A small delicate yellow flower has emerged from the half wine barrel I keep by my front door. It only manages to stay half full of water the entire time, but supports a healthy assortment of mosses, lilies and grasses in it.. I know there's fish in there also, I see them occasionally.

But the joy of this season has been the quiet personal delight I have had every morning when I leave, to find the native lily I planted, flowering. My own personal Christmas lily. Almost like daffodils in pots on your windowsill.

The stem that thrusts up, has many buds upon it, but only one flowers at a time. It is a small flower hardly 5cm across, that seems to last barely a day, and it's petals have fine 'feathers' which make it even more beautiful against the green leaves that float on the brackish water.

A quiet joy that makes my heart sing, and I catch myself pausing and internally smiling as I pass it.

I hope that some insect or bee catches the pollen from my lily, and that this flower achieves it's purpose. I'd like to think I've helped to make more of this plant.. even if it's just by leaving it alone, and occasionally topping up the water in the wine barrel.

Well Kim, you got what you wanted.

Well beautiful, it was all for you. Every breath, every thought, every action was for you.

I hope you're happier now than when you were with me.

The sun sets for you....

...but a new day has started for me. Bright, new, and beautiful.

And I'm not going to let it pass me by. I'm not going to let life pass me by.

Sincerely,

Your ex

We have had rain all day, which was really nice because I’ve been working on the flowers for my son’s wedding all day – well after cleaning up from the New Year’s eve teen party with the help of the 3 remaining teens who spent the night. I’m making dry flower potpourri type centerpiece arrangements in raised bowls from flowers I have been growing and drying all year. My house will seem empty when all the bunches are removed! I’m also making the candles arrangements the bridesmaids will carry. The wedding has a Renaissance theme so we figured fresh flowers would not be available much in January. The bride will carry fresh daisies and ivy and the alter flowers will be fresh; the rest will be evergreen boughs, dry herbs, and dry flowers.

There were 20 or 30 kids here at one point last night. Teens have nowhere to go, nothing to do around here. At the mall, they are “loitering”; at the lake the temptation to do drugs and have sex is pretty overwhelming. Here they watch DVDs, they bring food to contribute and I always have food around too so they cook and eat and make hot chocolate, they make like “a pile of kittens, they play chicken, they wrestle - all for the excuse to touch, they make campfires and roast marshmellows, and they smoke (I don’t bother them about that I just give them a big ashtray and point them to our outdoor pine tree “office”). But here; they don't drink, they don't do drugs, they don't go overboard with their making out, they make an effort to clean up after themselves, they do the chores I ask of them when I think more cleaning up is in order. They mostly want to talk to each other, hang out together. They want to talk to the adults here too sometimes. They like it when my grown sons are here.

I have this wonderful spot in my back yard area where there is a gully and I sit at the bottom and most of the ambient light is shaded away at night. I can see the stars better (except for the last 3 nights the cloud cover has completely obscured all stars). I can hide and be alone and no one comes looking for me there so when the noise level is a bit too high or I am overloaded I go there to regroup.

I do get overloaded. I have firm ending times for parties. Firm "you don't have to sleep but you have to be silent and don't you dare open this door until morning time" for overnighters. I need total silence to read a map. Sometimes it has to be MY music in the car, or a book on tape or talk radio. Volume must be controlled. If I have a deadline looming I get near psychosis with anxiety. I try to make sure when I am crabby to tell them why, usually it is not them as the primary cause but they do cause secondary crabbiness. I acknowledge it is my problem but tell them how their behavior is making it worse. I say no to company plenty of times or limit it to kids I know I can tolerate with losing it if I am overloaded.

They are such good kids, all of them even though some do have their problem behaviors; in their hearts they are good. I have had very little real trouble with any of them, despite the many parties, concerts, get togethers, transportation runs I have done with them.

Most other parents are good, many call me before letting the kids come to a party to confirm there will be supervision and that the invitation is really coming from a parent not just a kid home alone. This is good. Many come in to visit and tell me something about their kid and leave a phone number. This is good too. But others seem to despise their kids, to be happy to be rid of them, or to not care at all. They don’t know what they are missing so I feel sort of sorry for them but mostly I just want to smack them.

I am not mad at the parents who can't take in the hordes like I can. I'm very lucky to be healthy, have a moderately roomy, casual (read chaotic) house and only need to work part time so I can be here (mentally and physically). I'm happy to provide the place the kids hang out at. I am mad at the parents who are so mean to their own children and put them down so much. I could tell you such horror stories. One of them came up last night, that's why it is still fresh on my mind.

It follows me. It knows me. It reminds me.

I want to dance, I want to sing
I want to bust up everything
And have some fun
I want to dance, I want to sing
I want to bust up everything
And make some love

--The Rolling Stones, Too Much Blood

Not too many years ago there was a period of my life where I relied on mysticism to survive. I followed all the signs and listened to all the voices. I came to Florida to solve a riddle from a dream. It was a dream inspired and created as a result of my own death. I found a girl named Tina who had appeared to me in those dreams telling me I was meant to find her. If I found her she would give me the answer I needed. I have the answer but still lack the question. She was a beacon. She sent me in a new direction. According to the prophesy of the dream Tina was the first of three queens. She was meant to guide me. She would lead me to the second queen, who would provide me with a valuable lesson. She did. The second queen was named Christina. They actually had the same name, but Christina went by her full name while Tina preferred the shortened version.

In the darkest hole
You'd be well advised
Not to plan my funeral before the body dies

--Alice in Chains, Grind

While Tina always remained distant, becoming what I had been told she was, the unreachable beacon, Christina reached out to me. She was working as a waitress in the restaurant I called my church. It was a place I was guided to after my death. It was a place with a plaque that said ground had been broken to begin construction on the same day I died. It was the center of my universe. Christina waited for me. She waited for me to ask, and eventually I did. Soon after we were engaged in a very passionate love affair that lasted for two months. She lived on the edge. She could drink more than I could. She could smoke more than I could. I wondered why she was always going full blast through life without taking time out to catch her breath. Her answer was a simple one. She said she knew deep down inside that she was not going to live very long and that nothing she did could change that. It was part of why I loved her so much. She had the same kind of sense of things that I did, but her senses were more acutely tuned.

Rage in the cage
and piss upon the stage
there's only one sure way
to bring the giant down
defunct the strings
of cemetary things
with one flat foot
on the devil's wing

Rob Zombie, Living Dead Girl

Christina was the first person to call me "the dead guy." Upon hearing the story of my life she began to jokingly call me by that moniker. A certain song was always on the radio in those days, so I began calling her "living dead girl." My story prompted her to tell me about her childhood cancer. She had died on the operating table when she was five years old but barely remembered the experience. All that she knew as a result was that she would not be long for this world. Like me, she knew she was living on borrowed time. Being an only child who had been close to death as a child, she was spoiled by her parents. The material gifts could never answer her needs. There was always a certain sadness around her.

There was a night when we reached the limits of how close we could ride together to the edge. When she was young, Christina was very overweight and she always had very thin blonde hair. Years of chemotherapy as a child can do that to you, they say. When she went into college she lost a lot of weight and laughed at the boys who snickered at her in high school. She liked to get high and I didn't mind it all that much. One night we went after some smoke and entered into the seedier side of town to get it. Some people she worked with had an apartment in a complex where people kept bars on their windows. We just needed to go inside, complete the deal and get out. It didn't turn out that way.

They live without hope.

We were buying grass from a couple who needed to sell it to maintain their feeble, hopeless existence. A white woman and a black man who felt they had to point out to everyone that they were an interracial couple and ask everyone why people hated them for it. They were a lot of fun. He played video games and cursed her out and demanded we stay to smoke a joint with him. He was a little too unstable to question on that demand. So, we did, and as a result I had to commit a personal sin and drive while high. I also had to drive Christina's truck because she was walking on clouds. She was so happy that she disregarded the cop sitting in the parking lot looking for trouble. I had to walk past and seem normal, trying to keep in mind that the cops never bothered white people in a neighborhood like this.

We drove two blocks to my church, the restaurant where Christina worked. I parked the truck and told her we were going no further. I had my final epiphany while resting my head on Christina's lap. The voice came to me and asked if I wanted to "leave this place." I felt my heart stop and looked up at Christina.

"You aren't going to die.
You will outlive me easily."

It was just about the end of our relationship. It broke my heart because I loved her. I would say that I loved her more than she realized, but she was an empath who sensed just about everything. She broke things off because she was concerned it was becoming too serious. We had seriously talked about getting married and having a child, but my life was falling apart and she couldn't handle the pressure. There was too much pressure and sorrow in her own life to bear mine. She left me standing in the rain with nowhere to turn and ripped my heart out and turned away. I was angry, but a year later I would learn another valuable lesson. Never miss an opportunity to make peace with the ones you truly care about.

You know it's been on my mind
could i stand right here
look myself in the eyes, and say
that it's over now

we pay our debt sometime

--Alice in Chains, Over Now

As much as I had reason for hating a woman who had been my girlfriend when the roof caved in on my life for abandoning me at that point, I couldn't hate her. I was upset. I was hurt. I didn't hate. While others came to my side to help me pull myself up from the depths fate had cast me into, she turned away. A year later I ran into her. She looked beautiful. She was out having dinner with her parents. We kept looking at each other and eventually she came over. She hugged me and kissed me and asked me to forgive her. She asked me to understand. We went out later and drank together and forgave each other for everything that had ever happened between us. I told her I was getting married. She said she was happy for me. She said the thing she was most sorry about was that her betrayal had caused her to lose me forever. I told her she would never lose me and that we would always be friends. She kissed me again and wished me well. We haven't talked since.

"You're an angel, Keith.
One day I hope I can be an angel too."

It was amongst the last words she ever spoke to me. On December 30, 2002, Christina died. She was 25. The cancer from her childhood came back a year ago. She fought it but she could not beat it. Right now I miss her so much that it hurts. I wish we had not become so distant. I read her funeral notice tonight. The first line says, "Christina joined the angels on December 30, 2002." Perhaps we do have more impact on people than we realize.

You will live again, Christina. You will fly higher than I ever could. Rest in peace, regain your strength, and fly straight on 'til morning.

I still love you.

I think I had some sort of epiphany today.

After working on my costume for a while, I suggested to my Mother that we sit down and watch some of the old home movies I was so fond of taking when I was 10 years old and thereabouts. So, after dinner, my Mom, my Stepdad, and myself gathered around the television to watch, as I controlled the VCR.

Immeadiately, there was laughter. Not just from the recording, but from us. All three of us.

I think part of the problem I have with life is that I stopped living. I do not want to face the end of life without having been alive. I want to drink deeply.

So, today, I decide to live again.

I realized early this morning at about 3am EST that I did not make a New Years Resolution. I thought all night about what has been going badly or difficult in my life and I realized that even though I am young I have been neglecting my family.

College has made me become self-oriented while work with Wall St. has made me a shadow to my family that eats, sleeps, works, nodes, and then returns to college. Like Frisina above, i too should stop and smell the roses and enjoy life how it was 10 years ago.

That is my New Years Resolution.

"Ah hell no. I didn't need to hear that."

We were discussing how we want to die while we were ignoring our work. It started out with a discussion of ice forming on the wings of small general aviation aircraft and the loss of lift. I said it would be kinda cool to go out in a flaming earthbound ball of ice, aka an iced up airplane, but only if I would die by hitting the ground anyway and only if it were being videotaped. I wouldn't get to see it as I would be dead but it would make the 6:00 pm and 10:00 pm news.

Someone else mentioned that death by freezing is thought to be euphoric. Quick painless death and sleeping when you die were also brought up.

Then it came, a co-worker who is old enough to be my mother said with a smirk:

"Heh, I know how I want to go."

Blech, not how I wanted to start off a new year at a job I actually enjoy.

Reflection On My Life So Far

From an e-mail I sent to my mother today:

I mean, I've drank whiskey and shot pool with cowboys and Indians; I've kissed a beautiful girl under a full moon on an iron bridge older than our country; I've seen the sun rise over porpoises in the Atlantic Ocean, fog on the Allegheny Mountains, swamps in Delaware, quiet flower-scented side streets in Waikiki, and the thousand churches of Brooklyn; I've seen it set into the Pacific while I floated in water the temperature and color of blood.

I helped build one company up from a loose collection of hackers and hardware into a world-class Internet player; I also ditched at least three others that weren't going anywhere. I've flirted with girls and women from hippie artists to police sergeants to a pair of Japanese tourists who I nearly knocked over riding my bike on the sidewalk. I've gotten up on stage in funny clothes and played my heart out in New York, Baltimore, and DC. I saw the Ramones play on what turned out to be their last farewell tour. I've danced all night in New York, Maryland, DC, West Virginia and Pennsylvania. I've caused a UFO scare for under $5.

I've talked politics with smugglers from Israel, journalists from DC, photographers from Russia, and businessmen from Canada. I've breathed fire and danced the polka, though never at the same time. I've camped on the beach in the middle of winter and woken up covered in a crust of ice. I've built a sculpture out of empty bottles, chess pieces, and cutlery, held together only by gravity. I've played blackjack with a man who fought Muhammad Ali.

I've walked through the state office complex as the government's workers were arriving for another day at the office, wearing women's sunglasses and a leopard-print fez, meeting stares with a cheese-eating grin. I've tried to sneak through the lobby of a skyscraper to crash a New Year's party in Texas. I've made small talk with men carrying automatic rifles. I've escorted a pair of redheads through the red-light district of Amsterdam with a Cuban cigar in my mouth. I've written my Congressman, and he wrote back, not that it did any good. I've gotten lost in the giant naval base at Pearl Harbor.

I was in New York City a few days after September 11th, lit candles to the memory of the victims, felt the great standing wave of grief and anger, seen the cloud of dust that was a pair of skyscrapers, and seen New Yorkers smile at strangers. I've ridden my bike in the corridor of the art building of the University of Hawaii, dodging around art students, trees in planters, and support pillars; then I did it again just for the fun of it. I've walked right up to a turtle whose shell was wider than a truck tire and whose neck was thick as my bicep.

I've attended the wedding of a Hindu princess, watched every second of the four-hour ceremony without understanding a single thing, and enjoyed it anyway. I've read Richard Feynman's clear and simple explanations of physics while working on my tan and watching surfer girls go past in wetsuits with their longboards balanced on their heads. I've taken lockpicking lessons from German and Californian hackers. I've scattered a friend's ashes in a secret place in the woods. I've played cribbage for 6 hours straight in the middle of a wild party. I've French-kissed a ferret. Oh yeah, and I'm just over 25 years old.

Now remember, these are just the things I'm willing to tell my mom about...

Christmas is over, and I now own more DVD’s, books and CD’s than any human being deserves to own. Pantaliamon and I need a new bookshelf to accommodate the new DVD’s. Looks like we’re going to thinning our collection of books -- I don’t know what we would have done before Half.com. Probably just given them away to Goodwill or something.

I have this terrible hording problem. I just feel the need to buy books, records and movies rather than just rent them or borrow them from the library. Part of the problem is that the libraries in D.C. are pretty sad, but I had this problem even before we moved into the city. In college an acquaintance of mine who had deluded himself into thinking he was dating Pantaliamon when in fact I was (amazing how dense some guys can be, especially in regards to girls), tried to taunt me with: “Why rent when you can buy?” He meant, of course, that I was being silly by buying instead of renting -- that renting was the better option. Besides being dumb about Pantaliamon, he was also dense about the concept of a personal library. It’s my dream to someday have a room filled with nothing but bookshelves containing movies and books -- and I’m well on the way to achieving that dream. I imagine that my old acquaintance would be happy to just have an empty room.

Speaking of the books I’ve horded, I’m currently reading Michael Chabon’s Summerland. I really don’t know where to begin regarding my feelings about Chabon. In every interview with him I’ve read I’ve really liked him, and I really want to like his books, but I just can’t get any kind of emotional response to them. I don’t know what it is -- his use of language is incredible, but I just don’t find his characters very compelling. And the fantasy in Summerland doesn’t seem “real” to me -- he introduces the elements into the book without first earning the right to, if that makes any sense. It’s somewhat jarring. It’s the same problem I had with The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. Things happen that I just can’t believe.

Not to worry, though. I’ve a huge pile of books to read when this one is done. Some of them have got to be more engaging ...


Inexplicably, I bought a 2003 Civil War calendar from Barnes and Noble last weekend (50% -- I love those year-end calendar bargains). So a very dirty and stoic-looking Ulysses S. Grant is looking down at me right now. I find myself absolutely transfixed by the strange expression on his face -- sort of stern bewilderment. I suspect that in the dawn of photography, people just didn’t know how to pose for a picture. Or maybe Ulysses was just blinded by the flash? Despite what I might think of his expression, I have to admit that the man had a very fine beard. All presidents would be better with beards, I think -- even George W. Bush and Jimmy Carter, two men I’m sure probably can’t even grow a whisker.

2002 has passed; a sort of nowhere year for me, I didn't really get ahead, I didn't really fall behind. I scored no victories and made little real progress in the things I truly care about. I guess I would say that this past year I mostly spun my wheels.

But you know what? 2001 was so f---ing godawful that this is all right by me. The absence of stomach-churning horror and grinding despair made it seem like a year spent in Paradise by comparison. So, fare ye well 2002. I'm grateful for you and the breather you provided, and hope for good things in 2003.

Speaking of which.

WANTED: New Life in Pacific Northwest Olympia, Washington preferred, Portland, Oregon certainly better than a poke in the eye
Desired features include:
- jobs that pay decently and which we don't loathe
- alternatively, jobs which we may dislike but which are bearable and pay extraordinarily well.
- a chance to make good friends who we can meet with face to face once in a while.
- a community of local artists and writers.
- an opportunity for me to get out of IT (poss. into publishing, teaching, or the library system, in which case an MLIS program would be good).
- an inexpensive apartment with washer/dryer hookups where cats are welcome, and which gets plenty of light.
- to someday own a home and adopt a little girl.

Our dreams died, y'see. We need them back.

I read a thread a month ago on Slashdot about the In Soviet Russia meme. I thought it was cool that a Yakov Smirnoff joke would still be funny this long after his stand-up career peaked. I then wondered what was going on? Was there some sort of Smirnoff revival in progress? Because I can't recall exactly where I heard or read it, but it seems I encountered the meme somewhere else within the past week. Was it on Futurama? Or on The Daily Show? Or maybe I read something about it in The Onion? Wherever it was, it emphasized to me just how popular this has become.

Then what really freaked me out about the ubiquity of the faux Smirnoff joke theme happened today. And I figured I ought to daylog it for future personal reference. With little effort, I shamelessly incorporated it into normal conversation with one of my best friends over dinner tonight, and he instantly got the reference and laughed hysterically. I acted cool about it on the outside, but on the inside it was a true WTF kind of moment.

Here's the setup... Last week, I finally got a chance to introduce my friend (who is rarely in town, since he lives an hour and a half North of me) to my girlfriend. My girlfriend was born and raised in Hunan Province, in China. He drove back into town for a few days, and I had a chance to hang out with him this evening. We obviously had to discuss his impressions of my girlfriend. And after a while, we ended up discussing certain things about my relationship with her. Such as the way our cultural differences make it difficult sometimes to exchange jokes. It took me a while to explain the humor of The Onion's joke about Kevin Bacon being linked to Al-Qaeda, for example. And I'm still not clear about a comic strip she showed me this afternoon in her Chinese newspaper. Anyhow, so my friend told me of a former co-worker of his who was Russian; and how the guy would translate jokes e-mailed to him from Russia in an effort to explain what Russians found humorous.

To wisely leverage this concept and enhance my relationship with my girlfriend, he suggested I continue asking her about how they tell jokes in China.

That made too much sense, and wasn't silly enough for me. So of course I had to correct this sudden introduction of meaning into our conversation by immediately blurting out, "Aha! But in Communist China, the joke tells you!"

I'm quite disturbed that my friend laughed so hard about that. Why are Yakov Smirnoff references so effective all of a sudden? It seems cool, but suspicious.

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