A note to my muse, who despite my undying love, will not sleep with me, but keeps fucking with my mind.

Despite a lifetime of trying I have not found a way to become less confused. I now believe in a universal principle of conservation of confusion. In physics terms this means the universe was formed with a certain amount of built-in confusion. There'll never be more. There'll never be less. It's just there to be suffered.

I believe people suffer confusion. It's an affliction. It's a sort of pain. Some people endure it better than others. We all know people who allow the dentist to drill their teeth without an application of novocaine. We all know people who revel in aggressive asininity despite all the shame violent stupidity can bring upon a thoughtful person. These people have tapped into a different vein of life than most of us. They live in an alternate universe. Were it not for the fact the velocity of their foolishness renders them opaque to light rays (and the occasional Jim Carrey movie), we'd never see them at all and be happier for it.

I, for one, try hard not to be confused, and when I am, try hard not to seem that way. Being confident gets people jobs and frequently gets people laid. I have this in mind, most of the time.

And so I try to understand things. I think I've done a good job understanding the things my life demands. It's taken a while for some things. Nearly thirty nine years went by until I understood women well enough to know when to cringe at random blurtation. Management of large projects is under my belt. International contract relations. Employee relations. How to throw a frisbee backward over the head. How psychics read people's minds.

Every time I learn something new, though, it seems another pressing question takes its place. Like: what the hell is going on in the gaps created by the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle? Why does inertia work? Why does DNA replicate and how does sexual reproduction account for the fact my daughter now speaks some French and drives a German car? What is love?

These things evade me, but I was happy in my ignorance until recently when someone I know asked me a question that I couldn't shake and for which my confusion exposes a blatant ignorance I have no means to correct.

I was whining I hadn't sold a story in a long time, especially since my agent, now dead, hasn't been putting the stamps on the envelopes like she used to. And she doesn't answer my calls.

And this person, whom I respect and in whose opinion I'm interested said something which stopped me dead in my tracks.

"Why do you want to be published?"

"To have an audience," I said, glibly, dripping Folger's freeze dried coffee flakes and uncooked rolled oats into my keyboard.

"Why do you care if you have an audience?" he said.

Well, that one was way fucking obvious. "BECAUSE I..."

Hmm. "Because..."

Hmm. I dunno. Why do I care?

It's been killing me for the past couple of months. Honestly. Why bother? Why the hell do I write at all? Who cares if anyone reads this shit? -- more importantly -- what makes me any different being read by people or not? I'm still the same guy whether or not anyone sees this. My writing abilities will not change. Certainly, I'm desirous of being read and loved, but so what? I'm desirous of pizza and sex, too. I don't become more fulfilled for more than a couple hours with either of those, either.'

Beyond simple vanity or ego, I have no answer.

I can't live on a writer's income. I'm too old to start my writing career young. The ten or so stories I've sold in my life have netted me a couple months groceries, tops. My kids would all be living in foster homes if we had to exist on what I could make writing. So certainly, I can't be in it for the money.

What the fu--?

Honestly, I don't know. I will probably keep writing for my whole life just because it's been something that while I'm doing it makes me happy. Kind of like a socially acceptable public masturbation. I can do this in front of people and I'm happy doing it and nobody minds. And I can finish writing something and read it over and think, "yeah, that's something I want to read, how come nobody wrote it before me?" or some such bullshit. But I mean, why? Why is there gravity? Why out of all the universe is this one planet exactly the right distance from a g-class star to sustain the type of chemistry and biology that makes us alive? Why do I love people?

Why do I even bother writing? Why do I care if anyone reads this? Why should I bother trying to get published?

I can't answer any of those questions beyond, I want to be pretty, or I want to be liked, or I want to be wanted, I want I want I want. Those aren't good enough reasons for something solid and important.

I went to Colorado recently for a big Antarctica ops meeting and I met a woman there who has been trying to get an Antarctica book published for the past 20 years. She says she goes home and forces herself to write four pages every night.

"Why?" I asked her.

"Because. How else am I going to get better?"

"Why do you have to get better?" (this "why?" thing. it's a virus. try it on your friends. you won't be able to stop.)

"Because I..."

"Yeah. Because. Look--I'm giving up. I'm done with this trying to get published bullshit. I'm no happer when I sell stories to 2-bit magazines than I am before. It's not going to make me rich or improve my life in tangible ways. It's not going to cure cancer or help my kids get through college. It's pretty much a waste of time that I have to justify by only doing it when I'm not supposed to be doing something profitable, like taking out the garbage or feeding the dog."

She looked at me as if there were bees coming out of my ears.

"Fuck, Joe," she said. "You can't quit."

"Who's quitting? I'm not sure I ever started anything in the first place. What the fuck is this writing to yourself business? What exactly am I quitting? There's no reason for it."

And so on.

It makes me wonder, why the hell did Van Gogh paint? What made Steinbeck spend a year pounding out East of Eden when it was killing him to do it? (At least he won the nobel prize, eventually.)

I can't answer the question of why I want to be published. So I stopped worrying about it. It just went out of my head and then I concentrated fully on my actual, paying job, and so on.

There is -- no purpose -- to it.

None. Think about it. What the hell do you do with your angel?

You're probably happy pretending it's not there.

As for me, if she's not going to make me a rich famous writer with a Ferrari and a house on a hill, she can at least have sex with me, instead of screwing around inside my brain like the remains of a bad acid trip.

And if she wants to be a bitch, bring on the dog show.

His voice is something like the opposite of scotch--warm and inviting, with a startling undertone that catches me sideways in suprise. Slow southern accent, just a trace, he stretches his vowels out, pausing in indecision. Laughing in secretive thought. Behold my intake of breath.

He calls me mouse. This amuses me for many reasons, but it's an affectionate diminiutive that fits. I proceed with caution and bite when I'm frightened. And when he squeezes me, I squeak.

The woman who holds my heart now stands a foot taller than me. Black ink on her arms, her words are incredible. Nothing she does moves so gracefully as that low-spoken hum, the self-assured sweep of long dark hair. She belongs to someone else, of course. He comforts me.

It's all temporary.

Why I Am Not a Morning Person

I despise sunrises—so full of joy and vigor.
Getting up each morning as if to say,

Awake! Be of good cheer!
Each of you has been given a brand new day
To spend as you will... each of you but one.
You my son have been given no joy.
This day shall hold for you nothing but anguish.

Look around you.
Look at all the joy and love and hope and laughter.

Look, and know that today you shall have none of it.
Know that should you die tomorrow,
You will be less alone than you are today.
For then, you shall not remember
Waking up to kiss the woman you love;
Going downstairs to find your youngest daughter elbow-deep in corn flakes;
Spending eight hours doing something you love only to have some fool wearing a tie pay you for it;
Coming home in time to help make dinner for your family;
Tucking your children into bed and tip-toeing down the hall to dream of the good things in life.

You shall not remember because you shall not have done them,
For they are not yours to do.
Not today.

Today all you shall have is the knowledge that,
Perhaps tonight, you shall dream
Of a day when you shall have these things,
A day when joy shall replace this anguish,
A day when love shall surround you more surely than the air.
Perhaps tonight, this shall be your dream.
Perhaps tonight.

But not today.

I was just reading there is no such thing as emotional healing and thinking about some of the statements made there. People talk about "getting over it" and the suchlike. The thing is, you don't "get over it" and come out exactly the same as you were when you started.

You come out different. I think that's a damn good thing.

Imagine going through life having experiences, but never being changed by them in the slightest. Every single thing you do should be a learning experience. If you are never changed by the world, you can never truly appreciate it. To be someone who really lives life, you have to go out and take risks. Experience the highs, the great times when nothing could be better. Experience the lows, when all you want to do is hide in a dark corner and cry until there's nothing left inside you.

Only through these experiences can we become stronger, better people.

To quote one of my favourite writeups for when I am feeling down (by Aphrodite):

I may bend
I may bow
I may even fall, despairing.

But I will rise, and straighten. I am strong, and I will not be broken.

Get out there and live.

I've read a plethora "meaningful" quotes in my life. Tens of thousands possibly. Some were funny, some sad, some were just strange; but not a single one changed a single thing about my life - or at least I never felt any different for having read them. That changed a couple of days ago. I refreshed the Everything Quote Server and it was there, staring me in the face.

Wise men talk because they have something to say, fools; because they have to say something.


What can I say? It struck a chord somewhere within me. I had to stop and think when I read it, whereas every other time i had just kept hitting refresh to see what came next. I realized that all of my writing had become meaningless fluff, that all I was doing was trying to recapture a sense of purpose I lost so long ago. I started writing back when I thought I would actually be someone in a year's time. I thought that my little struggles in day-to-day life were important, and not just to me...

I'm not special. I never was.

So I opened up my big book of writing, and I wrote this over the page that I had left for the table of contents. (Rather ambitious, no? A table of contents on what turned out to be little more than a glorified journal.) I added one (final) page of writing, then I tore all the blank pages out from the back - and I don't intend to start another, not for a long time at least. The only reason I didn't burn the thing is so it can serve as a reminder of what happens when you don't remember why you started writing in the first place. A reminder that I don't have any great message, and that I learnt something from that book - humility.

I joined E2 recently, a mere two days ago now. None of you know me, but I know all of you (I'm one of your biggest fans). Ive read all about you. I have admired all of you from a distance for more than 6 months. I couldn't believe jessicapierce actually /msg'd me within an hour of me logging in. I practically fainted from shock! I finally gave in to the temptation of this place - somewhere I can write, on actual topics, for no other reason than for writing itself. I admire what this project is, and I admire you all for your contributions. I'm an addict who only just signed up. And now I offer you this, my first contribution.

I'm still learning, if I do anything wrong then please /msg me.


It's a word that struck a minor fear into the heart of my wife. She had, until this morning, refused one; she'd heard that the odds of miscarriage with them was five percent. I know, I know, that seems high to me, too. But now my baby is almost thirty-seven weeks along and miscarraige wasn't really a risk at this point. Maybe getting stuck in the ass was, and that came close to happening, actually.

Yesterday, after measuring an alarmingly high blood pressure, the high risk pregnancy doctor, Dr. Griggs, sent my wife to Labor and Delivery at the ajoining hospital for observation. We were told if her BP did not improve, she'd be induced. This transformed into keeping here there overnight, and in the morning (this morning) they'd do an amnioscentisis and if testing on the amniotic fluid would prove that the baby's lungs were fully developed (or developed enough) they would induce labor (tonight). By the way, I slept at the hospital all night with her and was there for the test. My wife needs me now more than ever.

I watched the ultrasound monitor as the doctor put the needle in (he was watching it, too, of course). The baby kept moving toward it, the little stinker. The doctor said "No, no, baby, go back that way." Or something like that. It was a little scary, but slightly humorous at the same time. Don't worry, baby didn't get stuck.

So, anyway, I apologize for the brevity, but there is lots to do. I have to install a carseat, for one, sometime today. I didn't expect all this so soon, the baby was due August 22nd.

This my be my final node before my baby is born. The next one could be written by a father to a beautiful baby boy named Ryan. I just wanted to share that with you all.

Have a good weekend, everybody. Mine will probably be quite exciting and life-changing.

A Spider in the Atrium

I work on the second floor of a two-story, shared office building.  In the large, circular common area, the floor is opened in the middle to reveal the first floor where a little atrium has been built.  The atrium has several plants, a small fountain, which is a little waterfall that runs over rocks, and even a couple of trees that reach above the plane of the second floor.  The walkway around the circular opening to the floor below has plants growing along the edge.  With the skylight overhead, it is actually very peaceful and serene.

Today, while walking through the common area, I noticed something new; a spider had built a new web.  The web was near the ceiling, next to the skylight, over the opening to the lower floor.  What struck me about this was that the bottom support of the web extends to the top of the trees, a distance of somewhere around at least twelve feet or so.

How did the spider get all the way to that spot?  It must have climbed along the edges, over the floor, up the wall and across the ceiling.  Then, after what must have been a considerable journey, it dares to lower itself such an immense distance to anchor its web.  What if the line snapped?  The whole journey would have to begin again, assuming the spider survived the fall.  How did it get to the tree?  The web isn't directly over the tree, but instead at an angle; the spider somehow had to swing over at least three to four feet to reach it.

What made the spider decide that that was a good location for its web?  The spot is so high and the construction of its web required such a long anchor that it is surprising, with all the effort and possibility of things going wrong, that it was even attempted.  At first glance, the task seems overwhelming and an impossibility.  And yet, there it is, glistening in the overcast sunlight from the skylight above, as a testament to the perseverance of the spider and perhaps all spider-kind.

Was the spider just not smart enough to realize how much effort it would be?  Or, perhaps it simply wasn't burdened by a racing mind, constantly doubting and questioning its efforts.  The spider has to eat, and to eat a web is needed, and therefore it just accomplished its task without even realizing the task was complicated, only that it was necessary.

Oh, to be like that spider.
I'm probably gonna vote for Kerry out of an Anti-Bush attitude, but until last night's acceptance speech, I've been very disappointed. I'm still a little weary. I don't see how Kerry's got any more of a chance than Gore did four years before - and even with the gaining of the popular vote the republicans robbed the election anyway. There's nothing to say that won't happen again this November. There's even discussion of the odds or variables involved in the republicans successfully postponing the election indefinitely. The deck may already be stacked and all this arguing is academic: we'll probably end up with Bush no matter what. I'm quite chagrined.

However, Kerry wins over Bush in my heart and mind for the following three reasons:
  1. Bush has proven himself a failure as Commander In Chief. Kerry at least has military experience. Whether Bush ever served in the National Guard is irrelevant. He's spent no time in a foxhole, and has no place sending soldiers to their death for corporate interests. Kerry knows the risks and he understands the price paid when American blood is spilled. I would be more comfortable if Kerry said to me we HAVE to fight, because unlike Bush I know a man like Kerry would sincerely try all other options and would not just jump the gun. Shrub has proven to do the opposite, and must be removed from that level of power.
  2. Doesn't matter what Kerry's opinion of shock jocks may or may not be - we already know Bush's, and Powell's son should leave the FCC soon after Kerry takes over, one way or the other. Kerry hasn't taken a stand on the issue of inconsistently fining some broadcast personalities and not others. However, we KNOW Bush's administration is playing favoritism and putting a price tag on the first ammendment. We at least have a fifty fifty percent chance with Kerry - there's no convincing compassionate conservatives that four letter words are less dangerous than they imagine.
  3. Stem Cell Research. Bush is against it. Kerry is for it. In other areas of science versus theology, Bush sides with a conservative fundamental interpretation of what they perceive to be God's will. Kerry's much more open minded and willing to let scientists play God. I don't mind when doctors and physicists play God, because when they do, it usually saves lives.
It's a no brainer. On the above three points alone, Kerry's the only way to go.

Honestly, I'm surprised so many Texans are blowing this off by saying they wanna ride the same horse another four years. (I live in Texas, which is why this matters to me). That's just sheer laziness and ignorance. The choice still sucks, there's no doubt about it. Two guys who were born with silver spoons in their mouths. who would only shake my hand if I had a check for thousands of dollars in it. The lesser of two bastards. However, in years past it's felt like Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dummer. Kerry's not dumb. I don't even know if he's a Dee.

Because Texas is Bush's home state, it seems pointless for democrats and independents in the Lone Star State to even get outta bed on November second. One of the largest chunks of electoral votes in the country - Texas has gone republican since before Kennedy and there's no indication that's gonna change this time. Last election I voted for Nader because I knew Gore couldn't win this state, and I was hoping that even though Nader was/is a lunatic, if they'd gotten just five percent the Green Party could get an easier ride this time around. That didn't happen. I tried to make my vote count for something, but my voice can't be heard through the din of ignorance that is this apathetic, backwood, traditionally stupid state I'm trapped within.

Any Texans out there take that the wrong way? Good. Going with Bush is talking crazy. That's like saying you're just gonna keep your head in the oven cuz you're starting to like the smell of the gas. Wake up.

There is more to the man John Kerry. The republicans bitch that he voted for the war in Iraq. Hell, when that time came around even I was reluctantly for the sequel to the Gulf War. We were under the illusion that maybe there's WMD in there and Saddam needed to get out of there a decade before. We needed to finish what we started, but for a golfer, Shrub's follow through was so terrible, he knocked the ball in the sand trap AND the lake at the same time. Kerry went on faith along with the rest of us, and Bush led us down a path which has proven to be fruitless and covered in thorns and brambles. We need someone else to guide us out.

Kerry's greatest claim to fame isn't just that he's not Bush. However, ultimately I fear that IF he wins this election, that's the only reason why he will. History may remember John Kerry as The Man Who Was Not George, and history alone will judge whether or not that is a good thing.

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