A day log is a place to start. As good or bad as anywhere else. Friday, and it's raining cats and dogs out there.

After sleeping for only a couple of hours tonight I get up and make breakfast for me and my kid.

Darkness outside, darkness inside.

The bread is dry, and I can't find my toaster anywhere. I suppose it got sick and tired of being overheated every day, and just got up on its own two, three or four feet and made a run for it. I know I would have, if I had the chance.

We have cereals instead.

Going around in our own small circles, doing what a man and his kid usually do on an ordinary Friday morning in November. Get dressed. Eat. Brush our teeth. Thick jacket. Remember your scarf. And put those Wellingtons on! Have a nice day at school. See you in a week. And be nice to your mum, ok? Phrases and a big hug.

I wish I could go to some sunny beaches in Florida. Bali hadn't been bad either. Women, drinks, freedom. Dream on, you dumb fucker and get yourself to work.

Out in the pouring rain. The drops whip my cheeks and find their way inside my collar and my sleeves. New Orleans basin? Who cares? I can promise you that a swimsuit or wetsuit would be a quite proper outfit here today. Except if you'd wore a speedo or a bikini you would have frozen to death. It's so wet I expect to see Noah and his crew coming around to fetch me any minute. And you can probably get just as much fish here right now as Dubya got down there.

My wipers are running at full speed, the lights of passing cars all seem blurry through the windscreen. No parking close to the office. My grouchy look makes the receptionist quieter, only whispering her ordinary "good morning".

The day passes. It's just another day at the office. I write. Radio on. "Fix you" still highly ranked on the charts. Now people of the future will know that this bloke sitting on the top of the world had a rainy day and ate his dusty cornflakes. Yeah, right. I want to go home.

The leafless bushes swaying in the wind like seaweed in turbulent waters. The clock strikes. It's still raining. I bet my toaster's sitting somewhere, feet in white sand, drinking cold beer.

I want to be fixed. I start to swim.

I sit for hours. The sun comes and goes, I ignore it. Stuck in an infinite loop of self awareness. The narrative derailed ages ago, near the start, but carries on anyway; "I don't care, I don't care, I don't care, I don't care ...", but that's not right. I do care. I just don't know what about. But all that I have, all that I am is my cares.

This is not depression, because depression makes you depressed. And I'm not bored. Or tired. I just am. I care, the world exists inside me not perceived but objective. It is, I care. Wordlessly, thinking thoughts beyond my ability to even perceive properly. Beyond meaning.

I know that I could cast this ...ennui as depression. I could just release it, apply some clichés, and make it stop. But that is not what I want. Feeling good is just as arbitrary as feeling bad, as feeling empty and meaningless. I lack the ability to explain myself properly.

Family and friends might identify my condition and feel obliged to help in some way. Feel a need to break through, show me I'm not alone. I know I'm not alone. I know that this could be dealt with as depression. But that's not improvement, it's just change. Change without reason is at best chaos, at worst, defeatism, resigning oneself to fate. Too easy, too hard, not relevant. What's the point in making that change? I don't know if there is a point. I don't know if there is such a thing as 'a point'. So why change? Equally now, we have "why not?", but I'm not able yet to flit about on that plane - I feel it wouldn't be as unconscious as it would need to be. I would be choosing my moments of entropy.

So I'm still hung up on the idea of momentum. I'm on a path, until I have reason to leave it, here I stay. So I sit, and let my mind race, thinking of nothing.

Of course, we're talking here about a metaphor, drawing on a memory of previous bouts of idle stupor to form a literary scene to hide behind. In truth I am sat at work, typing this into notepad.

Some background. A few days ago I took and passed my 3rd Dan karate black belt. The previous 2 dan gradings were much more 'glorious' affairs (especially the first). This was very private, minimal spectators, and I didn't tell anyone about it except those who ended up finding out anyway, ie my two flat mates.

My family knew I was taking it this autumn, but I saw no reason to share the exact date, because of ego. I have one. It is my greatest weakness. If you tell me I'm great I will believe it. This is not acceptable. Further, nobody really understands exactly what my achievement involved, what the nature of it was. I am a philosophical martial artist - I believe that most of my ability is to do with psychology, philosophy and self control.

People might well like to say they understand this idea, that they too have this experience. A few may well. But most won't. My grading was manifest in the real world, with my chief instructor assessing me and awarding me belts and so on so forth. But my real grading took place within me. It went like this:

"Am I worthy of Sandan?"
-several months of careful thought-
"Yes."

No amount of clapping or enthusiasm has anything to do with it. This is all so because I do not personally feel like my club has the sufficient heritage of knowledge and experience to make high level assessments of martial worth. The organisation is basically aimed at children and beginners. To improve I have had to rely on extensive private studies, and strict personal training. I spent a long time deciding what was required for 3rd Dan, then I spent the rest of the time raising myself to that level. In reality then, I am no Sandan of Karate, more a Sandan of my own personal artform. I would not like to say where this latter rates in comparison to whichever form of Karate or Budo or the Martial way one would measure it against. I hope it would compare favourably. I believe it might.

But only I have taken this grading. And while I may have a belt with three stripes and a piece of A4 with the relevant intimations, there is no real outward sign of the grade I feel I have attained.

My family found out about the material grading that evening, my sister phoning me to find out how I'd done. She offered congratulations, and I know she is proud of her brother, but I also heard emptiness behind her words, a false, managed congratulation. "Well done!" but it was a veneer of enthusiasm over the more accurate "you must be very proud, and I'm happy for you, but I do not feel that you are truly comparable to a 3rd Dan as graded by people from Japan in front of an audience of hundreds".

I contemplated writing a brief bulletin about my success on the little email-ring my (non-immediate) family have, but my sister beat me to it, again full of enthusiasm that she thinks is genuine. She stole my announcement and made it hers, and it's just too much effort to take it back.

My mother phoned up with congratulations. She genuinely is proud, but I know she thinks it's an extension of the Karate I've been doing since I was seven, requiring praise and reward. I thanked her apologetically and got back to work.

My father phoned up (from out in the middle east) with congratulations. He has a better sense of the achievement, enough to know that it was far more personal a transcendence than awkward familial banter could adequately service. Nor was such contact required. I know he's proud, he knows I know. He felt compelled to call. I awkwardly accepted the offer, tried to be enthusiastic by changing the subject to computers but stumbled over myself. An awkward pause, and so I began the negotiations to terminate the call with minimal embarassment to all parties.

Today, my mother came into work and attempted to give me some congratulatory cards in colourful envelopes. I behave in a certain way around my colleagues, and a certain way around my family, and the two do not mix well. I'm sure you know what I'm talking about. I sat tense and motionless as she attempted to embrace me around my office chair, my stomach convulsing with rage and horror and fear and embarassment and self contempt as my stupid menopausal bovine coworker looked on, waiting for a heart warming scene of reciprocation, and probably some clues towards an explanation of this unexpected event (I didn't see any point in informing my colleagues of my grading). None were given.

"Thankyou" I apologised as I placed the three unopened envelopes straight in my desk drawer. I don't think I even looked at my mother's face throughout the whole ordeal, never mind any kind of eye contact. She left as quickly as I was mentally screaming for her to. Not screaming at her, more at the world, at myself. Just wanted to clear that up. I have the requisite love and respect for both my parents though it makes my skin crawl to type it.

I sat. I stood. I fetched a can of coke from the fridge. I sat. I stared into the page of MFC code in front of me, uncomprehending, vacant. I switched to outlook express and pressed send & receive. Nothing. I opened notepad, and started typing.

I'm allowing this in 'New Writeups' because I want to know some people have read it. I don't believe depression is relevent to me, but lonliness sure can be.

Everyone's gone home. I guess I had better look at those cards.

Remembrance Day

Sometimes emotion must be suppressed in order to be expressed. Take that lone piper up there, playing "The Flowers of the Forest," voicing our grief for us. If the piper were to break down in tears, we would feel only embarrassment. Maybe Schadenfreude if you hate bagpipes.

Wordsworth gives us the recipe for poetry, which "takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquillity: the emotion is contemplated till by a species of reaction the tranquillity gradually disappears, and an emotion, kindred to that which was before the subject of contemplation, is gradually produced." Tranquillity's the leaven; you can't taste it in the final product, but it's what raises the whole thing above the status of a sodden mess.

❁ ❁ ❁ ❁ ❁

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row. . . .

The poppies are metonymic. It's a nice spot of colour on a grey November day, isn't it? Thank God, in this multicultural society, that they do not try to have us wear crosses on our lapels. I wouldn't do it. Of course the crosses are metonymic, too. Thank God they do not have us wear soldiers' bones.

❁ ❁ ❁ ❁ ❁

Poppies grow very well in Afghanistan. They're the most important cash crop there, a mainstay of the economy. They are not grown for metonymy there; there's more money in psychotropics than in tropes. I do not think poppies grow very well in the Syrian Desert, but perhaps they flourish in the gardens of Mesopotamia. The poets had better get cracking; we are going to need all the tranquillity we can get our hands on.

My time on the Master Cleanser Fast, with apologies to Helen Fielding

Alcohol units 7, glasses of warm lemonade drunk 100, glasses of warm salt water drunk 20, glasses of warm laxative tea drunk 10, glasses of nasty-ass psyllium and bentonite shake 10, bowls of delicious warm ground flaxseed slurry eaten 15, tomatoes eaten 15, persimmons eaten 5, chocolates eaten 10, pulled pork savored 1 cup, turkey sandwiches devoured 2

Saw M.H. at Hemlock Saturday. He had just gotten off 11 days on Master Cleanser Fast. Have heard him speak of this fast before. We discussed it at length over beer after beer after beer. Someone kept handing me beers. Next day was extremely hung over and craving grog. Mixed up some sweet salty limeade with cayenne and felt much better. Determined to go on Master Cleanser fast, primarily because when boyfriend is on tour for weeks and weeks, like now, am too depressed to select, cook and eat interesting, nutritious, delightful gourmet foods we typically cook and enjoy together. Have been reduced to eating tuna out of can, or peanut butter out of jar, when driven by extreme hunger. In other words, was already fasting unintentionally, so may as well fast with a purpose. Do not really believe detoxification paranoia, but liver could sure as hell use a break. Waistline not as girlishly slim as two years ago, either. Emailed Wilson for her response, which came promptly: “Oh yes. I know this fast well my friend.” Went to store with Nathalie; when I went for the Grade B maple syrup she immediately said “Are you doing the Lemonade Fast?” A ha ha hah ah aha ha ah ha ha. Spent evening reading Master Cleanser message boards. Oh the horror. Worst exchanges I can recall:

Q: I’m having terrible heartburn with all this lemon and cayenne. Is this a cause for concern?

A: Don’t worry, you’re probably just having an acid reflux response. It’s really important that you keep going to Day 10 to see all the positive results!!!! This too shall pass my friend!!!! PEACE LOVE OAT BRAN

Q: I’m having terrible, painful diarrhea, I can’t leave the bathroom except for very short times. I’m drinking lots of liquids but I feel lightheaded like I might pass out. Is this a cause for concern?

A: Don’t worry, we call this “butt pee,” and we all get this! It’s really important that you keep going to Day 10 to see all the positive results!!!! This too shall pass my friend!!!! HA HA HA PUN INTENDED!

OMG, am thinking to self, OMG.

Day before I was to begin fast, ate 10 mini-Snickers bars and two fish tacos. Felt absolutely disgusting. First morning of fast, could barely get two glasses (half the recommended amount) of salt water down. Had to add liberal amounts of stevia. Did not have the promised enormous BM. My bad. Drank warm lemonade all day. Felt OK aside from debilitating headache that necessitated lots of green tea in afternoon. Not too hungry. Then someone brought in pulled pork he had barbecued; ate some, of course. Can not expect self to resist free, savory delicacies. That night, had bentonite with water and psyllium. FUCK! NASTY! Washed it down with laxative tea chaser. Did not have promised BM of tire rubber. Next day, same routine, but this time someone brought turkey sandwiches from meeting. Ate two. That night, ate huge bowl of ground flaxseed with laxative tea and heaping amounts of stevia. Delicious! No tire rubber BM. Next day, had BM that looked exactly like flax and psyllium. Great, I am now person who looks at their BMs. No matter, have read posts on Master Cleanser message board by people who DISSECT their BMs. OMG, am now person who calls shit “BMs.” Will mend my ways.

Days going by. Some heartburn from lemon and cayenne. Now eating (raw) tomatoes and persimmons for dinners. Insane cravings for bread and cheese have subsided, thankfully. More psyllium shit. Looks completely benign. No sign whatsoever that I had the threatened 30 lbs of mucoid plaque in my gut. Thanks to occasional solid food I feel fine. Am patting self on back for being smart enough to include solid food on my liquid fast. Will recommend to all non-religious fasters. Over and out.

I generally avoid entering churches. There are a number of reasons for this. Weird things tend to happen to me when I enter churches and usually these things cause me to re-evaluate my very existence.

Today I was taking a class required by my job, which was being held at a church. When we broke for lunch, I was sitting with three co-workers in a meeting room when the pastor of the church walked in. She was apologizing for having to ask us to move to another room because she had forgotten that another group had been offered the room we were in that afternoon. It was not a big deal, but then everyone I was with walked away and went outside while this pastor spoke to me.

Every minister, priest or pastor I have met over the past decade has always asked me the same question. It has gotten to the point where I went to research whether they are required to ask this question.

"I know you, don't I?"

I'm going crazier every day.

She then proceeded to tell me the story of how she was unhappy in her life and how she ended up somewhere in southern Idaho in a small town that welcomed her with open arms. She explained it as being "drop kicked by God" into the place she belonged. Then she looked at me and asked me if I had ever been directed by "the spirit" to travel to another place in order to find myself.

Sometimes I'm convinced people are fucking with me.

After I told her pieces of my own story, she went on to tell me that when she was in Idaho she had a revelation. She was for the first time in a place she felt was home. Why did she leave? Because she knew she needed to go elsewhere because she was part of a story still being written.

She told me about a book she loved that talked about a wind-up mouse learning how to wind itself. I understood why it meant so much to her and then she had to leave. She didn't ask me to come to her church. She didn't ask me for anything, she just said she was glad to meet me and felt she somehow already knew me.

Then she showed me the sanctuary, which was quite beautiful and then told me that they close it and use a smaller room in the winter because it costs too much to heat. "We close the sanctuary after the first snow and open it again when winter ends."

Then she said, "We'll see each other again."

I doubt she knows what that means to me, but maybe my doubt is still too strong.

Son of a bitch.

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