The sun rises in the East
like every other day,
while friends and loved ones
sleep far away.

You stir and grumble,
stretch and yawn.
Twenty two years today
since you were born
.

You miss her fiercely,
but do not smart:
she's always with you,
locked in your heart.

And though you cannot
scent a beer,
we'll have one for you
and toast your year.

While you're in the desert,
embrace your fate:
Drink more coffee,
CELEBRATE!


Ches xxxx









WonkoDSane says "HAPPY BERFDAY MISTAH BEEZ" from me and Julia wants to say "CARSON MONKEY IT'S FOR BIRTHDAY! W00!"

Quizro says "Happy birthday, Byz! May you receive rubber bands aplenty."

Byzantine, you've taught me everything I know about the Gallic Wars and I'm forever in your debt...I think. Happy Birthday, kemosabe, Halspal.

bindlenix says Happy Birthday! Step back and enjoy...

Best wishes for a happy and memorable birthday Byz! jarbabyj

Carson: Happy 51st Birthday! The hookers are in the mail. xoxoxo -- chigrub

etouffee says Byz..have a great day. Make it 90% lyrical and 10% logical...

Chiisuta says On your birthday, remember: the over is for the muffins! (don't mind me, and HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!)

mblase says tell him mblase says to Have a happy one, and don't do anything a free-wheeling dark overlord overstimulated on caffeine and marijuana cigarettes wouldn't do.

uncleozzy says ROCK ON and THANK YOU and WE LOVE HIM

Say 'allo to Byz, tell him I hope his sunburn isn't too bad, and sign me as 'Sheik YerBouti' :)

insanefuzzie says Happy Birthday, Byzantine! Sorry you're not anywhere where we can grab you and throw you a birthday party, but I hope you have a happy day anyway.

TheBooBooKitty says Happy birthday! Did you like her? The woman in the red dress? I coded her just for you.

Mister Biz, may no man or woman ever kick you in the balls. -don

Byzantine, O, Byzantine,
How doth your shining tail,
Prevent descent to yonder event,
And still deliver the mail?
(This has been "Surreal Birthday Minute" by Siouxsie. Happy Day!)

siouxsie says Oh! And please also tell Byz for me:

Hippo Birdies Two Ewes,
Hippo birdies two eeeewes,
Hippooooo birdeeeees two ewwwwwwwes,
Hippo birdes two ewes!

Footprints says tell him Happy Birthday. Ain't no Byz like you, Byz. (Yes it's lame, so sue me)

station23 says Happy Birthday! And hope you're snuggling up in the nodegel again soon!

wonko says Byz - I hope you eat lots of pie and lesbians!

CARSON STOP THE MONKEYS HAVE ESCAPED STOP PLEASE SEND MORE BANANAS STOP PS HAPPY BIRTHDAY STOP WE LOVE YOU STOP XOXO GRACIE STOP END TRANSMISSION

To Byzantine: I love birthdays and yay for you having one! I hope yours is special and fun. ♥ Factgirl

Hippo birdie, two ewes! Hugs from wertperch

wertperch says Eee, thanks. I noticed that Siouxsie beat me to the line though :-/

Oolong says Er... I'd send a witty birthday greeting, but I'm fresh out.

carson. may this half-bottle of sour mash reach you right proper. happy birthday. aphexious

RalphyK says I have never met or spoken to Byzantine, but I heartily endorse this event or product

Happy Birthday! Have a weekend long celebration. rischi

ueni says someone should have said "hippo birdies, deer bees; hippo birdies two ewes", I think.

To the Orthodox saint born on the Feast of St. Benedict! Keep that theology coming! SEF

Close your eyes, make a wish, and blow...believe strong enough. your wish will come true. *smiles* Happy Birthday! Chras4

hamster bong says as for mister byz, he will always be stars and beautiful things to me (he should know this). i saw some naked mole rats yesterday.. very cute, very newborn. it reminded me of byz's birthday because he looks like a naked mole rat. all kidding aside, i'd love him to know i am thinking of him and that i am very glad he was born. :)

Ouroboros says Happy Birthday Byzantine!

Happy birthday! And the next thousand birthdays, too! -- liveforever

Ooh.. One million cheers and a few great balls of fire from me :)

Heya Carson! We're still thinking of you over here. Thanks for giving part of your life to protect part of ours. You're a true friend and a wonderful person, my good man. I hope to see you again soon! Happy Birthday -- dann

he repeated the word again. you would think he's sick and tired of it already having spent an entire month repeating the same word again and again. while driving, dining, before hitting the bed, before waking up, (oh yes! in his sleep even). 'when?'.

are the butterflies still there? singing? i know they don't sing silly, i'm making a joke, ha ha, get it? no? forget about it, it wasn't funny anyway.

laden with the fallen leaves in fall, and shadows of leaves in summer. the gray, old sidewalk? my footsteps on it in sepia light of the evening sun. it was wet with the november rain, there was earthy smell in the air, mixed with smell of evening tea coming from some kichen windows, and other assorted smells of fall. there were red colored fallen leaves. yellow too yellow too yellow too. yes, a yellow one too.

rains always make him recall the peacocks. they lived for a few months in a rented house when he was some 2 year old. there was a large open ground behind it. there were peacocks there in the evenings. they sang and danced sometimes. he shouldn't even remember but there was this old lady next door, every other time she'll come across in the market or someplace else and call him 'more-bachchaa', 'peacock-child'. why 'peacock-child'? there were peacocks, you liked them, you clapped your hands you were so happy. there were peacocks?

they are still there. they fly and sing and dance. yes true honest true really. they dance to bring the rain.

'come back home amelie, the mornings don't start, the birds don't sing without you. your absence haunts me'. scribbly writing, moist words, handmade paper. third-world handwriting. he folds it and adds to the stack of other unsent letters. not yet. not yet. 'when'? not yet.

and the "remember me"s keep echoing. such a simple request, so full of sorrow ... (isn't it? isn't it full of sorrow? it is right?) like a tiny check box on login pages we choose them on people. "remember me". he wants to be remembered too. he wants you to notice when he's not around. he wants you to wonder what happened to him. worry it's something bad, hope it's not ...

do they miss me? the pigeons?

what pigeons? you mean peacocks. of course they do. how can someone not miss you?

no no, pigeons! thepigeonsthepigeonsthepigeons. do the pigeons miss me? and fireflies?

not yet.

'when'?

just not yet.

April 1997 - May 1998

November 1999 - July 2002



These are the periods of my life I spent with her. Today it ended. Again. I think we both sensed it - that it was near - yet I feel so hurt all over again.

I remember what it was like before, and I know I won't get that bad again ... but I do need time. Unfortunately, everything else feels like it's going wrong too.

I know it had to end, but I still miss her. All I can do is wake up tomorrow.

Goodnight.

I could be most horribly screwed.

They have a house payment coming up, I meanwhile have nothing, except for 2 months of rent, including my asshole housemate's half (the fucker split on me while I was on vacation) and not to mention 2 months of bills. I still have no money.

I was looking forward to today, expecting to recieve the fat check I assumed was coming to me. My parents recieved a letter from Merril Lynch yesterday, what else could it be? It had to be a check, I needed a check, not any check, but THAT check. It would take away the money I owed the bank, my scumlords, my shitty cable ISP and any other debt that was owed to me, it would all be wiped away in one series of check writing. However this was not to be.

In yet another fucked up series of circumstances, I have been assholed yet again. I have not grown a liking to large blunt objects shoved into my rectum, and has since become greatly annoying. I didn't recieve a check, instead I recieved four pieces of paper that could have basically said, "Fuck You", "You're screwed", "Start Praying" and "HA HA" (how Nelson from The Simpsons does it). I believe that I have been fucked. It would be nice if they mentioned that this check would be coming later and that a "certification" signifying that this shit went down all proper like would come first. I expected the check to come at the same time the last one did, not 4 days later.

Did I mention that my scumlords threatened to evict me if I didn't pay by Friday?

I have no idea where I'd go, I think I'd fill my car up and drive to my girl's with all the important stuff (my computer, some clothes, and, of course, the vibrator) and then take everything else back to my house. The only problem becomes, what do I do with all my fraternity's and everyone else's stuff that is here? Store it with the absolutely 0 money that I have? This would also effectively ruin my noding streak that I've had going recently, as my computer only has a NIC, and no modem.

I don't think I've ever felt this hopeless and broken, I just hope my scumlords decide to be nice...

Free Slurpee day at 7-Eleven. Though I understand perfectly from a business standpoint, I feel that the free Slurpee cups should have been bigger than 7.11 ounces. I downed that small amount half-way back to work walking from the store. The other thing that was crossing my mind was my girlfriend in Georgia. Her birthday is in a couple weeks, and I ordered flowers to be sent to her. I've been thinking that I've spent more money on a distance relationship that has lasted almost a year and we have never met up since the initial contact on ICQ last November. My previous relationships were all one-night stands with girls that didn't measure up to my expectations.

My cat decided to curl up at my feet this morning while I was still sleeping. I was nice and cozy until 6:00, when my CD alarm clock went off. Woke up, did my morning routine to get ready, and was out the door by 7:00. I wished I didn't have to go to work today, because I would have enjoyed having my cat curled up by my feet and me sound asleep, but alas, I needed to pay my bills. Sucks to be an employee.
Sometimes your heart just wants to burst, and you wish you could scream so loud that the whole world could hear you. But you can't and those that can would desert you after hearing your pain, so you invert the scream and send it louder than ever into your own personal internal abyss.

Ah what puppets we are, little marionettes, moving, jerking about by the strings of interest. Our faces wooden, animated only in scenes involving deception of others. Ah to be good, and to consider others are good, what folly! What stupid naivete, that lets the evil in this world go unchecked. Knife against knife, fire against fire, and surely we would all have our revenge, the price being that we would live in hell.

Oh the trust is leaving me now, the faith in human nature, and my talking to them, taking part in their rituals, being dragged forward into the unknown into places I don't know and under strange lights I can't fully see. I don't trust myself to remain myself there, and I don't want to change into what I don't know.

We all of us comfort our own demons. They need us more than we need them.

calm after the storm

weill in japan: day 09

Typhoon 6 hit Tokyo last night and early this morning, as the first giant rains started to fall at about 11:00 PM local time on July 10 and continued well into the early morning. When I left for the station on July 11, it was very warm and clear -- my host mother insisted that I leave my umbrella at home to dry. Temperatures approached record levels, with Tokyo registering 33.8 degrees Celsius (92.8 degrees Fahrenheit) and other cities warmer still. Humidity is still very high, making outside activity undesirable. The typhoon left a lot of downed leaves in its path, and a lot of rivers overflowed their banks to cause flood damage. Now, the typhoon makes its last land-based stop in Hokkaido.

Today on the news, Typhoon 7 was already spotted heading on a very similar path. If it hits Tokyo as well, it will likely arrive around the middle of next week.

time to get down to business

Yesterday, I carelessly left my pad holder in the computer lab. It contained my passport, my homework, and a variety of other documents. Because of this, I started down the inauspicious track of missing my first homework assignment. Since I don't expect my professors here to be nearly as tolerant of late assignments as my Japanese professors back in Pittsburgh, this trend needs to stop. Tonight is the night when I get down to business and get into my assignments.

Class is going fairly well as long as I have my coffee in the morning. Today I also picked up a muffin and a bottle of CC Lemon at the bakery near Musashi-Sakai station. CC Lemon, made by Suntory, is the only soft drink in Japan endorsed by The Simpsons.

purezento!

Speaking of CC Lemon, Suntory is one of many companies running a special "kyanpeen," or "campaign." Collecting product labels from CC Lemon will make me eligible to get a CC Lemon folding chair with pictures of Bart and Homer Simpsons on it. Being the die-hard Simpsons fan that I am, I need this chair. Something tells me that if I order it now, though, it won't arrive at my host family's house until well after I have returned to New York.

Other companies are promising "purezento" (literally "presents") as part of ongoing campaigns. My host family has a tumbler from Nescafé that they can use to make cafe latte at home. Pepsi includes special Star Wars bottlecaps with every bottle sold now, and is selling additional sets for six labels plus ¥1500 ($12.50). Alternatively, for six labels and ¥3500 ($29) you can buy a special stage to display all of the 50 or so bottle caps. Right now, we just put them on top of the TV in the kitchen.

Coca-Cola is running a few lotteries, and entries cost either 10, 20, or 30 stickers from Coca-Cola products. The more stickers you use, the better the prizes. I have eight stickers right now, including one on the 1.5-liter bottle of Coke in the fridge. A few companies have run "points" programs, such as Pepsi and Tic Tac, in the U.S., but none of them have included lotteries.

The whole purezento push is part of the summer gift-giving season in Japan, where gifts are given by a strict social regimen. If you receive a gift in Japan, often you are expected to reciprocate with a gift of at least half value. Gifts are usually food products, like the fruit baskets associated with obligatory corporate giving in the U.S., but also include alcoholic beverages. A similar gift-giving season occurs in the winter, just in time for Christmas. Even though Christians make up only about 2% of Japan's population, Christian holidays and their associated gifts are extraordinarily popular.

food takes a turn

I've been unimpressed to say the least with the food of late. One of the difficulties associated with homestays is the presence of unsavory food that may be unfamiliar and/or unappetizing to the exchange student. On a couple of occasions, I've eaten food whose ingredients are unknown to me. Most of it has been passable, but lately there has been a fair amount that has been served cold or even possibly raw. I'm not talking about raw fish here: sometimes pork or horse meat (!!) is served uncooked (not to imply that they've been served in my house). I'm already a picky eater of sorts back in America, but just the thought of some unusual Japanese foods makes my stomach turn. My host mother points out that those "unusual" foods are rarely eaten in Japan today, and was surprised that I even knew about their existence. Most children today aren't even aware that foods like shirako and bazashi exist, although my father eats natto at breakfast every day.

I have lunch every day on campus in the ICU dining hall, where the food quality varies wildly on a day-to-day business. Some of it has been good, but things like what I call "miscellaneous fish" tend to end up on my plate rather than in my stomach. What's more, the ICU dining hall food is neither good nor cheap: a typical lunch including steamed rice and a drink costs around ¥600 ($5). If possible, I may wait until after I leave campus to pick up some take-out food. There are also a few tiny noodle shops located right on the station platform, complete with vending machines outside that allow customers to order their food and pay before entering. The machines dispense claim tickets. Drinks can also be ordered from vending machines outside. I've never seen anything like these shops before.

There are also a large number of small take-out food places in the vicinity of the station for hungry businessmen; many of them deliver, too. Last week, I stood frozen in surprise after I was nearly run down by a man on a bicycle carrying a tray with two large noodle bowls on it.

Although I haven't finished a meal at home or at school yet, last night was the first night when I was visibly uncomfortable with the food served to me. Naturally, my host parents are concerned. Tonight, they prepared tempura, which I noted was my personal favorite.

Milestone: tonight was the first night when I ate everything prepared for me.

tidbits

One of these days, I'm going to walk straight into an automatic door's glass panes. The sensors are positioned so that the door won't open until the customer's nose is literally less than an inch away from the glass. This forces me to suddenly stop and wait for the door to open, as opposed to other countries' doors which allow people to keep walking at a normal pace.

George Costanza would be proud: in the bathroom stalls that I've seen here, the doors and walls go all the way to the floor for maximum privacy.

Today I discovered the wonder that is the 100-yen shop. Similar to the American 99-cent shop but smaller and less expensive, they sell a variety of small kitchen items, stationery, candy, and instant foods. I bought a couple of snacks, but couldn't resist photographing a bag of Pixy Stix-looking tubes marked "PURE SUGAR." They look very much like Pixy Stix, but they are in fact pure sugar; no artificial flavoring or coloring.

One of the snacks I bought was a 108-gram bag of ring-shaped potato snacks. When I came home, an identical bag was sitting on the table. My host mother bought it at the supermarket (for more than 100 yen, she said). This marks the second day in a row when my host mother and I unknowingly bought the same food item. Yesterday, I picked up a 1.5-liter bottle of Coke at a convenience store, only to find that my host mother had bought one at the supermarket the same day.

Japanese game shows are known for their outlandish themes and intense levels of competition. Tonight on "TV Challenge," I watched three contestants match wits to identify ice cream from around the world. The level of knowledge about Japan's thousands of ice cream brands and flavors (including eel, sea urchin egg, green tea, and countless others) was absolutely amazing. One of the ice creams in the "foreign" category was the American delicacy which is Astronaut Ice Cream. It was identified immediately.

Enough tidbits. Time for work.

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