All right. So the day's over. Let me first thank, from the bottom of my heart, the following people for wishing me a happy birthday:

Lord of Nothings
Bitca (who called via phone- bless her)

For the most part, my birthday predictions were spot-on. Here's the things which I went off-field with:

I didn't actually spend any time with my family, but I did get an email from my parents, a phone call from my sister (who was enroute to a trip with her husband) and a phone call from my older brother.
I did not get a free meal from Cafe Coco, but I did manage to get a free cup o' joe.
I did not chip a tooth.
I did not read my horoscope.
I smoked cigarettes, though not much.
I did not shave.
I didn't get much- just a card, a kiss and some well-wishes/"Happy Birthday" comments- but somehow expected more.

Everything else went exactly as I expected it to. I saw Shrek 2 alone. I went to the cafe. I didn't work. I slept in. I drank coffee... the whole shebang, pretty much. Most of the daylight hours were spent alone. In all honesty, I really, really, really didn't want to be alone on my 31st birthday... which was why I ended up at the cafe: because I refuse to go to bed early, lonely and depressed.

So I got to the cafe and hung out a bit with a chick I've been pseudo-seeing for a few weeks now. We just talked and I sat and watched her be a coward all night long until she decided that she was tired (and depressed) and needed to go home and get some sleep. I then bumped into a friend and he and I went to George's to go play some pool... and I was merciless, the poor kid. I was so sore at the way my day had gone that he didn't even stand a chance.

When we got back to the cafe I was left alone, again, and whiled some time away with a crossword book. After an hour or so of that, I realized that I had a headache and elected to go home. On my way out the door, the roommate of the chick I've got a huge crush on was in line, waiting to get coffee. She stopped me and chit-chatted a bit, found out that today was my birthday and asked me if I wanted a birthday kiss. I took exactly two seconds to think about and said that, yes, I wanted that very much.

So she kissed me and I enjoyed it- the first kiss I've had in two years. No tongue. I'm beginning to get really fed up with this whole chastity thing, lemme tell you. We both enjoyed the kiss and I would swear to you that if I had said the word, she would have come home with me... and I gotta say, I was sorely tempted to say that word.

But winning a "charity fuck" would've just made my birthday ten times more pathetic than it already was, so I declined (and she offered!). So here I sit, home alone (as predicted) and ready to hit the sack in an empty bed, with a headache and a serious contempt for my so-far chaste lifestyle.

Happy Birthday... to me.


One year ago today it was Friday, May 30, 2003. I note this because I wrote a daylog on that day. At that time I was working for the Immigration Appellate Authority as an audio typist. I typed up the determinations of the appeals of the seekers of the asylum. During the lunch hour, I used to read the newspaper, and I was struck by the contrast between two photographs. One was of a militiaman in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the other was of Grayson Perry, the transvestite artist and potter, who was at that time not yet famous. Perry subsequently won that year's Turner Prize, which carried a purse of £20,000, whilst the militiaman may or may not have been killed. I was going through a bad patch at the time; I was neither killed nor did I win a prize.

"The DRC is a healthy society which has weeded out and killed the fat and the old and the disabled and the infirm; the only people left alive are physically fit, ruthless killers. Everybody wants to be a fit, ruthless killer. Schoolkids across the world want to be buff murderers."

Both Perry and the militiaman were posing with AK-pattern rifles, which is why the photographs struck me. There is a standard pose which people adopt when they are being photographed with a rifle; facing the camera, body turned slightly to the left, rifle held in the right hand, face turned to the left. The photographer frames the pose so that the rifleman is standing at the left of the frame, looking to our right. This pose, this composition, appears in films and in the news all the time.

Later in the year there were similar photographs of militimen in the Ivory Coast, and also militia children, also posing with AK-pattern rifles. I had set up Word so that I merely had to type 'Democratic' in order for 'Democratic Republic of the Congo' to appear. My daylog tailed off towards the end, with a paragraph about Liberia, which was at that time as obscure as Grayson Perry, notwithstanding Michael Jackson's 'Liberian Girl'. A few months later the newspapers were also filled with photographs of riflemen standing at the left of the frame, facing to the right. When I saw those photographs, I felt pleased, because I knew I was ahead of the curve.

The DRC appears to have stabilised since then, or at least it isn't in the news very much. Neither are the Ivory Coast or Liberia newsworthy any more. The big news, the biggest source of photographs of people holding rifles, that is now Iraq. In fact, it was Iraq in May 30, 2003. I didn't mention Iraq in my daylog of a year ago because there seemed no point. I had nothing to add. One year ago today it appeared that Iraq was going relatively well. The doomsayers had been made to look foolish. There were no weapons of mass destruction programme-related weapons, but that seemed a minor thing. As far as I was concerned, the fact that we had demonstrated to the world that we were not weak, that we were prepared to drop our illusion of nice-ness in favour of some good, old-fashioned strategic power projection, that was good enough. Why do we have to be the 'good guys'? There's no such thing as 'good'. All that matters is power, and the will to use it. Everything relies on power, will, might and force. Might does not make right; it just is.

I haven't read a newspaper today. It's a bank holiday, a Sunday. I feel less miserable than I did a year ago. I no longer live in London. Perhaps I am entering what Orwell called the 'deep sleep of England'; perhaps the world has improved. Outside Iraq, there is unrest in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, the Israel/Jordon border area, and East Timor, the bright shining new hope, is going bankrupt because Australia won't let it keep its money. Alaska is at peace. Canada is at peace. Haiti is at peace, because there are other things to worry about there than war. The plants are at peace. The animals are at peace.

A science fiction convention called Marcon is going on here in Columbus, OH this weekend. Even if I could go this weekend (work prohibits it) I wouldn't. The one time I went, they treated their author guests abysmally -- they stuck the author readings way in the back in a broom closet by one of the video rooms; the anime was so loud nobody could hear.

Anyhow, in honor of Marcon, here's a list of dumb-ass things people say to horror authors at conventions (plus a few comebacks in parenthesis):

  1. "You're a horror writer? Tell me a scary story." (There once was a writer who killed several innocent people in a hotel lobby because one person too many asked him to tell them something scary and he just snapped....)

  2. "What's your name again? Hmm ... never heard of you." (And what do you do for a living? Really? You actually made a conscious decision to make that your life's work? For the love of God, man, WHY?)

  3. "So you, like, write that Friday the 13th stuff, huh?" (So you, like, have a reasonable dental deductable, right?)

  4. "Do you know Stephen King? What's he really like?" (So you, like, have a reasonable dental deductable, right?)

  5. "You write horror? Ew!" (Phuck-u barada nikto.)

  6. "I can't write, but I've got a great idea for a book; you can write it and we'll split the money." (Oh, MAY I? How long have I dreamed of this moment, when a selfless soul such as yourself would deem me worthy to WRITE SOMETHING FOR THEM while they sit on their ass and do nothing? How long have I prayed for yet ANOTHER person who isn't me to make money off my efforts while I work 3 jobs, turn insomnia into an art form, and eat macaroni & cheese four times a week? BLESS YOU, SELFLESS ONE! BLESS YOU!)

  7. "Why are you openly weeping?" (Usually asked after forty-seven minutes of sitting at an autograph table where the only person to approach you is an overweight drunk from the NASCAR convention sharing the hotel that weekend asking for directions to the "sh*thouse".) (I want my mommy; my mommy reads all my books.)

  8. "Oh, I don't read books." (Then WHAT are you doing here? Oh, you're a hooker? Here's a fifty -- there's a guy over at the autograph table who's openly weeping; go cheer him up, would you?)

“Tonight’s been great….and you still haven’t kissed me.”

And everything froze.

Did she just say that?

Mary? The woman that I’ve been shining on from the first moment that I saw her a month ago? Sure it all started with noticing her face and body, then we joked and sang at karaoke a few weeks ago. Which led to deep bonding and giggling over shots of Jägermeister last Saturday at one of the greatest parties ever. I would be making the “shared moment” finger motion if you could see me. Too bad she was taken. Her boyfriend is a lucky man, I told her so at that party. She seemed to be a whole lot of what I was looking for in a woman. I wanted someone just like her. Hell, let’s face it, I wanted Mary.

I leaned in close towards her ear in order to be heard over Murph playing “Wonderwall” on his guitar. My nose pierced into the brown hair that cascaded towards her shoulders and caught a whiff of some beautiful scent that enshrouded her body.

I would really really like to kiss you.” I whispered/yelled into her ear.

“I’m happy you said that”

I pulled back and we looked into each other’s eyes. She developed a devilish little grin as my eyes flicked to the left and glanced at her boyfriend, standing no more than four feet away from us, caught up in some other conversation.

“I think you’re really sexy.” She upped the ante.

“I think you are too. Is this cool?”

She sighed. “The thing is…I’m not sure.”

We’d been touching each other all night. Little pokes and tickles, positions on the sofa that really weren’t necessary but also led to heavy body contact. Out where the music was playing, her ass hitting my hand more than a few times coincidentally. I paid for her drink, stuffing the wad of singles she had handed me down her shirt as she smiled.

I looked back over at Mary’s man - Mark to those who know him, Chach to those who know him well - attempting to talk to Shannon over the din of the music and the crowd. Our eyes met again. My head moved down, hers moved up. To call what happened a kiss is to exaggerate. It was too quick to conduct any heat or electricity, it didn’t cause that wonderful pop that resonates in your head when you break apart. If you want to get technical, it was simply a momentary brushing of the lips. I don’t think anyone noticed.

She has the softest damn lips I have ever felt.

We never broke contact for the rest of the night, my hands were always on some part of her and vice versa.

As she was leaving, she grabbed my shirt and pressed against my ear.

“I’m going to go home with Mark tonight, but I’ll think about you.”

Ain’t that always the way?

I won.

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