I beg your indulgence, perhaps for the last time.

I was in the supermarket the other day, marveling at the rising price of RC Cola, when I heard an old but familiar song come over the PA. It took me a minute to place it, but it turned out to be Only Sixteen, a 1959 release by Sam Cooke. I thought the simple words, sung in his marvelously soulful voice, were strangely poignant (and in the real sense of the French word poignard--like a knife to the heart). He, at seventeen, is singing about his 16-year-old love, who cannot possibly return his affection. He sings, over and over, "But she was too young to fall in love, and I was too young to know."

I stopped in the middle of the aisle and thought to myself, "Man, they just don't write songs like they did in the 50s." On one level, this is true; but the fact is that America of the 1950s produced a great many really bad and/or strange songs (an odd number of them involving dead boy- or girlfriends, though personally I am partial to The Leader of the Pack). No matter where you look in time, the good songs are always vastly outnumbered by the bad ones.

This, in a nutshell, is the sort of problem I am having with E2. And I don't think I can deal with it any longer.

The thing is that, for me anyway, involving myself in E2 has become an effort. I log in, see some ridiculous thing in the New Writeups nodelet, and feel compelled to do something about it. I have wasted a good amount of time debunking things that are themselves nearly self-refuting. But every now and again, you find a writeup that is well written, insightful, well researched, or (gasp!) a combination of these, and then you think your time here has been well spent. These moments are, to use Billy Bragg's phraseology, far and few between. More lately than at other times, but this may well reflect my mood.

And I have not, as many of you have, formed close relationships with many users. A good friend of mine, Taltos, has been more or less hounded from E2 by a diffused form of XP Pack Rape, and a Muslim whom I had been strenuously but well-naturedly arguing with was supercursed (with some justification, it seems) and fled. And I have had meaningful short-term interactions with a good many users, but not enough to sustain my long-term interest. Some of this is my own nature peeking through, but what's done is done.

But in the end, I think the crux of the matter is that E2 no longer provides the spark needed to bring out my best work. I joined the E2 Prose Writers Group in the hopes this would reverse the trend, but the promising project now seems stillborn. I have concluded that I will be better off working on my own than submitting my work for a review that is too often anything but critical.

Yet my work has done well. My median rep as of today is 7, which I think kicks relative ass. I have received in the realm of 129 C!s, spread over a corpus of 324 writeups (not counting this one). My top writeup sits now at 77, thanks to the estimable donfreenut's lead WU being featured on the famous poster.

But this has, in the main, ceased to have any real meaning for me. And my major project, Rook's Wine Reviews, seems to have a polarizing effect on people. Am I noding for numbers, as many people have implied? Since I have been at level 5 for eight months, I don't think I can be accused of that. But again, while I think the project has value, the fun seems to be gone from it: for every rave I get--and there have been many nice ones--I get substantial flak from someone else. Well, I will go on drinking my wine regardless. And yet, whenever I have a bit of Petite Sirah, I will have to think of dem bones (I have bolded he who is most deserving of the formatting).

So I will go, but I will not flee. I will leave my work here, as I always intended; I will leave my account open; and I may peek in from time to time out of curiosity. But I cannot linger in this place. I mean no disrespect, but I just don't seem to belong here anymore. I will depart from the havens and sail into the West.

Before I go I will say this one thing: many people here have the courage of their convictions, speaking passionately in favor of the things in which they believe. This is good. Yet is it not a more difficult thing, as Nietzsche believed, to have the courage to challenge your convictions? This is too seldom done, not just on Everything, but everywhere.

So I bid a fond adieu to you all. I would like to thank Wharfinger for helping me in the early days, Sylvar for words of encouragement and challenge, the above-mentioned dem bones, my fact-hero Uberfetus, jaubertmoniker for doing me a particular kindness long ago, and the many others with whose paths I have crossed. Enjoy yourselves, one and all! But I am weary, and I cannot yet see the end of it.

So I woke up this morning to go work at the local nature center, and my mom tells me I should call back the center and tell them I'm not coming.

"Why?" I ask.

"Because it's snowing".

So I stick my head through the blinds to discover that, lo and behold, there is roughly an inch (2.54 CM) of snow on the grass of my yard. Nothing is sticking to any concrete, no ice anywhere.

I understand that she was just trying to watch out for me or whatever, but jesus christ! If I'm going to drive on my lawn I'll be careful, ok mother? I won't go my normal 20 MPH over the speed limit just for you!

The biggest problem with snow in Atlanta/anywhere below the mason-dixon line is that a lot of the people here just can't function in ice and snow. There was roughly 3in of precipitation all day, and the entire city shut down.

I'm sorry that you can't drive your normal 75-85 MPH on the highway, I really am. Because that means my usual speed of 80-90 is lower as well. But when I drive to the gas station 5 lights down the road and see two separate accidents, I think you ought not drive so fast. Enjoy the scenery, take a walk, take marta.

A little snow-driving advice from an ex-northerner:

Steer into the skid, lightly pump the brake, and continue home. Once there, get your shotgun, (you DO live in GA!) and fire two rounds through your front tires. walk.

Too bad there's not enough snow for my snowmobile....sigh

Yes Sir, I am the Longstreet to your Lee. I encourage him.

Another soldier bites the dust in Talamius, leaving our humble fold over his dispute with Poerca & Co. and Talamius' accusations that the Silent Watchers are in fact an outgrowth of Fate. The leadership grows smaller, I regret having told Silverion that I wanted to leave, because as time passes I become more valuable to him, simply by attrition.

Recuiting for an army in any video game is a difficult task and I wish I was better at it, since fellow soldiers are what make the game go round. Lee, excuse me, Silverion, has seemed to all but stop recuiting, making the efforts of myself the apparent largest.

I wonder why I continue on, and I wonder rather often. I must admit to having a large desire to destroy the Outlaws of the Fallen Empire, as well as the Legends of the Lost Empire, simply because I hold a grudge against the godparents of those clans, Evil Empire and Holy Empire. I cannot leave until the Empire has fallen. For Republic, not empire, one might say, or so Pat Buchanan has said.

I must make a more concerted effort to build the Syndicate up to its former glory if it is to ever reach such a point. It seems i'll have to build an army from scratch. So bothersome. Alas the task before us must always be completed if we are to destroy our enemies.

I miss the gold old days, when you could just use soy.

But as they say those days are dead and gone. The way I see it there are several paths to ascension. The most obvious yet longest and most troublesome path is that of recuiting new players and building them into good players from scratch. This requires skills that need development on my part. The more direct, least troublesome, most difficult path is that of stealing from the other armies. Alas this too is difficult, espically when you are looking for loyalty. But, I am the longstreet to his lee, and as the old soldier says, there is nothing so much like god on earth than a General on the Battlefield, and I am far too loyal to give up. I loathe my loyalty, for it will be my downfall, yet I could not possibly live without it.
Driving home from her apartment, another cheap date: dinner at a deli and shopping at a mall. The half life of her perfume hums to me as I run stoplights. I wonder if she holds on to these moments as long as I do. I am sure she would only smile and shake her head if she realized how I replay every moment from the evening- her laughter at the nervous waiter ("It's my first night" he says, six times)-the way she scrapes sour cream off the edge of my plate with a knife ("What? Why waste it?"), and as usual, the soft way she pulls my shoulder as she steers me into/out of stores ("Comere").

I will inhale this, her, for the rest of the night. I will leave my coat at the foot of the bed so the fragrance doesn't leave me. I am sucker for this stuff, I know. And I know I am lucky she doesn't mind.

When is a New Year's Resolution not a New Year's Resolution? Well, I guess when it's as rambling and meandering as this is sure to be. When it's created on the 3rd of January. And when it's more about the past than the future.

I was walking back to my car from the shops earlier on this evening, a frozen pizza and bottle of red wine in my plastic bag, and I started thinking. I've never really been one for resolutions - I can never keep them, or even think of something monumental enough to change in the new year. I suppose I just don't see why, if something needs to be changed, if some behaviour is annoying enough to warrant modification, or removal, there needs to be a new year as motivation for that to change.

That's not really what I was thinking about mostly though. I was thinking about the past year of my life, what I've done, where I've been, where I'm going now. I'm very uncomfortable with talking up my own efforts, rating my own achievements. I'm almost painfully humble at times (shit, to me it sounds pretentious to even claim to be humble!) But walking back to my car tonight, I felt proud.

I felt proud that I could walk, with a shitty frozen pizza, and cheap bottle of wine, knowing that I'd be sharing them with nobody...and I could smile. A few months ago, that wouldn't have been possible. My thoughts would have been consumed with the thought of who I wasn't eating with, as I wondered whether my phone was going to ring, if there'd be a text message the next time I looked. Maybe I'd missed one, maybe some communication had slipped through, escaping my notice, and my heart could race again. Irony's a funny thing at times - there was an sms waiting when I got back to the car. It wasn't from from her though, this message was from someone who makes me smile these days. She doesn't have that power any more.

I felt proud that memories of the last time I broke down, barely able to move, or function, were nothing more than that any more - memories. And that instead of those memories raising feelings of regret and loss, they are now like signposts on the road I've travelled. Reminders of where I've been, pointers to moments in time that I never want to forget.

Proud that in the midst of the rut I found myself in, I managed to leave the boring, pointless job I'd fallen into, and fall into something so much better. Something with prospects for my future. Working on an IT Help Desk may not seem like too much, but the satisfaction I get from taking a problem, talking to a stressed user, and at the end of 10 minutes or so saying goodbye to a happy user, who feels nothing but gratitude - well, it's a special feeling. It's the little things...

I'm proud that as I enter 2002, I've got no idea what life has in store for me - and I just don't care. New Years Day, 2001, I thought I had a pretty good idea of where my life was headed. I thought the picture in my mind probably wasn't too far off the mark. Well, it didn't take too long for that picture to be shattered. For months, I was consumed with thoughts of how I could get my life back to something like it was before. And the answer didn't ever come. With every day that passed without me coming any closer to the place I longed to be, I died a little more. If I tried something new, and it failed to move me towards where I wanted to be - that was a failure. In my mind, I encountered a lot of failure in the year gone.

So as the new year came and went, I made no resolutions. There were no grand plans for change. More than anything else, I made a decision....maybe it's a resolution after all.

This year, I will allow myself to live, and experience the freedom of a clean slate.

Ack! How could I have forgotten to include this place in that list? This was the year I was introduced to e2, and I'm so glad I was. The talent of some of the writers here blows me away, and I've read some of the most incredible words, and learnt so much in the few months I've known it exists. To all of you, thankyou for making this place what it is.

I have hit new depths of patheticness, but at least this time I was not alone.

It started innocently, with Sheila complaining that she'd been offered a wardrobe that was too big for her bedroom. I suggested she get a single bed.

Then me, Sheila and Andy all revealed that we sleep alone in double beds. We discussed whether we slept on the edge or in the middle, but no one needed the space, not to sprawl or roll or jump up and down making "wheee!" noises, still less to make whoopee.

We even found that at least two of us only use one pillow, so no pretence at a love-nest there. When we pull, it's strictly a case of, "Love, pop down to John Lewis's sale and pick up a pillow", or if you're suave, "Get your coat, love, you've pulled, and you can roll it up and lay your head on it."

Personally I find the space beside my pillow makes a decent bedside table, good enough to hold an alarm clock and a paperback I can pretend to read. And if I ever did bring a girl home, she could flick idly through "The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter" as I took her from behind.

Next time on Pottedstu: how I steal shop dummies from bins to keep me company. And the amusing adventures we have.

This has been a trying week. For really the first time in my life, I found it hard to stand up for what I believe in. Over the New Year's weekend, my boyfriend and I went to St. Augustine, FL to visit some very good friends of ours, Amaranth and Paul.

As we all sat around, waiting for the ball to drop, the discussion of being faithful to your partner came up. I was the only one who believed that it was NOT ok to "share" your partner. They brought up the point about "Well, what if you need something your partner isn't giving you?" I feel that if you need something your partner isn't giving you, you first ask for whatever it is, be it emotional support, something sexual, ect. If your partner can't/won't give that to you, I don't believe you were meant to be.

My boyfriend claims that Amaranth and Paul are swingers, and were setting us up to ask us about....well, you know, swinging. That was a totally new situation for me, and to be honest, it was very odd. I am not saying that there is something wrong with the swinger lifestyle. Its just not my gig.

I'm not good at sharing. I must have missed that day in Kindergarden, but I am just not good at it. I feel what my boyfriend and I share is for us, and us alone. I would hope I give him all he wants and needs. I feel it is my job to do so, and in return, he gives me all I want and need.

On Friday, my boyfriend asked me to move in with him. I have lived with people before, hell I've even been married, but this is the first time anyone has asked me to move in with them. It felt pretty good to hear him ask. I felt so wanted. I know that sounds kind of silly, but its true.

Also, last night, I found out that while my boyfriend was away on vacation, he felt up some other woman's tits. We hadn't been together officially for very long, and I don't know if that's a valid excuse or not. Maybe I am trying somehow to justify it. He knows a swinger couple (wow, swingers are coming up a lot in this daylog), and the woman apparently had just gotten a boob job. She wanted more then her brests felt, but nothing more was done. I knew something had happened while he was away, since I asked him about 20 times and could never get an answer out of him. I should have been prepaired to hear something I didn't want to hear. But, I wasn't. I'm not going to lie, it hurt. It felt as if someone stabbed me in my heart. I wasn't angry. Just hurt. He knew he couldn't justify it, and he even said as much. I am still not quite sure how I feel about it. Of course, I will move on. I love him more then life itself.

I think I am ok. At least, I hope so.

It's hard to stay interested at work.

We're only allowed visiting Sony-related sites, and while The History of Sony could fill volumes, it's fairly dry, and not exactly entertaining. I've taken to keeping a webcam image open on my desktop, showing the neon and lights of Sony Headquarters and the night streets of Yurakucho, Tokyo.

There's something about the scene that really hits me. I'm not entirely sure how to describe the feeling, although the first word that comes to mind is nostalgia, regardless of the fact that I've never set foot in Japan.

...

Years ago, I visited Toronto for a concert, and it was then that I decided that I would live in that city, eventually. Standing on a roof deck, watching the skyscrapers, seeing the reflection of headlights on the wet streets; These things made me feel like there was so much more to the world than I was aware of, and I knew I would feel nothing butlonging until I had explored them.

When I went back to Ottawa, I felt as a lover returned to his wife with the smell of his mistress still on his skin.

In retrospect, I suppose it wasn't a decision at all.

Now, with the stress of unexpected money problems, and constant issues between roommates, it's hard to watch the world go by and feel the same wonder. It's there, under the surface, but the world is a dangerous place for fragile emotions right now.

...

With Jes in Ottawa for the last two weeks, I've had some time to think about my situation. As much as I'd like to think that I'm capable of thinking objectively, I don't feel that is truly the case. I need to be outside the situation to look at it, and gain anything from it. I need emotional distance.

Spending the holidays alone in a big house certainly sufficed.

There were no big discoveries, no revelations. Nothing. Only attention-starved cats and the sounds of floorboards settling.

It is important that I note this.

As I read what other have wrote about the week and what is going on in thier lives, I realize how good I have it. I haven't lost anyone I loved, I haven't lost my job, in fact I'm working two them. Its wierd reading some of these daylogs to think that my life is so happy, while others are so depressing.

On another topic, I find myself agreeing with Rook about his thoughts on E2. I think for me it is loosing its novelty. More often I see nodes that to me seem a waste of nodespace get the all important C! while a good node that I read in the New Nodelets are a lot better then those. What is happening with the quality of nodes here?

After finishing a book, and crying and crying because that was THE END (for with a good book, one falls so deeply in love with the characters), I finally went to sleep with Charlie at my side. Six hours later, Richard woke me, and I showered and dressed for work. As we left, Enrique (who was still asleep) called out "Leaving early again?" and I said "Early? It's nearly nine-fifteen!"

"Don't worry, my brother is asleep," Richard said, and we crept out of the basement to the red Audi. I had Weezer's Pinkerton for the ride to work. Richard had told me earlier that morning that Enrique was not going into the store, which was fine, because that meant I would ride shotgun. Navigator.

Then we were driving along the Van Wyck over snow and ice, bottoms warm in heated seats, ears filled with Rivers Cuomo screaming his head off when Richard peered uneasily into the rearview mirror. "I don't like the look of that," he said, but I couldn't see whatever it was, so I got back to singing softly to myself. I was still thinking about the book and how the people I love are gone, or at least forever locked into their final fates. I was almost crying again when the noise came.

Chucka-chucka-chucka ... and the road is pockmarked under us, or the car is dancing.

"Fuck," Richard said, and we pulled into the right lane slowly, as cars honked in anger because now they would be a second later arriving at their destination. Once the car was nestled safely in a shoulder, he opened the trunk and (ignoring the freezing air) removed the contents, piece by piece, looking for the wrench and the jack. Though my hair was wet, I stood outside with him, rubbing my hands together and shuffling about in the grass. More cars honked as they drove by. Richard smiled at me. "They're honking at my ass," he said.

I laughed and climbed onto a concrete slab that was lying there. I hopped from foot to foot, and felt the snot in my nose liquefy. Richard found the jack but couldn't loose it from the trunk. While he pulled at it, and his breath was making smoke rings in dusty morning air, a police H.E.L.P truck pulled up behind us. It was driven by a fat man clad head to toe in bright safety orange. Richard went over and spoke to the man, and I followed watching the exchange between the huge man in orange and the always jovial Richard. I caught part of it.

"...not here, go to the exit, it's right nearbye," old fatty said.

"But I'll ruin my rim if I drive it that far, and I don't want to get into an accident."

It was the closest I'd seen Richard to getting irritated by the flat tire. Finally, we packed the contents of the trunk willy-nilly back into the Audi and carefully drove to the gas station, slowly, while angry men in bright shiny Mercedes and big burly SUVs shook their fists at us, because we were too slow.

At the station, things looked more grim, because when we unpacked the car for a second time, we found that the wrench was broken and there is no way we could turn the lug nuts. On top of this, we were gathering a entourage of watchers. Big, scary men surrounded me as I watched Richard try again and again to make the cracked wrench fit tight around the nuts. But of course, he was still ever optimistic, and smiled up at a particularly large man. I watched, holding my breath, not sure what would happen. And then the man smiled back down and Richard and took the wrench and did his best to bend it to his will, all the time laughing happily and muttering "Two dollars."

Then another and another came by, but none had a metric wrench until one tiny man fairly screamed with joy (much to Richard's delight) "I have metric tools, fuck yeah, I have metric tools, fuck yeah!"

I laughed and the big man laughed with me. "You got metric tools buddy?" ... "Fuck yeah, yeah!" ... "Two dollars!"

Soon, the donut was on, and we handed over the only money we had to the little man, and he gave a dollar to the big man, who was laughing and laughing. Richard was smiling, because his spare was on and his point was proven: It could always be worse. I was happy because we could get back into the car, and have a little heat, finally. My hands were nearly frozen. I wondered at Richard because he hadn't been wearing gloves.

"Two dollars?" an uncertain, but jovial voice called out, and there was the big man. He'd stayed behind when the small man drove off. "You want some change? I have change in the car," Richard answered.

The man took the change, and beamed at Richard. "I love you," he said, and walked off to do other things at the gas station. I tried to figure if he was an employee or a strange homeless man. We got into the car, and turned the heat on high, and the heated seats up to warm our bottoms. And I thought, he was right, it could always be worse.

Had to go in early for work today for a meeting. Yeah, the ominous kind that only appears in bold face or possibly SMALL CAPS.

Both our line and the line next to us got royally chewed out for a lack of teamwork. While I don't know about the other line, I always thought our line was a pretty good team... just that we have a new guy, who's not quite up to speed, and we're teaching him with the pushing the bird out of the nest method, same as we all of us learned... Guess our supervisor doesn't like that.

Anyway. Today's words of wisdom: learning more about people is fun and interesting and should be done more often. Unless they are doing illegal things, in which case it'd probably be better not to know.

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