Tuesday, January 20, 2004

What’s going on today?
Well, I am putting together the home page for this group. Maybe tomorrow it will be up and all of this will be tied together into a nice tight little package. And for this spot, I have an essay about what it feels like right now.
But if I may, I would like to take a moment and thank the people who made this space available to me. I think that this is a great thing. I have so little money right now that I think to have something like this available to me, is nothing short of a blessing. I am very thankful for the opportunity to be able to speak about what happened to me. Thank you, blog spot.
So, as the Home Page is not as of yet ready, here is an index for the whole BEING HAD blog group.

To view the text of the book Being Had, press “HERE
To view the text of the appeal, press “HERE
To view the text of the court’s justification for its decision, press “HERE
To view the text of the play “Ownership”, press “HERE
To view the English language text of Pod Kablukom, press “HERE
To view the Russian/Belarusian version, press “HERE
E-mail me at beinghad@yahoo.com

And now for today’s musings.

“How you feelin’?”
I am a little tired today. I went out to Parahunts yesterday. If you are familiar with the book, I had another episode in that town after my bike fell out of a train. Had another fiasco yesterday that cost me a train ride back and I ended up riding the 20 miles or so on my bike. It has been kind of warm lately, only just about freezing, so it wasn’t so bad. And I think I needed the exercise. But because I haven’t been riding that much, I am a little stiff and sore today. I always forget why I fell in love with bikes the first time when I don’t ride very much.
And speaking about what things feel like, I have been thinking a lot about what it feels like to have Poland back in my life again. I don’t know if I have said very much about this specifically. I guess the whole book is about this, really. But I think the best way to say this, is that it is like… it is like having a small illness. Like a nervous stomach. No, maybe it would be better said to say that is like a weakness in the stomach.
They say about guests that they are like fish: Should they stay too long, they begin to smell bad. There were so many emotions I had to go through. So many thousands of hours spent thinking and rethinking the situation. And all the time I was made to sit there and pay for all of this pain, they, the prosecutor, the lawyers, the courts- they never so much as spoke to me. And it was all such an obvious, stupid, stupid, stupid game that they were playing. IT IS AND WAS OBVIOUS THAT ZAREMBA WAS LYING. And yet, they simply went on, feeling as though they might find one tiny shred of credibility for their game.
And what I really think is that they loved this, you see. They all really loved this little game of torture. There was no justice in what they did. No idealism. They weren’t helping anybody anywhere. There wasn’t even anything to gain. They were just making me sit there, day after day after day- like some group of corrupt royalty laughing at the cries coming from their dungeons.
And I lived this, you see? Every minute of every day, every conversation, every eye contact and every word spoken. It was all torture. I had people waiting for me. I had people who had trusted that what I said was the truth. I had built over a log time a personal identity based on honesty. I decided a long time ago that my integrity was worth more to me than fleeting pennies. And I have paid for this, but I have benefited also. We say in cycling that the energy you spend climbing the hill is never recouped fully by the ride back down. It is something you simply must understand to be a biker that you give more than you get back. But if you can be happy with what you get back, then the rides are worth it.
The rides were always worth it to me.
But if this is who I was, there is some value in my time, and my energy and my work. And, like I said, I took pride in this.
I did not want to be in Poland, and they thought that these words meant nothing.
I told them that Zaremba was lying. This meant nothing to them.
I showed them that he was lying. This meant nothing to them.
I told them that I had people waiting for me, and that I was important to them, and that it was important to my life to do what I said I was going to do there, with them. And they only laughed at this.
They were all lying you see. All of them. Honesty, or beter, the sound of an honest word, aparently just simply didn’t register with them. Can you understand this? The truth was not of their vocabulary. I told the what was going on, and they laughed at my wanting to support the woman I was with. They laughed at my wanted to make my business with my bike friends in Belarus. They laughed that I would be, and still am, so interested in telling the truth rather than simply throw away my integrity and pay them off. They laughed. It was foolish to them. The truth comes from some other place I suppose because it certainly does not exist in Poland. It has no place in their culture. And I think in some perverse way, they wanted me to know this simply so as to make my forced stay there even harder. And everybody there wanted me to know this…
Well, I am damned sorry, but I disagreed with them, told them the truth, proved it to them, and the then told them what they could do with their little mafia. I would not change for them because I was right, and they were wrong. And, I wrote a book about it.
How much is my name worth? Well, I once turned down a $10,000 check from a company I worked for in New York, simply because I had not earned the money. There was a mistake in the book keeping. And you know, the company was going under(in part I am sure to book keeping like this), and everybody was stealing- But I didn’t take the money. A lot of people did. A LOT OF PEOPLE DID. But I didn’t. What was the benefit? Not much. I only got to keep my good name is all. Only this.
The people who held me, obviously do not understand what this means. I think that they all simply sit around waiting for a chance to take the money. I don't think they think about anything else, to be frank. I don’t think they gave the slightest bat of an eye about how many years worked on my reputation. Or how many hours I put into my bikes or the plays I was writing. They just wanted some easy money from an American.
So, what was it like to be there? They made me sick to my stomach there.
Before Poland, I was riding 20 to 25 miles a day, either with the kids form the bike school or on my own. Everybody here knew me as a biker, an advocate of healthy living- as an honest and idealistic man. They wrote letters for me for the courts and for Wiesniakowski saying all of this, but they only laughed at these too. Imagine the comedy of having people actually vouch for you…
It was all so very sick. I was made to be sick there, you see. I was made to sit there while they stared at me like vultures, while they did the same to Tatyana and the kids who ride those damned 25-year-old bikes at the bike school. They just sat that and admired the pain they were causing.
What I feel to have them back in my life, to have them be able to touch me? I feel sick again.
I went to Poland for no other reason than the rules as I knew them at the time dictated that I must leave Belarus in order to obtain a visa to return. There was no other reason for me to be in Poland. And my return ticket for the train that night was in my pocket. And that day, the day I was to leave, Zaremba ran me down with his car, told the cops that he wanted me to be responsible for all of the previous damages to that car, for his teeth, and for anything else he could possibly think of. He tried to kill me, and then he tried to steal from me. And the powers that be thought, collectively, that this was simply nothing more then good, solid, normal business.
That folks, is why I wrote the book. That is what I want many, many, many people to know about this. That is what Being Had was about.
How does it feel? I have not the strength to produce a scream loud enough to describe it.
I want compensation for what they did. I want, like $5,000,000 for what they did to us. I want those kids on real bikes. I want my fiancée to know that she did not mask a mistake in supporting me, and I want all of the people who have also supported me in this to get paid as well. And most of all, I want them to know that they may not treat people in this way any longer.
Judge Zurawska was right: There are rules under which a community of civilized people must live. I want that idea to be more than a little chuck of irony to be picked from their teeth, I want them to feel it. Are you feeling ME?
My thinking has been that making all of this public will do nothing but help. And it is not like I am not being fair about it. I am right out there in the open air naked here too, aren’t I? Just like every biker is when they go out on the road.
It feels good to get some air. To breath a little. Like a free man. Like a free man with a clear conscience. Now that feels really good. Try it some time. I had almost forgotten again.