End of an Era

A miserable chapter in our lives, the last of our ties to my lost years, ends today.

We’re cleaning out our drugged-out slacker ex-roommate’s room. It’s filthy and disgusting beyond words.

But it’s been an overload for me.  Besides some of the revolting things we found, this is the room where my memories of the war broke in 2012.

This room was where I held out against armed roommates during a tense year-long stalemate.  I found a .380 round from the pistol I used to keep near the mattress (no actual bed in those days).  I’m sick with disgust and with grief over how out of hand I let my life get before those memories shook me out of my stupor.

It’s also bringing back a fair sense of dread related to my fragmented memories of San Rafael.  Our ex-roommate reminds me of some of the people I knew back then, faces I can no longer match to names and the stale whiff of incense, beer, and cigarettes across nearly fifty years.  I feel bad for him but I also can’t hide how much I resent him. While I was getting my life back together, he was still wallowing in the same morass, unwilling to take every chance I gave him.

I hope our new roommate won’t begrudge me for sprinkling holy water. Anything to bring some closure to this cursed chapter in my life. The past is buried today.

Hagios ho Theos

Hagios Ischyros

Hagios Athanatos

Eleison Imas


Still Don’t Know

Just trying again to figure out what killed me in 1915.  I’ve never been able to figure it out.
I know that the bright lights in the sky were flares, and I’m pretty sure I was outside my trench at night when it happened.  That much is easy.
But I remember being far from the German line, on an earth embankment (perhaps the parados of a sap point?).  The lines at Houplines were at least 150 yards apart, which is a little on the wide side.  Could someone have lobbed a grenade that far? And if it wasn’t a grenade, what was it?
No record of an artillery engagement that night in the regimental diaries and no record of what killed me; only listed as “killed in action.”  The IWM archives don’t have any records after my first enlistment (1902-1914) since I was registered under a different serial when the war broke out; that file was more than likely destroyed in the Blitz, or perhaps misfiled since John Harris was an incredibly common name in 1914.
I have only the most skeletal understanding of my movements with the Shropshires at Ypres and beyond after almost five years of searching; all the rest is fragmentary memories.
There’s another prospect I’ve considered: that this wasn’t the incident that got me.  It’s possible that I survived the explosion after I threw myself to the ground, and that it was something like sniper fire that got me some time later.
But my instinct says that I was indeed blown to kingdom come that night.  A grisly prospect.  I’d take a clean shot to the heart with a Mauser over that any day.  If we look on our dead bodies as our souls depart, then I’d rather not see something that looks like bully beef.  I don’t remember that, but perhaps only because it was too horrible to remember.  I feel like I’m blocked from a lot of the worst memories and I probably always will be because they’re hidden behind two layers of amnesia now (amnesia from trauma and amnesia from multiple rebirths in the interim).
I just want to know what happened.  Old Jack’s still there, in the corner of my memory waiting for an answer.  I don’t need to be blocked any more.  I can take the truth.  I already know I didn’t survive.


So I don’t talk much about my progress on my writing career here but I thought I’d share an update with as much info as I can.

My next novel is humming along nicely!  I need to do one more revision before I’m satisfied enough to send it to my publisher but so far it’s the most impressive thing I’ve written, far and away.

I’ve also been gearing up a plan to make a final push to take advantage of some recent small improvements in my life and writing to their fullest.  I plan to promote my work aggressively.  Pretty much everywhere I post except this blog will be wall-to-wall about it.  I’ll send copies out to any publication that’ll accept submissions for book reviews.  I’ll take some chances.

I’ve done some I ching readings on this and they’ve been mainly auspicious.  Everything suggests I’m poised to make a move that could get my work noticed, at least in a few circles.  If I can get locally noticed on the West Coast, I’ll be very pleased because the next stage from there will be to field some more mainstream work to keep the lights on and see if I can’t pull something like minimum wage.  Once I’m making just enough to live on, I’ll have a foothold and I’ll press my advantage further.

I’m going to do this.


I’ve been very fortunate in the last few months to have made friends with someone I may have known in a prior life.

It’s an odd set of circumstances.  We met via Facebook (a mutual friend introduced us I think) and although I’d known of her presence on social media, I didn’t want to bother her.  We had e-mailed once before in 2013 about some memories I’d had surface and I didn’t really want to impose.  I feared I would be at best an unwelcome presence who would set off alarm bells and at worst, something abominable, like a revenant.

But it hasn’t been that way.  We keep things pretty normal via Facebook and that’s how I like it.

I don’t know if she believes my claims but I don’t expect her to, and I’m not sure I want to know.  I think she told me in our first conversatin she didn’t believe in reincarnation and that’s fine.  It kind of simplifies things if I’m just an affable eccentric to her.

Still I worry sometimes about what the boundaries of something like this really are.  There’s really no script for this sort of thing in our culture; I’m sure in places like India or Thailand there’s probably an appropriate custom for approacing a possible past life acquaintance but I didn’t grow up in those cultures.  I’m cautious because it is a sensitive subject and I respect her feelings.

For what it’s worth though, I’m glad I’ve met her this time around, and I’m glad we’ve kept the baggage to a minimum.  The past is gone and there’s no retrieving it but I feel just a little less lost now.

I Hate This

I hate dreading what was once a fun and festive holiday for me.

I miss the days when the sound of a firecracker going off nearby didn’t set me all jumpy and irritable for the rest of the day (sometimes days on end).

I miss not having these memories.  I chose a hell of a time to stop avoiding them.

I hear loud ones going off outside right now as I’m writing this.  It’s all still there.  Damn it all.  It’s all still there.

Amnesia And Past Lives

I saw an interesting post on another site I post on by someone I watch there.

They were a post-amnesiac who was just starting to remember things again, and they were looking for a type of toy that they remembered playing with as a child.

I had waxed on this whole idea of amnesia and dissocation being somehow related to the way we experience past life memories.  At least, I think I have.  If it wasn’t here maybe it was somewhere else; I know I did tell someone about a documentary I saw called “The Man Without A Past,” about an Englishman who’d basically forgotten his entire life and it all came back to him in vague impressions.  He remembered uncanny details like the address of his high school gym teacher and his ex-girlfriend’s face, but when he was in places he frequented he had no clear memory, only a vague impression that he’d been there before.

It resembled my experience with past lives so closely I’m convinced that it has to be related, somehow.  I’ve felt that way both times I’ve been through Point Reyes Station.  I knew my way around, I knew where things were, but solid, coherent memories evaded me even if certain vistas, sounds, and sights tugged at my memory.  Like the Englishman in that film, I correctly remembered uncanny details, but the broader picture sometimes escapes me.

It got me thinking about how people who remember past lives (not just me) begin craving anything we can remember from back then.  Places we’d been, foods we’d enjoyed, cars we’d driven, people we knew… all of these things potentially hold something for us.

I had assumed for a long time that seeking these things was a dead end,  but maybe it isn’t.  I’d assumed it was all karma, attachment, things dragging me down and holding me in the cycle, but now avoiding these things seems like an emotional avoidance.  I’ve been so obsessed with this idea of escaping the cycle of rebirth and getting out of this world of fear and violence that I hadn’t really thought dwelling on the past held any real value.

I need to dive back in, especially to my WWI life and my seafaring life.  I need to start remembering again.  I feel like I missed something very important in the late 19th and early 20th centuries that might change my perspective.

I’ll be seeking out anything that reminds me of these lives for a while.  Bear with me.

Not Ready

I’m not ready to be clergy.

I thought I was but I’m not.

It’s back to Egypt for me. I have some things I need to work through.  Things I can’t readily put into words yet.

I also need to be more grounded. The times I’m living in are testing me.  There’s a menacing edge here that I haven’t felt since the late 60s, though something about it reminds me more of 1914, of distant rumblings of catastrophe getting stronger and stronger.  I’m crumbling under the pressure because I’ve seen how bad things can get.

I need to find a strength and courage within myself that is uncommon. Being at the scene of chaos is easy; I can maintain my calm when riots break out around me unexpectedly just fine.  The soldier’s instinct that I never really lost takes over and I can analyze the situation with some detachment and retreat or engage as needed.  I don’t go looking for chaos but I can deal with it. But keeping hope alive through the long stretches where everyone is waiting for the other shoe to drop is the real act of courage.

Back to Egypt. Back to the heart of madness. Back to find pearls guarded by serpents. I still have so much left to learn.