Kicking and Screaming

<<<previous <<<free falling

August-October 1998

I returned to Osan, Korea in late July, to prepare for Ulchi Focus Lens, the largest command post exercise in the world. My office was one of the star players in this huge exercise. But I was a mess. Returning to Korea, once again I had too much work to do. I couldn't really release the emotional stress from my situation with Ha. My bicycle had mechanical problems and the first week back I wasn't able to ride at all, partly because my tire pump had broken, and no one in the area had a pump with the correct valve. Even bicycle shops seemed completely confused. My short term memory was fried. I had to write everything down because I couldn't hold a conversation more than a few seconds without forgetting everything. Jamey, who worked under me and whom I'd had trouble with, led me around like an Alzheimers patient. Occasionally I'd have emotional outbursts, knocking off my locker door in my room one morning, destroying furniture, garbage cans--it felt good.

One time when the office was full, I found a huge rubber band and in the middle of work stood up, pointed it towards my head and, in a loud voice said,"Okay...I can't take it anymore...I'm gonna do it". I looked around the room, paused, and then pulled the trigger blowing my head off with this rubber band. It just made a red mark. The Captain we worked for looked at my boss and calmly said,"Sgt Bronson...when's the last time we sent Sgt Paul for a psychiatric evaluation?" In all of this, I and my office mates were able to keep a little dark humor.
I feel so disconnected from the rest of the world...what should I do doc?>>>

The back wheel on my bicycle was giving me problems so one night I completely gutted it and lost a small part, making it useless. To get a replacement part would take weeks. so I took a part from my cheap, black government ink pen, bent it to fit and it worked. But I decided to re-do my drivetrain on my bicycle anyway, with a new rear hub that was made by a different company, which meant different gear cogs, which meant difference shifting spacing, which meant different shifters--it was a huge amount of change just to get a hub that wouldn't fall apart.

On August 15, Osan held a biathlon...a 5K run and a 20K bicycle race. I'd received new parts the night before, slapped them all together as well as I could, and showed up that morning with wires and cables sticking out everywhere, no handlebar tape, but it worked. When I was in Japan in 1989, I stopped doing base runs because they were too easy to win, but years later when I couldn't buy a win, I regretted not racing simply because I outclassed the competition. This time I decided to keep going.

Due to the base gym's usual incompetence in running races, they had a poorly marked turn-around point for the 5K run. I asked them a few times to tell me what the turn-around on the run looked like and they'd say,"Just follow the person in front of you", to which I'd reply,"But I might be that guy!" and then they'd say,"Oh, you can't miss it". Sure enough, I was leading by 15-20 seconds on usual foggy, chilly run, and ran right past it. The second place runner did the same, and when the third place runner ran by he was curious--he yelled up to us,"Is this where we turn around?!" We all looked at each other and shrugged. We didn't know where to turn around. I was the leader so I said,"Uhhh...okay, let's do it" So we all turned around right where we were, moving me instantly from 1st to 3rd place, about 30 seconds back. I didn't care too much because I was very confident I'd smoke everyone in the bicycle race, so confident I spent extra time to put on my cycling cleats rather than use my sneakers and special pedal attachments, which would've save about 30 extra seconds but not given me the feel and power delivery I loved.

I covered the 20km bicycle course 6 1/2 minutes faster than anyone else and won the biathlon by six minutes (over two miles). When I finished, the gentleman standing at the finish stepped out into the road, took a long look at the long straightaway behind me and said,"Where is everybody else???" I said,"I don't know". I just wanted to enjoy humiliating others for a change. It was fun (maybe not a healthy expression of anger). I broke my trophies down (they gave me two for this one) into about ten pieces each, stuck them in my backpack, rode my bicycle back to my room and reconstructed them. My ego was pleased with win #6, tying me with my six wins in 1989 in Japan.

I only have a picture of the bicycle after I wrapped the handlebars with purple tape.