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Q: When did you first seek psychiatric help?
a: Mid to late 80's I think...86 or 87...something like that. I don't remember.
Q: Why did you seek help?
a: I was having trouble going in to work.

"I got it all here in my head
there's nothing more needs to be said
I'm just banging on my old piano
Getting In Tune to the straight and narrow"

a story is stuck in my head,
something more needs to be said,
no path is straight and my fears should be shed,
just banging it out on this keyboard instead.

ok, so I'm no Pete Townshend...

GUS (Gave Up Smoking) is a community support series for Kossacks in the midst of quitting smoking. Any supportive comments, suggestions or positive distractions are appreciated. We avoid discussion of political issues. If you are quitting or even thinking about quitting, please -- join us! You can add GUS to your stream by clicking on the ♥ next to the GUS tag! And you really should check out The GUS Library at dKosopedia. It's organically evolving, and stocked with free-range information: quit-smoking links, helpful GUS diary links, helpful GUS diary writing tips, and the GUS buddy list.
A message to all quitters: you don't have to avoid GUS if your latest attempt to quit didn't work out. We won't give you a bad time and we consider the attempted quits as "practice" for the real quit.

It's recycling day again.

Part one is here.

Some memories are as vivid as if they happened today...

That ever pervasive metallic smell and taste, mixed with the grit of the yard. For me, the copper dust was probably the worst, it would get into your cigarette filters and you'd be tasting the job you did that day until that pack was gone.

I'd go home and the steam and moisture from the shower would loosen up all some of the black goo and dirt sucked up into my nose that day.

The heat and smell from the forklift exhaust, diesel fuel from the trucks, sometimes tuluol from the plant next door, or soap from P&G a couple blocks away, lunches and sandwiches or chicken others brought from home, even now seeping into my consciousness. Almost every piece of metal with an oily odor, smear and feel, because that's just how scrap is.

Breathing it, eating it, consuming it.

We wore inexpensive white cotton gloves and had to change them once or twice a week because they would literally turn black and wear out that quickly, and your fingers would poke through the holes. Mercurochrome, Tincture of iodine, rubbing alcohol....the fingertip cuts, always a cut on a finger or on the hand and the stinging & burning of the disinfectants...
Hands so rough and calloused and yet worn smooth as fine leather.
Powerful hands. You can tell so much about a person by their hands. How they touch. How they feel. Yes? Yes. palm reading... When you hold them or shake another's. When your own are shaking and trembling.

There were several machines that we all operated.
I introduced you to some previously and explained how they worked.

D & K Alligator Shear

That picture is an accurate image of an industrial alligator or lever shear very similar to the one that we used on an almost daily basis.
No guard in front of the blade, just like in the picture.
It's a creepy thing, its own lifelessness notwithstanding.  I haven't seen a picture of one or seen one in real life in years.

They had built a removable wire cage around the flywheel and gears. I remember the flywheel being between 4 and 5 feet in diameter. It could literally cut almost anything. Well, provided you could get it between the blades. I witnessed it cut a 1 inch diameter thick steel bar. The flywheel slowed to almost motionless, but it eventually cut it. This video shows a similar machine easily cut 1/4, 3/8, and 1/2 inch thick plates.

The clang of the metal as it fell.
Each metal with its own distinct tone, ring, sound.
There was a short steel receiving tray on the other side that could be picked up with a forklift.

The steady k-chunk k-chunk k-chunk of the blades coming together.

The whir and stir of air from the flywheel.

You couldn't just turn off the machine, you had to wait for the kinetic motion to disperse and wind itself down after you turned the power off.

The event was / is instantaneous. And it's ability to seemingly stretch as an eternity in my mind, trapped on some psychological event horizon, frozen there, always happening, in one form or another has haunted me for... for forever, a lifetime. Mutated and morphed. My body parts, fingers, hands, arms, toes, feet, legs, limbs, penis, head, my loved ones and all their body parts, my pets....

The memory of it comes unbidden, always unwanted. Often times when I lay down to rest and sleep. Sometimes it's not a surprise, perhaps I've watched a gruesome movie scene or particularly graphic news footage ..other times it's presence is so out of place and out of the realm of what is really occurring at that particular moment in my life I question my sanity...

I know a man who cut all the fingers off his right hand that day.
I was standing next to him.

hard.
hard metal.
hard men.
hard weight.
hard decisions.
the cold hard ground.

There had been a delivery of magnesium alloyed tread plate. Large pieces of metal that had formerly been ramps and steps to portable amusement rides common at travelling carnivals and fairs. Pieces of metal that weren't necessarily heavy to pick up, but were angled sharply, at 45 and 90 degrees and as long as 5-6 feet. Awkward. And this particular alloy was brittle. It didn't allow for a clean cut. It broke and crumbled in between the blades. One was just as likely to crush one's hand between the top "jaw" or moving lever and the extended end piece flipping up. In the video at the 50 second to one minute mark, you can see the 3/8 inch plate kick up. Imagine it without that guard.

I made a decision that day to protect myself from harm.
I refused to cut that metal with that piece of machinery.
Someone else was enlisted to do it.
And I was required to watch.

That shit has fucked me up for a long time. Even now.
Guilt and pain and loss and fear.
Because I did the right thing for myself.

Please, no "should haves" about then or now. Maybe you've seen or lived worse.
All I know is something I did a long time ago is still causing me distress now.
Something that I'm certain was the right thing for me.
I'm just trying to work it out.

You know what kos said about treating diaries like someone's house errr... wait, not that house, no... wait... I like that house, so.. uhh...
this is what kos said about diaries and houses.
We can talk. And share. Respectfully.

This story is complicated. Because I'm complicated. Like you. More than words and images on a screen. Like you. If you're really interested you can look back here too.

Things have been suppressed and repressed and hidden and forgotten.
Yes. I know.

Why here? Why now? I don't know. This part of my journey really did start almost three years ago when I quit smoking. A whole lot of other things have happened since then too. Some bad. Mostly good. I feel comfortable here. Here at GUS and here at Daily Kos and here in my life, comfortable enough to finally say things about myself that I've wanted to say for a long time. And all I want is to tell my story. Like you. Yes? Yes.  

Part two. is missing pieces. Cue Revolution #9.
Aspects, thoughts, perceptions are fractured like a broken mirror, or "Obscured By Clouds"....
I'm working on it.
It's all about progress.

This is me.
finding myself.
A voice.
This is how I win.... one moment of peace...
and that moment can stretch for an eternity... like Lester Burnham.
Yes.
"Once Upon A Time" indeed...

                           
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