Sleep.  Sweet mystery of life at last I have found you.

Nothing to do tonight, except try to catch The Sopranos on HBO.


Get up, mail some tapes at the post office.

I'm debating whether to stay up through the day tomorrow so I'm really tired Saturday night and can get some decent sleep before my fencing competition on Sunday.  Either way, nothing to do tomorrow.  Maybe I'll start some homework early.  Ha.


About a week ago, I received an actual, hand-signed, paper-and-ink letter from some multi-titled university administrator congratulating me for receiving a bunch of A's in relatively easy classes, and inviting me (and my parents and friends and ancestral spirits and pet chinchilla!) to some high-falutin' award ceremony where I would presumably be handed an impressive sheet of gold-embossed wood pulp entitling me to write an impressive resume without blatantly lying, legally carry a concealed weapon, and receive the lifelong benefits of Love and Happiness and Wisdom and Free Beer.

Today, I became disillusioned enough to seriously consider quitting school.

A bit over a year ago, after a schizoid academic career spanning chemistry, geography, computer science, and (finally, after being forced to formally declare a major upon transfer from a community college) meteorology, I sat down and realized that I had to make a final decision about just what flavor of B.S. would taste best on my inevitable degree. I knew I was good at math. So good, in fact, that I picked a physics major because I thought straight math would be too easy. It was a strategic decision - while I had always intended to eventually do something abstract and theoretical, the problem-solving skills I'd presumably develop in advanced physics courses would give me an advantage in graduate school over the math geeks who'd spent their undergrad years in pure abstraction. The physics curriculum was flexible, allowing for a wide variety of electives, so I didn't think there'd be any problem in my taking whatever math classes I wanted above and beyond the minimum requirements for the degree.

I was wrong. It should have been such a simple matter - may I be excused from an insignificant, one-credit optics lab conflicting with a three-credit advanced calculus course that I need, if not to get admitted to grad school, than at least to receive financial support? Of course!, any reasonable professor would say, we're glad to see you're so ambitious. But professors stop being reasonable with students once they realize that published papers are their lifeblood, and dogmatism in areas unrelated to their pursuit of tenure (and eventually the envied "emeritus" position) provides the path of least resistance to that goal.

"We don't care what you want to do with your life. This book says you have to take the optics lab. In our work, we follow the scientific method, actively challenging dogma in favor of results. But you're not worthy of such consideration. The dogma of this book is good enough for the likes of you.

They didn't actually use those words, but the message came through loud and clear.

With nearly a hundred credit hours behind me, it's too late to change majors. The decision to choose an undergraduate physics major, which I had hoped would put me at an advantage as a graduate math student, has now become a major disadvantage. I've passed the point of no return, and my plans have been royally screwed by people who simply can't be bothered.

The month in review:
My dad came to Vancouver, first time I've seen either of my parents since they split up. I thought it would be weird, but it was not. His hair was more white than I remember.

The transit workers are striking in 2 days, It will cripple the city. The government does not plan to intervene. There will also be strikes in the hospital and public education systems. I will have a hard time getting to work. Not as hard as some people though.

Yesterday someone commited suicide at a Skytrain station. Caused me to be late by 2 hours. Suicide really is a selfish option.

Work is stressful.

Saw pseudo_intellectual today at a bus stop. The bus was an hour late.

I saw two turds today the thickness of my wrist. They were in a mall bathroom.
I've lost my job as a security guard. Call it the effects of our collapsing economy, but we lost our account, and so I am laid off.

Now, this is all rather depressing for me, especially since I have to pay for grad school come August. However, I am trying (very hard) to remain optomistic in the face of adversity and stay confident that I will find a new job.

However, given my current state of depression, I'm finding that very difficult. (Read the recent March 29, 2001 daylog for evidence.) I have no confidence right now, and the only things keeping me going is my fear of the afterlife and my determination not to let the universe win. Yeah, I suppose I find solace in Camus' "The Myth of Sisyphus."

My two best friends took me out tonight. They both have girlfriends. They try to live vicariously through me.

"That girl is hot!”

Maybe she is, but I don't care. I'm removing lint from my shirt.

I am interested in someone else. Why don’t they leave me alone? Because I am the single guy, they try to live vicariously though.

What a lovely day- for the first time today I saw the ack! you lost experience message and did not despair. Also I talked to my fellow noders about diverse topics in quite copious measure today. In the solid world I have spent most of the evening not doing the paper which I have due at 4 o'clock tomorrow as well as not doing the workbook which is due at the same time. The reason for this is that my neighbors are drunk- I have been forced to stay with them so that they do not get in trouble/ fuck around with other friends who live on my floor (sigh) It is now 3 AM and I am going to go to bed soon, so that I can wake up at 6 to finish my homework, how lovely. School is essentially over after tomorrow though, so I am coping with this next day as best I can.

I talked with a friend and graduate of my school who came back to visit fom harvard. He is a good guy and a total overachiever as well as being extremely intelligent. Today we saw a presentation about calligraphy given by my linguistics professor, who is also an accomplished calligrapher. He wrote a bunch of grass-stroke calligraphy and I am thinking right now that I should node something about calligraphy and its different types sometime when I am more awake than I am now.

also today I became officially addicted to E2 as I was on for at least 3 hours of my free time reading and planning my noding...never a dull day here in Massachusetts


To:      Universal Omnipotent Being(s)
From:    Daniel Drucker
Subject: I am not a plaything!

What, again? Look, buddy, quit fucking with me. Don't make me come up there.

Yeah, yeah, I've said it before, but seriously -- if you pull this shit again, there's gonna be some serious whoop-ass happening Upstairs, oki?

So don't cross me!


Hmm. Today is a nice day. At least better than all other days for the last two weeks. I guess it didn't start well but I guess it went well. I never knew that I'm a flower type of guy but I guess a flower does make your day. Or maybe a good friend can make you smile.

Like any other night, the day begins in the darkness which is my room. Keys typing, no phone tonight. I speak no words today. My thoughts echo through the air like I spoke them aloud. I guess that's what lack of sleep does. I get to see the psychologist or whatever today so I'm good. Hmm. I wonder if he can stop me from shaking and panic attacking at work. I ponder these stupid things.

I try to fall asleep but my body just doesn't feel like it wants to sleep. Besides, I still have Rachel Leigh Cook from the Josie and the Pussycats commercial stuck in my head. I like this already. At least I'm not so depressed. Until I realized that I'll never get a lady like her. Darn-eth.

I finally fall asleep at 10 AM. Only to awaken by 12:30 so I can be at my shrink at 1:30. After an hour of "consultation", he says that I'm repressing my feelings and I have to be more open. He wants a shy guy to be open about his feelings to a stranger at the first opportunity. How uncanny how naive people are lately.

I get home, only to receive a phone call from my mom or something, thinking that I would get yelled at at some point. But, to my surprise, it was a lady friend. She says she's coming over with a surprise. After discarding all dirty thoughts, I quickly set the place into "clean mode" and changed and spruced myself up a little. Even though she's unavailable, I can't pass up the opportunity to impress a lovely lady.

Ring. I let her up the stairs. She gives me a flower. Typically, I'm not much of a flower type of guy but in this case, the sweetness of this gesture just made my eyes water. I didn't want to show non-machoness around her but I was genuinely touched. I wanted to thank her in any way I thought but I couldn't. I felt like she was heaven sent, from the highest pillars of heaven, to soothe my soul. She always surprised me but someday I hope to return the gesture. She asks me to go to lunch but I promised MrFurious already. Nuts.

A couple of hours MrFurious was supposed to find me, he came. It's not a surprise but I didn't mind. I didn't really want to eat but I guess it would be good for me. Even just a little. Off to eat and arcade. Teriyaki chicken once again. A little crunchy but at least the conversation was nice. It seemed like I was reminiscing about the past. I feel so old yet I guess somehow the conversation reminded me of what has gone well. Maybe its worth thinking about.

I go to the doctor. He gives me a general check-up (after an half-hour wait) but I ask him to refer me to another shrink. He thought to give me some medicine before he sent me to a therapist. Hmm. Maybe its too late by next week. But if I have more days like this, I don't ever want to be like this again.

Off to work. I try to get my shift for tomorrow off so I can get blasted with MrFurious and company. I realize that he made it so we can all relax but I just couldn't get rid of it at last minute that's all. No luck. I was planning to go work out with him afterwards but I couldn't because I had to get my prescription filled.

Off to the local grocery to fill my prescription. Got me some Novo-lorazem stuff. Supposed to help me sleep. Hope no one steals my wallet while I do. Anyways, I come home for a while but more screaming from my mom isn't what the doctor ordered so I was off to the nearest Rogers Video. I borrowed some videos then headed off to the nearest arcade. Dungeons and Dragons the video game kicks serious booty. But I only got halfway. Not bad for four credits.

Now I'm home. In the dark. Still, I can't get over that someone actually cares enough to buy me a flower. I wish I had someone like that but time and time again, I realize not to yearn for something as it would just come to you if you don't expect it. I guess the light isn't so bad.

I slowly creep from the darkness, from underneath the shade of the canopy of darkness. The light touches me, giving me a warm feeling. I feel my blood melting, rushing into the veins of my body. I feel life in my body. I reject it at first because what comes with life comes death. But its something that I need to get used to. But for now, let the light come find me. It knows where I am hiding. I'm behind the shadow of the darkness, where I feel nothing.

God, grant me the courage to change what I can change, the serenity to accept what I cannot, and the wisdom to know the difference.


I had a dream about a friend of mine, but I think I won't dreamlog it, because, uh... well, it had that certain sort of interaction you can find in dreams. =)

Today: I woke up sort of late again. Now fetching Usenet news. This day shall be another busy day, with me busy doing nothing. It's weird that most of my time now seems to go by when I'm busy with details that should NOT take any time... =(

At least I promised myself that I will go to see movies tonight!


Transcribed some music with help of ditty - because SoundTracker didn't work...

Expect Another Horrifying LilyPond File Later This Week! =)


Okay... I saw Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. (Epic. Truly Epic. Deserved every Oscar.) I also almost finished that LilyPond "experiment". =)


This "E2 is unfriendly to (old/new) noders" is sort of silly thing to watch.

E2 is, simply, harsh and unforgiving wilderness... at times. Not all the time, just mostly. =)

Yesterday was the first day that I honostly liked myself in say two years.

Let me break it down for you. I am exactly where I want to be. And no one put me here but me. And all of my loose ends are tied up down south. Mom, who violently degraded me for five hours then finally reliquished her hold on me the morning I left. And she said she loves me and misses me. I finally asked for that unconditional love I'd been so hungry for while trying to live up to superhero status. Damn near the hardest thing I've ever asked for, but it finally worked. I am but human, and she of all people should know that. But I still had to ask.

Kash cried, saying she had no preparation for my leaving. I gave her my peridot ring, the one that taps into my cat qualities, but it belonged with her. She is a leo after all. And I kissed her as she sat in my front seat demanding I not go. I told her it was my turn to make room for her up here.....and we made plans to make the treck to Burning Man. I love you. No woman will ever hold my heart but you. This ring's never coming off.

Speaking of mother-in-law got upset with me on the phone the other day. "What's all this been, then?" I can't control the weather, Deb, and goddess knows it's always changing. I tell you what I know. And I kept my promise, tell Blinky Eyes, I'm here. But.....I'm here for ME! I smoothed things over best I could. Like I said, I'm only human.

My brother and I pulled together right as I was leaving. I'll never run again, but if I had to, I know I have warm brotherly arms to support me. But I won't need it. I have myself, and I'm liking her more and more. A toast, to "Columbo Spiccoli"! Get that girl, goddamnit!

Thor, Onya, and Ry.........Ry. I'll get to him in a minute. Thank you for stroking my hair as I got the strongest symbol of me stamped on my arm. It itches and burns...but the pain has so released me. Really. You have clean beds made up in my heart. Come visit and stay with me.

Ry....I mean Griffin. I don't know what the future holds. But with the High Priestess and The Moon, I know you aren't telling me something...but I do like what you told me, wrote me:

"Singular Oddity"

Unconventional that you are,
Such a lovely dark star,
If you hung yourself high in the heavens above,
None would see you burning in blackened love.
Living life for living,
There can be no other way,
Not this day, not this day!

While others shake their heads,
And waddle away to cold beds,
You open your eyes to the night,
To the hollow darkness of an empty gullet,
And a sharpened kitchen knife.

Because it's your life,
You feed on the anxiety,
The indescision,
The strife.

Because it moves you along,
Keeping you young and strong.
Dirty and invisible
Singular and indivisable
Always there alone
Wherever you are.....
Is your home.

- Ryan Gavin Griffin
My twin......thank you.

I hate ultimatims myself, but I realized I can't stand alone or find some semblance of self without following the beat of my own drum. See, I don't even have a drummer other than myself. I'm sorry. I'm not trying to go back on what I said a few weeks ago. I just know I can't follow other people's game plans. This isn't a game or an experiment to me. I play. I play well. And I play for keeps. That’s where the game part ends.

I've spent the last coupla weeks ready to be devoured and consumed by anguish. The letting go. But why should I feel so bereft? If I decide this is not what I want, which I have, then I can make the peace and ease myself away. And I stand shaking, almost wanting to fall back on the security of old patterns, and ask for my last request. Truth, I can't do it this way. Truth, I want more for everyone than this. Truth, things have greatly changed, but I'm willing to smile no matter the outcome. Truth, dreams get killed on an everyday basis, but that makes room for new ones. So mote it be, little one. I ain’t cho mama.

Where do we go from here? I’ve answered that question enough, in my own words.One last card to lay out, and it has to be laid.

I’m not needy, I hold my own.
I’m no longer eclipsed.
I don’t want any trouble.
I just want to be.
And I will just be.

And if my light is too much, then you might want to close the door, ‘cause I’m not turning it off. For anybody.

Yesterday my sisters dog died from getting bitten by a flea. Today we found out that another one of her dogs was bitten by the same flea and in 4 more days we will find out if he is going to live. The last dog outside is all alone since we had to bring in the newly sick dog. I saw him this morning as I was leaving to work and he looked very sad and looking for someone to play with. I had to leave though. I was saddened by this.

Miss Nice is back in Mexico, and she got a job at UNAM. I am sure I will her sunny presence at work (in fact, I already miss her), yet I am happy for her - her involvement with the Gooosefood Project was pure disaster, and not through her fault; failure, in this case, was clearly a failure of leadership.
The connectivity catastrophe I wrote about recently has been fixed, through many hours of sleeplessness, anguish and trips to the roof. Now we rejoyce in a fancy new spread spectrum wireless bridge, complete with shiny new dish antennas. It only took two days, and the users were very understanding.

Spring has begun, which means that the weather is even nicer than usual. President Fox has done the right thing; due to his intervention the Zapatistas were allowed to speak in the Mexican Congress. The PAN was very very pissed off - class consciousness at its finest.
The Mexican high class could not stomach the indios in Parliament. Said indios even had the guts to show up in native dress and wearing a ski mask.
The indios spoke, clearly and loud. Subcomandante Marcos did not speak in Congress, a very wise choice IMHO.

-oO antes * despues Oo-

I might be turning into a dinosaur-chicken.

I realized this not too long ago, and since then, the changes have been slow but steady. I had been feeling strange, emotionally and physically for a while. I was getting out of the shower, and for the first time in a long time, I looked at myself in the mirror. I had lost quite a bit of weight, and I was already pretty thin. But it wasn't just my weight, my body was changing shape, even though I'd stopped growing years ago. There was something about my neck, my hips, and my face that looked strangely bird-like. It wasn't just regular bird, though, because I also kinda looked like some sort of strange lizard.

That visual image stoked a memory of how many scientists believe today that birds evolved from dinosaurs, or at least share a common ancestry. As soon as I had this in my mind, everything started to come together. My ears had been bothering me quite a bit, internally due to tinnitus and externally with eczema. It was very soon clear to me that my ears were in the process of falling off, so that my morphology can more resemble this dinosaur-chicken missing link. My skin was quite dry, and almost becoming scaly, more evidence that I was changing.

When I told one of my housemates, he agreed with my conclusion, and he decided to conduct further research. He consulted our school's paleontology department, of which I am a student. The professor wrote back with, "Yes, we here at the geology department have known about this for quite some time. Search for information on the archaeopteryx." So not only had my professors seen this change coming, but they had narrowed it down to the species.

Since then, I've collected more information, I have pictures of the archaeopterix hanging on my walls, and I've meditated on sprouting feathers... but to no avail. Still human, I'm seeing the sixth month of this potential devolution come and go, with no major progress other than more infections and ringing in my ears. Disappointedly, I'm beginning to face the possibility that I'm not changing into a dinosaur-chicken after all.

Maybe I should go to the doctor... about the ears, not about the evolution thing...

The days have not been easy, and the nights less so.

Looking out the window, I can see only this white mush falling from the sky. I can’t tell if it’s snow, rain, or some combination of the two. I know only that it has stolen all the colour from the sky, and cast a blanket of grey over the world.

Sometimes I think that it gets under the skin when you don’t pay attention to it, it gets between the joints, and it makes you tired, and old.


You can fly, you know you can. The key is in the lungs.


Watching the tail end of breakups, it’s hard not to see sides of your friends you didn’t know existed. While watching your friend unpack a box of things, for example, related to the former object of his affections. Watching him describe the circumstances of each item, seeing a broken dream in each one.

“Oh look, and here’s the ring she gave me.” He gets up, and starts wandering idly into the bedroom. “Now where’s my hammer...
Yesterday, I received a memo from my landlord informing me that my apartment was for sale.

To paraphrase said memo:
"No worries, dear tenant, your binding legal agreement guaranteeing your soul will not be affected by this transaction. However, tomorrow a group of interested investors will be touring the slum in which you live."

Okay, I thought. No problem. Then I looked around the old homestead.

I saw:
  • Dishes and counters encrusted with days' worth of food, grease, and some unidentified substance that resembled the byproducts of methamphetamine manufacturing.
  • Piles of laundry. Two, to be specific. One clean, one dirty, and no immediately apparent indications of which was which. And the last thing I wanted to do was bury my nose in the wrong pile. I'm talkin' russian roulette, here.
  • Nearly all available surface area covered with bits of cigarette ash, the tide of which was only stemmed by:
  • The area taken up by empty beer bottles and four overflowing ashtrays. Said ashtrays all had a thick layer of that thick ash residue, indicating that it was time for a thorough cleaning.
  • A general and overwhelming clutter composed of papers, empty cigarette boxes, bottle caps, and other sundry items.

So what's a boy to do when his landlord and a group of out-of-towner capitalist types are coming to survey his little prefecture? Well, this boy decided immediately to leave the mess as it was and post a list of all the reasons his apartment should be condemned (i.e., the apparent inability of the builders to produce a right angle).

And then he started thinking...and strange emotions arose.

He began to feel as though these were people he had somehow to impress. This was, of course, ridiculous. And he had made up his mind to suppress these emotions, beat them mercilessly into submission, break out the mace and tazer gun if necessary. And then the unthinkable happened.

Or, actually the highly thinkable, not to mention regular and predictable. The inexorable weekly need to clean. It strikes me roughly every Friday, although on some particularly filthy weeks it'll come as frequently as every day. So I decided to compromise.

I would clean the fuck out of the house, right down to the sink fixtures and the little place at the bottom of the toilet bowl that collects the piss of my drunken friends. (Sidebar: I don't piss on the rim, even when I'm drunk. I've got a...thing about it.) I'd clean the walls, where that strange brown stuff has been leaching out from under the paint since I moved in. I'd clean up my nodes with special attention to spelling and grammar, in case they looked there.


I would answer the door in the oldest, filthiest, most beat clothes I could. Unbathed. Hair in a sloppy, half-assed pony tail. Beer in hand. Cigarette punctuating a lopsided, goofy, stoned-looking smile. And the wallpaper on my computer would read:

¡Viva Guevara! Death to the Capitalist Pigs! Death to the Bourgeoisie!

Of course, my lazy ass didn't get up until 2:30 today. I barely had time to clean up before the appointed time of arrival. And then...the bastards never showed. I waited and waited, and it just never happened. So I sat around, drank the beer that would never be seen by disapproving eyes, smoked cigarettes, and admired the immaculate state of my dwelling.

Oh well. I guess the revolution will have to wait 'til tomorrow.


Fun with resume's...these things need written. Need more cash...want to buy home...


Fun with code and learning about the stock market at another's expense (of which I can't say I'm sorry - since he's an egotistical louse cheating here and there with anyone...and there were those who wanted to set him up with...)


Probably the most interesting part of the ex-team chief and myself talking about the art of dating...and why I'm still single...pathos, but interesting.


Still searching for those who aren't too busy for some fun...but then again...


Still seems futile...

Today I had to drive my uncle to Weslaco. He had to go pick up some deer head or some bullshit like that from the taxidermy place. We got there and waited for a while for the guy to come out. As we waited my uncle started telling me about smoking pot and how it would ruin my life. The usual bullshit. The guy came out and opened the office for us and we walked in. The whole place was lined with deer horns and what not. It was like a house of death. It was cool.

My uncle and the guy talked for a while and as I listened the guy was telling my uncle how he had bought over $300 in tickets to some wrestling thing in Houston. I stood there and just looked down. The guy went on and soon said, " Well i have to go now. I have to say Happy Birthday to my son." God dammit. The one thing that my father had not said to me on the day of my birthday this guy was saying to his son. Not only that but he got what he had wanted most for his birthday. Fuck you dad. Why couldn't you do something like this for me. I feel like shit.

He fucking told his son happy fucking birthday and my dad didn't tell me shit. I hate my father. I hate him with a passion strong enough to outburn the fires of hell. Sometimes I just want to go up to him and beat the living shit out of him. I can still remember one time. We had gone to Wal-Mart and I went inside while he waited outside in the van. I snuck up on him and reached my hand in and grabbed his neck. Except when I did that, for some reason I wrapped my hand around his neck and squeezed. He pulled the key out of the ignition in attempt to stab my hand seeing as how he did not know it was me. He almost made contact with my hand before I grabbed his hand with my other. I looked at him and he said, " You try that one more time and I will run this key through your hand." When he said that he said it with a sort of seriousness in his voice. For hours after that we did not talk.

I bought my bike today!

It's a big deal to me, I've been planning it, shopping around, doing all kinds of research on them, so I finally got a Schwinn Frontier, it's silver and burgundy, and it's my friend.
So, I bought my bike, rode around, and then went home.
Tonight They Might Be Giants plays here in Asheville, but I blew my load of cash on my bike, and I can't go.
I like They Might Be Giants and all, but they aren't worth $18, I just don't like them that much.

So we were supposed to go to a mini-rave at a place called "The Compound", but I got to feeling a bit queezy, so we decided to rent a few movies, and go home.

First movie we got was "The Crazy Never Die", it's a documentary about Hunter S. Thompson.
It was a pretty good movie, if you can call a thirty minute video a "movie".
Basically the video was a camera crew following Hunter Thompson around during a speaking tour in the 80's, where he bashes Olliver North, and Ronald Reagan

We also got "Homegrown" a touching little film about growing and selling massive amounts of marijuana.
It's pretty good, I'd seen it before, but I love Billy Bob Thorton.
I guess it's true - you're more likely to run into people you know if you can bring yourself to leave your house.

The backstory goes along these lines:

I am invited to friend-of-friend's nearby housewarming in late 1998, where for various reasons I instantly develop a severe crush on one of the new roommates and am casually befriended by another. Exhausting my allotment of hostly party conversation, I retreat to the hall before the house's sole washroom and compose poems all night long. Desperately needing an excuse to be able to return and further interject myself into these amazing bohemians' lives, I arrange for my Super Grover to be semi-permanently installed in the residence, giving me an excuse to stop by any time and check up on him, and his keepers in the process. I make efforts to walk by the house when passing through the neighbourhood and end up successfully milking the housewarming contact to four or five subsequent visits, where I end up seeing more of my new friend and less of my new crush. Disaster strikes - the owner of the property does something quasi-legal involving the lease and its inhabitants are scattered to the winds. I continue to stumble across the friend in unexpected places (at the WTO protests in Seattle, for instance) but neither the crush nor Super Grover are ever heard from again.

Today was one of these stumblings.

I notice his passage but not who he is - someone on rollerblades is gliding along and next to me. My gaze rises from skate to knee to waist to torso and terminates at the head, where he has a smile waiting for me.

The story he has for me goes like this: while cleaning up to move out he finds the trapdoor in the other room he'd forgotten about - always curious as to where it led but never having opened it, he takes this final opportunity and is disappointed to find it leads nowhere but a dead-end storage nook. In memory of ancient stonecutters of ages yore, he fashions a pouch from red velvet, fills it with marbles and secretes it in the trapdoor'd space before closing it and leaving the property as a surprise for possible future inhabitants.

A year later the property remains empty and he is informed that it is slated for demolition/development, not refurbishment or rehabitation. Upset as to the likely-obscure fate of his whimsical gift he secures entry to the vacant building and recovers the hitherto undisturbed bag.

I now have a marble.

in our last episode... | p_i-logs | and then, all of a sudden...

Let's see. Today I was getting ready for my trip to Orlando. I finished cleaning up my apartment a bit, becuase I knew Sara would be stopping by to gift-wrap Ann's dress. She came by around 1pm and hung around for 30-45 minutes. My brother finally got a chance to talk with her for a bit.

After that, I ran out real quick to the mall to grab some extra memory for my digital camera, and made it back home just in time to drop off my brother and then leave to meet up with everyone at 2:45. Well, there wasn't much reason to rush because the others didn't show up until around 3pm.

We wound up taking three cars, though later on we realized we could have gotten away with two. It was a bit of an adventure to keep synchronized with the other cars on the way. CR and I met at Sara's apartment to pick her up along the way. TC decided to meet us at a rest area since it is a bit of an adventure to get to Sara's apartment.

We all hung out at Sara's for about 10 minutes, showed Ann that we bought her a gift, but didn't let her open it just yet. We took off and met up with TC at the rest area, then drove up and met at the hotel. We all hung around and settled in for a couple hours then went to a buffet for dinner and Downtown Disney afterwards.

We came back and most of us went to sleep, though Ann was really getting sick by now and was up all night coughing. I felt so bad for her, I stayed up with her. She invited me to lay down with her and we whispered back and forth occasionally throughout the night. She wound up with only about one hour of sleep and I only had about one and a half hours of sleep. It felt great lying there next to her; she occasionally would put her arm on me, and I would give her back scratches when she sat up. I felt so bad for her though, and so happy to be lying there next to her, there was no chance I'd sleep through it. I love her so much.

A Bernstein story. Bernstein is the artist formerly known as Dan Bern. He writes and sings what you might call punk-folk music. I am noding this a week later, but March 30th I saw him in concert. A Bernstein story...

Bernstein puts on a great concert. As he plays his guitar, one foot is behind the other, and he plays alone, keeping perfect time rocking back and forth from one foot onto the other. When he plays his harmonica he closes his eyes and it's like he's kissing it. When he sings his spit flies. By the end of the night his sweat runs in rivers down his face. What music. The second show he opens with "Tiger Woods"- i.e. he comes onto the stage with "I got BIG BALLS". The crowd goes wild. There is irony and intelligence and pain and anger.

He should be famous, but as it is it seems a quarter of the audience knows him personally. Between the two shows he comes into the womens's bathroom. He is not a woman, but he has knocked, and he's standing there softly taking to a friend/girlfriend. I have no money to pay for the second show and I'm hiding in the stall from imagined bouncers because I want to stay anyway. I am awed to see him in person, the creator of so much wonderful music. So I get his autograph on my Village Voice. I ask him to play "Cheese" for the friends with me (aspiring cheese farmers). After he goes out I sit down on the floor, happily stunned.

After the show ends and the lights come on he comes out onto the stage and can be seen hugging his friends and acquaintences. I want to give him something. When someone has given you music, you want to give him/her something. So I give him a booklet of my poems. It's drivel. I feel unworthy.

Wrap your ears around some Berstein. And go see him in concert. It's like nothing you've ever heard. There's a black tornado, black tornado, spinning around in my body sometimes....
<historical present tense>

I got directions on the phone, but King's Hall, on the EMU campus, has plenty of signs, taped to doors and windows, with labels and arrows (WEMU this way ---->) that I follow up a couple flights of stairs, past silent, yellowish, vacant, not-particularly-well-maintained doors, then at last into a corridor filled with voices.

It's not exactly as I expected, but it occurs to me that the place is exactly WEMU: a slightly shabby, late '70s sort of friendliness, combined with a real, genuine radio station vibe. I sign in and head past a glowing "On Air" sign protruding from the upper wall to the room where 3 of Ann Arbor's minor celebrities sit, two at a table in the main part and one surrounded with CDs and LPs behind a pane of glass, all with headphones and cylindrical radio microphones. Also in the main part of the room sit around a second table (this one covered in telephones and colorful, laminated instruction sheets) five 30- or 40-year-olds and an empty chair, which I take. The guy across from me, wearing a shirt that says, "I'm actually very busy on a cellular level," gives me a strange look.

After a brief explanation from some guy who appears to be in charge of something, I prepare to answer the telephone in front of me.

There's an old adage about the military - long periods of boredom punctuated by moments of pure terror - that describes the situation at WEMU with a certain accuracy. You sit, you and the other volunteers, reading the paper, listening to the hosts in the other room, easting delicious donated Zingerman's sandwiches (a veritable plethora are available from the table in the hall), keeping fairly quiet because the mikes will pick up loud conversation, and then a phone rings (a very loud ring because it has to be heard on the air) and every nerve in your body screams, "Answer it!!" but you can't because it's next to someone else and even when it's next to you you have to wait for the second ring and -

But I digress.

Actually, the work turns out to be quite fun: the food is good, the people whose pledges you take down are cooperative, the hosts are friendly (though Michael G. Nastas is considerably younger and more pimply than I imagined him). That Sunday, I sit at phone number 2, which will only ring if the first phone is in use, so I only get 5 calls, total, but it's nonetheless enjoyable; the hosts gradually ratchet up the rhetoric until, by the end of the Big City Blues Cruise (the program during which I'm answering phones that day) they're yelling in Baptist-preacher tones ("Everywhere else, ladies and gentlemen, there's Britney Spears; only here - yes, here, on WEMU, can you listen to Aretha Franklin, the queen, the goddess of soul! And if you don't help us, we will disappear, ladies and gentlemen, and one day you'll tune your dial to 89.1 FM and there will be nothing but static!") and the phones are ringing constantly (even the guy at #6 gets a couple calls).

The pledge process is as follows:

  1. Answer the phone (during the second ring).
  2. Take down the pledge amount, the person's name, their telephone number, their address (their credit card number, if they're paying that way) in the spaces provided.
  3. Check off various boxes (does your place of employment have a matching gift plan?)
  4. Try to get them to increase the amount to the next iteration - simply put, there are a series of "rewards" for various amounts, ranging from a WEMU coffee mug for 40 dollars to a "day sponsorship", a chance to have a message read on the air several times, for two hundred.
  5. Take down a message, a comment, to be read on the air.
  6. Hang up (politely).
  7. Give the message to the program hosts.
  8. As they say on the SNL NPR sketch, good times.

The next day I arrive, same parking lot as before, and walk again to King's Hall (which, I notice this time, has something that looks like a satellite dish on its roof), enter, take a seat (this time phone #1 is offered). The other people there are older this time, retirees, it appears, and the program a little less popular, but, as mentioned, I'm on phone #1; the rings come fast and furious. Well, not furious, perhaps, but certainly fairly fast, or at least slightly faster; I take close to ten pledges during the course of the afternoon.

The hosts complain while songs are playing of the changes the current fundraising process has brought; now that goals are announced by the dollar amount rather than number of calls, fewer pledges are made; the graduate students who before would give perhaps $20 apiece now phone more infrequently. We eat Subway sandwiches (mine's turkey, if you're interested) and wait for phones to ring.

I work on my radio voice, answering phones with what I hope is a smooth and practiced flair. At one point the aforementioned Michael G. sits down at phone #2 next to me and begins to answer, himself, and I find myself slipping into the same sort of phrases he uses; once, we ask, "does your place of employment have a matching gift plan?" simultaneously to the comma, letter, and sub-inflection.

Which is, I think, kind of cool.

This is taken from a much longer log that I was required to write for humanities in 12th grade, detailing the details of the 30 hours of community service the class required] (if you're interested, another excerpt is at November 2, 2000). Here are the comments I got back from the teacher (with bullets substituted for his dashes):

  • There is a certain sense of worldliness in your tone throughout - that you have been there, done that in comparison to others you come in contact with???
  • Hard to imagine that you are so experienced at such a young age > your 1st 18 years must have been extremely busy to have acquired such vast experiences.
  • Being relatively bright is but a gift that many possess as perhaps you are becoming more aware of > the challenge is do something with one's abilities rather than only be aware of one's abilities.


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