Once again, I've discovered that I am the biggest barrier to my own happiness. I was doing very well a few weeks ago, and quite content with the world and my place in it. Then my family visited and for some reason I got all shook up about the future and Heaven and all the other things that are really, really unimportant to peace of mind. So, I came up with the idea of re-adopting the Christian faith. It worked! I made myself thoroughly unhappy for several weeks.

Look, maybe I'm damned. I could be carving out a space in Hell right now. Here's the thing, though: I know for sure that if I worry about what will happen after I die that I'll be miserable while I'm alive. If I enjoy myself while I'm alive, I might end up damned for all eternity. I think it was Pascal that came up with the idea that you might as well believe in God, because what if you're wrong? I'll offer an opposite viewpoint. You might as well enjoy your life to the fullest, because what if that's all there is?

The fortune-teller looked back at the children happily watching their video and singing along with the voice of Vincent Price, then pulled in a deep breath and released it in a series of staggered bursts.

"Jesus," said Fran. "If you want my attention, you got it."

"Have you talked to your husband since moving to the shelter?"

"What's that got to do with--?"

"Have you?"

"Once--okay, twice. The psychologist says it's good for us to call our husbands or boyfriends, let them know we're all right--if they care--and to get things off our chests. The shelter gets part of its funding from Catholic Services, so they're kind of big on aiming for reconciliation if it's possible."

"Do you think there's any chance you and Ted will get back together?"

Fran shrugged. "I don't know. Maybe. If he gets his ass into counseling and does something about his temper and his drinking, if he admits that there're emotional problems he's been carrying around and stops treating me like--okay, okay, please don't look at me like that.

"Maybe. Maybe we'll get back together."

Ariadne took Fran's hand in hers, examining it. "You still love him?"

Fran shrugged. "I suppose."

"Sounds like you wish you didn't."

"Sometimes I do wish that, but--" She pulled her hand away. "Why do you need to know?"

Ariadne pointed at the screen. "When a Conic hand has a direct intersecting of the Line and Mount of Saturn, and when that intersection is marked by stars, it has only one meaning, and it's never, never wrong: death by violence."

Deep within Fran McLachlan, at the center of her interior world where all hopes, regrets, dreams, emotions, experiences, and sensations coalesced into something beyond articulation, a crack, ever so slightly, appeared, threatening to spread and bring everything crashing down.

Very quietly, words carefully measured, heart triphammering against her chest, Fran managed to get it out: "Say it."

"Ted's going to kill Eric. I knew it the moment I held his hand."

"No! No, no, he wouldn't...wouldn't do something like...like that--"

"On purpose, no, probably not. But you know what happens when he loses his temper--"

"He doesn't think, he just--"

"--he just lashes out at what- or whomever happens to be in his path, which is you and Eric--"

"--don't know how many times I've told him that he should just stay in his room when Daddy gets that way, but he won't, he doesn't like it when Ted hits me--"

Ariadne cupped Fran's face in her hands. "Fran? Look at me. Look at--there you go. Take a deep breath, hold it, hold it, now let it out. Good. Do you trust me?"

"I don't know."

"Yes, you do."

Fran looked into the face of the woman before her, and saw there nothing but concern, kindness, and deep, abiding compassion. "Yeah, I guess I do."

"Then you believe what I'm telling you?"

"Oh, God, I don't know!"

The fortune-teller looked over her shoulder and called, "Sarah? Honey, would you come here for a minute?"

"Aw, they're just getting to the part with the clock!"

"You've seen it before. Just come here for a second, okay?"

"'Kay."

She appeared a few seconds later.

"Sarah, I'd like you to meet Eric's mother."

The little girl held out her hand. "Pleased to meet you, ma'am."

As Fran took Sarah's hand in her own, she noticed for the first time how badly burned were sections of the little girl's hand and forearm.

Then she noticed the patch of scar tissue on the left side of Sarah's neck.

Looking down, she saw small patches of scar tissue on both of the little girl's legs, and wondered how many more such scars existed underneath the dress she wore.

"Sarah," whispered Ariadne, "would you tell Eric's mom about what happened to you?"

Sarah's look was equal parts impatience, sadness, and fear. "Do I gotta?"

"If you want Eric to stay with us, you do."

Sarah's face brightened considerably at this, and when she spoke her words came out quickly, excitedly, like an adult who'd survived a horrible experience and could now recount it with humor.

"Mommy and Daddy, they got, they got killed in a car wreck when I was five, an' you know what? The judge said that I was gonna have to stay with my aunt and uncle. They were mean. They used to punish me for things I did wrong. I took a cookie one time, way before dinner an', an', an' you know what? My uncle, he put some water on the stove and he boiled it up and put my hand in there and held it in the water annit hurt real bad but he said, he said it was 'cause I was a bad girl and they didn't really want me, they only took me 'cause of the 'surance money an' when I did bad things I was gonna burn for it here so's I wouldn't burn in Hell later after I died. See my hand? That's the one he put in the water. An' my neck--you know what? My aunt did that to me 'cause--"

"That's enough, honey," said Ariadne, stroking Sarah's hair. "Go on back and finish watching your movie."

"'Kay." Sarah patted Fran on the shoulder as if consoling her. "'S'okay now. I got a new Mommy an' she loves me." She smiled at Ariadne, then leaned in toward Fran and whispered, "She's gonna take me to Disney World in July but it's a secret, 'kay?"

"Okay," whispered Fran.

"Just a second," Ariadne said, pulling Sarah close to her. She put her hand against the scar tissue on Sarah's neck and said, "That's looking better."

"Be all gone soon?"

Ariadne smiled. "Soon enough. Sorry that I interrupted your movie. Just for that, I'm buying pizza for dinner tonight."

"Pizza! Oh, boy!" And Sarah surpassed the speed of light once again to bring this most marvelous news to Eric.

As she ran past, Fran noticed that the scar tissue on Sarah's neck covered considerably less area than before.

"You did that, didn't you?"

"Did what?" asked Ariadne.

"Healed part of that burn scar."

"Little by little, it's getting done. But there's a lot of it. Her aunt and uncle weren't the most, how shall I say?--restrained Fundamentalists ever to grace the planet's surface."

Fran continued staring after Sarah. "She sounds so much younger than she looks."

"Every so often they'd break up the routine by cracking her upside the head with a cast-iron skillet. She's got some minor brain damage. We're working on that, too." Ariadne released a short, nearly-bitter laugh. "You should've seen what she was like when I first found her."

Fran looked at the fortune-teller--having now decided that the woman couldn't possibly be human--and said: "What, exactly, are you?"

Ariadne released a long, nervous breath, rubbing her eyes. "I don't know that I can give you a satisfactory answer to that, Fran."

"Try."

Ariadne bit her lower lip, sighed, then nodded her head. "Understand: Everything is bigger to a child; not only physically, but perceptually and emotionally, as well. A dollar found becomes a discovered treasure. A harsh word becomes a deafening declaration of war. A paper cut is a knife in the stomach. And a hug from a parent in times of fear becomes Perseus's shield, protecting them from Medusa's deadly power. Everything is amplified."

Fran spoke through clenched teeth. "That's got nothing to do with what I asked you."

Ariadne held up her index finger, anxiously wagging it back and forth in a silent command: Patience. "Have you ever seen the way a child cries when it gets hurt? There's an initial shock when it doesn't quite know what's happened, then it pulls in a deep, hard breath, sucking in air for all it's worth, its face almost imploding from the pain, turning red as the oxygen fills its lungs and the pressure builds. Do you know what I'm talking about?"

"Yes," replied Fran, softly.

"If you listen closely," Ariadne said, "you can hear a sound coming up from the back of the child's throat, a sound somewhere between and scratch and a squeak before it lets fly with an ear-splitting scream. You've seen it happen with Eric, of course. Every parent has experienced a moment like that--a badly scraped knee, a sprained arm, a deep cut, then the child realizes something bad has happened because there's an awful sensation clawing through their system, and when it finally releases that second, terrible scream because the pain is so big to them, it turns and looks back at you. That moment, when the child screams and looks back at you, is where I came from, it's what made me." Ariadne shrugged her shoulders as if in apology. "That's the only explanation I can give you, Fran, take it or leave it. But I assure you I am the only being who can read the warning signs. I will spend eternity trying to ease what sadness and pain I can.

"Maybe you won't ever reconcile with Ted, I can't say." Ariadne massaged the back of her neck, suddenly looking tired. "What I do know is that there are six stars on Eric's hand, one for each year that he will live, and the stars are in the Patriarchal Configuration--meaning the danger will come from Eric's father. I can't tell you for certain when, exactly, it will happen. Maybe he'll do it after you guys get back together, maybe he'll do it after your divorce when it's his turn to have Eric for the weekend--hell, who knows? He might come by Eric's school and take him, he might snatch him from your backyard when you get your own place--it's secondary to the fact that somehow he will kill Eric and you can't prevent it. But I can.

"Which is why you have to leave him with me. Take Eric with you, and he won't live to see his seventh birthday."

Fran rose from the chair, feeling light-headed as she fought back the panic. "You know, you really don't give a person a chance to catch her breath."

"There's not much time. What else can I do to convince you?"

Fran glared at her. "Jesus Christ! Do you know how much I don't want to be one of those neglectful, abusive mothers you read so much about these days, those ignorant, self-absorbed little bitches who hurt their kids, who beat them to death or torture them or drown them in cars or abandon them because they just don't want to bother with them anymore? I've seen too many women--women, hell!--girls who had children too soon and then realize they pissed away their youth so they take it out on the kids. I don't know how many stories I read in the paper or see on the news about mothers who dump their kids, or worse. I don't have a whole helluva lot going for me, but the one thing I do have, the one source of pride that no one can taint or take away from me, is that I am doing everything I can to be a good mother to my son! What kind of a person would I be to abandon him to a stranger? You ask me what can you do to convince me? I don't know, but it's going to take more than having poor Sarah tell me about how you got her away from her worthless aunt and uncle!"

Ariadne looked very sad. "Have it your way, then."

The fortune-teller closed her eyes and folded her hands on her lap. Almost at once a vein in her forehead began to throb and the cords in her neck began to strain.

Fran began to speak but then heard a sound, a very faint, very weak sound from behind her.

"--ahmeee--"

She turned around.

Eric was lying on the floor a few feet away from her, his body curled in the fetal position. He was wearing different clothes than those he had on today. He was covered in sweat. His face was redder than any human being's ever should be. He spasmed painfully.

Fran went to him, knelt down, and began to touch him.

"--ahmeee...I want my mahmeee...Mommy--"

Fran placed her hand on his forehead--

--and felt an iron hook sink into her stomach and rip its way down through her pelvis, and there was something leaking, leaking, fire leaking through her system, spreading everywhere, searing her internal organs, charring every section of tissue in its path, cramping her with pressure and agony, filling her head with smoke until it felt like her skull would explode and every move, every sigh, every breath, twitch, and swallow summoned forth new and more powerful bursts of anguish that consumed her, crippling her body and will beyond articulation, but the worst part wasn't the pain, oh, no, it was the loneliness, the helplessness and fear because no one would come when she tried to call out, when she tried to scream but managed only to whimper, when she kept crying for Mommy to come and get her take her home because Daddy was mean, Daddy was bad, Daddy had knocked her down and beat her face and then kicked her in the stomach over and over and over until she felt the leaking fire and then Daddy threw her in the corner and turned off the lights and shut the door and left her here in the darkness with only the hurt the hurt the hurt--

--Fran pulled her hand away and crumpled to the floor, only to feel Ariadne's hands pull her to her feet a few seconds later, guiding her, dazed, shaken, crying, and aching, to a chair.

"It's all right, Fran," whispered Ariadne, "there, there, shh, it's okay, take a deep breath, in, out, there you go, it's all over now, shh, there, there, I'm sorry I had to do that, I'm so sorry but you left me no other choice, there you go, deep breaths, good girl, now look over there, go on, take a look..."

Fran wiped her eyes and looked at the spot on the floor where her dying son had been lying only moments before.

Empty.

I'm not one for boasting, but I had a really terrific birth day -- one worthy of reminiscence far, far from now. My wife and I visited the provincial capital of British Columbia, Victoria. What a beautiful city. But getting there...

We left Bellingham Bay at 9:00 AM. As I sat on our moored ship waiting to disembark I rubbed the sleep from my eyes and realized this would be my first time at sea since moving to Bellingham, a little less than a year ago. Also this would be the first time I've travel south towards Canada. Though our voyage took us west more than south, Bellingham, Washington is actually farther north than Victoria, British Columbia. I love the sea; the smell of rotting fish and kelp, the salty wind blowing through my hair, the cry of gulls and yelp of seals. It is all so nostalgic. I've spent too much time in the desert of Eastern Washington and it seems I have all but forgotten my maritime youth. It was a three hour tour. No really. From Bellingham Bay into Puget Sound, through the San Juan Islands and into the Strait of Juan de Fuca before entering Canadian waters to port on Vancouver Island, in the Imperial haven of Victoria.

As usual, it was a bit overcast and threatened to rain as we steamed through Bellingham Channel pass the endless forest islands of San Juan. Comfortably planted in a molded plastic chair aft I contently gazed at all sorts of critters as we passed through their homes and feeding waters; an infinite amount of gulls, puffins and cormorants, two nested bald eagles, a few harp seals, sea otters and a sea lion; but no orcas. This was our original intention for the voyage. My wife wanted to take me on a whale watching tour. In our search, we found this cruise. Neither my wife nor I had been to Victoria. On the tour company's website they claimed whale sightings 70% of the time. On course for the Strait of Juan de Fuca I remember commenting to my wife that if we didn't see any orcas it would be fine, I was having a great time, regardless.

As we entered the strait the sky began to clear but as I looked south towards the Olympic Peninsula the clouds continued to obscuring the Olympic Mountains, my old neighborhood. Growing up, my family spent countless camping and hiking trips in these luscious mountains. Our captain pointed out an aircraft carrier in the distance steaming into Puget Sound; one of three in the area. Then, about five knots off our bow we spotted the orcas. How do you see orcas from five knots away, you ask? Up ahead in the distance we could see a grouping of a dozen or so vessels. They were the whale watching boats. Our captain piloted us to the edge of the fleet and cut the screws. We all watched as the tiny dorsal fins moved closer and closer to our craft. It was "J" Pod, one of the three orca pods in Puget Sound, consisting of 22 individuals. As they passed, it was magnificently obvious how gigantic these creatures are. It has been years since I've seen an orca and even longer since I've seen one in the wild. We were all awed by the 20 to 30 foot long dolphins as they breached simply for air or to show off for their audience. Before too long the pod passed and we continued on our cruise.

We arrived at port at noon and the sky completely cleared to blue. We briefly spoke with Canadian Customs before they turned us lose on the Victorian settlement. To say the "City of Gardens" is a tourist city is quite an understatement. Nested on the dry side of Vancouver Island, Victoria is the most southern British Columbian city. The weather is quite sunny and temperate compared to the rest of Canada. Because of this, and it's rich history and scenic atmosphere, Victoria is a world renowned tourism destination with a reputation as the most visitor-friendly city on earth.

Our stay did not allow for an abundance of sightseeing. Though our boat was scheduled to depart at 5:00 PM, we were instructed to arive at least an hour early so we could be processed by US Customs, which only left us with four hours to enjoy the city. We spent most of our time at the BC Provincial Parliament Buildings and the Crystal Gardens Conservation Centre. Walking into the Crystal Gardens was like stepping off of Vancouver Island onto Madagascar. The garden not only houses an immense amount of tropical plants, flamingos, parrots and other tropical birds, but a wide variety of lemurs, pygmy marmosets, tamarins and other small primates. Though, it is best known for its butterfly room.

We had to go through US Customs before boarding the ship home. Going through US Customs is a bitch, but what can I say, it is always like that.

I didn't think it was possible, but our return voyage was even more spectacular than in the morning. As we steamed from the Port of Victoria into the Strait of Juan de Fuca it was so clear we could see all the way back to Bellingham, or at least the snow capped pinnacle of Mount Baker looming over the Cascades. Looking south, the cloud cover still masked the Olympics, but the summit of Mount Olympus majestically pierced the hazy veil. And farther off in the distance we could actually make out Mount Rainier in its entire splendor. I've never seen Mount Rainier this far north, let alone Baker and Olympus at the same time. It was absolutely remarkable.

As we sat down to eat our salmon dinner, we ran into "J" Pod again. But this time we were all alone with them, we were the only ship. Ruffles (J-1), the only bull male in "J" Pod got near enough to impress us with his six foot tall dorsal fin. And Granny (J-2), the pod's 93-year-old matriarch, got so close we could see her beneath the water as she swam directly under our stern. Again, the pod passed and we continued our dinner and our voyage home.

My wife and I played rummy in the cabin on the way back, peering up occasionally to see Mount Baker getting closer and closer. When we arrived back in Bellingham Bay, our captain informed us of something we already suspected, that this was the best day of the season, for weather and for whales. It couldn't have been a more perfect day.


These events occurred prior to the events in my last daylog. Sorry to break the chronology.

For at least the tenth time this year (and probably more like the twentieth or more), my dad asked me to "fix his computer", at a most inopportune time. Makes me wish I had one of those assertive ThinkGeek shirts telling people I won't. Nearly ever program is generating runtime errors or fatal exception errors, and there's a metric fuckton of system and other files missing. My guess from what little I've done is that he either has a virus (or three), or one or more of his primary master HD's heads is dead or dying.

Let me backtrack. My dad has no security whatsoever on his computer. None. No firewall, no sharing limitations, nothing. He has an antivirus program installed, but it's almost three years old and I don't think he's even done the online updates. On top of that, he's installed shit like Kazaa (the regular version, not Kazaa Lite) and other programs that let spyware and adware come along for the ride. He's installed AdAware and some commercial spyware elimnators to attempt to correct it, but it's a losing battle. Moreover, although he'd never admit it, he roams pretty freely around all sorts of sleazy porn and warez sites; the kind of places that in real life would be in the dark alley behind the bar that's really a cocaine-trafficking front. Perhaps most damningly of all, he uses Internet Explorer, and an older version with known security holes at that. I've tried to explain to him that this is analagous to fucking a thousand prostitutes without using a single condom, but he doesn't listen - he just let's himself get gonnorhea and then expects me to cure him.

What irritates me more than anything else is that computers are hardly new to him. He's been using a PC since at least 1990 - back when you still had to kinda know what you were doing to use one. He was cruising around BBSes when most people thought a mouse was just an ugly little rodent that stole cheese. You'd think he would be a bit more tech-savvy.

And my mom is just infuriating through all this. She keeps gloating that "her old computer works just fine". (The computer in question is a craptacular E-Machine with a 400Mhz Celery processor.) Given her short temper, I've refrained from pointing out to her that it "works" because she doesn't fucking DO anything with it. 95% of the time, she's either on one of Yahoo!'s Java games, reading the news, or browsing around eBay. It's not even that great for web browsing; sites like Penny Arcade and MegaTokyo make the whole screen visibly refresh every time you scroll, and graphics-intensive sites like GameSpot are practically impossible.

*sigh* My parents suck with computers.

Today is a day of tremendous importance in my life.

Today is the last day of high school. Not just this year; it's the last day of my mandatory education. I'm finally graduating. Within the last five days, I have just become a legal adult, gotten a job at a movie theatre, and am leaving the school district that I have belonged to for thirteen years.

That's a pretty intense week.

However, there is one thing I would like to say as I head out the door: I never could have made it through high school without the help of my friends. I realize that may sound like a cliché, but it really is true. My friends have been the most important people in my life. Unfortunately, it is quite possible that once everybody receives their diplomas and the last notes of Pomp and Circumstance die away, I may not see some of the people I hold dear again until the 10-year reunion. As such, I would like to thank the people I will always love and remember for everything they have done.

Thank you, Jory, for leading the way. You have known me longer than any of my other friends, and I have cherished every year of that friendship. Whenever anything tough came up, if I knew that you had done it, that thought always made me feel better. For that I thank you.

Thank you, Patrick and Steve, for always being there. Without you two, I never could have made it through middle school. Both of you were in the original "gathering group," and you two played an instrumental part in making me the person I am today. Patrick, I knew the first day you moved here that I wanted to be your friend. Steve, I wanted to meet you a year before we ever actually met. You two gave me stability in a hectic time. For that, I thank you.

Thank you, David, Chris, and Zach, for brightening my life. When you three first combined with the trio of Patrick, Steve, and I, I knew that the following years would be fun. All of you can nearly always make me laugh. No matter what I have said, I know in my heart that all of you are good, loyal friends. All of you have been the best friends possible for years. Without you three, life would be boring. You always could make it interesting. For that, I thank you.

Thank you, Nathanael, for being so amazing. You are so talented in everything that you have done, and you have been the ideal that I always wanted to match. Of course, I was never diligent enough in anything to meet the bar that you set, but it never hurt to try. I feel blessed to have been in your presence so often, as a musician, as an academic, and as a friend. Your talent is an inspiration to us all. For that, I thank you.

Thank you, Teri and Ashley, for teaching me the true value of friendship. Although it wasn't until late in my high school career that I began hanging out with you two, I truly enjoyed the time we spent together. Yet it wasn't until after I made things wierd that I realized how much I missed you two. I now know not to fly too close to the sun when friendship is concerned, and I feel that I am a better person for having learned that. For that, I thank you.

Thank you, Linzie, for simply being you. Your attitude towards life was always refreshing, and your mere presence made everyday life seem less stressful. I always felt that you were a person I could talk to without fear of being judged. I only regret that we didn't become closer sooner. Your personality and spontaneity always brought a smile to my face. For that, I thank you.

Thank you, everybody I met in kindergarten and first grade, for sharing so many memories with me. We all have had the pleasure of seeing each other grow up, and I believe that creates a special bond. As high school went on, everybody forgot who came from which middle school, but we all remembered the people who had been with us from the very beginning. No matter where we go in life, we will always remember our fellow Ewing Young Pioneers. You people have grown with me, and provided wonderful memories in the process. For that, I thank you.

Thank you, everybody I met in middle school, for bringing change into my life. Although some of you didn't like me at first and I didn't like some of you, I met some really cool people here. One can't lead a sheltered life forever, and I learned some valuable lessons in middle school. You guys prepared me for high school, and in retrospect, 7th and 8th grade weren't that bad. Overall, you people changed my life for the better. For that, I thank you.

Thank you, everybody I met in high school, for completing the experience. The past four years have been some of the most fun, and that was largely because of the new friends I made. There are too many of you to list here, but I owe a huge debt to all of you who did their part to make life delightful. Without you, my life would be different. I like everything you people have done with it. For that, I thank you.

"Make new friends, but keep the old,
One is silver and the other is gold."

In my mind, you are all golden.

I love you all.

Another Uberman's Sleep Schedule Blog. (cont.)

Back

10:43 AM Wednesday June 9, 2004 - Wow. I'm really pissed. Go ahead and guess why. Yeah, that's right! Over sleeping. My 3:00 AM was fine, I set two alarms, and even had someone who was going to call me if I wasn't back online in under an hour. I didn't even need the two alarms, I got up with the first. My 7:00 AM nap was a whole 'nother ball game. I was really, really tired. I set my alarm, but wasn't even awake enough to set a back-up. So I woke up at 10:30 AM. I want to destroy something.

The reason for the over-sleeping though, was yesterday was my graduation ceremony, so I skipped my 3:00 PM AND my 7:00 PM nap, which wasn't smart at all. I just now remembered that actually, and feel a lot better. I'm suprised I did as well as I did considering. So I'm just going to keep on keepin on, and start setting two or three alarms, just to make sure.

Next

The complaints have finally started to roll in at work. If I knew what kind of nightmarish system I would be dealing with, I don't think I would have taken this job.

I like to be good at what I do. I pride myself (normally) on providing the best level of customer service I can and I should hope that it is a damn good one. Unfortunately, it is virtually impossible to do that here.

I have people ringing up to ask where their portfolios are because they handed them in 2 years ago and have not heard a thing since (I work in a college). When checking to see where they are supposed to be, I discover we have no record of them at all and do not know where the portfolio is. When I ring up the tutors I am told that in 2 weeks we will have all the portfolios back at the college anyway and I can tell the students where they are.

2 weeks later...

No portfolios back, but the students don't know that so they ring back asking where they are. No Idea. So they have to ring back in 2 weeks, resulting in some very pissed off trained killing machines.

I just want to do my job properly DAMMIT!

At least there's only 8 weeks left...
I'm going to New Zealand! Yippee!


I went to pick out my pirate costume for my girlfriend's birthday party today! It was ever so exciting going to the costume hire shop and getting to customise myself an outfit. We're going to go buy pistols and swords in a week or so! This party is going to be immense, with over 120 invitees so far. I'm so excited! More details as they come...

It was my last day of my first semester at the University of New South Wales today, and i'm melting and merging with the research I've done for my Ulysses paper. Its late, and a few minutes ago i finished writing enough text so that, tommorow, i can mold it into something coherant. It seems the only logical/illogical way to do things.

I'm thinking this as I type it, in the manner of my old blog entries. What have i learned in my one semester here? How easy it is to make friends if you stand up straight, dress nice, and smile. Even in a country filled with (justifiable) dislike for America, there seems to be no problem with me. its nice.

Simon's Rock with so much more intense then this, so every time somebody complains about an essay I laugh. I thought I put the Rock behind me, but I log on here every night and see names that stand for little bits of memory, pieces of time, glances in hallways, nasty 'in-jokes', strange insular triangls. S.T.U.N Runner at 4 am in the cold, cold night of a New England winter floods back; and it is winter here and tommorow, if I desired, i could go to the beach

My James Joyce class was fun-- the teacher bought us all imported Guiness, and somebody wrote 'Inelcutable modality of the BEER' (a reference to Proteus) on the blackboard. The lecturer and the tutor had studied it so much they resembled their characters, the former a balding, glasses wearing, slightly pedantic Leopold Bloom with a good heart, the latter with his blonde hair, slight arrogance and endless theories about 2001: A Space Oddyssey making him a good Stephen Dedalus. I don't know if they had those roles before they read the book or if its all in my head; I remember the tutor (the younger one, the grad student) popping into Berkelow Books last week and telling me to go to the pub, since I shouldn't be at the bookstore on a Friday.

Did we pay so much attention to the most pointless moments of our everyday lives before Joyce? Did we care this much about bullshit before the Internet?

I look at the other users nodelet and I regret that they won't see me now, confident, dressing nice, broke but able to get people to buy me a beer. When they learn to, they'll link my name with the stoop shouldered (that bits still there) boy who never smiled, who threw strange theories into the uncaring wind.

I read a poem to my creative writing class; there were about 10 people there for the reading. Nobody cares about my writing in my uni, and the girl I like did not show up (she cares, i know). Perhaps they were too busy writing. I wrote the poem last year, automatically, and people liked it.

This is filling up space; this is to hasten my ascension to Level 4; if smileloki or neuromantic or (God forbid) dokool had tapped me on the shoulder last year or the year before and said "hey, there's a site you should visit", i wouldn't be searching in vain for the 60+ pages of essays that got wiped with my harddrive (they were handed in, but not for my use).

Things fade and flip; i'm getting girls phone numbers every day but not sure how to use them; i'm discovring that its easy to pretend to be confident to late to win the ones i'm in love with; its almost 4am and the world is slipping

Well my friends, it’s gonna take more than a bag of chips and a couple of beers cure me of this one…

As is my custom when I don’t have my kid, I stopped by Ye Olde Tavern last night for a couple of beverages on the way home. The usual suspects were there talking about the usual things. I ran into a particularly good friend of mine and after re-hashing what we’ve been up over a couple of rounds, it was getting time to go. Since he was walking and only lives a couple of blocks from me, I decided to give him a ride home.

We stopped to get some smokes and I got back in the car, he looked at me and said something along the lines of “Dude, I got something to tell ya.”

Let me preface this, in my circle of friends, conversations usually don’t start that way. We tend to fire from the hip and do each other a favor of sparing each other the bullshit. I guess we’re sorta of old fashioned in that way. It doesn’t matter when we saw each other last, it could be a day, it could be a month, but we always shake each other’s hands when we greet and when we depart. Nobody kisses somebody else’s wife or girlfriendbehind their back or any other kinda shit like that. We look out for each other, not in the volume of phone calls exchanged but more like an extended family. We don’t pry into each other’s lives, if something’s really wrong, we expect to be told about it and not have to ask. It works well for us.

That’s why his comment kinda caught me off guard. Usually, if you can’t tell somebody something over a couple of drinks, it ain’t getting told.

He’s a professor of geography at Ohio State University. He even got tenured there not too long ago. He wife just recently landed a teaching position at the same place and is on her way to her masters. There isn’t a nicer couple in the world.

I was expecting something really bad, (divorce, cancer?) or something really good (pregnancy?). What I got was something in-between.

“I’m moving to Arizona and I wanted you to be the first to know? You’re the best friend I have around here and I thought you deserved to hear it from me before I told anybody else”

It seems both he and his wife had been entertaining offers from Arizona State and then finally agreed to accept one of them. My little circle of friends had known this might be a possibility but we kept quiet about it. No use trying to predict the future.

I don’t know if he looked happy or sad. Probably, like most things you’re getting ready leave behind, it was a mixture of both. We talked a little about opportunities and how seldom they come along and we’ve both let a couple slip through our grasp. We reminisced a little about what we’ve shared as friends over the last five or six years. He invited me into his house and I talked briefly with his wife, I put on my brave face and wished them all the best. Even though he won’t be leaving until the end of the year, it seems part of him might have already left.

It wasn’t until I got home that I look off the brave face. Me, a grown man, started to shed tears like a lost boy. Were they selfish tears? Probably some of them but for the most part, I hope all works out for the best.

Over the coming months, I’m sure there will be many glasses raised and many toasts offered. There will be going away parties and assorted other things like barbecues and such to mark the occasion.

In the meantime though, all I can say is “Godspeed Professor”. I’m a better man for knowing you and hopefully someday you can say the same about me. For right now though, the stool to my left never looked so empty.

Elvis is in the building!

Through a lengthy and somewhat tenuous thread of coincidence, I find myself hosting the E2 Chief Editor, his gal Sal, and her father, hereafter known as 'Papa Bear.'  They're here on Cape Cod for a long weekend visit and staying at a small rental cottage in nearby New Silver Beach.  

I consider it a rare privilege to get to know dem bones.  He has consistently impressed me with his ability to make the right call under pressure, time and time again.  He's also got a wry and prickly wit and a finely honed sense of irony.  In short, bones is an interesting fellow and it should be fun to kick it with him.  

He's also, of course somewhat of a sacred relic in the cultural venue of Our Little Town.  I dunno about you all, but after a few years of hanging around here, I'm still trying to get a handle on how it works and what it means.  E2 is one of the most unique collaborative associations I've ever observed. The reasons it works so well, and the subtle dynamics that drive it have been an endless source of fascination and puzzlement to me.  So, perhaps, I can do some kind of  Vulcan Mind Meld with Bones and unravel the DNA of E2 in the course of partying with him this weekend.   But even if I do, that's not what I'm thinking of sharing with you all.  You wouldn't believe me anyway, and that's the kind of thing you've got to unravel for yourselves.  

What I am thinking of doing however is having some fun with all this by chronicling the events of the visit for your amusement in the form of a few daylog entries beginning with this one.  Hey that's what daylogs is for, n'est ce pas?

Papa Bear  

Coby's dad took the humane approach to getting here from Michigan, a two day roadtrip that took in the Finger Lakes area in upstate New York, followed by a leisurely trip down to the Cape and an afternoon arrival.  He and I sat on the deck at my place and sipped some wine in the rusty orange light of a "Smoky Sou'west" wind pulling up Buzzards Bay.

Papa really is a big friendly bear of a man.  He seems to fill up the room with a pleasant attention.  You get the feeling that he's hunching his head a bit, the way that really tall people do, as if in the sincere hope of avoiding contact with door frames and low ceiling fans.  He certainly is tall, but well proportioned, like a former athlete.  Nice smile.

We hit it off immediately and settled into a comfortable discussion of the life and times.  In short order we were faced with the inevitable 'Six Degrees of Separation' connections dance.  I think we both realized at once that the events that had led both of us to my house on this sunny afternoon revolved around a person that I'd never even spoken to on the phone before.  I had to smile at the pleasant oddness of that.

Cape Coddage

As the wine bottle emptied, Papa Bear and I deemed it prudent to migrate over to the cottage where he and the rest of the 'Bones Party' will reside during their vacation here.  The cottage is a couple of miles from my home in a classic little community called New Silver Beach and with Papa Bear following doggedly behind, I led the way and we soon had parked the cars and were wandering toward the sandy shoreline.  

The cottage is a modest little place that supports itself with a small income from annual summer rentals and is otherwise used for friends and family visits.  The bottom floor is a concrete block garage and 'bunkhouse' that has hosted generations of teenagers banished by the adults from the upstairs apartment. The first floor is 'expendable by design' in recognition of the hurricane that will someday come blowing through its doors.  Living on the Cape these monster storms are inevitable and it's a matter of when, not whether, the next one will come marching up Buzzards Bay.

The second floor is a simple two bedroom place with all the usual facilities.  The nicest amenity is probably the view from the living room of the beach and water.  New Silver Beach has had a very interesting history in its first hundred years of existence.  In the late 1800's Silver Beach and the adjacent Wing's Neck was the home of a summer camp for young ladies.  From the pictures, it must have been a veritable paradise of swimming, boating, picnics and clambakes, with afternoon readings from the classics on the sugar sand beach.

In the early 1900's, the camp was closed and the land purchased by a group of Boston-Based developers.  These gentlemen formed the first Silver Beach Association, and gridded out the area with plans for a grand hotel and a hundred summer homes.  The brochures for the develop show a dozen designs for immaculate little Victorian and Craftsman homes with prices ranging between $500 and $1500.  Hey, I'll take two of those and one of those and one each of these two...

I got Papa Bear settled and headed home again to await the arrival of Bones and Coby sometime close to midnight.  The phone rang twice last night, once when they arrive in Boston, an hour and a half late due to bad weather, and a second time way past midnight when they finally pulled into my driveway.  "You poor guys," I said as I strode towards them, my hand outstretched. I engulfed Coby in a hug and gave Bones the Manly Man handshake.  The first thing I noticed about him is that he has a really nice voice.

To be continued...


***Official statement regarding the daylog of June 9, 2004 submitted by one GrouchyOldMan. Let it be known that this office has nothing to hide, and in fact has everything to gain, from the record being set straight. This is the truthful account of the Cape Cod trip, at least the first hellish fourth of it.***



The thing about Bill is this: he's a big liar.


I mean, he has the first part right - Sally and I graciously flew from our luxurious home in Redwood City, California to spend a few days in some four bedroom shack with seashells stacked beneath the porch like they were diamonds or otherwise somehow useful or tasteful. We had to drive ourselves to the San Jose airport and then we had to park the car ourselves and take a shuttle bus to the terminal.

A shuttle bus. With other travelers coming and going and there were at least three different stops before we were there.

I won't get into the flight itself. People everywhere and the children and the crying and the spitting. Oh - and did I mention these tickets cost us almost $300 (US) after the rebate? Money doesn't grow on trees. Anyway.

We got to Logan airport and we had to rent a car (not a new one, I'm pretty sure it was used) and drive for three hours in the dark. We got to Bill's house at 3am, like he says. And like he says he was sleeping. Didn't even stay up to greet us. You know, whatever. I'm just saying.

After pawing my girlfriend and trying to look into my eyes to see what I was really thinking, he reluctantly got in his stupid car and we tried to follow his drunken, gear-grinding swerves which finally led to this teepee he sunk ten bucks into in the late 70's. I say his car was stupid because I never looked that closely but it didn't seem particularly cool.

He bangs on the door, almost smashing the balsa, wakes up Sally's father (who has cancer and diabetes and cancer and needs his rest or else that's it) and insists we all do shots to honor Ronald Reagan or Saddam Hussein or somebody. Whatever, Sally and I had been drunk most of the drive from the airport.

So, that was the first night. After that it was worse because of things Bill said and did and because of the generally abysmal climate and assorted awful people. We'll get to that tomorrow though.

-The Management (Ryan)

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