In the end, no real surprise: a groggy morning finds me admitting to the silence that I'm not made of iron or anything so tough, for how could I be when all week, all month, I've felt like a pile of leaves or ancient tome, something that would fly apart if even the breeze were too strong. Oh I wanted to do more, sure. I've wanted to have a different relationship with words since I started using them with such deliberateness, around the age of 12. But words require that I be tough, or at least, in how I want to use them they do because I want them to bite, have edge, form sharp meanings that they simply cannot without truth. And admitting to truth is hard. Perhaps that's a weakness I inherited, I don't know. In the end, I thought November would be the perfect time for some careful peacemaking with truth, what with it's cloudy, moody propensity to compel introspection, but it turns out too many other forces were eroding my not-all-too-thick-to-start skin.

The reality of it probably isn't of interest to anyone beyond me, how I spent the month sick, or have become the nail that will get hammered down as a reward for sticking out. Well all have our moments where it's exactly our heart that falls between the rock and the hard place, and tectonics seem to insist on holding mine, grinding it as a test: whether I'll be able to stay standing in spite of it. I might be a wimp sometimes, might trade the truth for something shinier or softer, but I am one of those principled types. I will stand up and speak up when something isn't right. In the school I work in, that has made me target one for the new administration, who every day seem to undertake the task of finding new thorns, sharper ways of shifting the score. It's not even my fight. It's not personal. I'm just in the right position at the right time. After the daily assault, is it any wonder I failed to seek yet more sharpness, didn't keep carving truth from context?

I'd had plans, nodeshells I meant to fill, facts, situations, events to launch into text. I had so much more to write. It reminds me of my grandma's words; with warmth and acceptance, she'd say, "Life is what happens while you're busy making plans." Que sera sera. And it was still something, even if just for me. I realized I'd spent five years on E2 without getting past level 1. It takes me, statistically, some 78 days per node on average, and this month, I wrote 9. I might not have solved the world's problems, let alone my own, but I did write something. Back on day 1, that alone was my goal.

This is fiction. Mostly.

Five chalky white circles. Down the hatch. Her face grimaced at the bitter opiate taste, her eyes closed tightly, the top of her nose crinkled. She sipped from her glass of ice water and smiled to herself.

Who needs a trip sitter for a depressant?

No sense in complaining, I guess. There wasn't anywhere else I'd rather be. It was one of those half-formed Sundays that makes you wonder where the weekend went, and why you're drifting through the day half-asleep after finally getting a decent amount of sleep. The only successful way to spend the day would be to drift through one of these Sundays with a joint and a lawn chair; trying to accomplish anything would be playing against the overwhelming mood of sleepiness and half-realized despair that these overcast Sundays were desperate to impose on you. I'm tired of having the weekend, holiest of holy concepts during the week, let me down.

Besides, her needless worrying was adorable.

She was already lying down, wrapped up in the cotton bedsheets and her grey zip hoodie. There was no way the oxy had kicked in yet, but she played her role anyway, curling out among the disrupted bedsheets. Her eyes were wide open, but you could tell that she had already resigned herself to what was coming.

“I'm glad you're here.”

“In case you fall asleep and waste your money?”

“Right.”

“I'm guessing it hasn't kicked in yet?”

“Not for another 20 minutes.”

We waited in quiet reverie, looking forward to more of the same. I just wanted to see the sleepy, contented look on her face and give her the relaxation that she needed. I just wanted to be part of the warm, tired celebration in her head, a candlelit god of comfort.

I wanted to be needed. She needed me.

  • I just returned from an awkward family dinner. I'm used to my own family's awkward dinners — my parents split up 20 years ago — but this one was my girlfriend's family. I really like all of them individually, but together they just don't seem to work; there are too many things unsaid and unsayable. I don't want to say too much about it because it's their business, and because it's not inconceivable that one of them could eventually discover my writings on here. It wasn't unpleasant for me — funny how one's own family problems can make an occasion unbearable, but someone else's just doesn't have the same effect. I ate nice food and had fun showing off the baby. I felt like Doctor Evil with Mini-me. Holding a baby is a licence to do all kinds of things socially that you normally wouldn't do for fear of embarrassment. It's amazing how many people will simply come up and start talking to you when they see a cute little baby in your arms. I wandered around the hotel showing him shiny Christmas Tree baubles and a man building a fire, and to be honest, I was enjoying it all at least as much as the little bundle in my arms. I'm loving this.
  • Money still sucks. Because I was sick this weekend, I haven't done any of the work I intended to do, so I'll be starting off the week behind. I haven't earned anything yet over here. Our housing benefit claim was cancelled because they say that they asked us for documentation I didn't provide (except I did) — so now I have to reapply, and also appeal against the cancellation so I can get the claim back-dated. I was hoping to have that money before Christmas, for obvious reasons. Tomorrow I have to go sign on in Harrogate, despite the fact that I still haven't got any jobseeker's allowance yet, for equally annoying bureaucratic reasons. I know that one day soon money won't suck, because I do have work, and our costs are low now. But in the short-term, we're having to borrow and beg from family or get into debt, and it doesn't feel good. I try not to stress about it. Maybe my dad will come up with a big surprise Christmas present; more likely he doesn't give me anything, like my birthday, and last Christmas. I'll probably just get a text. OK, no more ranting, I'm done. Time for a more positive note:
  • The Iron Noder Challenge has been more successful than I ever imagined it would be. When I initially raised the idea, I didn't think anyone would be interested. By the way, I read through the catbox archive and I have to credit sam512 with the original idea of a node a day for 30 days. He even called it "Iron Noder". I don't know if I saw him say that and forgot it, or if I came up with it myself, but originally I was going to call it "The Iron Man Noding Challenge", until someone, I forget who, pointed out a much better name. When it became clear that there were a few people interested, I decided to try and run the challenge, but the eventual response overwhelmed me. Not only did far more people sign up than I expected, but quite a few people who hadn't written on the site for a long time — years in some cases — decided to make a return, citing the quest as their reason.

    Not everyone is going to complete the challenge — and I'm not surprised. It might have seemed like it would be easy, and for some people it may have been, but I can report that it was not easy. It was very, very difficult to keep on producing the urge to write, day in and day out; and it's easy, if you fall behind the pace, to feel like giving up instead of having to write 2 or 3 nodes a day for a couple of days. This wasn't an easy challenge, and everyone who gave it a go should be very, very proud of themselves. Everyone who completed it fully deserves their rewards and their honorary title of Iron Noder — and whatever other goodies the staff (and I realize that now includes me!) come up with for them.

    At the time of writing, it looks like we're going to hit something between 660 and 670 writeups for the quest. I'd hoped to break 700, but regardless, it's a pretty amazing collective achievement. The standard overall was astonishingly high, considering the requirements of the quest. I want to gently encourage anyone who wants something to do with their votes and C!s to spend some time going through at least part of the list of writeups in the quest node. A great many deserving writeps slipped through the cracks due to the high turnover in New Writeups and the reduced number of C!s to go around these days.

    This is my 30th node this month. I think I need a little break now. But I feel pretty proud of myself.

It was a small motel in the middle of nowhere. It was early in the morning, before another 8 hour stint of driving. My parents were shouting at each other, shouting about me. My father had been nice enough to buy a box of donuts, wonderful glazed donuts. Of which there were exactly three left.

I assumed they would only want one a piece.

"Garland, this has to stop. What in the hell were you thinking?"

"Leave him alone!" My mother said. My mother, who had been thin for exactly ten years at that point.

"I am sick and tired of this bullshit! You eat too damn much, Garland. Do you want us to send you to fat camp?"

My mother goes into the bathroom to brush her hair, in an angry way. My father waves the near empty box around, and I feel how fat and pathetic I am. My brother watched from his bed, always the last one up.

Behavior 1: Whenever there is a portion of food to share, I always access how much I can get away with eating. I eat up to that point, sometimes more.

A week ago, I had a massive, throbbing headache. I couldn't figure out what it was. I traced it later to the nitrates in the hotdogs.

All day I had been toasting bread and putting hotdogs in the microwave. I did this two at a time, a knife and a jar of miracle whip at the ready. I made certain to do this when no one would be around to see how much I was eating. I would slather on the miracle whip, wrap the toast around the warm hotdog, and eat quickly. I ate the first one the fastest, shoving it down my throat, praying that the coast would be clear a little longer. That way, if they did come out, all they would see is me enjoying a single hotdog, standing over the sink, looking nervous.

At this point, I am a 24 year old man, binge eating in secret.

Behavior 2: I hide how much I eat from everyone. I lie to the person I love the most about this, out of habit.

I have a love/hate relationship with buffets. It is ALLYOUCANEAT. You would not be getting your money's worth if you didn't do just that. My first plate is always heavy with carbs and fried food: pizza, rolls, macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, fish nuggets, etc. etc. I begin to panic around the middle of the second plate. I am becoming full.

I shove the rest of the food down my throat, working on borrowed time. I am literally fighting satiety.

Behavior 3: I do not eat to live. I live to eat.

This has to stop. I have an eating disorder.

This is the writeup formerly known as...

Everything2 reminded me how cool my life is

My life is a pretty cool thing to live through. Don't feel left out; yours probably is, too. It's really easy to forget that, though, because you're too busy living to really pay attention to it. You fall into a routine, just doing things as they happen, and even the weird things lose their lustre; nothing really breaks your tempo.

But your life is probably cool. I'd forgotten that mine is, but I've just been reminded of it.

Over the past month, I've been participating in Iron Noder. I'm not actually reaching the goal, making my attempt a glorious failure. The glory, of course, is that I'm writing again. "Getting back into everything2" had been on my to-do list for over two years, a hiatus longer than the active time of my account. It never got done out of pure laziness; I had a queue of things I wanted to write, but I never had a push to do it, so I never did. Video games were easier, anyway.

Then along comes NaNoWriMo, and a small smattering of people pressuring me to participate; I've neve been able to write fiction longer than a few short stories, so trying to do a novel was right out. But maybe I could aim for thirty Everything2 nodes in a month? I stumbled very quickly across Iron Noder, and decided to give it a try, representing my push back into writing.

Well, by the quantity of nodes I've added writeups to this month, it evidently worked as giving me that push. Even though the Challenge itself is over, I intend to keep writing. My queue of things to write grew; I added things much faster than I could remove them. Sometimes, one writeup would inspire me to create more; more often, something in life would inspire me towards something I should write up. Highlights from work, elements of musical performances, falling off my bicycle, all of these things have been added to my queue- and some have already been written about.

That constant search for new material is the true value of Everything2. It is why Everything2 kicks Wikipedia's ass. Whenever something interesting in my life happens, I can't just let it drift by- I pay rapt attention, taking notes, placing myself to fully experience my life- originally, just so I could write it up later, to share and to express and to give me something interesting to compose, but now it's already become a habit- I'm paying attention to everything, and learning quickly that there's a lot of interesting stuff to say and do.

It's not just me. From the reputation score on my write-ups, apparently other people think my life is cool too. I write about the daily or weekly normal stuff that happens in my life, my perspective on it and how it affects me, and people get interested. I make random notes about slightly weird experiences and I get a plethora of messages about it, discussing it, finding people with their own takes and opinions on similar experiences- and I feel like part of the world, an individual worthy of note simply because my experience is unique. So is everybody else's. That's why I like to read Everything2, after all.

Many people with blogs have observed the same phenomenon, the "I'm so blogging this" experience. I have a LiveJournal, but it's never done as much for me, even when I've tried (and failed) similar post-per-day challenges. As a day-to-day chronicle of my life, I note events, and the occasional stray thought; I don't go on into detail about the normal aspects and infodebris in my life for paragraphs on end. A blog makes me wish for flashy and wild experiences to tell epic stories about. That's great, too, but it's not the same as learning- or being reminded- that there's an epic story in just about everything I do, and when I don't screw it up, it's worth reading. Everybody else's is, after all, so why shouldn't mine be?

Everything2 put me in the noder mindset, and it reminded me that my life is full of awesome. Try it. Yours is too.

Good God. I find myself forced to this - a daylog, with three minutes left - to keep up with dichotomyboi's 42 nodes during The IRON NODER CHALLENGE. I am ashamed.

But I'll do it anyway. The challenge was awesome. I noded more than I have in years. I talked to new noders and old noders about their work. It felt like The Old E2. Actually, no, better - it felt like the New E2, but busy and crowded.

I COME IN UNDER THE WIRE with 33 seconds left by the clock. I'll keep typing, now that I've submitted the node.

Anyway, this month has been a bit of a stress on time due to the challenge - I've fallen behind in noding for Information Dissemination, the navy and strategy blog where I've been guestwriting. I'll have to make up for that this coming month. I plan on being a good Jew and working through Christmas so my goyim friends and colleagues can see family anyway; that'll be a good time to make up for it.

I finally resurrected my car, just in time to go to my Dad's for Thanksgiving. I realized, as I was driving north, that I haven't driven in over six months - and I'd forgotten how relaxing I find driving. Damn it. I'm going to have to do something about that. When I have more available funds.

NOTE: I CONSIDER DICHOTOMYBOI TO HAVE OUTNODED ME DURING THE CHALLENGE DUE TO THE CHEAP MANEUVER EMPLOYED BY ME THAT WAS THIS NODE. THAT IS ALL.

dichotomyboi says My last node was going to be titled OH NO YOU DON'T and it was going to be a short poem about how you could suck it.
you said "HAHAHAHA I would so cool that. I would edcool that." to dichotomyboi (sent to 1 noder)

On Not Being Scottish

Being A Short Song of Dubious Quality and Questionable Linguistic Puckritude, Celebrating St Andrew's Day

Ah'm no Scoatish, but ma name's Fergus Ray Murray
It's a source ae some wuddrum fae those ah meet
An it muddles matters further
That I'm livin up in E'nb'rgh
An ah dinnae really ken jes whit tae dae.

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