Yeah. I know. I haven’t been around for a while. I have been on sabbatical, and also dealing with personal issues about my mental health, as well as fighting systemic health issues.
But, that is neither here nor there, because I have a story to tell, and an announcement to make in this post.
Sit back, relax, and let me tell you about a day that has haunted me for years, and how I plan to make amends with myself, and many others.
September 17th, 1985 introduced us to VH-1, the Internet’s Domain Name System was created, the first British mobile phone call was made, and so on. It was also on this night that I had a nightmare that has haunted me for years, and I just started to remember everything about it. I want to share it with anyone willing to read this, in hopes that others who were not aware of the coming events to happen are more knowledgeable about it, and hopefully help to give to one of two causes that I have a high respect for.
My brother and I were in a one-room building. There was no furniture and the walls were white stucco with accents of red bricks surrounding the windows. It reminded me of the old Santa Fe style homes you would have seen watching the old black and white Zorro television series by Buena Vista Studios, which is a Disney studio for those history buffs, that starred Guy Williams as the dual identity that would be a precursor to the Dark Knight, aka DC Comic’s Batman.
I used to love watching Guy Williams, this tall, handsome, Latin American—wait. Guy Williams was “white–washing” long before other Hollywood actors and actresses were doing it. Which, in my humble opinion, is why we should not have as much of a problem with it. The only time we should have a problem with it is when the studio clearly passes up an actor or actress who is of the nationality of the character in question that could honestly do a better job at the role.
Sorry. Got off subject. Let’s get this back on track and get to the point.
In this building, my brother and I were not alone. You know when you are watching a television show, and they show all the different camera angles? I saw from above that we were surrounded by Latin Americans. Hundreds of them, standing shoulder to shoulder with themselves.
I’m about to sound very racist. I do not mean to look like a horrible person, but I feel I have a duty to explain myself before I continue with this story. The reason for this is that I was eight-years-old at the time of this event, and the only Hispanic people, other than the actors portrayed on Zorro (who were and were not of that race), was Speedy Gonzales of Looney Tunes fame.
Everyone in the room, except for my brother and myself, was wearing sombreros, white shirts, white pants, and sandals. They were all the representation of a race that I knew very little about, and that was how my eight year old mind was seeing them.
I could not see their faces. I assumed they were all male, but if a dream specialist wanted to dive into this nightmare, they would have said they were all indigenous to one’s race. So, they were just people. Faceless people who were not saying anything.
Suddenly, all of us started to hear a rumble.
It became louder. And louder. And louder, until the entire building started to shake.
My brother and I were frightened. We had no idea what was going on. People started screaming. The voices were muffled due to whatever was causing the chaos.
We looked out the window. What I saw was a black and white image of the largest tornado I had ever seen in my entire life. It was like watching a television set (there I go, talking about TV again) and watching the nightly news covering a story about a tornado that had touched down somewhere in the United States. Or, the tornado that was in “The Wizard of Oz.”
I never experienced large storms as a child. I remember one situation where my family and I went into the basement one night, and I was told to go back to sleep and that it would all be over soon. My parents didn’t want to frighten me, so they didn’t reveal anything that was going on to explain why we were spending the late parts of the evening in the basement.
In the nightmare, my brother screamed as loud as he could to drop to the ground until the erupting storm that was causing so much craziness was over. He and I dropped to the ground, he put his arm around me to keep me safe, and we waited.
In the dream, you can never really tell time, but I remember my brother saying that after everything calmed down, it had been a couple of minutes. When we stood up, we looked around the room.
Everyone was gone. The entire room was empty. And then, just as immediately, I woke up. My heart was pounding. I was shaken by the nightmare. I never called out to my parents. I never called out to anyone. I didn’t even cry. But I was confused. Why was that dream so incredibly powerful that it shook me to the core and woke me up from a dead sleep.
Two days later, I was eating dinner with my family in front of the television watching the nightly news. I don’t remember the station, but my parents always had a liking to both Channel 4 and Channel 5 through the years, but that doesn’t matter. What they were covering did.
On September 19th, 1985, at 7:19 am, the Greater Mexico City area experienced one of the most devastating earthquakes that has been recorded. The earthquake was listed at an 8.0 on the Richter scale. It lasted for two minutes, and the death toll was between 7000 to 35,000 people.
35,000 people affected by such devastation, and I suddenly started shaking.
I said nothing to anyone. I know that an eight year old Midwestern boy can’t save the world, and I know that if I had said anything to anyone no one would have listened to me, but I had a huge weight that suddenly was on my shoulders.
“I could have saved tens of thousands of people,” I thought to myself.
“I could have made a difference.”
But, in reality, I couldn’t. It was going to happen either way.
You read stories about people who have deja vu, or had a dream that something bad was going to happen, and they either changed their plans or went along with them, and something horrible happened. Time-Life used to sell a book collection chronicling such stories for $29.95 a month if you just buy now.
I have been up all night researching about another subject dealing with my disability case, and I needed a rest, and I remembered I had that dream. After countless searches for tornadoes in Mexico, I was about to give up. Then, I started looking up natural disasters in Mexico in the 1980s.
In my searching, I found an article on a person’s website, chronicling horrible events that happened in Central America and Mexico, and what things came out of it.
And then I found it.
A flood of memories of the nightmare, how I felt, the following days, and how I felt like I could have done something about it. A huge amount of guilt came over me.
Don’t misjudge me. I know it’s not my fault or that I caused that to happen. I just feel that I could have said something instead of keeping a secret because I didn’t think anyone would care what I had to say.
Because of the actions of September 19th, 1985, the political structure became quite fractured, looting was happening in the streets, hundreds of thousands of people were without homes, regular people were assisting with helping with the crisis, and much, much more.
What has come out of it though is the SAS (Sistema de Alerta Sismica), an early warning system that would warn of any earthquakes starting at a 6.0 on the Richter scale. The Civil Protection Committee, a group that helps organize rescue workers, police, hospital staff and metro workers be more prepared for crisis situations, was created. But, the part that touches my heart is a group of “youths” that, during the crisis, volunteered without anyone telling them to risk their lives and help find any survivors. These individuals risked their lives on a daily basis without any formal training or equipment to help those who were missing. In February of 1986, they banded together and created TOPOS, also known as the Rescue Brigade Topos Tlatelolco A.C. (for those not familiar with Spanish, the translation for “topos” is “moles”).
TOPOS now functions as a rapid response team of individuals who are trained to function in times of crisis. They have rescuers, medics, rescue dogs, architectural engineers, and even specialize in post traumatic stress disorder for individuals in need during those emergencies. They are internationally known, helping in Indonesia, Haiti, Nepal, and various other locations.
I woke my wife up at 4:40 am this morning to discuss what I originally had been researching all night long, because it was fresh in my mind, and I wanted her feedback. I made sure I had coffee ready, and she let the dogs out.
Yes. My wife does hate it when I wake her up early in the morning like this. I rarely do it—I used to do it all the time because I was lonely in the mornings, but I really wanted to discuss the other thing.
After discussing it and getting her feedback, I then wanted to tell her about September 19th, 1985, and the two days preceding it. My wife knew about this dream I had. She was the only person in the world I ever spoke about it with. I didn’t want people to think I’m crazy, especially with my current status. I haven’t even told my psychiatrist or counselor about it, and have no plans to do so.
I wrote everything about the dream that I remembered in a note-taking app that I paid for on my iPhone called “Bear.” It’s a wonderful app. I type so many notes and ideas into it, it has partially replaced my idea book that I had been using for years. At times I will go back to my notebook and copy the information physically so I have a hard copy, but for immediate use, it is my goto app. I read word for word everything on the screen.
When I got to the part about September 19th, 1985, I started to choke and tear up. I became emotional. I took pauses to try and contain myself and get my composure back so I could tell her the rest of the story. It was important that she heard the story again, because I found not only the date again, but what the actual disaster was and the affect it had on me then, and now as an adult looking back on it.
There is a level of guilt I have for not saying anything. But, there is also a large level of empathy. I talk about taking my own life, but I don’t talk about big things like this. September 11th, 2001 was a big disaster recently for the US, and it scared the hell out of all of us because we were being attacked by another group. The 35,000 individuals were attacked by Mother Nature. Not a group of people.
No one deserves to die, and that situation will always sit on my mind for years. Probably until I’m gone.
I want to do something about it; not because of the guilt, but I want to feel like I am helping the group of volunteers who risked their lives to save mothers, children and many more.
After I post this, I’m going to send a link to Facebook and Twitter. I told myself I wouldn’t advertise my website again, but this is not about me. This is about Mexico City and TOPOS. I want everyone to read this story.
I also want to ask for a favor.
I want everyone to donate however much they feel they can to TOPOS. I’m asking for pocket change, the money you were going to buy for coffee today, the money you were going to spend on lunch or dinner that you could have made yourself, and donate what you can to them.
I only have $4 in my pocket, and I am not expecting anymore anytime soon. I’m donating that to them. It may not be much, but it is what I can do right now.
Now, there is a reason why I made that last statement. I’m currently in preproduction for a YouTube channel. I am a creator. I always have been and probably always will be. I have talked in the past about how I have created superheroes or comic book ideas or stories. Heck, I’ve even thought of a few products that no one else has come up with (as far as I know).
I’ve always had a passion for photography and cinematography. Thus the reason I am creating a YouTube channel. I want to entertain and educate people. I have thought about having videos covering topics such as comics and movies, personal timed challenges that I would set myself (kind of like goal oriented challenges), and also talk about mental health. Almost like bringing I Fart Online, Dazzling Comics and the Saturday World brand to life. I want this to be a new and exciting step for me, and I want to get the most out of it.
The problem is YouTube has new policies. I haven’t read too far into it, but it seems like a lot of the creators that I have been following for a while suddenly are having commercials pop up in the middle of their segment. I was watching one of Pink’s music videos (shut up, she’s a great artist!), and in the middle of the video, a commercial appeared! Right in the middle of the song! I was shocked! I can’t believe what has become of our social networks and our society.
I don’t want to monetize myself on YouTube. YouTube was set up as a community of creators and has now become a “cash cow” like everything else. What I would much rather do is if I am to monetize my channel, first, I will pay bills, and then I will split the money between the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and TOPOS.
So, please, donate to either one of the two foundations that I have mentioned, and once my channel becomes active, I will have a page setup, instead of using my personal Facebook account for things such as this.
Please click any of the links in this blog entry to donate to either one of these groups, and I will inform you and the rest of the world when my channel goes live.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart to the bottom of this post.