I shall be leaving two days hence for a two-week stay in Virginia. This is a direct result of the fact that, about three months ago, my brother and his wife finally became successful in adopting two children from Bolivia (no thanks to the Bolivian government, which had been impeding their efforts for two years). I will visit and be introduced as Uncle Clarence, and I'll put on my game face and try to enjoy it. I understand that many (perhaps most) people would think this a joyous occasion. I, on the other hand, am not much of a family person. Rather, the family that is important to me comprises the people that I've invited into my heart over the years.

Add to that the fact that I often do not particularly enjoy vacations because I most often am vacationing alone, and thinking of the aforementioned people that I left behind. Unfortunately, given that all but one of these people are male and so constituted as to make a homosexual romantic relationship impossible, my vacations always begin by leaving them. (Except for my trip to Thailand three years ago, a joint venture with my good friend Bernard.) Regardless of the beauty or exoticism of my destination, I despoil what should have been memorable by pining for the people with whom I won't be sharing those memories years and decades later.

So I'm not looking forward to this trip. In addition to it being for a reason that does little for me (did I mention, by the way, that children are not my favorite class of people?), this time I'll be leaving behind Edward, the most lovable person I know, and the best friend I've ever had.

Today was the day of our weekly volleyball game. I arrived at East Beach at ten minutes before noon, and a half hour later, called Edward's home and cell phones. No answers. At twelve thirty, I was in my car waiting for the red light at the egress of the parking lot, angry at the four-to-eight people none of whom had shown up, and thinking how unhappy I'd be if I didn't see him this weekend, when he called me. I told him that there was nobody there and I was just leaving. He said he was on his way with a friend, so I told him I'd stay. By the time he arrived, two others had also, and eventually there were six of us; enough for a good game, and two visitors joined us as well. We had a good two hours of play, and as we were walking off the beach, Edward asked if I'd had fun (yes) and apologized for the tardiness, explaining that he'd already voiced his displeasure at the other folks who'd kept him that morning. I gave him a big ol' smile, and he returned it. He can always make me happy, whether I'm full of self-righteous anger, or fuming at stupid customers I'm having to deal with. (For the last two days, he's been privileged to hear me swearing at the incompetence of these people as I continue working around their mistakes, and making my boss afraid to come into our office.)

Thankfully, the day turned out well. And our tentative geocaching plan for tomorrow may still happen. Edward is such a beautiful person, with a heart big enough to reach me while I'll be three thousand miles away. I wish everyone could have a friend like him. Edward, my dear love, I'm going to miss you.

Hopefully a visit with Mitzi will help. Got the cookies ready?

From the suspended fluffs of cotton vapor trails illuminated by the incandescent sunset to the vivid memories of the days long past, my life is one big story of us. The sweatpants, the boots, the memories of that time at that place that that thing happened, and that thing you never told me and I'll probably never know -- these thoughts follow me like a pet dinosaur named worry. And while I'm certain that I'm the only one feeling the way, while I'm positive that I'm the only one who believes the future is no place to put my happier days; there are the glimmers of hope from the sporadic glimpses into the life that seems so far away, separated by only one hour -- but in an alternate universe of yesterday.

We are dynamic creatures that are being shaped and carved day by day. With each passing moment we discover the new, improve upon the old, and rediscover the forgotten. The life that made me while you were the pivotal equation in my matrix of reality hasn't really been factored out of my realm of perception -- a filter that allows me to remember everything about you through your absence. There's nothing that I can't somehow link to when we were an us. I'm not bitter, but I am lonely.

Tech Support

something has gone terribly wrong.

can you fix it?

Shut up and drive -- drive.

And still I dream. I watch the sandy beaches of the places that I might some day be -- dream of being a beach bum engineer. House on the beach, car in the garage, happy for happiness' sake.

The beach is my last known place of happiness. The beach and the memories therein. White sand. The cool wind in my hair gives me hope -- reminds me that just like everything else in life, there are cycles. Winter is coming again, and now I have so many other memories to contend with. Winter has always been a good time in my life, but like all others not without worry. It seems like every relationship I had ever gotten into was in the winter season, and over by the summer, or the following winter -- only to lead into yet another. Nostalgia surrounds me and often leaves a warm feeling in my heart, but the sweet isn't so simple... there is always the sour. Invariably, all these twinges of fond memories play out the tales over and into the devastating finally that will never change. The story of my life. These are the times when I take a step back and I enter one of those "what does it all mean” phases. Cyclical. All the memories that used to warm my heart come back to mind. All the people, all faces, all the words that inspired my soul come to mind. I somehow feel like I am going to die because my life flashes before my eyes on a daily basis.

Doomed isn't the right... but it's the first word that comes to mind
Danielle, where are you now? Somehow my life is blissfully spinning out of control, and I don't really care. This isn't a cry of desperation; this isn't my last will and testament. These aren't the things that make me, me -- they're just words.

It is okay to miss someone....     right?

Another lonely day. feh.

I was so tired Friday that I managed to forget to eat. Allow me to explain why.

September 26-27 was my fraternity's 12th Annual Race Around the Rock. This year we were holding it in support of the Calgary Emergency Women's Shelter. The premise is basic. We take a couple of scooters, and make sure to keep at least one of them travelling around the rock at the University of Calgary for a full 24 Hours, all the while bugging passer-bys for donations.

Well, that's not exactly true. We're not going around The Rock, since we needed a better location, one with a flat surface that we can set a volleyball net up on. So we grabbed one from Banff National Park and stuck it in the middle of the lawn.

Things were going well. Oh so very well. We did a preliminary count at 6:00 PM, and just with the quarters, Loonies, and Toonies and various bills, we had raised over $1000. This combined with about $900 that we had raised from friends, co-workers, and neighbors beforehand, and the $1000 grant we had gotten from the Student's Union to cover all our expenses, and we were doing well. This is considering that the net total for the full 24 hours the year before was only a bit over $1400.

Fast Forward to about 2:00AM and we still had a ton of people out there, mostly drunk folk who were headed out from the Den, back to res. We're all out there having a good time and such. Until it starts raining...

It's just drizzling at first, not too bad. We throw a tarp on the stereo equipment and keep going. Just enough to get us a fair bit wet.

And then it starts snowing.

This is about 3:30 AM. My god it's cold, and wind chill is NOT your friend.

And of course, during this entire time, we have to keep the scooter going. So, we took shifts of about 45 minutes each, while the rest of us tried to sleep, either in the tents or on the floor of the student's center, just inside the first doors, since the inner doors were locked.

I remember one of the guys saying to me that if it is a subjective definition of suffering, that he now knows what hell is like.

In all honesty, it wasn't all *that* bad. I figure I managed to take a nap of about an hour, which did help. Once it was my turn to take another shift on the scooter, the sun had risen, and it was starting to warm up fairly quickly. I still had a lot of fun, because harrassing random people passing by is always a blast.

Kept on doing that till noon, and then we took down the tents, the volleyball net, the stereo equipment, and headed home for some well deserved rest.

And it looks like we managed to raise over $3100 for a good cause, which is always a bonus.

Welcome to another issue of Life in the Swedish Army, the (now bi-)weekly dump of entries from my diary, being written as I go through national service in the armed forces of Sweden. See my wu in this node if this is the first of the LitSA rants you've seen. It contains some background info which will be expanded later when I get to writing a proper LitSA metanode.

It's getting rather cold around here, though thankfully not so quickly that I can't adapt - I am used to the Swedish weather, after all. Fortunately, we're doing mainly indoor activities nowadays, studying the telecomms systems and such. Other than that, these two weeks have really been uneventful; apart from the fact that me and my roomies have brought computers into our barrack room - or rather: computer parts. we assembled the 'puters on-site, initially ending up with 1.5 working PC's and after a little bit more tweaking, two working PC's one of which was missing a chassis. Oh well. I bought a cheapo ATX miditower during the weekend. Problem solved.

You'll find that I've written very little these two weeks; in fact, there's just three entries for two weeks. If anyone expected more, I'm sorry - I just don't feel like writing every day, especially when nothing much has happened.

September 18, 2002 - 08:53
It's getting cold here in Enköping. Despite the sun, beaming down brightly from a cloudless sky all day long, the decreasing temperatures are forcing us to start dressing quite a bit more warmly. Oh well, I'm not complaining.

Notes: The Model 90 (or M90) uniform system which most (if not all) soldiers in the Swedish Army make use of, is ingeniously designed. In the lightest configuration possible (without the field jacket), you don't feel overdressed in any normal amount of sunshine (by Swedish standards). Actually, even with the field jacket on, it's not that bad even at temperatures exceeding 25 degrees C (a hot summer day). It DOES get really bad in full combat gear (which includes a vest made from a kevlar-like material). Where the M90 really excels, however, is when it gets cold out. There is almost no limit to how warm and cozy you can get this uniform!

September 18, 2002 - 09:53
We've had telecommunication systems training all week, and today is no exception, apart from a bit of medical training after lunch. Boooring! By the way, I'm handicapped this week - both of my big toes are suffering from some kind of bacterial infestation (it has a prettier name but I don't know it in english) which I'm receiving treatment for. During the course of this treatment, I can't wear my M90 boots, so I'm walking around in sandals, which looks kind of funny. I might get to go home tomorrow ...

Notes: Nope, that was a false hope. I was stuck for the rest of the week.

September 19, 2002 - 19:12
Feels like I will be needing a new notebook soon. This one is running out of pages and is looking rather shabby after spending three months in my pants pocket. Nicely enough, I think I've got a spare notebook somewhere, so I can switch to that. Speaking of notebooks, we've had more telecomms systems training today (like every day, for the next three weeks or so) and will go have a little lesson in medicine in a short while.

Finishing this entry, here's a list of stuff I've accomplished lately:
  • Got a mate interested in anime and manga.
  • Broke the hinges on a locker door.
  • Lost one of my toenails.
  • Have become an l33t telesystems hax0r.
  • Have NOT managed to order a pizza for three days despite ambitions to do so.
MEMO to self: Eat a pizza tonight!

<-- day 71-84 | day 99-112 -->
Bear with me as I tell the tale of how I braved the dangers outside my barracks door in Camp Humphreys, South Korea and went to the ville to get my cell phone fixed.

I went with my roommate, Phillips, down to the place that I bought my phone 8 months ago (8? wow!) and walked in. Neither of us speak more than 10 korean words. A nice korean girl in a little phone selling uniform greeted me. She probably spoke as much english as we did korean.

"Anyonghaseyo," I said, "Can you help me with my phone?", flashing my phone and gesturing for her to take it.

She smiled and nodded. So I dialed the only number I know, namely the number on the back of my international calling card (080-800-7878, if you were curious). I handed her the phone so she could decipher the message I've been getting when I try to dial out. We've come to know it as the "Ko-gee-gee" message. ("Ko gee gee blah blah blah camhapsamnida.") She gets a look on her face as if to say Oh, I know exactly what is wrong.

That's good, I think, at least she knows how to fix it.

So she asks me my phone number (first time for everything, i guess) and I give it to her (016-9214-4270; go ahead, try to figure out how to call it).

She runs over to a little terminal and types away for a few seconds, then comes back.

"Here," handing me my phone.

"Thanks," I said, as I start for the door. Then thinking better of letting things be I ask, "What was wrong?"

"Oh," she says, "System stoppy."

Phillips looks at me, mirroring my puzzled look as we walk out the door. "Um...what did she say was wrong?"

So I told him. "System stoppy".

I am feeling better now, thank you.

She did end up coming over to my place last night. Thank you, eternal forces of the universe. She looks lovely in a dress. She said she felt bad about being so late, but when I thought about it, it was not really too big of a deal - especially because it was through no fault of her own.

I ended up dreaming of a partial solution to my programming assignment, and decided to head home for the day, and night. Getting out of the city was a sinch, and the ride home was absolutely breathtaking. The fog blanketed the hills of Southwestern Pennsylvania like a mindful sentinel, and made the ride home very relaxing.

When I got home, I went out in the yard and did some work on my trees. I came up with the rest of the solution to my assignment. I am about to implement it. I sure hope it works. I want to get this done fast so I can enjoy my beautiful yard, and this wonderful day.

Thank you.

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