what do these things have in common?

The business world uses coffee to get them through their day. They are more productive, focused, and willing to endure whatever tedium it takes to get the job done.

Many people take vitamins to normalize their body and mind. It provides all the chemicals the system needs to operate at peak performance.

Women (and I'm sorry to generalize women's love of chocolate here; men love it too, there just seems to be a more pronounced obsession with it in women) devour chocolate like it's heavenly manna, going so far as to compare it to sex.

The lover of spicy food is not a masochist. They derive pleasure from the consumption of sumptuous curry, or salivate at the site of a dripping habañero.

Alcohol provides a more social mindset, an ease of character that allows a gathering to gel. It is the oil that greases the gears of group interaction. It can also ease the commitment involved in doing the next drug I'm to talk about.

Sex is by far the healthiest thing you can use to stimulate your body. But wait! you say. Sex is not taken from an external source. Oh, but it is. You may not swallow it (ok people, let the thought pass snicker, snicker) but you do take it in as an external source, and it completely changes the chemical makeup of your brain.

answer : they are all "drugs"

D.A.R.E.
Don't Allow Recreational Education

Ohmigod! You mean that all those illegal drugs are comparable to gnawing on a thanksgiving drumsticks? Not exactly. Your body functions on the interaction of millions of chemicals that are all in a constant state of flux. Every minutia that you experience in a day alters these chemical patterns in some way. Why are some of these influences illegal while others aren't?

The obvious answer is that the illegal ones must be more dangerous and destructive, therefore they are banned. But also consider the easiest flipside to counter that argument. What are the number of fatalities resulting from marijuana? A million, a thousand, or maybe just 23. Nope; none. I wish I could quote the figure for you of the number of deaths, incidences of violence, rape, and spousal abuse that result from alcohol, but I think we're all aware of the problem.

Before I go down that lengthy road of why some are illegal and why some aren't, let me get back on track. The point is, your body is a drug producing, crafting and catalytic repository for more drugs than you and I have ever even heard of. Some people take the time to try and understand this complex chemisty and seek to alter and influence it in positive ways. Others seek escape and tend to overload the system by jamming as much on the factory line as possible. The body will shut down.

The conclusion is this. There are no 'bad' or 'good' drugs, and just like the rest of the world, the body and all the divine wonders that it exudes cannot be devolved to black and white. Enjoy the rainbow that is your own little personal world with a healthy dose of respect, and realize that each one of us is walking around with our own little spark of the divine.

N A M A S T E

At 2:30 a.m. this morning I finally shaved off two weeks of beard, shaggy and graying. It was only appropriate as it served as my vacation badge. Sadly but gloriously, the music from the show still on fire in my head and my body scrubbed clean of the sheen of dance sweat and pot smoke, my whiskers silently swirled adieu to my days of sun and leisure.

I am more deeply tanned than I've been since I was eleven with only a thin strip of pale to spoil the absence of tanlines. Alas, I have not made it to the nude beach as I had planned. That trip became a victim of squirrelly scheduling and pesky responsibilities. Oh well. Here it is summer until almost Halloween so I still have a chance to fix that cottontail problem.

The Lovejoyman family made it to the (clothed) beach once for an afternoon of sandcastle building, brother-and-cousin burying and bodyboarding, which the older boys tackled with giggling ferocity. RunningHammer stayed within splashing distance of the water with the ever-radiant Supervixen, filling up his small bucket with sand and water and dumping it on her knees. We left in time for the afternoon thunderstorms to do their thing. Once home, everyone except the Hammer (who had fallen in to a gaping cavern of nap, only ropes and winches would retrieve him so we decided to let him be) cannonballed in to the pool instead of showering. Pizza was delivered. Movies were watched. Sleep guerrilla-attacked. Small boys smelling of sun and water and sunblock were picked up and carried to bed.

Except for minor itinerary changes, that's how my days went: wake up early (4 or 5 a.m.), run, yoga, skinny-dipping, read paper while drnking coffee, get RunningHammer from crib ("Daddy hey DaaaadddYYYYYYY!!!"), breakfast with him, gently kiss everyone as they stumble to the kitchen, then go outside (to mow, tend orchids, clean pool, garden, swim, play with my guys) until the storms rolled in at which point I'd come inside (to nap, read a little, code, read stories to RunningHammer), rustle up some chow and then drive the herd to bed.

All the time my beard got scragglier and scragglier.

Then yesterday I pulled on a recently-made tie-dye and made the uneventful drive to Tampa to see The Dead and Bob Dylan and reconnect with thousands of my friends in spirit. I figured it would be a fine capper to a fun run of days. This would be my first concert of any sort since following the Grateful Dead around in the early '90s, selling tie-dyes from show to show.

A few pockets of primeval Deadhead culture survived in the parkinglots surrounding the arena, and I felt reassured. Like a world without whales or butterflies or ice cream or pot, I would not want to live in a world without swirling communities of hippies.

The Dead
7/30/03
St. Pete Times Forum, Tampa, FL

Set I:
Help on the Way --> Slipknot! --> Franklin's Tower teaser --> Blackbird (acoustic Bobby > Friend of the Devil (acoustic w/Dylan on keyboards and vocals), Gotta Serve Somebody (w/Dylan on keyboards and vocals), Like a Rolling Stone (w/Dylan on keyboards), Milestones --> Why Don't We Do It in the Road --> Night of 1000 Stars ( Joanie vocals) --> Jam --> Lost Sailor --> Tennessee Jed --> Saint of Circumstance

Whew!! Incredibly jammy, joyous music. I wanted to replicate myself so I could dance more. And no, blessed noders, I was not tripping. I tend to fall less that way as I'm trying to twirl my bones from my body.

Robert Hunter did a few songs on a reverbing guitar during the set break. I decided to get some air at that time, but came back in time to join the Ripple sing-a-long.

Set II:
Jam --> Jack Straw --> Jam --> Mountains of the Moon , Only the Strange Remain ( Mickey vocal) --> Caution (Joanie vocal) --> Drums (w/Mickey in a long lab coat playing the Beam) --> Space --> So Many Roads --> Slipknot! --> Franklin's Tower ( Phil and Joanie vocals).

Completely sick, twisted, beautiful, crystalline jams dominated this set, diamond ropes woven to form a sonic eagle each one of us gladly hopped aboard. To end it with Franklin simply turned the show in to a moebius strip of sound.

Encore:
Phil came out. "So you guys were having fun too, huh?" Then he urged everyone to become an organ donor and a blood donor, admittedly inspired by his own liver transplant in Florida a few years ago. After his low-key PSA and vowing that they will return next year, they launched in to Johnny B. Goode.

The early morning air did nothing to cool me off. Seventy miles an hour with the windows down and tapes blasting barely kept me awake until my driveway. I grabbed a cookie in the kitchen and washed it down with shower water. I buzzed with completeness both from the show and the lazy grace of the past almost-two weeks.

Maybe because I was so tired, I don't know, but letting the water roll over me I wasn't that unhappy to shave. I'd just heard nearly four hours of my favorite music, my family slept soundly and sun and water and movement had licked my body to a hard teak glow. No reason to feel glum about ending a temporary freedom.

Besides, these whiskers grow back pretty easily.

Some friends recovered several old Macintosh computers that our school was throwing away. I had a working 640x480 monitor from my semi-functional Centris 610, so I took one of the desktop CPUs (a Performa 475) and hooked it up. To my dismay, it didn't work-- but it was easily fixed by replacing the motherboard battery. The computer worked flawlessly and had most of its original contents on the whopping big 545 megabyte hard drive:

- Where in the USA is Carmen Sandiego
- Mario Teaches Typing*
- Super Munchers— like Number Munchers except with a multitude of great topics such as music, animals, and geography!
- The original Math Blaster
- Myst— However, there is no Myst CD to speak of, and the computer doesn't even have a CD-ROM drive.
- A mysterious app called The Animals!. I don't know what it is and I can't play it because there is no CD.
- Spectre Challenger— a vector tank game that plays like Battlezone except faster
- ClarisWorks 2.0— unfortunately, there were no interesting saved files
- The American Heritage Dictionary, with a word list that doesn't even match my small red Merriam-Webster
- Quicken 4— hey, I thought this was a school computer!
- A HyperCard reader, but no editor
- Connectix Ram Doubler
- Mouse Practice— the ultimate newbie initiation.

*I had never heard of Mario Teaches Typing until I found it on this Mac. It is similar to any typing software-- you are given various things to type, being judged in accuracy and wpm. With each completed sentence, Mario moves one position forward through a level. This doesn't make the game any more fun, but it's kind of interesting to see Mario's graphics adapted to a set of still images.

This computer is a flashback to 1995. I remember using almost all of this software back in the day. Most of it has aged well, except for Spectre which is really no fun at all on the ADB keyboard (you know, the one with the arrow keys in a row). The edutainment software isn't much different from today's. System 7.1 is simple, compact, stable, and easy on the eyes. This computer never crashes, and you can't say that about the expensive Dell I'm using now. It may not be ill shit like my Macintosh 512k, but it can communicate with today's computers, and it's pizza box design is nearly as elegant as the Classic Macintosh. It's surprising what one can do with 307200 pixels.

I move tomorrow.

I once had a dream so I packed up and split for the city

In a way, it's hard to believe. It hasn't sunken in, and probably won't until sometime on Sunday or Monday. It'll mark the fifth time (not including back and forth every summer of college) I've moved since I was ten. Now, granted, I moved all over southeastern Pennsylvania. Still, it's moving, it's packing up everything you own, deciding what you need and what you don't, what's worth hauling around and what isn't.

And the older I get, sadly, I think the more sentimental I get. The less I want to leave things behind. The more I inject emotion and memories into material things. It's not the thing itself which is important--it's what they're associated with.

Yes it's sad to say you will romanticize
All the things you've known before
It was not not not so great

I'm moving into the neighborhood I left when I was ten. I don't know any of my childhood friends; we wouldn't recognize each other, and we probably don't have anything in common. So why am I moving back? Why there? Aside from the fact that it's actually a pretty nice neighborhood now, nicer than when I was growing up there. Aside from the fact that it's near work, and right by a free shuttle. Aside from the fact that my friend Kate lives in that neighborhood now (a coincidence). Why am I moving there?

—-Look homeward, Angel, now, and melt with ruth

You can't go home again. I know that. I don't even necessarily want to. My childhood wasn't fun. So why go back? I think, in an odd way, I'm running away from the past fourteen years of my life, running someplace I know where no one knows me.

It'll be the first time I'm really living on my own. No parents, no dorms, no roommates, no housemates. Just me. In a one room apartment. In the city. Like a grown up. I'm twenty-four years old, still afraid of being an adult, still living with the fears of a ten year old. I'm afraid I can't do it. I'm afraid of being old. I'm afraid of being what I hate. I'm afraid.

I'm afraid.


I'd like it here if I could leave and see you from a long way away.

For years, I wanted to come back to Philly. I thought, "there, I'll be comfortable." In the city, you can melt. Of course, Philly is also very much like a small town, and you do end up knowing a lot of people. It's rare that I'll be wandering around town and someone I know won't be walking down the street and see me. So really, there is no escape. It's just another community.

But it's something. Small comfort. I can live a lifestyle I want, and no one can come down on me for it. I wanna drink? No roommate's gonna accuse me of alcoholism because I want a beer when I get off work. I wanna have sex? No parents are going to walk in on me with my boyfriend. I can stay out all night, and no one will be waiting up for me.

So why am I so scared?

C'mon, you know the words.

I spent today visiting my best friend in a psychiatric ward. I had assumed, having not seen her for nearly a week and finding her house to be empty, that she was taking a much-needed holiday with her kids. It was only by a chance encounter with a mutual friend that I found out all was not well.

11pm yesterday, and I was shopping for booze at the convenience store. "Andy!" - it was Di. She asked if I'd heard what had happened to Claire. I knew it wasn't going to be good. Claire was in hospital after suffering "some kind of breakdown", was all Di knew.

In the year that I've known her, I have grown to be very attached to Claire. We have very few secrets, we're on each other's wavelength, we just click. At various times, we've each felt a good deal of affection for one other, but we both know it'll probably always be a platonic relationship.

Suddenly all the emotional investment, everything about Claire that I know and love, is at risk.

I find her on the ward. Her connection with reality appears seriously damaged. She recognises me, but is barely able to sustain conversation. As we talk, her mind is leaping as topics barge in to her speech with no respect for coherent discourse. We hug, and then she carefully counts out five two-penny pieces and gives them to me, "in case the tooth fairy comes." I fight tears to present myself as the strong friend she can rely on.

She's suffered a psychotic episode. Her memory of recent days is severely fragmented, and we may never fully understand what happened.

I want my Claire back, the smart, funny, warm soul I counted on so often, not the empty shell occupying the space where she used to be. I am powerless but to hope that the doctors know what they're doing. The ground of my life has suffered an earthquake.

Falling in love with someone who has more mental health issues than you is going to hurt, sometime.

Coming back from a meeting, I stopped outside Euston Station to get myself an espresso for the journey. For non-Londoners, Euston is one of the few major stations in London where you can sit outside.

Going towards the cafe, I noticed a plywood board resting on a luggage trolley. A large comment, written in pen at the top: I'm smoking for God. The rest of the board had things stuck to it, collages, even a cigarette melted in wax attached to it. I was intrigued.

I wanted to see what was on the other side. Poking my head around, I noticed the owner; a not-unattractive girl who said:

"What ya doing?"

"Just wanted a look"

"Only if you give me a cigarette". I don't smoke, and said as much. "Bye, then", I said.

Her desire to show off her work was too strong, though. Thought it would be. "Come on", she said, indicating the place on the bench next to her. I sat down.

"Are you happy?" she asked me. An odd opening question. I had to think for a second, but I answered "Yes". My tone of voice was distant, and she noticed.

She took me through the piece, explaining each symbol. This is for Trainspotting, this in memory of a friend, this insulting a teacher. She asked my name about 20 minutes before I asked hers.

She was literally penniless; waiting for a lift, without enough cash to buy food or make a phonecall. I bought her a coffee; she bummed a fag off a passer-by. We carried on talking. She was seventeen, about to enter her final year of school. She had an opinion on everything. Robbie Williams, international politics, drug use, classism. And they were all so strongly held.

She seemed fascinated by how laid back I was, which is odd; I've always thought as myself as anything but laid back. She'd excitedly ask me a question. "I suppose", I'd answer, or "sort of".

From time to time, a parent would phone her, and she'd argue loudly, oblivious to me while I withdrew Foucault's Pendulum from my bag and read. Then, the call over, all her attention would be back on me again. She showed me her writing. and the prose wasn't bad; terribly spelled, but beautiful ideas. Some of it would fit in fine here.

"You shouldn't be so angry, so worked up", I said.

"That's easy to say, I bet you never get worked up."

Actually I used to get pretty worked up myself, but then I..."

"Grew up?" she completed the sentence for me, but it wasn't what I was going to say.

"I stopped." She seemed genuinely impressed.

"You stopped.", she echoed back, with a look of wonder.

Her friend arrived, and her plans to drag me to a pub evaporated. I took my leave, after she aked for my phone number.

Standing on the Tube, I got to thinking again. Looking at the tired, weary faces of the people around me, I began to remember that I am actually happy. The Tube is dirty, tainted, and sometimes it seems that everyone on it has caught the taint, the grime, the Underground depression. It shows in the eyes. But looking closer, the odd person shines out among the grime and I realised that it's not the London Underground depressing people but the other way round.

For a few weeks now, I'd forgotten that I was happy, and this chance one-hour meeting with a stranger reminded me about inner peace, which goes away if you forget you have it. I went home smiling, humming, and I still am.



At 11pm, she called me and asked to stay the night. I made some excuses. I suppose I'm a nicer guy than I realised.

Gorgonzola does America* in a Month

Day 1: Baltimore to South Bass Island

Day 1 is rather boring, and so I better introduce you to the whole concept.

I hadn't had a vacation in quite some time, and I needed a particularly long one. Sort of like right now. I decided to fulfill a dream by driving across the country and back.

I had no idea how ambitious my plan was: 9600 miles in 27 days, taking me across the country to the Pacific Northwest, down into Southern California and back home, with innumerable stops in between.

At any rate, I tried to pack too much into too little time. I frequently ran into situations where I had to zip through something and not experience it properly, be too late for something. If you read all of this, you will repeatedly feel the need to throttle me, saying "You were there and didn't do that?"

I will never attempt something on this scale again, but in the end, of course, it was all worth it. This trip will have a permanent place in my memory.

Tools:

  • A 1994 Ford Thunderbird (since sold), which would be the ideal car to take on a trip like this, except it lacks carrying capacity. The car already had 89000 miles on it, and taking it across country was a little scary, but I balanced this against the sheer idiocy of taking a brand new car across the country and back.
  • Some electronic doohickeys, such as a digital camera and a laptop to download pictures onto. I'd had some vague notion of noding during my trip but it didn't work out that way.
  • Office Depot boxes to keep clothes, books, and maps in. These fit nicely in the trunk and on the back seat.

July 31st got off to a bad start: I spent too much time packing the previous night, and woke up at 8:00 AM, 2 hours after I'd intended. I wasn't on the road until 10:00 and had a 4:30 ferry to catch. And so I gave up going through Western Maryland to see Fort Necessity as my first "fun" stop. I stuck to Interstate 70 and the Pennsylvania and Ohio Turnpikes. However, I will always regret not stopping in Vermillion and mailing my cousin a postcard from her birthplace.

Most people don't put the concepts of "Island" and "Ohio" together. But the state is bordered on the north by Lake Erie, and just north of Sandusky (of Tommy Boy fame) is a string of islands separating the western bit of the lake from the Eastern bit. South Bass Island is the one closest to the mainland.

South Bass Island is probably best known for Put-In-Bay, the little tourist town at the east end of the island. It's a worn touristy feel by day, with a bustling nightlife: raucous barhopping for people from Detroit, Cleveland, and Toledo. A few might remember the Lonz Winery disaster from 2000. The Perry Memorial, bigger than Nelson's Column in Trafalgar Square, might register on the partiers' radar screens. But me? I'm always up for a boat ride.

I reached the Catawba ferry dock with a half hour to spare. Since I was only spending one night on the island, I'd already decided to park the car in the ferry parking lot and get a passenger ticket. This seemed a good idea, until I actually got out of the car with an overnight bag and noticed the shattered window glass lying in the gravel. Too late to change my mind.

The ferry ride was uneventful, except that it was weird to be out of sight of land in Ohio. There were shuttle buses to Put-In-Bay to meet the ferry. I stayed at a 70's style mom-and-pop motel just west of town. This was demolished the following fall to make way for an upscale megahotel. A pity; I found it peaceful.

*Plus a tiny jaunt into Northern Parts

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