0 0 0


I got a call at work. It was busy and cold. I didn’t hear the message until I got off work. Dad wrecked his bike. He’s in the hospital. I took vacation days and went up to LA. He had been going into a turn and hit some gravel. Lost control of the Harley and slipped out. Woke up in UCLA Medical. I spent a week up in LA taking care of him. Cooking and cleaning. Watching Kurosawa movies.

When I got back I told my wife I wanted a motorcycle and she was understandably confused. I fellow at work had an old Yamaha he was trying to get rid of. An ‘82 XJ-550. All I had to do was pick it up and he’d let me take it for free. I spent the next 8 months creeping around my neighborhood on the thing, riding in to work. I finally got my license and secretly bought  a brand new Triumph Thruxton.

Called up my buddy McInnes. “Toothless” Nick McInnes from Vancouver, WA whom I’d met in Mechanic’s school in Pensacola. I was waiting for a taxi at the base roundabout and he was wearing this Union-jack shirt with the sleeves cut off and tall boots. He stuck out and we’ve been in touch ever since.

We go riding up to Lake Henshaw. I’m loving it but it gets cold. Hypothermic. I think warm thoughts, nothing doing. I hit a 90 degree corner going too fast. I lay it down into the loamy embankment. He notices I’m gone and comes back finding me all fucked up. We manage to get the bike running and I get out of the mountains stuck in 4th gear. Drop it off at the shop and have to ride on the back of his ‘79 Honda CB-350 to my house. I’m mortified and try to leave as much space between him and me without falling off the back. At this point my wife doesn’t even know I have a new motorcycle, let alone that I wrecked it. I confess the entire thing as I clean out the wounds with iodine.

I still ride.

2 0 2


I’m out replacing pH probes on the waste pit. Rotting cells rush through the Parshall flume. I wallow in the wafting vomitous stink.

The new EHS director walks out with the Environmental Specialist. Not much older than me. First impression: head full of big idea, not much real experience. The specialist is an old hand. We get along ok.

The director wrinkles her nose, “Oh my god. It smells nauseating. (dry heaves) It’s making me sick.”

I stare into the pit without emotion.

“Is it always like this?”she asks.

The specialist laughs and makes a show of breathing deep. “Yup. This is the smell of money. No waste, no product.”

“It’s disgusting,” she gags.

“You get used to it,” I grimace. They leave me there in the oppressive sun, awash in the stench.

0 0 0

Stir crazy inside the house. The kids are screaming and I’m trying to clean. The wife is overwhelmed with tasks and hides, crying. Things are untenable here. We get ready to go hiking.

Driving, crying baby, panting dog, stagnant heat. We arrive at the dusty trail and set out. I’m carrying the baby in a backpack designed for the purpose. Goldbrick. He must eat baby bowling balls. We find a river bank and the dog splashes around. The boy takes pictures. It’s tough with all this gear and the heat, but the creek is beautiful. If you get just the right angle there’s no powerlines or houses.

We march on through the dust, over steep banks. I’m sweating so much and breathing hard. My hair is dripping. The baby pulls my hat off and throws it on the ground. He pulls my hair. I pick it up with the big gut welder’s bend and put it in my pocket. Now the sun is melting my brain with its death rays.

“Hey, you guys look tired,” I gasp. “Maybe you (wheeze) feel like (choke) turning around up here.”

“You look really bad,” she says.

“No, no (panting), I’m worried about you guys,” I lean against a tree. The kids laugh. I don’t remember much except seeing stars.

“I used to (gasp) hike with way more (dying) weight than this. (sucks wind) I’m totally cool,” the sweat runs down my fingers and earlobes like faucets.

“When you were in the Marines, right dad?” the kid asks.

“What? (disoriented) oh yeah, machine guns and tanks (not making sense),” I manage to fake my body back to the car and lean against the steering wheel.

“Just gimme minute,” I croak.

At least we got out of the goddamn house.

1 0 1

Drop Out

We're rushing through San Francisco to get to the airport. We stop in Haight-Ashbury to try and eat.  I’m walking with a box of pizza. Two crust punks are sitting on the ground, one eating a burrito. He looks up and says, “Hey man, can I have some pizza?” I grimace as I blow past. I’m standing outside a cafe and a filthy old hippie comes up to me. Long hair, far out of shape, dirtiest San Francisco Giants jacket on earth, pants half zipped, grubby warty hands, long, dirty yellow fingernails.

Instantly, first thought, this could have been my father if he had tuned in and dropped out after his Army summer camp at Fort Ord. He had hung out in the area and called himself a hippie with short hair,  but when his time was up he came back to LA.

“Hey friend, are you, uh, new in the neighborhood?” he queries cautiously.

“Just passing through man,” I tell him. I imagine he’s heard that more times than he could count. It must have been a ritual utterance even among those who ended up staying. “You look like an old hand.”

“Oh yes. I’ve been here since, oh, um, ‘68. Except for a short stint in LA, but I’ve been here mostly. Supporting myself largely on the sales of the Haight-Ashbury Literary Journal. Interested in purchasing a copy?” he pulls out a stack of yellowed newspapers. But I will say, he lucked out and found his mark. I was interested in purchasing a literary journal. I could be sold on it.

I pull out a couple of wadded up bills, “What can i get for two buck.”

His dull eyes light up, “Ah yes, for two dollars I can give you this back issue. ‘93, this is a good one. We publish two issues a year, though regrettably we didn’t get a copy out last year.”

“Are you in it?” I ask, pushing back my hat.

“I’ve been published in this journal seven times,” he issues without emotional commitment or pride.

“I’m something of a writer myself,” I say, just killing time.

“Ah, there’s a mail in address here for submissions,” he says, looking around.

The family comes out of the cafe with their goods. “That’s me man. Nice talking,” I walk off. He found his mark alright, my father’s alter ego, and traded a commodity for cash. A stack of papers lifted from a bookstore and an invented story served him well, and I was willing to listen a moment and believe enough to buy. There were a couple of decent poems in the thing.

1 0 1



I’m so worn out from walking with the kids along the wharf all afternoon. Legs throbbing, feet beating with my heart. The sun is so bright, its rays lash my corneas like whips.


I’m driving through San Francisco. At every intersection I wait behind thrumming exhausts and red brake-lights. My head dips from fatigue.


The kids are thirsty, the baby’s crying. Everyone’s sweaty. We’re out of water. My god we’re like sailors lost at urban sea. Sticky tank-tops and dank wind. Fabric seats soak up our exuded liquids.

A grocery!

I u-turn and park. She takes the baby inside. The boys are passed out and sweaty strands of hair cover their faces. I sit in the car and lean against the window. My eyes close.


I’m so worn out from walking with the kids along the wharf all afternoon. Legs throbbing, feet beating with my heart. The sun is so bright, its rays lash my corneas like whips.


I’m driving through San Francisco. At every intersection I wait behind thrumming exhausts and red brake-lights. My head dips from fatigue.


The kids are thirsty, the baby’s crying. Everyone’s sweaty. We’re out of water. My god we’re like sailors lost at urban sea. Sticky tank-tops and dank wind. Fabric seats soak up our exuded liquids.


I’m at a light. The engine drones. I look down at my lap. My eyes close, just for a second.



No, I’m alive. I’m parked. I look around. I’m in a parking lot. I’m ok. I’m ok. It’s ok. I grab my chest. I put my face on the wheel.

Dreams, terror,
I dream of life and death,
dying in dreams indistinguishable from life

and waking to living death.

The sun is on my face,
UV rays blocked by glass;

people are stocking up for Pride weekend
and to celebrate DOMA’s demise.


I’m dead as well,

in this steel, plastic, aluminum, glass sarcophagus.

The celebrations erupt.

0 0 0

Some call it progress, I am not so sure

Out of the blue, I was thinking about a topic long forgotten. It could have been the fact that I was looking for some material for Transylvania, or... I don't know what, however I remember a little trip I took in 1969 with my father and his filming crew to a place on the Danube that does not exist any longer.

It was called Ada Kaleh, a small island in the middle of the river.

Danube starts as a small spring in the Black Forrest mountains in Germany heading East towards the Black Sea, turning from an innocent stream of water that one can block with his hands into the second European river in length and quantity of water it carries towards the sea. It goes through a few countries, collecting on its way a lot of little streams and crossing several mountain ranges carving at times indescribable gorges which should only be seen with your own eyes, any description in words rendering them injustice.

If in Germany it crossed the mountains, as it does in most of the Austria, at Vienna the Danube turns lazy, so lazy that inspired a lot of Viennese unforgettable music. Unfortunately we only know about Strauss, but there were plenty of other less famous composers who dedicated their talents to the Danube, the river which gave Vienna part of its fame.

Going through Hungary, the Danube is still a slow-moving river crossing a totally flat plain. Being bored of so much flat land, it decided to make a drastic swing turning to the South before finding its way East again. On the way it unites the two cities Buda and Pest creating the jewel called Budapest..

Than getting out of Hungary it separates, Romania from former Yugoslavia, today Serbia, than Romania from Bulgaria for a few hundred miles turning again North and finally East again going towards the sea joining it through a nice delta formed among three branches of the river.

However, the segment that I want to talk about is between Romania and Serbia where the Danube narrows down cutting through some old chains of mountains forming a set of rapids and breath-taking views. At that particular point, where the narrowing starts there was a little natural island which since the Roman times change owners several times.

Today the island is only a memory and for most of the readers of this pages even if they were in Romania the island is just a little point on the map they learned in the Geography and History classes. In 1970 the island, after some of the most important historical vestiges were moved to a different place, was blown up to clear the area for a huge artificial lake made up by a hydroelectric dam built on the Danube between Romania and Yugoslavia...

I guess that after all the economic gains from that power dam overshadowed the benefit of that little piece of living history with its subculture and a few hundred inhabitants who traced their origins before the 1600... The dam also covered the rapids by raising the water level, making that part of the Danube navigable for big ships improving the commercial traffic.

The reason for which I wanted to talk about that place is that my father and his crew was probably the last team to shoot a documentary on the island before the Military used it as a practice range, until everything standing was blown up and leveled off.

I was lucky enough to be part of the team, and although I was mainly an observer. I was about seventeen, deeply in love with a girl who had the common sense not to be in love with me.The trip created a distraction in my sorrow.

I don't really know whatever happened with that movie. It was shot for the television company, my father worked for them at the time, but even if it were still around, I am sorry to say that it was shot in black and white and a lot of the natural beauty was lost.

Cameramen don't really get the credit deserved. People see the actors, they see the commentators but no one thinks about the contribution of the person holding the camera and pressing the button when the events are happening.

The was Ada Kaleh. The name itself was of Turkish origins. Although the first people to take control of it were the Romans, when the Ottoman Empire reached the Danube they took over, and even if the ownership shifted from one neighboring nation to the other, the Turkish population which was brought there stayed until the time of the evacuation a few centuries later. The interesting part is that actually no matter in what language the name was pronounced, it kept its Turkish phonetics.

In its later history the place was more of a touristic place than a real political or strategic location. The island itself was about a mile long and anywhere from a quarter to half a mile wide. The Romans built a network of tunnels, or catacombs, the Ottomans built a fort and the inhabitants built houses, which for us Romanians were totally strange-looking, having the layout of Muslim architecture. Everyone was speaking Romanian which was the official language, the island being under Romanian jurisdiction, but everyone also spoke Turkish, most of the inhabitants having dual citizenship.

The shores to the North of the Danube on the Romanian side for about half a mile inland had a very mild climate for Romania resembling a harsh Mediterranean one. The island itself during the Summers resembled more Mediterranean rather than the Continental as the rest of Romania.

It was the place where I saw for the first time in my life live Mediterranean pines living in dirt not in pots, and fresh fig trees. Actually it was the first time when I realized that figs are not those little doughnut shaped fruits, smoked. They looked more like little pears, they were very moist and very sweet. Everyone had a few trees in their yards.

The houses enclosed by fences covered the view for the outsiders. Once the gate was opened, the yard itself was part of the main house building to the extend that the main path to the entrance of the house was covered with carpets. One would take off the shoes at the gate, as if one entered a mosque. Every yard had a little fountain for the visitor or the dweller to clean his hands, face or feet if needed. Actually the locals were using it as a ritual wash, as they would when entering the mosque.

The buildings were very close to each other due to the scarcity of space, however every single house was totally independent, and although one could hear the conversation in the neighbor space, no one was bothered or eavesdropped.

Our presence on the island was a special occasion and everyone was offering help, maybe because we had cameras and sound equipment growing on us...

The traffic of visitors was high, every one wanted to come before the end and have a last look. The commerce was thriving.

The place with the most important visibility was the Post Office. The Post Master a woman, who did not really inspired a Post Master look was in very high demand. She showed us an impressive number of envelopes. Most of the people coming on the island were buying an envelope addressing it with the sender being the Post Office, a regular first class stamp, to be dated on the last day before the Post Office would be closed.

For stamp collectors, that was gong to be worth a lot of money. Well sort of. I collect stamps, however I collect only new mint condition oes ones in mint condition. For me a stamp from an envelope unless it is really, really rare does not present high interest. Besides the number of envelopes she had there, they were a few big boxes the size of a big garbage can, and we were almost half a year away from the event, was an sign that the value will increase long after my time... Usually the value of a stamp is given by its age, condition and the availability on the market. The printing on the stamp was not special, they did not print stamps with the island... She, the Post Master was totally convinced that I was strange for not getting a couple for her to mail to me the last day. Actually she was cheating a little bit. She new the official day of the closing and she set the date stamp with the last day, stamping them right the way. Her reasoning was valid, if she waited to do it on the last day, she probably would have needed a few months to go through all of them. However they were going to be mailed with the last mail transport of the island.

They were still selling cigarettes. The manufacturer was shut down, however there were left over. It was not shut down because of the environment or heath concerns but the owners had left. Whatever they were producing mostly for tourist consumption was hand-made. They had rolling machines, but they were small capacity and manual.

The electricity was generated locally was not brought in from the shore. It was difficult to bring it over the water, so most of the industry was manual. The generator worked only after dark. It may sound corny these days, but they did not really have TVs. The TV was analogue and the natural conditions were not proper to build towers to relay the signal. They could get radio stations mostly on short weaves, them guys don't care too much about mountains, water or valley, but then again it was not such a priority.

It was a Paradise for Turkish Delight lovers. If any of the readers wants to find out what it is, you may goggle it. You may even go to a supermarket in the ethnic area and they might have it. Or if you really, really want to find it, you may go the Parthenon Food Store on-line, it is in Milwaukee and you will see pictures of it. They will even be happy to send you an order. It is very well priced too.

Now, no matter how you get it though, what you get is nothing compared to the one at Ada Kaleh. The Turkish delight is basically some kind of a preserve specially prepared. When it cools down it looks like jello more than preserve, but it has the consistency of preserve. Some of it has nothing in it, the best one has any variety of nuts, and the super has pistachio...

The one on Ada Kaleh though was rolled and they sold it to you by length. If you wanted it flat they will sell it to you in a box. Now, if you were really smart and a free loader, you could have asked to have some on the spot directly from the pot while it was cooling off. They would not charge you for that. Of course they would not advertize the trick either but if you knew it, you could have as much as you wanted. The truth was that you could not have too much, it was too sweet...

But the experience was great.

They were also selling saragli rolls. The Greeks call them Baklava. Actually the Greek version is not rolled but flat. A good saragli has a lot of walnuts in it and is drown into honey. If it is fresh, the way that I always had it at home, it was very moist. If you order it may be a little dry and the honey looks like a thick glue before you taste it, but it is good.

Of course those were the times when I could eat sugar. Maybe I had too many of those and now I pay the price in diabetes. But you know what, the Turkish Delight, the saragli the fresh figs, in hind side are worth the price...

Nothing was complete at Ada Kaleh though without a Turkish coffee. Please, please everyone, if you go to a Greek store, don't ever ask for a Turkish coffee just ask for a Greek coffee. You may find yourself in the middle of a territorial war and it may turn very ugly... Greeks are proud people and they think that they hold the name of that method of brewing the coffee but they are not...

At Ada Kaleh they did it the right way. First of all it has to be brewed in individuals “ibrik”, (coffee pot you may goggle to see one) and the best way to brew it is on a fire filtered by sand. Usually they use a tray filled up with fine sand and place it on a fire. The fire under it heats up the sand which in turn distributes the heat evenly around the ibrik. In order to prepare the coffee one needs one spoon full of coffee in the ibrik filled up with water. First the water than the coffee. It is placed in the hot sand and in a few minute it will boil. When is getting to the boiling point, the water level grows and if the ibrik is not removed at that point, it will boil over wasting the coffee. What a skilful preparer would do, would remove the ibrik, stir the water a couple of times, and the coffee would mix into a nice foam people call cream. At that point the water retracts, and the ibrik should be put in the sand again until the next boil point a few seconds later. This time that ibrik is removed from the sand, the content poured in the coup. No more stirring. The coffee has to settle for a few minutes and than one can drink from it. It is extremely hot. The excessive heat comes from the coffee grains which are floating in the water.

If one wants to spoil the real taste, would add a little cream, which will give it a special, divine flavor, but takes away the authenticity of a Turkish coffee.

Never stir the coffee again, and never drink it bottoms up as we drink our filtered or instant coffee. The grounds are left to the bottom of the coup in a muddy look and they are mud actually. Now if you grow up with it or you develop a taste for it is delicious. Some may turn the cup upside down, the mud will fall on the wall of the cup, leaving intricate designs which will be interpreted by the “specialists” into events from your personal future a process similar to reading tea leaves...

What I forgot to mention is that if one likes sugar, the sugar should be put in with the water to boil. Boiling facilitates the dissolving in the water, and avoids the disturbing of the mud once it settled down...

I described the process on two pages, however it does not take more than three or four minutes to prepare one cup.

We did the filming for three days, going into houses, into the catacombs, talking to people. At night we would return on the main land and be back in the morning. The last day we climbed in the minaret of the mosque and we took some shots of the whole island. The view was breath-taking. The minaret was not too high, everything was kind of small size on that island, but I have fear of heights. I could not resist getting up there. I would have not had any problem, however they were taking the building to pieces to move it to the new location and they removed the interior stairs. Everything left were scaffolds, and boy were they challenging for me when shaking. Actually Sabin, the camera man bribed me. He said that if I get up he would let me take the shots, and he would make my father use it in the movie. I was scared out of my brains, but having the Arriflex to myself, setting the angle and following the directions of the director, my father, was worth wetting the pants. The camera was set on a tripod, and I was not supposed to do too much, but it was an Arriflex, one does not turn down such a possibility... Arriflex what a dream at that time. I would still want to have one just to touch it, smell it and look at it. I would not shoot anything with it, who is using film today? Besides the regular magazine holds only two minutes of film. If it has an extended case you can load up to ten minutes. But you need a crane to move it...

The big majority of the inhabitants left. Some were offered a place on an island a few miles down the road which was supposed to be a copy of what was going to be removed. That one was smaller in size, and was not in a micro climate as this one was, but in time it could have been arranged like the real thing.... Some of the people moved to Turkey, some moved on the new island some moved close to the Black Sea in the region of Romania known as Dubruja, also known as Dobruca in Turkish, where there is a sizable Turkish population with their roots from many centuries ago.

The day we left, late during the day, the sun was setting and the shadows of the Mediterranean pines and the minaret of the mosque were projecting on the calm water disturbed only by the wakes of the ferry. It was a calm view, with a lot of nostalgia and a lot of sadness.

I know that progress demands a price to be paid, by why is it necessary to be so high at times? A few miles down the river from the dam, one can see today some ruins left over from the Romans. Those are the bridge heads from the man made bridge over the Danube built to cross the river and to establish their Empire North of the Danube. When it was built, it was a real technological miracle. One can see even today some parts of the original pillars showing their heads above the river. The secret of building the bridge over the Danube is still a mystery. It is difficult to cross rivers with today technology and we are doing it commonly, yet we only make suppositions on how the Romans did it two millennia ago without the technology we have today.

Well two thousand years after the Romans built a bridge over the Danube we look at the ruins and we marvel how did they do it. Two thousand years from now, our descendants will look at the pictures of Ada Kaleh and will wonder why did we do it... I guess that there will not be any answers for any of the questions.

0 0 0

My Back Has Been Breaking From This Heavy Heart

The writing becomes a burden.  Word after word, phrase after phrase, paragraph after paragraph, page after page.  My pen presses on but I am insatiable.  Nothings says it right, or enough.  Nothing can convey my ambivalence, my confidence, my self doubt, my love, or my hate.  Nothing can make me decide anything for sure.  It is a weight.  I’ve always carried my stress in my back.  A tense muscle, a thousand woes and worries.  I am too young to be broken, but have I ever truly been whole?  And what about the pieces I’ve given away, the ones that were never returned?  What about the ones I will still give away that I wil have forced back at me? They say a heart with too many fracture lines will never be anything but broken. If you want superman to show up, doesn't there have to be someone worth saving?  The best now could be the worst for me later.  I have thought it so many times before, if only in brief moments of disillusion.  The scariest thing is not what I think; the scariest part is thinking I’m thinking wrong.

3 0 3


It had been years since we’d seen each other but as soon as I pulled into the driveway I remembered it all. We used to stay up playing video games or reading or talking about boys.  Even when her dad woke us up at six in the morning to help clear his land down the road or go jogging ( After a couple visits, I was no longer excused from doing chores or training for cross country), we stayed up late into the night. But every second was worth it and there were quite a few times when I felt more like a long lost sister than a best friend.

I didn’t even knock on the door. I wanted to surprise her by showing up a day early. I walked right in and plopped my stuff down in her room and yelled for her down the hallway. I think she almost had a heart attack when she saw me but we were all hugs and grins for the rest of the afternoon. We walked around outside for a bit and drove the four wheeler around for a while, and when we got back to the house supper still wasn’t done. Her parents believed it was good to fend for yourself every once in a while and since we were too lazy to cook, she pulled down a couple MREs from the pantry. 

And everything really was like old times. Her dad came and talked to us about hauling firewood back in the morning and asked us if the MREs tasted any good. She argued with her sisters about using the TV and lost. With that option out of the way (and the fact that it was already getting late) we decided to go back to her room. Suddenly the twin bed we used to share at sleepovers was a little bit too small for two full grown bodies, but we giggled and decided to squeeze in for old times’ sake. 

We sat in bed eating peach rings and talking. We discussed plans for college and complained about people creating drama. We giggled over boys and high school relationships gone bad and how for some reason some people don’t get over their middle school awkwardness, ever. She asked me if I had a boyfriend yet even though she knew the answer. I was a student far more concerned with grades than having a boyfriend, and besides, no one at my school met my high standards. I informed her I’d probably have to go to college without even having kissed anyone. I moaned about being pathetic. I told her I had a couple guy friends I’d thought about kissing just to get it over with, but I was too quiet and shy to even suggest such a thing.

And then, she got a brilliant idea. A brilliant idea. An idea so crazy and ridiculous, an idea so her I didn’t take her seriously. What if we kissed? We were best friends and it would be out of the way for me and fun for her. All the boys said she knew how to kiss. She could teach me! I laughed. I got shaky. I told her it wasn’t going to happen, that it was crazy— 

But she shut me up. Out of nowhere, out of the dark, I felt her grab me and press her lips right over my open mouth. I was stunned. But then I relaxed, let it happen. Her lips were soft and plump and she tasted like peaches. I felt clumsy and awkward, like my tongue was too big for my mouth. Our teeth clashed together a few times. She bit my lower lip hard and twisted my hair around her fingers.  It was exhilirating. It was crazy. It lasted forever and no time at all. After a while she pulled away, but laying there in her arms I could feel both of our hearts pounding. We giggled nervously. There wasn’t even any alcohol to blame it on. 

We had an unspoken agreement, afterwards, not to mention it to anyone. What happened was between us and for us only. A secret. And a hell of a lot more than her teaching me how to kiss.

0 0 0

How I Learned to Hate

I never understood how people got angry. As far back as I can remember, the whole concept eluded me. I never grasped how someone could get so pissed off, that they started to shout, that they turned to violence or malice or hatred. How they tore down something that they themselves had created in a moment of pure rage.

I would stand alone and wonder how everyone else worked, what process they went through to arrive at the point where this was the only answer, lying awake at night, staring at the ceiling and thinking that I was different, incapable of feeling such intense emotion, like a robot, a clinical, sterile alien, devoid of sensation. Until I met you. 

You tried your best to prise it out of me. I tried just as hard to hold it back. Every tear you shed was a crowbar into my psyche, a bloodied hand that made to wrench my emotions free, and bit by bit, everything I had grown up with started to fall apart. You told me once that I was distant and aloof. You said talking to me was like trying to talk to someone in another room, but the night I left you, the night you asked me if I had ever loved you, we were fourteen hundred miles apart and I could have been standing right next to you.

The truth is I never loved you. At first I loved what you stood for, soon I loved what you had to offer, but after we had gone our separate ways I realised what I loved about you was what you did to me. You set me free. You cut my heart out with a blunt knife and let me feel pain like I never had before, and it made me so acutely aware that for the first time in my life I could feel hurt, feel hate, feel emotion, and it felt so good.