And other times I see a line and put it where it belongs.
All of this helping me push this which is inside of me out-sometimes it brings me to absolute tears and sitting on my stool weeping.

To have no real esteem about yourself and then in one nights time you become a star….all be it in private and just for that night. To stand out in the lobby of this great building where our art is going to be displayed-and to watch the people come in for the reception….last year it was around 500,and knowing it is each persons work of art that these people have come to see,knowing they are seeing what you have created.
I makes you feel like something-it makes you feel like someone.