"Sorry I left you with nothing more than words
dropping silently into a bucket
making my ears ring"



This is one of the few utterances that I have hurriedly scribbled down in my journal these past months since I left Nashvegas. Today, I fought with my mother, missed my best friend, felt an ache for an old friend or two, and felt more loved and alone than I have ever felt.
A few days ago, I was told that I suffer from depression, to which I almost replied "That explains a lot!! No wonder I never get out of bed anymore!"
These past months have made me think and experience a lot. Now I am left to myself. I spend too many days just driving around Memphis, sluffing off my duties and attempting to find beauty in the passing trees and white lines on the road. I, whom you know as chevette, have become a dreamer, a slacker, an artist, a musician and more confused than I have ever been.

I have realized that all of us are lonely, aching for one thing or another. Personally, I am aching for love and companionship, but not only those, I desire to know purpose. So, once again, I am pulling out my compass and pointing it toward my northern star...

"time gets in the way
of everything I've ever wanted to be
time gets in the way
of that sparkle in your eyes
time gets in the way again
of all I wanted to show you
when you look at me
you don't see me at all..."

Quick update on the past few months, after visiting New York for the wedding I decided that I had to change my life and so now I am a Teacher in a school in the north of Dublin, a place called Swords. Coming now to the end of my third week. After the fist day I thought I would quit,
the kids are a big mix here, children who have lost their parents, one boy, I heard, saw his mother die when he was eight years old. Been in school now for a few years and hates it.

On the other hand the job is so much better than data entry. At least here I am using my brain a little, challenging is not the word to describe the job.




last,up,next.

It was 3 o'clock in the morning and I had just finished watching some old movie. I got up off the couch and went downstairs to the kitchen where I put the "Cambridge Singers - Christmas Day in the Morning" cd in the stereo and turned it on. On the table some bills were lying around, looking abandoned, so I sat down and began the ardous task of straightening them out. After a while I realised the cat was standing by the door and wanted to get out. I went over to it and opened the door, outside it was snowing. Since this was the first real snow of the season I felt that I had to go out and see it.

So I put on some gloves, a bonnet and a scarf and went out in to the cold. The light from the house lit up a small space where millions of snowflakes were falling. Nothing could be heard but the sound of snow and wind rustling the trees. Whenever it snows the sound of things changes, like they have been muted. I got of the porch and started walking the 30 or so meters down to the road where a streetlight was illuminating a cone of floating snow. As I got there I looked up towards the sky and saw nothing but snow. When I looked down again I saw that the cat had followed me making tiny pawmarks in the snow next to my shoeprints. She walked up to me and started rubbing herself against my leg so I brushed to snow out of her fur and picked her up

And then we stood there in the falling snow, watching the snowflakes and feeling happy. It was beautiful. Soon enough the cold started seeping through my clothes so I put her down and we both ran for the house. As I got there I almost didn't want to go back in, I didn't want to lose the wonderfull feeling I had. But the cat really wanted to so we did and just as I went through the door I could hear that the cd in the stereo was just about to reach its crescendo. I got of my shoes and gloves as fast as possible and rushed into the kitchen just as it peaked in a massive outburst of joy and beauty. I couldn't help but cry, it so perfectly matched the feeling I had just experienced. As I sat down by the table I realised I had a big smile on my face that just wouldn't go away, it felt great.

Rain has a funny way of magnifying emotions- especially the less joyous ones. The rain seemed torrential for a brief amount of time this morning on my ride to work, but lightened 10 minutes before my arrival.

Happiness this morning comes in surges- between the perilous memories and reflections throughout the commute. Water still in my heels, lacking breakfast in my stomach, and another Beatle is gone. Yesterday, I read this node and cried. We all make mistakes, especially in our youth.

I switch the music from an Ibiza mix to Sergeant Pepper. I rejoice in a Friday. Another friend will be visiting us from Louisiana this weekend. Detachable Penis and Dax (yes they are monikers) will be attending a two-night rave with us, beginning this evening. Sandra Collins, Sage, Prophecy, hopefully will be worth $27 per pop. Hopefully.

I pull into work. Remain in the car. Switch the music and lean back, listening to Delerium and Sarah's Silence before I go in. I am Rodrigue's blue dog. Sitting in a place hardly befitting me, here at this office sometimes. Looking at the sky, however, I feel... good. Like it is perfectly OK that there are no real truths sometimes. I unlock my door. Here we go, another day in the life.

Clearing away a life

Following Martin's death on November 24, 2001, his ex-partner and father came to the house yesterday, respectively to talk, and sort out his belongings. Stella and her friend, Lynn arrived at about 11am, and we sat and drank coffee and talked about him for some hours. Stella is so sweet and lovely, and devasted by his suicide. It was of great benefit to both of us to share our feelings about him. He was a private person, and gave the appearance of being an insensitive and overbearing, but in reality, was both caring and generous. There was much drinking of tea, and some tears were shed.

Bob, his father, arrived at about 3pm with his wife, Terry. They'd come primarily to sort out his things, but of course, they needed to talk about him too. As the house filled with smoke and used teacups and coffee mugs, we worked our way through the boxes of papers and computer bits, and Bob took some things away with him. He was tired, not just with the emotional burden he carried, but a long journey from Surrey to Nottingham, made worse by an accident on the M25 London Orbital Motorway.

Martin was physically so much like his father, and each time Bob spoke, it jarred me momentarily, and they sound so alike. It helped though - I no longer expect to hear his car pull up, and his coming in, in his own, inimitable fashion.

Dale came round at some point mid-evening, and the family were all gone for about 8.30, at which point, Dale thought it a good idea to drink to his memory at his local, the Red Lion in Basford. We got there to hear the sound of live music, specifically, one 'Saltfish John', known to us from Monday nights at the Golden Fleece. We went in, bought a drink, raised our glasses to his memory, and shed not a few tears between us.

Martin never noded, but he used to read a lot, and he helped me enormously. He proof-read many of my writeups and contributed ideas. He shared his time with me most generously, and I will always remember him fondly as the "Big Fat Welsh Bastard". He was a father of three, a son to Bob, lover of Stella, a friend to Dale, and was a colleague and housemate to me. For all these, and his workmates, I say "/me misses gbear".


The preliminary inquest found that death was caused by carbon monoxide poisoning. The undertakers have removed him to Cardiff, in readiness for the funeral next Friday afternoon.

This last week has been busy for me. Over the weekend I read Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Restaurant at the End of the Universe, Life, The Universe and Everything and So Long And Thanks For All The Fish. I was left with the answer "42" but longed for the question (which I think is this: "What's the number of our taxi again?" but I can't be sure- I only just realized this last night when I read Mostly Harmless- the fifth in the trilogy). I have also just started on The Princess of Mars (from which Heinlein obviously pulled a large portion of his characters' material- the whole Howard Families thing).

Anyway, that was just the reading. I'm an avid reader and love a good yarn. This last week, my cup runneth over in that deparment.

I had the CEO of SoulPearls call me two weeks ago, telling me that she was becoming disillusioned with the project and she needed to see some progress or find another web designer. *sigh* She gave me a deadline of November 26, 2001 to turn the comps her graphic designer had created into something useable.

Some history: The SoulPearls.Com project started somewhere around January of this year- nearly 10 months ago. Life for everyone involved (especially myself) has been rather troublesome. It's not that the project itself wasn't worth doing- it most certainly was. I was just... daunted by the potential impact of it. Putting what I believe to be the words of God on postcards seemed not exactly "wrong" but it left me feeling pensive. Compounding that uncertainty with creating a website around those postcards and the uncertainty just grew. In the beginning stages of the project I worked both as the graphic designer and web designer, which seemed like an awful lot on my plate on top of the other stuff going on in my life. I wasn't getting paid for the work, since I truly did feel honored to do a service for my Faith- again, the money wasn't the issue. The issue was me getting off my ass and doing it.

The first designs I created were... well... horrid. Bland, blocky, simplistic, busy, no sense of consistent theme- in short, a designer's nightmare. The CEO tracked down a graphic designer at my behest and he eventually came up with a design around August.

Anyway... I got to work on it this Monday and it actually looks nice now. The version of the site that's up now is the same old crap I did earlier this year, but this new version is worlds apart and infinitely better. There's still some more work to be done on it, but I'm thankful that the graphic design aspect is now in someone else's hands.

A potential client I had been talking with for some months- a photographer in Memphis- finally sent me an email. He had the $500 I'd quoted him for his project and he was ready to begin, with a down payment of $250 up front. I got the check last night and created two comps for him to look at. I'll probably do another one later on tonight, after work. Yeah, I'll be exhausted by then, but I usually do my best stuff when I'm half out of my mind on sleep-dep.

I also got my paycheck this week. The influx of cash- $190 from work and the extra $250 from my newest client for a whopping total of $440- was a God send. Now I'll be able to pay for my expired tags ticket and move on with life a bit. My car needs some major repairs (brakes are going out- rotors and all), but I think I can manage to hold on just a little while longer until I finish with the photographer's site and collect the rest of my fee.

I also wrote another 5,000 words on my book. That felt remarkably good, lemme tell you. I've been spending a lot of time at the cafe recently and considering how much time I've spent there, I'm surprised by how much has actually gotten done this week. I hope it's the start of a new trend for me- I'd like nothing more than to be able to do design during the week and be able to afford to do what I want to at the same time and pay the bills.

Saw the Harry Potter movie. I was really surprised by it. I envisioned different looking characters in my mind when I read the story, but the actors in the movie did a pretty good job. Alan Rickman as Prof. Snape was almost perfect, but I would have preferred someone like John deLancie- someone who can pull off subtle evil looks really well and even look sorta serpentine. The kid who played Draco Malfoy had the right look of smarminess about him. The girl who played Hermione Granger looked wrong at first, but she seemed to fall into her role later on in the movie. There were some parts of the book I would have liked to see, but they got cut and the story didn't really suffer from it. If you haven't seen the movie yet, regardless of your age, I'd suggest you do. On a scale of 1 - 10, 10 being the best, I'd give it a solid 7- from me, that's pretty high praise.

I met Amy again at the cafe a few times this week (what with all the time I've been spending there). I can't seem to get a bead on what she thinks of me. One moment she's cold and indifferent and the next she's just effusive with conversation and chatter. I dunno if she feels nervous around me or if she's nervous because of me. Maybe I won't pursue her after all. She seems too uncertain about a lot of things and I'm looking for someone who has a clearer bearing in life.

All in all, I'd have to say that this last week has been more productive than I could have imagined. I've designed a full website, written more on my story, prepped for another website, read five books, socialized and ran some much-needed errands. I hope next week is equally satisfying. I'd really like to see the photographer's site done, up and running by the end of this month- perhaps in a week, which would be phenomenal. All I have left to do- and it's something I've been putting off far too long- is my laundry. *sigh* Work tonight at hell- it won't just be hell, it is hell. Ugh.

Today, I am finally teaching again. It's a good feeling to be working as I have only done it one other time this week. I'm a science teacher today. Who knows what subject I will teach next.

From what I can tell, the regular teacher has been gone for a long time seeing we are now on "emergency plans." Which come down to please so these videos. Today's selection is Free Willie 3 the steallar movie to end what may be the greatest trilogy ever.... Note the heavy sarcasm....

For some reason after watching this pro enviroment save the whale for almost the entire school day, all I want now is to kill something or eat a big ole steak.

Besides the heay pro-enviroment, stance of the movie that drives me nuts, the whole plot or idea of the movie is unbelievable. I mean one kid saves helps his father see that whale hunting is wrong and changes his whole lifestyle from his father and grandfather did before. I mean does one moment in time force a career change? What a waste of time... and because it deals with the enviroment we get to watch it

My brain is spewing many random thoughts at me, so I believe it's time to write them down and try to make sense of them. By putting them here, maybe I can make enough sense of them that I can node them properly.

I've been in a relationship for over four and a half years now. Now, it feels like this relationship is choking me to death. I've loved my girl for four and a half years.. but for four years, it was all online. It was good.. it was really good. It was warm, real emotion in my cold empty life. When I talked to her, she would entertain me just by being herself. She would cause me to feel warm and happy with little things, like her consistant and predictable accidental misspellings. She made me happy for those years.. but..

I think I've always thought it wouldn't last. I'm much younger than her.. she has a daughter.. she had a husband.. Maybe those things individually haven't mattered much, but they always made me feel like the relationship was futile. I wasn't always happy when she was around.. it required such a commitment. Sometimes I just want to lay in bed and read. I don't want to sit at the computer and wait for her, or sit at the computer and talk to her. In four years, there have been around a 20 weekends she has gotten to spend with me. Most of themare spent with her (now ex-)husband. Because that's his daughter too, of course. He has custody of her on the weekend, so he visits her.

Those weekends.. I've always been glad to have my weekends free. When I know she'll be around, I try to be there for her.. but when I know she won't, I'm not on the computer so much. I'm willing to go out and spend time with my friends, or use my computer for more enjoyable things.. like noding. I don't node when she is around, because she wants my attention.. but sometimes my body cries to do other things.

It's not like she doesn't understand. Well, maybe it is. If I want to lay down and read, I tell her that I need to.. that the computer is driving me batty (I guess I lie, don't I?).. that my body can't stand it.. and it is mostly true, but the full truth is that my body can't stand being tied to the computer for her. My brain says I'd be happier laying down and reading, but instead I stay with her to make her happy.

She isn't my jailer. But I feel so obligated to spend my life with her.. because I know it would make her happy. I feel obligated to spend my life with her. Maybe it's just my arrogance, but I feel like maybe I'm the only person who can satisfy that need of hers for love. How much would it hurt her for me to not be with her? how much would it hurt me?

I used to always think I would be happy with her forever. But I don't know what I might be missing.. she is great for me.. we have so much in common, and so much similar. But I could be happy with someone else.. maybe happier.. but is it just that the grass is always greener on the other side?

I went to her.. I visited her in her home.. we spent a lot of time together during a week.. we were intimate and in love.. my doubts went away when we were together.. but were they actually gone, or were they shrouded in the amazing feelings of sharing new experiences with my love?

This weekend is my company christmas party. The christmas party is set in beautiful Lake Louise.. all expense paid.. a free room in the Château Lake Louise. In my mind, one of the most romantic places in the world.. and I can't bring her, she's thousands of kilometers away. Even if she were here.. would I feel embarassed or uncomfortable bringing her? What would my boss say at finding out my girlfriend is 15 years older than me.. what would happen to my wonderful job? What? Is my job really more important than my relationship? I love my job... but I love my girl... but I just don't like our relationship. Is that it?

Am I actually talking to the E2 scratch pad? ... and worse, was I just waiting for it to answer my questions? .... I guess you don't know the answers to those ones either.

Today at lunch I visited a local Eaton's store, and purchased some luggage and clothes. Add to this one haircut purchased yesterday, and I'm ready to go to my company christmas party without looking like a bum. But will I cry in bed, alone and feeling empty?

What I will tell her:
If you want I will stop and we will never talk of this again.

You know me. You know I don't know anything about relationships. You know I basically don't know anything. I know this isn't the right time, this may even be the worst possible time, but I don't know when else. I know you have a history but, I hope I won't add to it.

I don't know what it is I feel, I don't know. I don't know if it is caring or loving. I don't know if I want to be a good friend or a boyfriend. When you talk about other guys I get upset, maybe I'm being protective of my friend, maybe because I want to be that guy. I'm confused.

I don't want to do anything to damage our friendship, you are one of the best friends I have even had, I just don't want to lie to you. I don't know, I might be wrong. I don't know what I feel. I don't know what feel is. I don't know.

I have tried to figure out what I want but I don't know. I know I want to be friends with you, but I don't know if that is all.

I have never understood the different between friend that is a girl and a girlfriend. I have always had lots of friends that are girls, but have had very few girlfriends. I have never wanted to cross the line, because I didn't want to do anything to the friendship, and for all the self-confidence, I try so hard, to make people think I have, I am as insecure as the next guy.

I don't even know what I want to do about the feelings I have. Could we real go out, is it possible. Could we still be friends afterward? We both know that nothing could be the same.

I will do this tonight or soon or later, or never, I have been meaning to do this forever. I will do it, I will.

What actually happened
So yeah. I'm exhausted, stressed out, bored with school and what have you. Today completely sucked. I got cut from my school's production of the vagina monologues, I had a depressing conversation with a boy last night, I slept through my first class, and feel totally alienated from everything. It's all about swinging between depression and rage. I've had a runny nose since late October and tomorrow is December. I'm hurting for money, and for places to stay between Milwakee and NYC in January because from the 20th of Dec to the 25th of Jan I will be homeless. I couldn't deal with any it.

Then this afternoon I was trying to give a shit about Etruscans (I swear if I had any grit this stupid paper would be written by now) and I was on my way to the basement to change my laundry over and get a soda, and I ran into Ariel. I asked her about tonight, because we were planning on going to the only gay bar in the county with a whole bunch of people here, and she said something like "God, it's so warm out you don't even notice it's like... OH MY GOD! LET'S GO SWIMMING IN THE LAKE RIGHT NOW!!!" I said "I'm nursing a..." she said "C'mon, it's the day before December. It'll be the craziest thing we've ever done."

I got up and put my bathing suit on under my pajamas (I was out of underwear), then put my winter coat on over that and grabbed my towel. The water level had gone down considerably since early October when we last jumped in, and we didn't judge it safe to jump in. This is probably wise, since what we actually did was take turns climbing carefully down the ladder from the dock and sort of falling backward off the ladder into the water (the ladder didn't anywhere near reach the water). Ariel went first. Then I was standing on the ladder being a chicken shit, and she said "you have to go, because I went." I said "I know." Then she mentioned frostbite, and I said, "Oh. Of course, this couldn't be anywhere near as bad as frostbite," and let go the ladder. I must have sort of pushed off a little bit with my legs too, because my back hit the bottom of the lake (no cuts from zeebra muscles thank goodness). Words like 'cold' and 'ice' don't really do this experience justice. When I surfaced I was gasping in surprise, but no sound came out, and Ariel said later she thought I was having a heart attack. Basically all of my muscles just up and quit in surprise for a few moments, so although I could breath, I wasn't sure how I was going to make the 2 steps to the ladder, and then climb up. She helped me up, and I stood there dripping, with a towel around me and smiled, my brain spinning.

From the dock, the other side of the lake was terribly white and indistinct, there were displaced geese all over the place, and we seemed to be the only humans anywhere. Everything seemed different, and the cold November Rain seemed so gentle and warm. Then we took warm/hot showers in the 2nd floor shower room, and I feel so relaxed. My muscle knots are still there, and my problems still exist, but for some reason they seem less black, less unbearable, less big, and my body feels better than it has in a long time. I think you can get stuck between depression and rage, and sometimes nothing but a severe shock will kick you out of it.

hell, If my day doesn't improve from being so cold and wet that I can't move, then I must have some kind of attitude problem!

it's a Gourds kind of day

Austin's weather today can only be described as perfect. Yesterday morning, ice melted off trees creating one of the coolest sights I'd seen in a while. Rain fell only when one stood under trees. Obviously, this second run for the previous night's precipitaion put me in a great mood. That, and the girl I met the night before.

I would like to ask everyone on E2 a favor, please participate in The Great Guinness Toast this evening at 10PM central time. I've never met any noder in person, but a toast with bodies that protect the brains which create a large majority of what I read on a daily basis will make that first sip of Irish excellence truly memorable.

suckapant jigs out of this daylog

BUGGER

Looks like my server that is coloed out in New Westminster is having problems. Specifically, the primary master hard drive isn't coming up. It disappeared for no reason mid-afternoon, and never came back. I sent off an email to a guy I know who works there asking if he could take a look at it. I've had problems before, but they were either connectivity (DDOS) and self induced (ever typed "ifconfig eth0 down" on a remote server? It's a bad idea).

I recently replaced the /home partition on this system. Just after I did that the MBR got messed up, so I had similar problems, and if I'm really lucky, it's something like that again. Maybe a bad power cable or connection that needs wiggling. It's just a huge pain in the ass because it's an hour drive (in non rush hour traffic) to get from work in Chilliwack to the colo). And of course this has to happen on a friday, which means I have to beg the sysadmin there to come in over the weekend to let me into the machine room.

I really hope that the drive is not shot... it wouldn't be a disaster, I have backups of the vital parts (/etc, database dumps) and /var, /usr, and /home are all separate partitions, so (hopefully) it's recoverable. If the drive itself is shot, it's a matter of trying to figure out which partitions were mounted from the primary drive and which were on the secondary. I know (at least 99.99% sure) that /home is fine, as it's a SCSI drive that is brand new. It's just that on boot /dev/hda is not detected.

Fingers crossed.

Hello World. I'm back, didja miss me? I've been in and around Cape Town, visiting my in-laws and looking for charismatic megafauna. The trip was wonderful, gave me a lot of stuff to write about and opened my eyes to a whole new way of life. I'm sure i'm going to end up noding a lot about the place, but before i fall asleep i'll just post one of my lists - i've got to get some of this stuff off my chest:

My Best Experiences in South Africa:

  1. Driving through the Cape Point nature reserve and seeing a big brown ostrich ambling along the side of the road, with her spiny little baby leading a few feet ahead of her.
  2. Getting to the top of Table Mountain and looking around at a view much like the Sinai Desert, only with more clouds. Meeting up with the guys that couldn't take the climb and had to ride the cable car instead, and watching clouds pour over Devil's Peak. Feeling exhilarated at having finished that killer climb, and stupidly vowing that next time i will climb Devil's Peak.
  3. Driving over Swartberg Pass, watching dizzying scenery pass by (a drop of a few hundred feet without even a guard rail to make us feel safe - now THAT'S scenery). Shortly afterwards, seeing the most amazing cloud ever - a massive, multi-layered castle of a cloud with a giant's face stuck in it - and being totally blown away by an idea that could turn into the best story i've ever written. No, i'm not telling. You're just going to have to read the book.
  4. Watching my wife jazz with her brother. For those who don't know about jazzing, it's a form of dancing that seems to be exclusively Capetonian. I don't know enough about ballroom dancing to say what it's based on, but it involves a lot of twirling both partners and light sort of cha-cha stepping. You can do it to just about any kind of music. I can't jazz to save my own life, but she does it so gracefully and joyously that it reminds me of the very first day i met her. This is not just my own opinion, either. After she dances, other girls actually come over to tell her how fine she jazzes.
  5. Nightfall outside of Knysna, standing outside our lodge with a cigarette, looking at the multitude of stars overhead and the utter blackness of the jungled hills around us, and listening to about four million kinds of birds calling out all around. Unavoidably thinking of Tarzan and the Swiss Family Robinson. I wish we had a big treehouse instead of a touristy lodge.
  6. Sitting through an impromptu party that starts in the afternoon with a couple of neighbors dropping in with beers and blackcurrant Hooch. The door stays open, and by the time i go to sleep (around 1 AM, 'cos i'm wussy) about 12-15 people have passed through, with a steady core of about nine good friends. Drinks, smokes, and food are all shared out in a marvelously communist manner. Music plays, but the main event is a steady flow of friendly conversation and raucous laughter. Everything is in Afrikaans, which i can only catch scattered phrases of, but once in a while i will get enough of it to throw in a joke of my own in English. (They all speak flawless English, Afrikaans is simply the language of choice). At around nine o-clock, i begin to feel like part of the family.
  7. Being let into the cheetah cage at a touristy wildlife ranch for a mere 30 Rand, part of which is supposedly going to help rebuild cheetah populations - a hopeless goal, i know, but a nice idea - and getting to pet the big kitties and hear them actually purring when we pet them. I'll be damned it they aren't just great big kittens with nasty sharp claws and great ferocious teeth. I love it!

Worst Moments in South Africa:
Going with S. and K. to the Town Centre in the middle of the night, on only my second night in Cape Town. I have not been so scared since my worst days in the army - i've only been this scared three or four times in my life. At first, i was just nervous about my companions, even though they are friends of my wife's - because i had just met them, i had been warned by my wife not to trust anyone including her friends, i believed that all these people liked her old boyfriend more than me, and was getting paranoid about being the only squid-coloured, blue-haired, non-Afrikaans-speaker in Mitchell's Plain at the time. Although he had been fairly polite towards me before this little ride, S.'s gruff manner was now really beginning to freak me out. And when they led me into the Town Centre i was thinking what a stupid idiot i had been for ever coming with them on this little excursion.

Into the building with not a soul in sight, around the corner, up an escalator... i know that i am a dead man. Suddenly i see a pair of seriously unfriendly gangster faces looking down at us, and i know that i'm not only dead but i am going to suffer a great deal before oblivion releases me. I don't make eye contact, i don't make any sudden moves. There is a whole squad of gangsters sitting on the floor near the "down" escalator. Shit.

And we get to the ATM, and K. goes up to it, and S. stands nearby trying to look alert but casual, thumbs in his pockets for extra toughness, and he motions for me to do the same, and i finally realise why they wanted me to come with them. They need a third man. They are as scared as i am. These guys, who are pretty tough hombres themselves, are just worried shitless about getting jumped or shot. A teeny-tiny part of me feels better, because at least now i know the guys actually like me. The rest of me understands that this is worse than any of my stupid paranoid fantasies, and is ready to pee in my pants if anybody so much as says "boo".

S. lights up a cigarette while we wait, and K. turns around saying loudly that his pay didn't come through yet. As we leave, one of the gangsters gets up and asks S. for a cigarette. Without a word, carefully avoiding eye contact and sudden motions, S. hands him the one he just lit, and we all practically run down the escalator.

(A few days later, K. will tell me that they do this almost every week, and that it is actually worse during daylight hours. The gangsters practically own the Town Centre, the largest building in Mitchell's Plain. One unlucky payday around a year ago, they started an actual war in the building - aside from shooting each other, they began shooting other people at random and looting the bodies. The police ran away, and the army had to be brought in to stop them.)

But our ride into gangland isn't over yet. After some nice calming herb, we enter a neighborhood that looks like a little corner of hell. Corrugated aluminum shacks here, no electricity, no glass in the windows, car doors used to build shack walls - the Mad Max school of architecture. And we're actually stopping in front of a shack guarded by two gangsters wearing thick track jackets. There are more of them inside, gathered around a fire that throws gargoylic shadows against the irregular walls. The only cars in the neighborhood are all lined up outside this shack, and they all seem to be almost new cars.

S. and K. both tell me to wait in the car, and they enter the shack. The guards are watching the car. They are suspicious. Maybe they've seen my face and didn't like it, or maybe they just don't like the idea of someone waiting in the car. I try to keep a low profile by looking carefully the other way, and i end up flinching pathetically when S. opens the door. We get back to the party at home, safe and sound and bearing illegal rotgut. I'm not even sure that's what they bought from the gangsters, but i don't ask.

Sure, i'm just a meek geek from a kibbutz. I ain't tough and i rarely pretend to be. Maybe i'm just over-reacting. Right? Wrong, wrong wrong. There is some seriously scary crime running rampant in Mitchell's Plain and other places just like it in South Africa. My father-in-law's house was broken into three times last year, in broad daylight. If he didn't work for an insurance company, he would never have been able to afford to replace the stuff that got stolen the second and third times. Here are the natives' basic rules of the road in their area, a reaction to muggings and hijackings far too numerous to count:

  • First of all, you don't walk anywhere outside of your block after dark. You drive. When driving, all doors must be locked at all times, even during the day.
  • At night, the windows must be closed whenever the speed goes below 50 KPH.
  • At night, you do not stop at a red light unless there is cross traffic that is about to hit you.
  • You do not stop to help stranded motorists at night. There is nothing more suspicious than a stranded motorist. If your car breaks down after dark, start praying, and don't bother to call the police, because as soon as the sun went down they headed for the nice, safe, white neighborhoods. Did i mention that there aren't any streetlights except on the major arteries?

Oh yes, colour is still a major problem around these parts. This is something that most white South Africans i've known don't seem to understand, or at least pretend not to understand. Sure, the racial categories have been erased from the laws and my grandmother-in-law has a new ID that doesn't say "Other-Coloured" on it, but blacks and coloureds still don't have any property worth mentioning and they still don't get management jobs. It's a self-perpetuating system that is only going to improve with some heavy Affirmative Action, and that simply isn't happening. Look behind every mop you can find, and you'll see only black men. Your tour guide? A coloured woman. Sales assistants? Even odds for all races. But managers? I'll give you three guesses, and the first two don't count.

Some things are changing, albeit at a painfully slow pace. People are mingling a bit more, and the attitudes are changing little by little. Not too fast, mind you - i heard my new friends slinging racist epithets every which way during my stay, including the "K" word and my personal favourite, "You lie like a white lady!" Honest, it makes me smile when a friend says it - but if that's not a symptom of a greater problem, i don't know what is.

When D. saw me reading a history book, recommended to me at every single bookshop as the best introduction to South African history, he laughed and said, "let me tell you the real history of South Africa. Before the elections, they fucked us. Now, they ask us our name, and then they fuck us."

I have no more to say. I feel like i should stamp one of those -30- marks here, like SharQ does. But i'm not a journalist. I'm just trying to sort out my own feelings about the whole business. Believe it or not, i loved SA and am seriously considering moving there. But i have the same mixed feelings about it that i have for my own fucked-up mother country, Israel. I just don't know yet. Good night.

My guitar has been gently weeping all day.

The day started out all right, except that I was ridiculously tired, and didn't much want to get up. I wish I had stayed in bed. I got out of the shower and started to get ready, when my mother came up to me to say goodbye for the day.

And then, she said, "George Harrison died."

"Really?" I said.
"Yeah."

Don Maclean has said that when he heard that The Big Bopper, Ritchie Valens, and Buddy Holly had died in a plane crash, it felt like someone had "punched me in the mouth."

I felt the same way, except add in a punch in the stomach and a swift kick to the groin.

It's all too much, for me to take.

But, as I always do when someone dies, I just stopped thinking about it, and went to eat my breakfast. All things must pass away. It didn't really set in until I came back into my room, and turned on the TV to see how warm it would be. I had totally forgotten, and turning on the TV just at the end of the newscast made it so that the first thing that I saw was a picture of him, and

George Harrison
1943-2001


The Today Show opened up with While My Guitar Gently Weeps. I watched the first few minutes, seeing the retrospective of his life. I had to leave, however, and so I went to my car. I decided to play only songs by George on my way to school. I started with Within You Without You, and I almost started to cry. I don't mean bawling, I mean the kind of tears like at a sad movie, when you feel them welling up in your eyes. I played Don't Bother Me.

Don't come around, leave me alone
Don't Bother Me


I listened to While My Guitar Gently Weeps, which seems all the better now. Then, I listened to probably his two biggest hits (with the Beatles), Here Comes The Sun and Something. By the time that Something was over, I had already parked, and I was just sitting in the parking lot. Then, I turned up my stereo pretty loud, and blasted the opening chord of It's All Too Much. I listened to the whole song, then got up and went inside. Apparently, you could hear the song across the parking lot. Lucky for anyone in the parking lot.

George Harrison really was one of the greatest musicians of all time. He wrote incredible songs, and played the guitar incredibly. Just listen to the solos on the album version of Let it Be. Or his little fills on Come Together. Or listen to You Never Give Me Your Money. Even in the early years (Don't Bother Me, for example), he played great solos. I think that Abbey Road does the best job of showcasing his talent as a guitarist, but any album will do.

Sunrise doesn't last all morning...
Sunset doesn't last all evening...
No it's not always going to be this grey
All things must pass
All things must pass away


He really was great.


I don't daylog... except, it seems, when something bad happens.

It's pouring rain again, just as it has been for the last couple of days. Usually, it doesn't rain hard like this in Portland. It just drizzles steadily until the entire city looks like its surrounded by a grey mist.

My husband keeps finding leaks in the house where water is seeping in and running down the walls. So far, he's found three leaks, and we aren't sure how to stop them. Any patching to fix the leaks would need to be done under dry conditions, and dry conditions won't really occur again until summer unless we're lucky. This house is really neat, but we keep finding problems, usually involving remodeling jobs done by amateurs. Our real estate agent called things like that "remuddling" instead of remodeling. The leaks are coming from where the addition was built and from the shoddy skylight in the bathroom. People really should shell out the money and have professionals do remodeling work.

George Harrison died and that makes me sad. So, I'm listening to the Beatles mixed with the sound of pouring rain. Its appropriately depressing. I hope that he didn't suffer too much in the end. Cancer is a bitch, and a lot of the time, you end up in pain. Hopefully he's in a better place now.

My sister-in-law has breast cancer. She had surgery last month, and is recovering well. However, the cancer they found is a rare form and much harder to treat than they thought. So, her second round of chemo and radiation is going to be stronger and longer than originally thought. All her hair fell out in September from the chemo. She had thick, long hair that was absolutely gorgeous. But, being the person she is, she dealt with it, bought a nice wig, and kept on with her life. She is in school part time and goes salsa dancing just about every weekend. She's 32 years old. My husband went and saw her last weekend and said that she was thinner and paler than he's ever seen her. She's tired, worn out, and hasn't gone dancing in a couple of weeks.

I keep hoping that everything will be OK, but I can't help but worry that it won't.

QXZ's London Invasion, Part One
forward to part two

I'm So Bored With The USA
and
I'm so worried about the baggage retrieval system they've got at Heathrow

Only at the airport would a small corn muffin and a cranberry juice cost $4.35. The joys of being a captive audience. Dining...audience. Yes. Disney and airports: they've figured it out.

Woke up at Rene's place around 5AM and was driven hesitantly to the airport. Fog and electrical problems in Rene's P.O.S. failed to prevent my arrival at the terminal.

The "corn" muffin tastes like yellow cake with maybe a dash of cornmeal in it.

Passport was checked immediately upon arrival at the airport. I was quizzed about my current residence (even though no address is printed in the passport... how would they know if I'd lied?), birth date and birth place. I passed and proceeded to check-in to check my luggage in, and check myself in. I was thoroughly checked, and very in. Bought batteries (AA)and leafed through a Stuff magazine 'cause it featured a pictorial on the woman who plays Tara on Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Aren't I progressive?

It's 6:20 AM, EST.

The Port Authority has asked me to "please enjoy our Rocking Chairs (sic) while you wait for your flight", and so I am.

Getting through the x-ray machine and metal detector took quite awhile. A bevy of Virgin Atlantic flight attendants had to remove their long, red coats and send them through the machine. One woman was required to remove her shoes and send them through the scanner after setting off the metal detector.

New sight (for me) at the security checkpoint: camoflaged soldier with an M-16 slung over his shoulder watching the x-ray monitor. Two more similarly armed soldiers stationed a few feet away. I'm forced to wonder exactly what circumstances would trigger the unslinging and aiming of the weapons. A knife in your bag? Set off the metal detector a few too many times? Crack a joke about bombs? I have a feeling I'd become a pretty docile individual if held at M-16 point.

Here's hoping the blaring airport CNN won't drive me insane before boarding.

Reasons Virgin Atlantic is a good airline: the stewardesses have accents from all over the isles; every seat has a video monitor with choice of movies and/or TV and or Super NES video games (F-Zero!); movies are uncensored(!!); even coach passengers get a goodie bag; the in-flight magazine actually has interesting, well written articles on a variety of subjects; the pre-flight safety video is not only entertainingly animated, but is actually funny.

I set my watch to London time upon takeoff.

Airspeed: 551 mph, heading: 93 degrees.

Landed, essentially uneventfully. Exceptionally smooth flight, barring a few seconds of the roughest turbulence I've yet experienced. Bit of a white-knuckle moment, there. The woman next to me took that opportunity to explain to me how recent events made her feel about flying. Her views didn't calm me much.

One expensive Tube ride later, and I arrive in the Earl's Court section of London. It's about 9:30 PM, GMT. Taking a wrong turn out of the Tube station forces me into half an hour of wandering around before I finally find the Hotel Halifax at 65 Philbeach Gardens. The street, luckily, was on the map in my Lonely Planet guide, sparing me from having to kick myself for not buying a London A-Z guide at Heathrow as I'd planned.

Hotel Halifax, the hostel, is a bit grottier than I'd expected. No lockers, either, so cramming luggage under the bed is maximum security. I considered using the padlock and bicycle chain I'd brought, but didn't want to offend my new roomies. I'm in a bunk bed in a basement room, which seems to be fully occupied now that I'm here. Unexpected; I guess it's weekenders. A boombox is playing Coldplay. Curious to see how many of these folks are still here after the weekend.

A guy I thought was Canadian or American turns out to be British after all. I discovered this because he's just told me that George Harrison died today. I suppose that explains why the silent TV in here has been running Beatles footage since I walked in. Funny; he's departing just as I'm arriving. One more gone. There was a guitar on my bed when I got here, but if it was gently weeping I couldn't tell.

Wandered out to find food, and got semi-lost by turning left instead of right at the end of the road. Always turn right! By the time I found my way back to Earl's Court Rd. and got cash, most food-type places were closed. I was reduced to eating at Subway. An American Consumer in London.

Not holding out hope of getting much sleep. The one awake person in here is simultaneously listening to Lenny Kravitz on the boombox and watching TV. And, of course, the entire remainder of the crew will barge back in when the clubs close. No pillow.

Braving the sink to brush my teeth will cap off the travel day. Welcome to London.


Excerpted from QXZ's travel Diary entry of 11/30/01. QXZ endorses no one.

Forward to Part Two

We got to the party at about 7:30, the doors were supposed to open at 7:00, but they weren't letting anyone in yet, so we waited in the van. We had smoked up on the way there, and I was getting the munchies in force; alas we brought no food, bugger, bugger, bugger! I worried a little about taking the E on a completely empty (and growling) stomach, but since it's an appetite suppressant I figured I'd at least feel better after taking it.

They let us in at about 8:30. There weren't many people there yet, and almost no one was dancing, so we claimed some seats and chilled for a while. Neil took his tab shortly after we got in, I held off on taking mine until I was pretty sure the party was going to be cool. It was probably around 9:30 when I did take it. I went into a bathroom stall to retrieve the tab from my wallet, and hid it in my cheek until I got to a water fountain. It tasted horrible, and I couldn't get it down on my first try. I was a little worried that the cops just outside might take an interest in me if I stayed in front of the water fountain too long, but fortunately I got it down on my second try. The effects started after about 40 minutes. I was just sitting with my friends listening to the DJ, and very slowly the energy creeped up on me. I knew it started when I closed my eyes and it felt divine. I sat with my eyes scruched up for a few minutes until there was just too much energy in me to sit still, and I had to start dancing.

I was a little shy at first, since I'm usually very introverted, and not at all good at dancing, but pretty soon I stopped caring and just let myself move. It felt wonderful. Every muscle was begging to be used, and I tried to appease them. The music, which was previously too loud and hurting my poor ears was now the perfect volume. I could feel the vibrations through the floor and the walls, as well as my own body. I was so into dancing that I didn't notice when Ryan, Steven, and Mike went off into another part of the building. I was terribly disapointed when I noticed they were gone, I was full of love and I wanted to share it with them. When I saw them coming back I immediately ran up and gave Mike a big hug, and then gave Steven one because he looked disappointed not to get one.

I danced some more. A lot more. Then I went outside to cool off. Neil was out there talking to some candy kids. I joined their circle and stole a drag from Neils cig. The candy kid in furry tigger pants asked if I was rolling too. Neil told him I was, and he offered me a binky if I needed something to bite on. My jaw was clenching quite a bit, but I decided I could handle it. I was overwhelmed by the friendliness of everyone, I'm not very sociable most of the time, but that night I would have talked to anyone. It started drizzling a little while later, and the small drops of cold felt delicious on my skin. I danced a lot more that night, whenever the energy returned. My friends mostly just sat and enjoyed the music and vibrating walls. They said they just felt too good to move much. I hope that's not what happens after doing E several times, because for me it just felt so good I had to dance.

My first time rolling was on MDA, which was a little speedier, and didn't give me the tactile enhancement that I was experiencing on the MDMA. I was also much more sociable and euphoric on the MDMA than the MDA, and the burnout the next day wasn't nearly as bad either. (although that could be because I took a 5-HTP as we left the rave.) I also burned quite a bit of the fat that I've put on since taking up smoking weed. My pants were considerably looser the next day, but I gained muscle too because I actually weighed more. I'm in decent shape now, and all from one night of dancing like a maniac. I love E!

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