9/11. It’s been thirteen years since the Towers fell. My most vivid memory of that day isn’t of planes crashing or of buildings coming down. It’s of a single person. A firefighter. Tower 2 had just fallen. A reporter was on the streets blindly asking questions of anyone he saw. This firefighter was trudging towards the north tower, Tower 1, where smoke was still billowing into the autumn sky. It would later be learned that the rescue personnel inside had been ordered to evacuate but many had not heard the call. This ignorant reporter grabbed at this firefighter and asked him what he was doing. He nodded at Tower 1. “My brothers are in there.” That’s all he said. His face was so haunted. He walked on. Less than ten minutes later, at 10:28, Tower 1 came down. That’s what 9/11 will always be to me. A person’s sacrifice, not just for those he has sworn to protect, not just for his city, but for those that are closer to him than family. I ran fire and rescue early in my career. Your crew, the people on your squad or company, you didn’t leave them behind. I’ll never know that man’s name, I’ve never seen that clip of video on the countless hours that are replayed this time of year, but I will never forget him.
Thursday, September 4, 2014
We all have things that we want. Cravings, desires, they’re all part of life. Everybody wants something different though. A prisoner might wish for freedom, a lonely person for love, many people, it seems, want money or power.
One of the most frustrating aspects about my bipolar is the way that my manic episodes manifest themselves. Those with my diagnosis can respond in many different ways when their mood suddenly shoots upward. If there’s an activity with an element of risk, we’ll find it.
Gambling, drugs, hitting the highway at dangerous speeds. We can empty bank accounts overnight and drive up hundreds of thousands in credit card debt. Some of us will go hypersexual and sleep with almost anyone we see.
I’ve been fortunate however in that I almost always go hypomanic, a mild form of mania. And when my mood swings up I don’t gamble, I don’t sleep around or do drugs, I spend money, sometimes money that I don’t have, sometimes hating myself as I do it. It’s a compulsion that’s almost impossible to resist.
I have found ways over the years. I’m still not always successful, but I’m getting better. I’m always finding ways to better myself.
But this isn’t what this is about. I’m talking about an entirely different kind of want.
I was watching a movie about a primitive tribe living in the jungle. It was night and they were gathered around a fire, telling stories and communing. Some danced and some talked. Some simply stared into the flames, lost in thought.
I’ve never been the kind of person who makes friends easily. People have often described me as standoffish. I can easily talk to you guys on here because online is an entirely different animal. Were this the real world, were we at a party, what would happen?
It could be the best of times, good music, drinks and a bonfire. Everybody would be having a great time and I’d still be on the periphery. If I was lucky my girlfriend would be there. Even then, I’d find myself waiting until it was time to go.
Not because I wouldn’t be enjoying your company, but because I’ve never been able to. Not in large crowds like that. I want plenty of things. But I truly envy people who can be in crowds of their friends and have a good time.
I wish I could too.
Wednesday, September 3, 2014
I ended up in town today. A couple of times actually. It was one of those days. One of my trips took me to a business complex across the street from the Staunton-Augusta Rescue Squad. Back when the world was new, when I was running fire and rescue, I would bump into them every once in a while. I was a member of Stuarts Draft Rescue, but depending on the nature of the call, sometimes more than one squad would be toned to respond to it. There was always a rivalry between Draft and Staunton-Augusta. It was usually good natured, but any conflicts were put aside when you got on scene. This particular call was a multi-vehicle accident. I don’t recall a lot of details other than the fact that it was night, there were several people involved, and we were in a part of the county that we didn’t usually respond to. As it so happened, I ended up loading my patient into a Staunton-Augusta unit and riding with them into the hospital. I remember noticing the small differences between the back of their trucks and ours. Little things such as where equipment was stored. I didn’t have a lot of time to sightsee however, since I had a patient to tend to. The thing that will always stick with me though is the moment where the leader of the Staunton-Augusta crew leaned over to me. He looked at the Draft windbreaker I was wearing and said, “You ought to take that off and put on one of ours.” I didn’t have a lot of time to think on it then, but it’s stayed with me through the years. Even in the most hectic of circumstances, when you would swear that you don’t even have a second to breathe, there’s always time to give someone a compliment, to tell them that they’re doing a good job. It may give them a smile, or brighten their day. Who knows, it may even be something that they remember forever.
Sunday, May 18, 2014
Talking a bit ago about writers using their craft to deal with the traumas in their life. I wrote ‘Fallen Angels’ for one reason only. Because my mother committed suicide. I remember so clearly coming home from the hospital, from the morgue where I had seen her for the last time, where I had run my fingers for the last time. Where I had touched her for the last time.
At the house was some pastor that I did not know. In an unbelievably misguided to comfort me, he put his arm around me and said, ‘Don’t worry son, God won’t put any more on you than you can handle.’
It was then that the last splintered and fractured pieces of faith that I had shattered. If there was a God and he was so protective of people, then why had my mother taken her own life? I pushed away from him and organized religion.
There was no way that I could ever find God in this plane of existence, let alone stand face to face with him and ask him that question, the ONLY question that mattered.
The question so many have asked in so many ways, about so many things, in so many languages, for millennia. Why could God allow this to happen? I couldn’t stare God in the face and ask the question.
But I could create a character who could.
And ‘Fallen Angels’ was born.
There are many things in this book. Hope, despair, faith, disbelief, love. It revolves around an angel sent on a task by God himself, but it’s far from a religious story. If anything, it’s a story of one person, trying to discover for himself the answer to a question that he thought he would never ask. A question that must be answered, even if asking it is blasphemy in itself.
‘Fallen Angels’, available now wherever e-books are sold.
Not all who fall are lost.
God’s daughters have been cast out of Heaven, to protect them from Lucifer’s rebellion. Once the war has ended, Samuel, God’s most trusted angel, is charged with returning them home.
The fallen angels, born mortal, have no memory of their divine birthright. Each has led a unique life in a different part of the world, each following their own faith, if any faith at all.
As Samuel experiences life on Earth and witnesses the abuses that those nearest to him have been forced to suffer, his own faith, once unfailing, begins to fracture, and he too begins to question.
When the actions of a former ally prompt one of the daughters to commit an unforgivable sin, Samuel is forced to make a once unthinkable choice. Defy God and risk his own salvation for hers or allow her, and humanity, to be forever lost.
‘Fallen Angels’ is available at:
Barnes & Noble Nook: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/fallen-angels-christopher-southers/1118612110?ean=2940045682763
Wednesday, March 26, 2014
It was bound to happen. I just never expected it to happen like this. I’ve had Symantha for a week and a half now. I’m 39 y/o dude at a major turning point in his life. She’s a ’93 Camaro Z28 with some sweet mods.
Until today, no one had stepped up and tried to challenge me to an off the cuff race. I knew it was bound to happen. I wasn’t keen on the idea. I’m NOT in my twenties anymore. Hells, I usually drive her below the speed limit! I wasn’t sure how I’d react!
I had left a doctor’s appointment and was coming home when I noticed a vehicle in my rearview mirror, following so close that I couldn’t even see the license plate. Tailgate city dudes. I made a left and it followed, just as close. We sat for a bit at a light until the green opened us up to two lanes of traffic.
I stayed in my lane, behind a slow moving car, and the vehicle, which turned out to be a burgundy minivan of all things, shot out around me and dashed ahead.
I was now irked.
The slow car now chose to move over for some reason and the pursuit was on. To make things interesting, I decided to keep my speeds within the limit. If he was going to fly, so be it. But if I could catch him within the posted numbers, then game on.
I grew closer as we left a 35 zone and entered a 45. At the last light before my destination and with only half a mile to go, I was now sitting beside him on the line. I took a quick glance out of the corner of my eye.
He was smiling the smug bastard.
*A quick sidebar: The kid I bought Symantha from had already begun some extensive modifications on her as I said. New intakes, Flowmaster pipes, I had never really opened her up before. It was time to let my girl do her thing.*
The light turned green and I hit the gas. Symantha roared. I left the dude far behind, presumably in a puddle of urine and shame. Never once did I speed, I just got to the speed limit a hell of a lot quicker than he did.
I love Symantha. I really do. I just really need a vehicle that’s a four season car. But I’ll always remember her as my spring, and hopefully summer, fling. :-)