"It took me getting into a lot of fights before I was diagnosed with PTSD. I have something called ‘hypervigilance.’ I get really nervous around people. Especially people from the Middle East."
"What were some traumatic things that happened to you?"
"I was in a vehicle when a mortar round exploded in front of us, and we fell into the crater and got trapped. There was a burning oil rig near us, so it was like being in a microwave. And we couldn’t get out. And I also saw a lot of hanky shit. Mostly from our side. Everyone was really revved up from 9/11. We did a lot of bad things. I saw decapitations, and that was our guys doing it."
"We were supposed to bring POW’s back to the base. But instead we gave them a cigarette to calm them down, and told them to get on their knees. One of our guys was 240 lbs, and he’d taken this shovel we’d been issued, and he’d sharpened one of the sides until it was like an axe, and he could take off somebody’s head with two hits."
"How many times did you see that happen?"
"I’m writing a novella that I’m hoping to get published."
"What’s it about?"
"It’s about these two kids from Seattle, who sneak out of the house early in the morning and take a 5 AM bus to Portland."
"What happens after that?"
"I don’t know. But that’s kind of the point."
"We’d been having a sort of tacit conversation about it for a couple years. Then one day, his sister, who already knew, was teasing him about having a crush on a boy at school. And I heard him say: ‘Well, maybe it’s true!’ So I said: ‘Son, we’ve never really talked about this. Are you gay?’ And even though he was 6’4”, he came over to me, curled up in my lap and just sobbed and sobbed. It was one of the most beautiful moments of my life, actually.”
"We met 48 years ago at a Halloween party."
"Do you remember the costumes you were wearing?"
"We were the only two not wearing costumes, actually."