This night has been horrid. Furthermore, this entire week has been horrid, and looks to only get worse... until the WEEKEND!

For starters, I have had more work this week than I have had on any other string of days in the past few years. Tonight I had to get ready for a photography exhibit (which means work in Photoshop, mounting, etc), write an English paper on A Streetcar Named Desire, study for a math test, define 40+ Biology definitions, and slack off a bit.

This just isn’t cool, folks. It isn’t!

In any case, I am finished with whining about my horrible day (one out of seven in the week, you know).

In other news, I am currently listening to Pink Floyd's Shine on you Crazy Diamond (Part 1). Great song!

Edit: I have now moved on to listening to the Pixies. Mainly the Doolittle album. Good stuff, folks!

I'm eating raw fish that a perfect stranger in another country sent me in the mail!

(as in: Holy Crap, I just got bagels, cream cheese, and lox from New York, 5000km away, and it's all still cold.)

I ♥ NY!

I ♥ dead!

E2 is difficult.

On the 29th of January, I saw Level 4 within grasp. I don't tend to node for XP, and I don't node for numbers. E2 for me is a distraction, a place to add knowledge, a universal encyclopaedia.

I had a similar idea a few years ago; to create an encyclopaedia of my total knowledge... now I realise how impossible that would be as a one-man task. I love E2, and everyone on here for filling the bits I don't have time to do myself.

...anyway; Levels don't matter to me. Honest. I really don't care what level I am. What are a few more daily votes? Why get excited about the power of C!?...

So why do I find myself worrying over what to node next?

Looking back at my last 22 nodes, there are so many varied subjects. I guess I'm interested in all of them to some extent, otherwise I wouldn't node them. I find myself clawing for ideas. I've offered to rescue 2 nodes, but I'm not happy with my writeups for them yet... so I'm procrastinating and noding other stuff.

At times over the last few days I have slowed down. Why should E2 rule my life? I have a real life. Level 4 will come. No... I don't care if I get Level 4. Really, I don't.

This is my first daylog. I'm not noding for numbers... I really need to share these thoughts. However, I now feel guilt. Yes, that's it. Every one of my last 22 writeups has made me feel guilt that I'm only writing it to gain Level 4.

I've ensured each one is as good as possible, while still actually getting into the database. I've ensured they're factually accurate. I think each one has improved E2 in some way.

Why am I feeling guilty?

Oh well... 3 to go.

I'm trying to decide what to do on Valentine's day. Even tho I'm currently as single as the Pope on a desert island, and there's not even anyone I'm especially looking to romance, I still think it's a nice gesture to send greetings or presents to some or all of my lovely female friends. (I am male incidentally, probably.)

This, however, poses numerous logistical problems. For one thing, I would have to leave the country to post Claire's, as she knows where I live, and doesn't live here herself. For another thing, the only girl I am sort of interested in (I'm not naming her), I don't know her address (incidentally, how do you tell a girl you've known for 9 years that you might like to get to know her a little better? I'm not that sure to risk saying anything and tearing our group of friends apart, or more likely having her put on the same voice she uses when she's sacking her workers, and tell me I'm being a silly little boy.).

But even allowing for the fact that I could drive to Stirling, 20 miles from my work, to post them, there's the question of what to send to my friends. Cards are horrible, in general, quite apart from the fact that I might get strange looks if I bought more than one of them. Not that I'm too sensitive about what I buy; I've bought albums by Daphne and Celeste, Britney Spears and even B*Witched in the past few years, and I once bought a lipstick from Superdrug to be used as a prop for a film people were making.

I like giving personal gifts, things that are a little bit unusual, but they would probably reveal my personality or identity, which would not do. Anyway, I'm not sure that all of my friends deserve personal gifts. I was going to get Jen a copy of Winesburg, Ohio for her birthday next month, but that's hardly a valentine's book. Hey, we are all eternally alone, doomed to frustrated lives. Run away now! Stargirl is at least pink; that's an idea. Or something funny.

I thought to send Claire flowers at work; that would simultaneously please her and make her turn the colour of pillar boxes, which is the sort of thing I like to do for my friends. Email cards work for people whose postal address I don't know, but i've not investigated their naffness, and they may not work for people using Eudora or web-based mail clients, let alone AOL.

So, I am undecided. Which suggests I will do nothing. Last year, I got a sweet text message from one of my friends, possibly Beth, which is what spurs this whole thing on, because I found it's nice to get a valentine even if you know it's from someone who doesn't really love you. Isn't it?

Unrelated PS: Is there no Starbucks or Costa Coffee in Livingston, UK? I know Starbucks is evil, but at least you have the chance to sit down and drink a potable cup of brown stuff outside the workplace, without visiting the naff coffee place right in the centre of the shopping mall that's packed with old women slurping tea from unbreakable cups on plastic trays, and discussing their medical conditions. I want sophistication, dammit! On the other hand, I've done no work today, so I may well be sacked and never have to visit this accursed town again. Look at me finding the silver lining.

I got into work this afternoon (I work part-time) only to discover from my cubicle neighbor that the rest of the web development group had gone to lunch.

Poo, I thought. They're probably getting seafood or margaritas. Oh, well, I was short of cash today anyhow ... off to the cafeteria!

I hung up my coat and headed back to the hall.

Julie, one of the other web editors, came through the hall door just as I was reaching for the knob. She looked at me and grinned.

"Leather bustiers," she said teasingly.

I blinked at her. "What?"

"Leather bustiers. Dot told us at lunch that you make and sell leather bustiers."

Dot is my boss. And I don't even own a leather bustier. I immediately thought of my friend Drea, who makes mad cash creating various kinds of corsets. If I had that kind of skill, I wouldn't need a part-time job.

"Uh-uh," I say, shaking my head in wonder. "I can't even make a belt. She must have mistaken me for the dominatrix in Documentation."

Just then, Tessa, one of our Web contractors, came through the door, shrugging off her coat. I assumed she'd been to lunch with the others.

"I do not make leather bustiers," I announced to Tessa.

She stopped dead, a perfect wide-eyed, drop-jawed expression of pure bogglement on her face.

"Uh, okay," she said, backing away as if I'd just asked her to join me on the Mothership. "I'll keep that in mind."

As Tessa scurried off, Julie burst into laughter.

"Let me guess," I said. "She wasn't at lunch, was she?"

"No," Julie gasped, tears of merriment running down her cheeks. "Oh, God, I can't breathe!"

I started giggling, too, and soon we were both laughing so hard we were practically falling over. When I regained my composure, I went down the hall to the women's restroom. Dot was at the sink washing her hands.

"Who told you I sell leather bustiers?" I asked her.

"You did."

"No I didn't."

"You didn't?"

"No."

"Oh." She frowned in thought. "My dream life must be bleeding over into my real life in a really interesting way."

Indeed. Who knew my coworkers are so ready to associate me with leather fetish garments?

I can only hope they never find out about what I really do on my days off.

But I guess the moral of this story is that I should never, ever miss another department luncheon, or God knows what rumor will get started next ....

Winter is a neglected season in the contemporary calendar. Beginning somewhere after Thanksgiving and ending a week or so after New Year's, most of the time once given over to Winter has now been co-opted by Martin Luther King Day, Black History Month (I'm not knocking black people here, just the fact that it's hard to concentrate on winter with all these images of the American South), Valentine's Day (which has now become a holiday given over to meditations about domestic violence and AIDS), Mardi Gras (which, happening in a semi-tropical climate, isn't wintery at all), Spring Break (ditto), and St. Patrick's Day, which is virtually Spring. While the grass lies dead and pale and the trees are bare of everything but buds, we're told to Celebrate Spring! with a riot of tulips, to enjoy "the colors of summer...all winter long" with Chilean fruits and vegetables, and to take vacations in warmer climes, lest anyone realize that the Sun is setting before six o'clock. This is the same mindset that cannot abide funerals, but must turn them into "celebrations of life", who hates penance, but joys in Reconciliation, who must turn all demons, if not into angels, into benign nature spirits, and can't even abide the notion of New Year's Eve, but must turn it into First Night. The truth is, sometimes it's good to feel bad, no matter if it's bad wicked, bad mad, or just have a good cry.

Truth to tell, sometimes it's good to walk under grey skies with a fine wet wind blowing, to come into a warm, bright house in the evening and eat stew, and roasted root vegetables, seasoned with dried seeds, with preserves and chocolate for dessert, to drink strong wines and spirits, to watch the snow fall and the bright stars come out, and to pass the night at home, wrapped in rich fabrics, with hothouse flowers, heavy music, synthetic perfumes, and all that is abstract and decadent...

It's also a good time to play Quake.

I've been combing through books and scrolling web sites looking for documentation of what my mother is suffering from. For some reason I believed that if I could see her pain, feel her symptoms, I would somehow be a better daughter to her. Indirectly.

So, I opened Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom by Christiane Northrup, M.D., a book which has always given me comfort when I was looking for words of healing. It was a gift from my sister, Witchiepoo, inscribed with "Much love and sisterhood" on my 20th birthday.

The index directed me to a magical place where I figured my answer must sit. Sigh. There was nothing of significant importance... except for my own words, written in the corner.

They said, "Forgiveness provides me the opportunity to live without you. As long as I resent you, you keep a firm grasp on my heart."

For the first time in over two years, I picked up a pen and wrote something of real substance. Something I was proud to read again and again. I realized that my life has been standing still because I am afraid to move ahead without her. I felt like my stagnation is what I owed her in some way. My success doesn't allow for her to live on in my head. And if I let her go, she really dies.

Yesterday my Joel-man asked me if I loved my mother.

Of course..... Not...

No, of course I do... Not...

I love nothing more than the nostalgia of the woman she used to be. I love the woman who kept me home from kindergarten so that she could read me stories in a dead-on perfect Grover impersonation. I love that she smelled of PineSol and Winstons and Musk oil and she'd dance with me for hours to the sultry rhythms of Santana.

I love the eyes that stare back at me in a poloroid of a careless 16 year-old surviving in the worst of situations. I love that she's smiling so wide I can see her fillings.

I love the woman with wispy clean hair that I'd wrap in my hands to take in the smell.

That woman died a long time ago, on a balcony in Dearborn. I watched the fire burn out. I watched her laugh it off. I watched the tears roll down her neck.

She's become a shell of a person, barely a human being to me. A hollow Easter Bunny.... Disappointing.

But if I let her go, I have to keep moving, and that's the part I trip over. She's my little ghost, my own personal demon. My iron dress. I've never been without her dragging at my ankles. And I welcomed that slow pace that I was "forced" to walk. I embraced the voice of impossibility that followed me like a rain cloud.

I would clean my house and sit on the floor amongst the good smells, close my eyes and invite her to see what I lived. Then I'd open them, seeing for her, breathing for her. I'd let her talk through me, let her criticize the streek I left on the microwave. Let her tear into me. It was my comfort, the familiar, my completion.

Yesterday the Joel-man set it in stone for me and then pushed it downhill. I was hungry for the validation from another person, that I had no responsibility to do anything at all. I can not protect her from her own Karma. The most compassionate thing I can do is to let her pay her own debts.

So, I suppose she dies today. For me anyway. Even though I know that I'll crack right down the middle someday when I get the phone call telling me she's 'really' gone, today I release myself from this self-induced prison. Today I take responsibility for the excuses I've made for myself.

I am proud that I kicked my way to this surface. I laugh as I choke on my first deep breath. I willingly trade in these concrete shoes.

My weekend consisted of 3 parts on 3 days, yet I view it as a whole, because it feels as such.

My Weekend: Part I – Thursday Night
(Or, “A rather normal quiet Israeli weeknight”)

Thursday I finished work at about 20:30, working with a friend who is an ex-Chromatis worker and now is a sysadmin at a company hosted at some kibbutz.

On my way home I took a hitchhiker, He was the settler type, looked like he came from Kiryat Arba or such, was on his way to Jerusalem. Big hitchhiker’s back-pack, M-16, some kind of police or Magen David Adom (Israeli Red Cross / Paramedic) jacket, long beard and a yarmulke that keep falling off.

We barely talked, I asked him where he needed, told him where I could drop him off, went a bit out of my way and drove home via Ramat Gan instead of directly. The two or three sentences I did swap with him surprised me, when he used not only very young Israeli slang, which wasn’t surprising in itself (Sababa and Achi are rather broad terms) but his intonation was that of a “Shanti” type Israeli.

Since I was driving into Ramat Gan anyways, I decided to go to “Sakal” the duty free store to return a pair of Reeboks my mom bought me in the airport, they either are very honest about refunds or made an error, but I wound up getting full price refund on shoes that were 50% off… since “Sakal” are such known assholes I decided not to inform or ask too much, I tried to buy some stuff and get out, but I couldn’t find anything I liked. (Nice selection of Timberland, Nike and other sport fashion but still) I did get a new basketball for 60 shekels but I paid cash, as I didn’t want them running my refund in the computer again yet.

After which I watched Mickey Blue Eyes on DVD, which I had rented the day earlier with Sharon and we neglected to watch…. I even returned it on time… I think.

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