They'll be coming for me again tonight.

They always come for me on what I like to call "Christmas Eve eve." I never have been able to figure out exactly why, but that's the date they like.

Every year there are more of them. It keeps getting harder to fight them off. I never would have guessed they were such a determined people, judging by the squalor they live in most of the time. They refuse to give up, no matter how many times they fail to take me down.

It didn't matter how many traps I set. Some of them would always survive. It didn't matter how remote I tried to make my hiding places. They always found me. Finally I realized the only way to get any peace would be to give them the success they wanted so badly.

Tonight when they come for me, there won't be any traps waiting for them. They'll find me asleep in my bed. They'll drive the stake through my heart, and then they'll cut off my head and fill my mouth with holy wafers. Then they'll burn my house down, just like they always do, only this time they won't be thinking about how they'll have to do it again next year.

A few months later, my land will go up for auction. I was very careful in my timing when I stopped paying the property tax. It should cost very little to regain what is mine, all under a completely new identity.

I'm quite grateful to the plastic surgeons and financial consultants who made all of this possible. That was why I made sure to select ones who had good life insurance policies, so their families would be well cared for.

I hope this works. In a few years it may become impossible to do it again, if the law enforcement agencies continue computerizing and networking with each other. Even the little backwater region where I live will be going high-tech soon, thanks to a few crazed militants with box-cutters.

If it doesn't work, next time I might let the villagers get their success for real. I've grown weary of their game.

Why can't we all just get along?

This may not be
the most original thing in the world,
but I did write it myself.

I have been wondering if I'm having some sort of breakdown. About 7 months ago I started a journal, when I was temporarily out of a job. It was mainly about the stories I was in the middle of writing, and the books I was reading; but lately it's been about how weird everything has become. Right now I'm in a job that wears me out, and I'm too tired to write. And I took a look at the stories I wrote during the year and am surprised at how just a few months ago I actually thought they were good--that they were the best things I'd ever done. Either my judgement is shot, or my mood is affecting my ability to see things clearly.Since my birthday I've been mulling a lot over years gone by, especially my childhood, although I know that brooding is a waste of time. I've been wondering whether my life has been worthwhile. Whether all those years were worth it. Whether I ever did anything at all that meant anything. And I don't have an answer. I haven't written the books I once thought I would--when I was younger. And now I can't write even stories. Or look at my own handwriting. In the journal I write upside-down and in capitals, from right to left. To do that you have to concentrate letter by letter and then word by word; it cuts out the self-indulgence.Right now I'm stuck in Sydney and thinking about returning to London even for a few weeks. To wander around Europe. Having a job is driving me nuts; I can't figure how I've tolerated the mind-numbing idiocy of a workplace and co-workers and office politics and gossip for years. I need to win the lottery, there's a $25 million "lotto" coming up here next Saturday.Did have an idea for a story yesterday and I know the last sentence, but not how it gets there.

Its been awhile since I have written anything here. My last node was on the 13rh of this month with my last daylog being the 11th. Its not that I've lost interest here, its just that I can't get motivated to write. I have several projects that I need to finish here and there are always new content resuces waiting my take on things. I spend my time here wandering the nodegel but nothing sparks my interest. I wonder how many other people go through times like this?

It is the day before Christmas Eve and yet I do not feel like its anything special. Maybe its because I have to work on Christmas Eve and the day after Christmas. Maybe its that I feel so rushed from one party to another, from one family get together to another. I think I might need a vacation from the hoilday season to feel more in the mood. Oh well time to get back to work.

Alveoli are tiny sacks that are found along the millions of capillaries in your lungs. As your heart beats, old, used, deoxygenated blood pumps through the right ventricle, through the pulmonary artery into the lungs, and into the capillaries. When you inhale, the alveoli inflate with air, and the oxygen/carbon dioxide exchange is made through the walls of the alveoli, enriching the blood in the capillaries with oxygen.

This is how your blood is oxygenated. It's a pretty slick system, really. Almost seems... engineered.

Emphysema is the deterioration of elastin in alveoli walls in the lungs. Over time the alveoli become less and less flexible. As an analogy, imagine inflating a balloon, and then watching the air escape from it. Over time the balloon changes to a paper sack, and finally a glass bottle. After the alveoli become truly fucked, the walls essentially stop working. You lose surface area in your lungs. The air that is in the rigid alveoli is no longer useful to you. So not only is it hard as hell to breathe, you are only using a percentage of the air you have. And every day that percentage drops.

After a while, exhaling becomes extremely difficult, since your glass alveoli are always inflated, you are basically constantly trying to exhale, but your lungs won't empty themselves. Your blood pressure skyrockets, as your poor heart begs for more oxygen from your lungs, pumping more and more blood harder and harder to compensate. In addition, your blood thickens because of the lack of oxygen, thus making your blood even more difficult to pump.

In a somewhat cruel twist of irony, after years of this condition, your body becomes conditioned to the low levels of oxygen. The brain learns to respond to high levels of carbon dioxide instead. As a result, increasing the level of oxygen in the blood through oxygen treatment can be lethal. Oxygen, the thing your body is craving, cannot be supplied in full to your body, because your body is so used to the lack of oxygen.

Essentially, Emphysema is slow suffocation, suffocation over the course of years. Today you breathe less than you could breathe yesterday. And tomorrow you will breathe even less. And there's shit you can do about it.

Causes? Well, basically smoking. Though there are some cases where it occurs because of some genetic chemical imbalance, smoking is basically the cause. Well, not necessarily the act of smoking, but smoke itself is the cause. My point is you can give emphysema to someone else, by exposing them to your second-hand smoke over the course of years.

My grandfather stopped smoking before I was even born.

When I was five, emphysema meant that my grandfather had to take a break in the middle of mowing the yard, to catch his breath.

When I was ten, it meant it took him two days to mow his yard, and he could no longer wrestle with me.

When I was 15, it meant he couldn't use the stairs in his basement, and he couldn't walk for more than 50 or 60 yards at a time.

When I was 20 it meant he had to stop for a breather twice on the way to his mailbox. A 15 yard journey he could only tolerate two or three times a week.

Now I'm 25 and emphysema means a lot more. Emphysema is a ghastly mask on his face, spewing medicine into his glass lungs in a hospital room. Emphysema is a signed power of attorney on his bedside, which nobody wants to read. Emphysema is a complete lack of promises. Emphysema is a million stories I've heard a million times and hope to God I'll hear again.

Emphysema is Christmas in a hospital room.

This has been a very educational weekend.

Am I becoming paranoid? Am I afraid to take responsibility for my own actions, am I too weak to change my life on my own? Do I blame the world for my problems? Possibly. I don't know the true nature of things.

Last night I went to a party for the people who run and work at the restaurants here on the upper west side. All of R's friends from the area were there, though he seemed a bit withdrawn (as he tends to be at social events) in any case he was engaged in a game of backgammon with his good friend U. U speaks only a smattering of English but through the game they hold a kind of conversation.

Meanwhile, I tried to talk to people. I talked to a man from Argentina for a long time about politics, the conversation might have been better if the music hadn't been so loud. When the music is loud it's so hard to think. But I tried to think. Then I went to the rest room for some quiet and looked in the mirror.

When I look in the mirror I'm startled by my appearance. I don't know what I expect to see, someone else, I guess. I look insignificant, I think. I think if I met a short little black girl like myself I wouldn't bother getting to know her. I know that is unfair and wrong and cruel and bad --but this culture has infested me. With meditation I can shake it off, but what I see each day only reaffirms my prejudices.

R is watching a movie. "deep rising" --it's a movie about sea monsters. But I've pulled away and can't watch, not so much because it is stupid (it is) but because it's one of those movies where each person is killed off in a predictable order. First the ugly rich guy or the pretty Asian girl, then anyone with an accent, then the black guy... in the end the white guy and white girl are left ... I'm so sick of it. As for for the black girl she's not even in in the movie. She was dead before the story even began.

I don't feel sorry for myself. I feel very angry. I don't want to believe any of this. But I think, even if the prejudices are as great as I sometimes feel they are what dose it matter? There are not many black women anyway. Most are poor and too busy to watch monster movies or engage in vigorous social climbing. So what if we become invisible? I mean what is race anyway? A made up game with no real meaning.

But if I can learn to dismiss myself ... what might someone who didn't have the obstacle of pride to overcome believe?

Perhaps I'll make a yolk for myself. A sign. It will say "I AM HUMAN" --that way when I look in the mirror I won't have so many doubts.

I think everyone is tired of angry "minorities" --everyone has a hard time now and then. Why can't I just accept that life is unfair? Pluck up and give it my best shot?

I ask myself these questions and think: well, why should I? I don't feel any happier pretending to smile than I do frowning. And being untrue to myself makes me nauseous.

Monday, December 23, 2002, 11pm
to the people who affected me today

To you, who woke me roughly, who caused me to see the light of day. I love you, I hate you, I can't live without you. I have so much and so little to say. I will never leave your side. I never have. I give you my oath and compromise so much in the saying, but I promised my best, and you have it. I love you. I know you know that I know that. We will figure out what is making things tough between us right now. I will forever need you. If you're ever gone, I'll be truly a lost one.
To you, who wore the bright blue business suit and smiled in all your polished wonderfulness, I'm sorry I'll never understand your game. You've got a chance, maybe. My (and your soon to be) boss is a gullible man sometimes, but you will pay in your own way. And tolerance is necessary. Tolerance is imperative, my lady, my newest acolyte, my next responsibility.
To you, who answered the phone every time I called you today. To you, who stayed on the phone as I walked up that one street, and just afterwards, when I left. To you, who met me and hugged me in sunlight and exchanged gifts. To you, so much to be said. But I won't say it here.
To you, who wasn't home. I brought the roses and card and letter, and left them in your mailbox. I noticed that you changed the decal in the back window of that grey volkswagen van. I know you did it for me. Thank you. I will try not to look for it every time I see a passing car. To you, of whom moments, days, weeks, months, over a year has passed and no words have been spoken. To you, who will keep squeezing my hand in thought as we live our parallel lives. It was so hard to walk away today... and I ran down the hill a ways before I could muster the energy to become perfect again. Yes, to you, I miss you, damn you for being so damn amazing.
To you, cute goth girl, the person I always thought I wouldn't become. You seem to be the person I might've been if I'd gotten what I'd wanted every time through life. With a twist. You wore pink and red, and you'd dyed your hair black, just like I always wanted to. And you were wearing my belt, the one I never wear. And you smoked. I always knew I'd never smoke. But you smiled at me often, and you had the nose I always wanted to have, and the type of skin that tans easily. You wore pink though, and that's the most ironic. I adore you, figment of my day.
To you, who was beautiful and sparkly, and materialistic, someone I can't imagine becoming like, in any way. You, the icon of beauty.. I cannot see myself that way, it's been said I have elegance, grace. I won't change my hair for you. I won't date your son because you asked. I won't befriend your step-daughter if it's your wish. I'll do those things if and when I will. Your presence in the world is very important, and you may not leave. I will find a way to steady you, to make you strong, to help you find your way through all of this plastic. Everyone loves you. To you, and the gold box I won't open until the 25th.
To you, and to candles, incense, and lacquerware. To you, who gave me secrets and advice, who helped me with the finding of gifts, and offered assistance of any sort. To you, who are always classy and elegant, who always looks good in a suit.
To you, who made me smile. Too much. We drank coffee, and tea, and ate brie and bread, and more tea, and oh my. You are a fantastic character, the type that never dies in my eyes. You will always smile to me. Through life and loss and everything else that may be. To you, worldly and fantastical, not nearly enough books, but the ones you have are the best sort. I love your statues, and your attitude towards life. Yes, to you, the reason I now have Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam in my possession for the time being. You, who changed me today. Cheers.
work in progress.

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