My secret birthday

Today is my birthday. I am twenty six. I know there are thousands of people older than me who, reading this, will think or say, "Ah, twenty six, you are a mere fledgling, a babe in arms, a youngster, an infant", and of course, they are right, because age is solely relative. But right now, this is the oldest that I have ever been. When I was growing up it never occurred to me that I would become this old.

From the age of around twelve or thirteen, I looked forward to being twenty one. Twenty one, it seemed to me throughout my teens, was something to aim at, a pinnacle of ageing. My mother had always talked about how fabulous it had been to be nineteen, and I looked forward to that, en route to twenty one. She was right, as mothers have a habit of being. The year I was nineteen to twenty was brilliant. I was the happiest I have probably ever been, the most carefree, the most relaxed. I laughed a lot, and I remember that year as days of sunshine, drinking, punting, shopping, reading, loving and friendship.

And twenty one was always on the horizon, a goal I was always heading towards. After intensely disappointing 'A' level results, and a fortuitous place at a university I subsequently enjoyed but had mentally dismissed months before, it was a constant in life that held me up during life's flux, something I could achieve without work, without effort, purely by looking both ways when I crossed a busy road and trying not to drink myself into unconsciousness on too much of a regular basis.

I now feel as though it was more of a crest. Life has only become more complex and trying, and while there are still rewards, happy times, smiles and love, there are now responsibilities, shattered dreams, broken hearts and painful secrets. I must conceal the wounds that time does not heal.

I honestly pity people who can't draw. That's terribly elitist of me, isn't it? It is.

I started chewing my fingerskin again. I was born without whorls on the soles of my feet. They were smooth and shiny like...well, like no skin should be. And then when I was about six, they wrinkled and split open and the smooth skin peeled off in bleeding strips over the course of a few weeks. I grew new feet skin, and it had whorls.

My fingers always had prints, but they're doing the same thing my feet did, and splitting and peeling and bleeding. It comes and goes. Been happening on and off for the past year or so. Painful. It does make me think of Se7en, and Kevin Spacey's sliced-off fingerprints. Would they be able to trace me, with only a pinky print to go on? Heh.

In other, homicide-related news, today Draughn gave me the hardbound Johnny the Homicidal Maniac: Director's Cut book. I started reading when I got home. Enjoying it immensely. It's years since I read it last, and re-reading reminds me almost painfully of being 13 and full of just the sort of hate that was both kindled and soothed by Nny, at the time. You remember that? Nowadays I make my own killmonsters, and have more particular angsts.

Draughn and I sat and ate sushi and talked about Johnny a bit. He said it's weird to read this for the first time now, and realize how much it's influenced his friends and the subculture as a whole. That he kept running into phrases and references he'd heard for years from the people that surround him. And it is weird. One could write theses about the reasons behind Johnny's raw appeal to the spooky and disenfranchised, despite the character (and the author) himself blatantly ridiculing just that sort of person.

But JTHM is embedded in that time, in that stage in my lifecycle. I was talking to a friend late last night about human beings or human lives as MIDI notes in a piece of music. I told him I saw them as notes in a Fruity Loops file, with layers of melody, yes, but also with layer effects. Reverb and vocode and pitch and etc. JTHM would be one of those layer effects in the FLoops file for that period in my life; skewing all our noises just a touch. We read and re-read every issue, stole them from each other a dozen times, and the entirety of Poison Elves, and then I Feel Sick. Sandman. The Crow (how many times did we fall asleep, listening to that score?). Red Dwarf. Holy Grail. All Your Base. Jerkcity. Sinfest. Tomb Raider. Star Wars. The Terrible Secret of Space. Dark City. Brazil. Twelve Monkeys. The Fifth Element. Aeon Flux. The Maxx, both book and show forms. The White Wolf books, and anything related to vampires, werewolves, and the like. And above it all, countless plots, characters, paintings, novels, photographs and injokes of purely our own devisings. The latter still shock me when I find them in old journal entries or sketchbooks; so many are forgotten, or subsumed by their decendent concepts.

We drew these beloved characters alongside our own, quoted them, dressed up like them to impress each other at shitty parties on those aimless Halloweens. Doodled them on our textbooks. Cast each other in those roles. Steve and I called each other either "Devi" or "Tenna," depending on who was being the crazy artist and who was being the concerned friend on any given day. I had friends who had entire Happy Noodle Boy rants memorized, could deliver them verbatim. And could rattle off every single Vampire: the Masquerade discipline on command, as well. They all wanted boots with hoof-shaped toecaps. Spooky nerds with nowhere to show off our finery except at Poetry Night and "Game," that all-encompassing term. Not THE game, not A game. Game. Or if we wanted to get really specific, "Vampire" or "Werewolf." As in, 'my girlfriend wanted to stay home and make out, but I had to go to Game.'

...

Sweet jesus, no wonder I was full of hate. So much of that life was just sickening. So many of you were entropic, addicted, tiresome! So many of you wanted to get out and didn't. So many of you are still there...

POINT/COUNTERPOINT:
Tyler Evans
, Grade 3, Mrs. Baker's Class, Shady Grove Elementary
and
Vichizzle McNizzle, Pimp Daddy


Prostitution

Vichizzle: Yo muthafuckas, now we be talkin' about what the Vichizz know best, bein a pimp an all I gots to know the innerds and outterds of thu world's oldest pro-fession, pross-titty-tution! One of thuh thangs that's most booty-full about this occupation is the economics of it. Dig this: most of y'all least be vaguely aware of thuh concept of supply and demand, right? The mo you supply, the less the demand, less shit costs. You reduce supply, demand goes up, fuckin prices of the shit goes through the roof! The thingies I loves bout pross-titty-tution izzat it fuckin boggles this whole supply and demand shit because you sellin sex, and wit sex, ya gots endless supply and endless demand. Almost any human bein can fuck and almost any human bein wants to fuck.

Fuckin is a cha-ching bidness, y'all! And dat why it been around so long. That Mary fuckin-Magdolen in the time of Jesus be a fuckin ho. Fo real! I juss wunder who her pimp be. Hell, even in ancient Greece they be havin hohouses, though they call 'em dick-teria. If it wuzz me, though, I'd call 'em pussy-teria! Werd!

Sho not evurbody want to be a ho, Vichizz know dat. Lots of peeps got reservations bout fuckin fo money. But that don't mean I don't got endless supply. Money fuckin talk, boyz, and plenty of po-tential hos out there listenin. Sho most of 'em bitches, and most of y'all clients be hornaayy men, but I gots some studly mens paid top dollah to get the desperate womens shit off. Werd. Also gots some fuckin queer menly hos, rakin in the dough bein the gay ho. It's all dead presidents, don't matter Vichizz none. You make money fo fuckin?, you hired! You think yo loose pussy or yo huge cock a hot commodity, bring it on! I gots positions fo ya...lots of posistions, if you know what I means, heh heh!

Tyler: The other day at school I heard two girls on the playground fighting with each other. One of the girls, I think her name's Sally, called the other girl, her name's Jodie Scott, a hoe. I did not know why calling somebody else a garden tool would be an insult. I asked my daddy about it when I got home. He said that Sally did not want to call Jodie a tool. He said that ho is short for hore and that black people used that word but now lots of white people do, too. So I asked him what a hore is. He told me that it is a woman who has sex for money. Now I know what sex is, my mommy told me about it a while ago. It is where a man and a woman get together and make babies. But I guess people can make babies and money with sex. I asked daddy if someday I could make some money having sex because there's this Xbox game I really really want, that Tony Hawk one. My dad got real mad and said that people who have sex for money are dirty and filthy and all should be in jail. I asked why and he said that prostitution (that is what having sex for money is called) is illegal. I asked why. He told me it's because it's wrong.

I asked him why it was wrong. He said sex is a beeutiful thing and should be only with people who love each other. I don't know. Sticking my wee-wee in a girl's privates doesn't sound very beeutiful to me. It grosses me out, actually. You would have to pay me to do it, I thought, which is why being a ho makes sense to me. When I told dad I thought this he got really mad at me. He said I just didn't understand yet and that I would when I get older. I guess that's another thing out of all this stuff that I'm supposed to understand when I'm older, like why Aunt Terri gets real loud and talks funny at weddings and stuff all the time. Or why that lady down the street lives with another lady who isn't her mom or anything.

I don't know if I agree with dad. It seems like an easy way to make money. Just think of all the Xbox games I could afford! I think I would like to be a hore when I'm older, but just don't tell my daddy, OK?

Vichizzle: Most of y'all be surprised to hear that the Vichizz gots an economics education. Didn't stick around for no degree, but I went a year at a community college, took coupla courses. Gots to be good at the economies learnin for pimpin, straight up muthafuckas.

I also took some art so I could look at some nekkid ladies fo two hours a day. I stopped showin up, though, the day this fat dude gets up there and whips his dick out. Vichizz don't play dat shit! That was EEE-NUFF art fo me!

Tyler: I asked Sally yesterday if she would like to have sex with me for some money. She said she only had a nickel. I said no thanks. I'm worth more than five cents.

Maybe five dollars, but not five cents.


11/24/04 == 12/20/04 == 12/21/04 == 12/30/04 == 01/31/05 == 02/10/05 == 02/14/05 == 05/18/05 == 07/25/05 == 09/01/05 == 10/24/05 == 12/22/05 == 07/20/06 == 10/31/06 == 02/07/07 == 07/13/07 == 12/18/07 == 9/17/08

In those days we were older, and some were younger. We stayed up till dawn, addressed bartenders by first name, sampled exotic drinks and experimented with hangover cures. We drove unspoiled sportscars, top down, wind in our hair. We spent time with our children, reconnected with our spouses, and read thick novels by the sea. For some of us, life's work brought us unexpected bounty. We drank life to its fullest.

Then some of us died.

*


Launcelot forth wendes he
   Unto the chamber to the queen,
And set him down upon his knee
   And salues there that lady sheen
"Launcelot, what dostou here with me?
   The king is went and the court bydene;
I drede we shall discovered be
   Of the love is us between.


Stanzac Morte D' Arthur


*


"'The mind must be stronger, the heart the bolder, courage must be the greater as our strength diminishes.'" Transcript of Otho

*


I'm doing research. That means once a day, for about 10 seconds, I look something up between bouts of coding and management. Sixteen hours per seven days, it's getting to me. My creative muscle is wearing out. It's kind of wimpering in the corner. It kind of has an idea it wants me to write. It keeps me looking up middle english.

I'd tell you the idea, but then I wouldn't have to write it anymore, and that would ruin everything.

It's sort of King Arthur, but not. Sort of Camelot, but not. Sort of Fight Club meets The Knights of the Round Table. Sort of Guinevere cheating on Arthur with Lancelot, but more Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court meets 2005 high-tech electric powered 5Ghz 7 Terabyte pure sonic love in the form of the glittering sword that you get from a Lady in the Lake, sort of



if I don't play your game, why do I have to follow your rules?

Sort of thing.

The thing about Camelot, that my imagination loves, adores, is that in the end, it comes crashing down, like the city does at the end of Fight Club. And I've got an opening, which you've read by now.

And I have an ending, which is in my brain and would, I hope, be a real tearjerker when it's out. So all that remains is to add the words. Just fill in the middle part with the story. And Arthur, and Guinevere and Lancelot, they're bored as hell because their stories have been told about a bazillion times. Who needs it?

Why bother telling another love story?

*


I switched to Vonage.

Partly I did it because Vonage HQ is in Edison, N.J., where I once lived. So I have a minor soft spot in my heart for the place, but not really.

When I think of Edison I think of being driven through with my parents on the way to Menlo Park Mall. I think of the Edison Tower, near his workshop. I think of how I used to be the one being watched after when I was there, and now I'm the watcher of others. Strange how life changes you like that.

So I changed and I thought I should change my phones, too. So now I no longer have regular phones coming into my house, I have Vonage.

Vonage is Voice Over IP, or VoIP, to those who need acronyms to prove they're better than other people. To understand what it is, we should first understand what regular telephones are.

Regular telephone signals come into your house over two copper wires, twisted together in a helix, called, ceremonially, "twisted pair", by those who love the art of electricity. The signals for phones coming over the wires are generated by the central switch at the phone company. They're analog signals. What that means is they're warbling waves. They go up and down and everywhere in between, and your phone converts the warbles to the highly-compressed voice of your mom or boyfriend or the pizza guy.

Now, over the past couple years we all here in the first world have been getting broadband internet piped into our homes. We used to connect computers together over the warbling phone lines with modems (that convert computer digital speak into warbly analog telephone speak and back again). But those connections are slow, because the act of smooshing all that computer talk into an analog phone line is kind of a difficult thing to do. It's like connecting a fire hydrant to a garden hose. Lots of water going into a very tiny pipe. Not so effective for extinguishing burning buildings. This is why firemen use BIG hoses.

Broadband internet travels into your home over two common methods. The one that comes over your phone lines is called ADSL -- or just DSL, to those of us who think we're superior because we memorize acronyms. And the other is over your cable TV cable, and as I sit here I can't remember if the acronym is ATM or whatever, and it doesn't matter.

The main thing is that somehow these DIGITAL signals live happily on the same wire/cable as your regular old analog signal, which in some cases is your telephone , and in other cases, your cable TV signal. And you get a DSL modem or a Cable Modem "box" and hook it to your phone line or your cable TV line, and voila, out one end comes regular old phone (or TV) and out the other jack is the internet.

What Vonage set out to do was to replace the regular old analog phone signal on those wires (called POTS -- Plain Old Telephone Service -- no kidding, they call it that) with the phone service coming from the SAME wires, but over the digital signal.

Essentially, now, your phone is coming over the internet. You hook a "box" -- a network router in this case -- to your phone line, connect your regular old telephone to the box, and pick up the phone and you hear a dialtone. Dial away, and talk to mom or your girlfriend or the pizza guy. Just like you did before.

The difference is that NOW your entire phone service is "on line". If you get voicemail, and you're in Lower Slobovia, you go to the nearest internet Cafe, log onto the Vonage website, and play your Voice Mail over the computer. You can set up "800" numbers for yourself, so people can dial you for free. You can forward your calls to regular old analog phones. You can set a "fail over" number, so if your internet goes down, your calls will automagically route to a different analog or internet phone.

The most interesting thing about Vonage, to me, is that you can take your router box, the one with your phone plugged into it, and bring it to your mother's house, plug it into HER broadband network connection, plug in your phone, and your phone will ring at her house. In fact, you can order a Vonage system, and when the box comes to your house, you can send the box to someone else's house, anywhere in the world, and the new phone will ring over there. So, if you live in New York, and your mom lives in Vancouver, you can order a Vonage system with a New York phone number and mail the box to Vancouver. Then your Mom in Vancouver will have a New York phone number that rings in her house in Vancouver, so people in New York can call her all they want and only have to make a local call. It's sort of like turning land lines into cell phones.

Wow.

So, now weird things are going to happen to the phone companies. What do long distance charges mean when someone in Juneau, Alaska, can have an Atlanta, Georgia local phone number?

I don't know. But if I was AT&T, I'd be freaking right about now.

Vonage is pretty cheap. Naturally, you have to have a broadband connection, which is going to run you $30/month, usually. Vonage is another $25 on top of that. So you're talking $55/month, which for me, is still less than 1/2 why my phone bill used to be. So I did it.

So far, it's working good.

I went with Vonage because there's a guy on the board of directors of my company, who's also on the board of Vonage. There was a bit of peer pressure for me to do it. This is not an unbiased commercial for the service.

Your mileage may vary.

*


The other materialistic indulgence I partook this month was to buy an Aeron chair. You ever hear of these chairs? They're the symbol of excess, and what I want to remembered for is my excess.

My chair--the chair upon which my ass depresses during my long programming and writing sessions, decided to give up the ghost quite suddenly a few weeks ago. The little piston thingy that keeps the chair from mating with the floor decided to stop pushing my ass upward against the force of gravity.

I went to Office Depot, but in the past 10 years my chair has served me, it seems office chair technology has taken a turn for the worse. I could not find a chair that did not behave as if it was on an uneven surface. It seemed the casters were different sizes. It seemed the little piston things weren't machined correctly, and so giggled from side to side. Those that allowed you to lean backward seemed to urge you into a backward somersault. None of them lifted high enough to keep my knees from bumping my chin. It's obvious these chairs are made by underaged slave laborers in Burma, and if George Bush had any balls he'd bomb the shit out of Burma just to stop this chair abuse of the innocents.

Clearly, I couldn't support puppet regimes whose main source of income is heroin money laundered through a slave labor industry in office chairs. Then I remembered reading the book "Blink" and their mentioning of the Herman Miller Aeron chair. How it looked like the exoskeleton of a dead hornet and how despite everyone saying it should be a miserable unloved product, the business world cleaved to it like free money at the pancake house.

So the silicon valley story of these chairs is that during the bubble of the late 90's, all the dot bombs and VC firms were outfitting their offices with the things.

In the late 90's, these chairs cost upward of $1000, each. For a chair. That you sit on. That basically keeps you from having to sit in the beanbag or on the table. That keeps your posterior from plummeting through the ground to the earth's molten core.

This is the treachery of trendiness. The Aeron is certainly a well-thought out device. And it is a device. It's got linkages and springs and pistons, and aircraft-grade high-fashion netting. According to the Herman Miller Company, you don't sit in an Aeron chair, you ride one.

Heh. Ride.

When all the dot bombs went out of business, the market was flooded with these $1000 chairs, but interestingly, they were scarfed up instantly. So the price has remained pretty solid. Even my recent perousal of EBay showed people getting upward of $600 for an eight-year old Aeron.

They seem to hold their value, and the price has come down slightly.

So being a serious writer wannabe, I figured my ass deserved the best cradling it could get when I was plying my craft to no useful end. To my wife's chagrin, I purchased an Aeron chair on line. Soon, these words will be coming you to from a man who's ass is resting on aircraft grade woven kevlar and springs.

*

I got the strangest rejection yesterday. One of my SASEs came back. I hadn't sent anything out for a while, so I was surprised to find an envelope show up that had so clearly been folded and stuffed into another envelope at one point in it's papery history. The envelope had also been wet at one point, which I knew could not have been done by me. It was stained with what appeared to be coffee, though it could have been any other reddish brown, slightly radioactive substance. Inside, the manuscript was similarly stained. Inside was also one of my other SASEs from a separate submission I had made to the same place. That envelope was unused and empty.

There was no rejection letter. No note. No nothing. No signs.

The envelope was mailed to me from Long Island, New York. I had sent the submission to the agent/editor's home in Rumson, New Jersey.

I'd made a number of submissions to this same place, at the editor's request. That was over a year ago. In fact, this letter was postmarked 2003.

I wonder what happened to it, and to everything else I sent her.

*

Where was I before my mind drifted?

Oh.

Why tell another love story?


I want to know more about the light
Why the sun goes away when it's dark and other stars shine as bright
And why whenever I see you it's daytime




maybe

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