I'm pretty sure you wanted to leave a legacy.

All of us do. I think every human would like to leave knowing that in some way or another they have touched another human being's life. Or left something behind for every generation to remember them by.

You left many legacies behind. You left many things in the past. Yet, above all, you managed to bring us together. The celebration of your future turned into the celebration of your past. The small group that was going to be there turned into the amazingly large family that was. We cherised the memories and waxed nostalgia, and gave hugs and kisses and thoughts and dreams and everything that was and everything that will be.

And then they were gone.

Now I sit here with you. Thirty-Seven years packed into 6"x14"x5" and a phone call. The phone call from my doctor who said that they needed to see me. High liver enzyme count. The knowledge that what you had was not good. It could be fixed, but was not was I was planning on having to deal with. Wondering if it could affect others. Wondering how it could affect mine.

All I ever needed was to tell you I loved you. And I am thankful that I got that opportunity. And the one thing I wanted was to know you were Ok. I never thought that I would know you were Ok like this, but I guess that sometimes I don't know it all. But to have been able to hold you, to see you happy, to see everyone come together for you, for YOU...I couldn't have asked for any better. Thank you for everything, and I can't wait to see you again.

Love very much,
Your son

Last night she came to my house. She made the hour drive to come visit me! It was a night to remember for a very long time. My parents were home, so we went to the park down the road from my house and used the swing set for a while, then danced in the dark, and lounged around on a lone picnic table. We stayed there until maybe 4 or so in the morning, and we were startled by some strange lights and noises. It turns out that we were being invaded by a large troop of fisherpeople! Eeek!

We must relocate!

We relocated to the parking lot of my old elementary school. She said she had never seen a sunrise, so I figured it was a nice way to spend a few hours chatting - waiting for the ball of fusion to come up over the horizon. Unfotunately it was abnormally foggy, and we were looking in the wrong direction. The sun came up from the side and we didn't even know it.

Solution! We just ducked down a bit, and was as if the sun hadn't quite made it yet. So we got to watch the sun rise after all.

We played at words for a while, and then I knew it was time. I had to do it. There are urges in life that if not acted upon will haunt a person for the rest of their days, and this morning was such a moment.

I leaned over and kissed her.

We spent the next few hours lounging around the park, and then she dropped me off at home and went back to the city.

It was a night well spent.

We've been together now for over a year and a half, and when I said this to a person at work, they couldn't believe it! They said they get bored and dates three different people at once in a week. They asked how do I find things to talk about for a year and a half? I just laughed it off at the time, but later I started thinking, what have we been talking about for a year and half?

I came to realise that when we were first together, we agreed on a lot of issues, but as time goes by, I found we started disagreeing on a lot of issues. It wasn't really disagreeing but rather acknowledging our different points of view, and although for some relationships, it would be the begining of the end, for us, I can see how it helps us interested in each other, we compliment each other.

We learn from each other, we find out more things about each other.

The talks and discussions we have are great, it's what you expect from a best friend. Deep, interesting, involving, educating conversation. I can't believe how lucky I am to have this type of conversation with the man I love. The topics we talk about are new and informing, I realised that if we had continued to agree on everything, we would be a boring couple, who bored each other. I'm not saying this is the case for everyone, but it is just what I think would have been the case for my partner and I.

I love my man's brain, I love how I can pick at it, that I can ask him questions about all sorts of things, that I don't understand or know about, and he can explain things to me. I love how when we discuss an issue that has been brought up from something we've seen or read, we can talk for hours, sometimes just getting our definitions about stuff right.

I love it
I love him
I'm so lucky and happy to have him
I love how I have a smart guy to challenge ideas with.

we really should get over our laziness though

Family can be so cruel and mean sometimes. I have brothers and sisters all over the age of 35 with their own children, whom of course are my nephews and nieces, I have 9 of them, all under the age of 7.

Last night they wanted to use my monopoly game, to which I wouldn't allow them because they are too young, they've ruined all my other games and I wanted to keep at least one game safe. But no, they couldn't accept that decision, they nagged and begged until they're parents, my brothers and siters, decided to resort to their own childrens actions by pulling apart a jigsaw puzzle I had put together with my boyfriend, and stealing tickets to a concert, claiming they will give my stuff back if I let their children use (and ruin) MY game.

Then when I scream and yell at their children and them to leave me alone, they have the nerve to question my maturity level?

My family suck.
All I want is respect, for me and my property, they tell me I have to have respect for them first, what? and to do that I have to allow their children to ruin my stuff? They don't realise respect is a two way street! Is that too much to ask?

Today I met two luminaries of a sub-culture of which I am only marginally a participant.

It was Saturday, and, as I am gainfully employed this summer, I have made it a part of my Saturday ritual to venture into the Uptown area to visit my favorite gaming nook and comic shop, which happen to be across the street from each other.

Entering Phoenix Games, I was mostly sure that I wouldn't be buying anything, since I'll be travelling to GenCon, America's biggest gaming convention, in a matter of weeks, and I'll probably be dropping a small pile of my hard-earned cash on a shiney new pile of booty. After knocking about for a few minutes and seeing nothing of particular interest, I stepped back into the muggy mid-day and crossed the street, bound for Dream Haven Books and Comics. I was surprised to discover that international man of mystery, Neil Gaiman was doing a book signing today to publicize his new children's novel, Coraline.

My initial reaction was, "Oh, that's nice." The only one of Gaiman's novels that I have read to date is a worn old hardcover of Good Omens, co-authored with Terry Pratchett. I had just started reading The Sandman, after four years of putting it off, and I had come to Dream Haven with the idea of picking up the second volume in mind. I did so, and was asked if I was planning to stay for the signing.

I said, "No... I'm not really a collector, and if I start to become one, then I'll have to be a collector for the rest of my life, you know?"

On my way back to my home in the suburbs, I mulled over the situation in my mind. I really liked Good Omens, and I am liking The Sandman, and sure, by paying money for these things, I'm supporting the artist... but let's think about this for a minute...

The money I spent on his books supports him much like buying a CD supports an artist working for a RIAA. The best way to support a musician is to go to a concert and have a good time. Here on e2, I can upvote somebody; I can even C! them, but the best way to appreciate somebody's node is with a /msg, I think we can all agree on that. So it was that I decided that since I liked Neil Gaiman's work, and I did take some inspiration from him as a storyteller (that is, after all, what I'm bending over backwards and taking out monster loans to set my self up for professionally). So it was that I rationalized that I should finish driving home, pick up my battered old copy of Good Omens, drive all the way back, and take a number.

So, while I was hanging out for 3 hours in a book and comic store waiting for my turn, I chatted with the employees and the other people hanging out, and wound up meeting Scott McCloud, and his wife. Perhaps not quite as famous as Mr. Gaiman, Scott McCloud is a comic-maker in his own right, and author of the books Understanding Comics and Reinventing Comics. I got to talking to him about how his books are on the reading list for the Masters program I'll be entering in the fall. He was in town doing 2 one-week seminars at the College of Art and Design, and wondered aloud if maybe my school would be interested in having him do a seminar for them.

To help kill a little time, I decided to listen to liminal's reccommended reading list and pick up The Watchmen, which I am about half way through, and has been quite enjoyable. I'd suggest it to any mature reader. Having never read it before, reading it now, with it's bits about Afghanistan and nuclear threats, where the faceless bad guys are the Russians instead of terrorists, put some interesting thoughts in my head. I read it with the radio on in my room tonight, and as I finished chapter 7 a radio piece came on talking about the stupidity of nuclear devices... how we built so many and could have used not only the money, but the scientific brain power for better purposes, and now it's wasted, and all we can do is make amends for our mistakes and move on... It was as though The Watchmen's writers were wrong: there is a sentient force guiding the universe, and it has a heavy-handed sense of moral delivery. Coincidences be damned. I'm still the Romantic they told me I was in high school, I guess.

Having 3 hours to stand around, I spent a lot of time listening to the small talk and anecdotes that Neil shared with people when he signed their books. I thought about whether I had any intelligent questions to ask him. I had 3 hours to come up with something, and I had some things I wanted to say, but I couldn't think of an intelligent way to say them in the approximately 30 seconds it would take for him to sign my book. I thought and thought and thought and then it was my turn.

"My name is Ben... With a 'B' an 'E' and an 'N.' "

He had mentioned earlier that he always asked for spellings because once a guy told him his name was "Dave," and after he had written the name, the guy said, "Actually, I spell it D-A-E-V," so now he always asks, because every once in a while he meets a new Bohb or Byl.

He wrote "Ben--- Bum this Book!"(1) and drew a winged hourglass.

What I wanted to say was, "I just wanted to let you know that you're one of the people who made me decide that I really could tell stories for a living." That was the core. There were other things I had thought of that might make good tangents off of that, depending on how he reacted to it. That was what I wanted to say.

See, I couldn't think of a good lead in. It's hard to start cold, when you're coming in at the end of the line to see this very nice English gentleman in a black t-shirt to think of a good way to break the ice as he stares down into a book he wrote back before he had email and draws an hourglass. So I stood there, respectfully mute, and then managed to say, "Thank you very much, sir."

Afterwards, on the way home, I kept thinking of Haruki Murakami's short story from The Elephant Vanishes, "The 100% Perfect Girl," where Murakami suffers a similar spell of cat-gotten-tongue. I am considering, in another Murakami-esque act, writing a letter to Neil Gaiman explaining these inane details to him, feeling justified because the central message would be thanking someone for being an inspiration.

Of course, I am not one of Murakami's characters, so I will not write said letter unless, several days from now, it still feels like a good idea, which it probably will not. It will feel pathetic, or rude, or simply unimportant, and the whole concept of the letter will leave me and float around until somebody else decides to write Neil Gaiman a letter.

And that will be enough.

(1) Or possibly "Burn this Book!" It's hard to tell, really.

Ever have a day when you just feel continuously embarrased?

I wanted to buy the soundtrack to Metropolis as soon as I saw it. I saw it with a friend of mine who's not really an anime` fan; but then, neither am I; I'm just inclined to want to see movies that I read front-page stories about in the New York Times. In any case, good movie (though I missed most of the finer plot points), great animation, great soundtrack; like videogame dixieland.

Unfortunately, I was broke. I don't have a job and am currently living on a $20-a-week allowence (which means I take the bus just about everywhere -- not a bad thing in Ann Arbor in the summer; it means I'm walking enough to be not-completely-out-of-shape, too) until I go back to college in the fall or find temp employment. I kept looking in music stores for it, though, just for the heck of it, to give me something to do when downtown with a couple of hours to kill; nobody seemed to have it. I even looked for it on Amazon (yes, it was there; but I don't have a credit card; anyway, as I said, I'm broke).

One day, I happened to pass Encore Records (one of Ann Arbor's many (though not as many as once) independent new/used record stores) and went in, for the hell of it. Looked for the CD. Felt out of place among the mostly middle-aged shoppers. Couldn't find it, so I went to the counter.

"Excuse me, I'm looking for a dixieland CD. Er, the soundtrack to Metropolis."

"The Japanimation or the 1926 silent film?" He looked like a smart guy; I'm sure there was some reason for asking me this, though I haven't figured it out.

"Er, the new animated movie." (Note: I don't actually say 'er'; like any american, I say 'uh'. For some reason it becomes 'er' in text, though. (Come to think of it, I used to say 'er' quite a lot after reading the HitchHiker's Guide to the Galaxy in middle school, but I imagine it sounded pretty weird.))

"I don't think we have that, but I'm sure you can find it over at WizzyWig." I'd never heard of WizzyWig, but he was pointing vaguely in the direction of the Michigan Theater, so, after bypassing the counter and the left wall of the store, that was the direction I went.

A few stores down, I saw it -- a simple glass-windowed door with the green WizzyWig emblem plastered across it. Locked. I noticed a notice, an arrow pointing to the right, instructing me to "Use main entrance". To the right, however, was not an entrance but a staiway leading down to Digital Ops, then a stairway leading up to, I believe, apartments.

I noticed a guy sitting on a concrete thingy. "Uh, you wouldn't happen to know how to get into Wizziwyg, would you?"

"I think the entrance is there," he said, pointing to a ridiculously obvious set of 2 glass doors beneath a giant Wizziwyg sign just to the right of the apartment entrance. He wasn't mocking, he was trying to make it look like he was making an educated guess, but the effect was similar. I went in.

And stopped. Everything was white, pure, brilliant white. No, not everything -- looking closer, I could see little colorful things in the nooks and crannies. Comic books. Mostly, I remember comic books. The woman behind the counter -- pretty, young, asian -- was the only person in the store.

I must have looked lost. "Can I help you?"

"Uh, yeah, do you have the Soundtrack to Metropolis?"

"It's sold out." Wow. So my taste in movie music isn't freakishly bizarre after all.

"Uh, thanks anyway."

Weeks later, at a bus stop, I discovered a plain-printed advertisement amid the plain-printed advertisements. The U of M was looking for participants in a study of cultural thinking differences -- specifically, Jews who had been through some, but not all, of college -- and it explained and there would be compensation.

Compensation! Praise the lord!

I ripped off the little tag and, eventually, emailed the address and was deemed a qualified subject. I went in, watched horrendously rough animations of fish, answered some questions, and was paid $40 and sent on my way.

Travel time to WizzyWig: 5 minutes, by foot. This time, there were a few more people in the store, and both women behind the desk were caucasian, about my age. I still felt like an extraterrestrial.

"Hi, do you have the soundtrack to Metropolis?"

"It should be over with the CDs if we have it."

I went over to the CDs; Metropolis, apparently, wasn't among them, and I told the woman at the counter so. She escorted me back to the CD wall and plucked it from beneath a Final Fantasy soundtrack.

I paid, mumbling something or other, embarassed. She smiled. "Do you want to come with us to the Nelly concert?" She pointed to a mini-poster on the counter of a japaneese woman with cool hair.

Abruptly, I realized: she thought I belonged here. She thought I was a die-hard anime` fan. "No, thanks." I couldn't help sounding just a tiny bit amused. And then I left.

But god, she was nice.

Tonight, having discovered the wonder that is MegaTokyo, reading through the back issues, I thought of it again. Me, standing before the counter, painfully shy, wide-eyed, smiling slightly, pink-cheeked with embarassment. Take away the zits, and presto...

Maybe anime` conditions friendliness to that kind of thing, empathy with people who look like that, in situations like that. Maybe the people who identify with that kind of thing are drawn to anime`. All I know is, she saw me, she wanted to make me feel better, she invited me to a concert.

I should have gone.

My own failed internet romance did not give me the right to speak out against romance that begins online.

I was angry and bitter for so long and never even realized it. Very recently, I was forced to take a long and hard look at the whole situation. What I found wasn't pretty at all.

We were together for a year and half. He lives in Massachusetts. I live in New York. He'd call me daily and would visit four times. I became attached to him during this period. I cannot and will not say the same for him as I cannot read minds. Although, looking back, I will say I think I made more of the relationship than I should have. I don't think he ever intended for it to go as far as it did. Everything moved so quickly. Too quickly.

The man I was involved with could not deal with my Cerebral Palsy.

What worked very well online could not survive in the real world. We are both good people and are both happy in our respective and very seperate lives.

Dealing with a disability can be difficult if not impossible. It's mine to deal with. No one else needs to even try if they feel they cannot.

Everything I do that requires more than the use of one fully funtional arm, I am not able to do without help.

Many relationships that began online are very successful. May they stay happy and strong in each other's love and be blessed always.

Enjoy what you have today as none of us are promised tomorrow.

time to rest

weill in japan: day 19

After a week dominated by not-quite-early-enough starts and constant work, it was nice to have a weekend defined by sleep and recreation. Of course, there was homework as well, but it wasn't too bad. Tomorrow, I'll see how much homework I forgot to do.

fond farewell

Earlier this evening, Nori left to return to Kyoto. He offered to let me stay at his place should I want to visit. I might take him up on that offer, since the shinkansen (bullet train) alone costs more than $100 a ticket from Tokyo to Kyoto, but makes the trip in about 2 1/2 hours. The bus, which is about a third less money, takes 10 hours on an overnight trip that can either be a nice place to sleep or an uncomfortable nightmare, according to a friend of mine.

The farewell was not as long-winded as the ones I'm used to back home: Nori packed his things and headed to the station without a lot of heavy emotions on the part of the rest of the family. He's still close enough to visit every now and then.

future plans?

I still have a lot of sightseeing and souvenir shopping to do, so much so that I'm keeping a list of things I should buy and things that I already have as souvenirs. A fair amount of novelty gifts are actually free: old game flyers are given away by stores who don't need them any more, and many food and drink companies give away little trinkets to keep people brand-loyal. I now have a key chain featuring Coca-Cola's large-headed cute blue mascot "Qoo" (pronounced "coo") which came free with a bottle. Still, to get more personal and more regional gifts, I need to travel around some more. Hopefully I'll be able to do that in the coming four weeks.

Task: This week, make sure people on campus know how to contact me off-campus. I can't count on e-mail here, since I check it so infrequently. The dorms' persistent Internet connections spoil the dorm students like I was spoiled at CMU. You don't realize how great a high-speed persistent 'net connection is until it's gone.

food improving

Early on, I was extremely pessimistic about food matters. My host mother was giving me these large portions and then acting very concerned as my weak, jet-lagged body could barely finish half. Now, my appetite has been back at full strength and my host mother knows that I tend not to eat as much as my highly active older brothers here. Noodles and rice have made up no small part of the meals here, and that's good: both of those are very simple foods which provide plenty of carbohydrates for energy. On each of the last two days, lunch has consisted exclusively of soumen, very thin noodles served ice cold with a thin sauce and onions. Everyone serves themselves from a large bowl, so I only need to take as much as my appetite allows. The food is good, and none of it goes to waste.

My host mother was very surprised yesterday to hear that I would like to have unagi, a broiled eel dish. Popular year-round but most plentiful during the summer, unagi consists simply of eel broiled and usually served over rice (the combination is often called unagi-don or una-don) as a main dish. The meat is very light and easy to eat, and tastes very good. Unagi is fairly difficult to prepare, so even skilled chefs like my host mother buy it in stores instead. At its cheapest, a bowl of una-don will cost as much as ¥1200 ($10.40) from a small shop or substantially more at a fine restaurant. One of the nice parts about being in a homestay is that I pay a monetary gift up front and then receive meals like this for free. Most families spend more than the value of this monetary gift on meals for the student, so we students get more than we pay for. As long as the food's good, I'm not complaining.

Goal: Get up extra early in the morning, go to Mister Donut near the train station in the morning, enjoy a Choco-Ring on the train to school.


Congratulations to former Carnegie Mellon College Bowl club president Shannon Sisk on her marriage to Terry Watt on Saturday, July 20. You made it!

Sighting: An opera-singing Santa Claus doll on clearance for ¥1000 ($8.60) at a department store Saturday. I thought for a long time about buying it.

I now have 12 Coca-Cola stickers from bottles and cans, enough to buy one entry into one of the lotteries that Coke is running this summer. Other Coke lotteries with better prizes cost 20 and 30 stickers to enter, respectively. I can do this.

I'm starting to listen to J-Pop, thanks to a CD with about 10 hours of the stuff that Justin gave me on Friday. I've only listened to some of it so far. Some is excellent, some is as good as American pop, and some of it is just weird. Not all the CD is J-Pop per se; some of it is Japanese experimental music.

Most Japanese desktop computers don't include floppy drives any more, so that USB memory device I bought yesterday has already proven useful for transporting my report downstairs. As long as I don't lose the device, which is about the size of a cigarette lighter, I'm in good shape.

The amount of Stuff around my room is growing day by day. I have to make sure not to accumulate too much.

Goals for week 3: Get up on time, have something non-caffeinated every morning, control bitterness in class, make more and better leisure plans, and stay on top of everything.

My son turned 2 today. The time passes so quickly, like a heartbeat.

For fun we poured bubble bath into the kiddie pool. Delighted shrieks and laughter and shouting "BUBBLES BUBBLES" and splashing the grown ups and eyes lit up like sunshine. Ice cream cake and crayons and sleepy sweet kisses on the cheeks.

This is Happiness.

Dear Kevin, thank you for lighting up my life. Love, your mommy.

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