Him. Is it one of those letters that you're not sure I should ever be allowed to read in my lifetime?

Me. Yes.

Him. Pretty good guess, huh?

Me. Yes, I'm impressed.

Him. Mmmm...

Me. I wasn't asking if you wanted to read it.

Him. Well, you know me, I always want to know. But I also know how you write and that it will make me cry.

I'm sitting here staring at this blank page and despite the fact that I'm full of words, I find it hard to fill the blank space with coherent thoughts. I have to get them out, though, because the words are drowning me; I can't breathe through my tears.

I feel like I'm going insane. I'm not in control of myself anymore, no matter how hard I try. I'm an actress, yet I am unable to play the stable character. I haven't been like this since before I left Rob. It's as if my entire world is in pieces again, and all that I worked so hard to put back together is lying at my feet in heaps. I know people say it's better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all, but I'm not so sure that’s true. This is almost more than I can bear.

Obviously, I let you in too quickly. That much is my fault. I should have kept you at arm's length, followed your lead like I did in most every other area. But there's so much about you to love – your sense of humor, your drive, your passion, your honesty, your love for music, your desire for God and His perfect will for your life, the way you held me tightly, or how you would so softly touch my face...I couldn’t help myself. I felt safe, and everything was so good between us, I thought it would be okay. I thought it would be okay to open up to you, to let myself become attached to you. Even after that break we took, I saw how you had as hard a time staying away from me as I did you, so I never thought... Well, I guess that's my problem. I didn't think.

I'm beginning to see the merits of cynicism and pessimism again.

Not only have I lost my love, I've lost my best friend. You became my sounding board, the one I would tell everything to. I can’t come to you like that anymore for fear of breaching the dreaded more-than-friends wall. So your absence leaves two holes in my life.

It would be so much easier if I could say horrible things about you, about how I'm better off without you in that role. That's why people say mean things about their exes, you know, because it makes it easier to deal with the loss and pain. I don’t even have that route available to me, though, because my feelings for you haven't changed. I still see all those beautiful qualities.

Who am I kidding? Even if I did have that route available to me, I wouldn't take it. Sometimes I wish I were tougher, meaner. Certain aspects of life would be much easier.

And I know I'm behaving strangely, and the more strangely I behave, the more you’re going to want to avoid me. You're going to think I went all girl on you, psycho like every other female in our generation (as you would say). You won't believe that this isn't really me. You'll just think that this has been me all along and I'm just not able to hide who I am anymore. And there will be nothing I can do to convince you otherwise. But despite all this, I am still unable to control myself.

Why can't I let this go? Why can't I leave you on the altar like I'm supposed to? Why do I insist on dragging you around with me when you're no longer mine to hold?

I need you. I don't want to, but I do, and it seems there's nothing to be done about it. Without you, my arms seem so empty.

I hate that.

Antarctic Diary: November 23, 2002

Pack animal

Read the diaries of Mawson, Scott, and Shackelton and you learn the one truth about the continent that has not changed with jet planes and snowmobiles:

Any task you think will take five minutes, will take two hours.

You can extrapolate from there. Things you think will take an hour will take a day. Things you think will take a day will take a week. Anything requiring a week takes the whole season.

Nobody plans anything that takes a month. They won't live long enough to see it finished.

Working in Antarctica is like working in jello. It's as if the air is thick, gravity stronger. No matter what you do, you can't walk fast enough. Everything breaks in the cold. And if the cold doesn't get it, the static does.

When you arrive in Antarctica they ask you how many weeks you're going to stay. Nobody can be here for a couple of days and do anything useful. It can take a week just to figure out how to empty the trash can in your dorm room.

Weather stops everything once per week. There are killer storms here. The planes don't take off in them. The helos don't fly.

You sit and eat. You sit and drink. You sit and talk. You learn how to love your fellow man.

Last night the leader of the MegaDunes said to me: "McMurdo is like--'Here, eat this.' Or maybe like a good Italian grandmother--'Here. SIT and EAT this.'"

For days. Days and days.

When it's time to go somewhere you have to haul things. It doesn't matter if you have nothing to haul, you just haul your ass. There's always equipment to move. There's always a couple hundred pounds of cargo in a Hardigg case that has to be moved from Crary Lab, up the hill to MEC. Or from USAP Cargo to the helipad. Nothing in Antarctica is where it should be, so you have to move it.

I've been hungry since I got here. I'm eating multiple meals per day and I'm never not starving.

Ever notice you can put a pile of oats in front of a musk ox and he eats it no matter what? It's because the poor beast must be wondering how he was born into a world with so much stuff that has to be moved. Why can't things stay put?

Today I moved all our electronics out of the Puzzle Palace in my 50 pound gray case up the hill to Crary Lab, about a 1/2 mile walk uphill. I "staged" my gray case there. Then I repacked the radios, and went to the BFC (Berg Field Center) about 1/2 mile even further up the hill and I picked up two 25lb sleep kits and two tents for Tony and I in the Dry Valleys. I dragged them all downhill to the Crary and loaded the radios into them. Then I dragged them all down to the helipad about 2/3 a mile away. Then I walked back to Crary, got my gray case and dragged it back to my room so that tomorrow I can pack all my crap into it that I'm NOT taking to the valleys and lock it in the cages in USAP Cargo.

I thought it would take me 10 minutes to do all that.

I started at 8:00AM. Went to lunch, did more hauling. Finally finished about now, 5:30P. This was supposed to take 5 minutes this morning. Since when am I such a terrible misestimator of task length?

I got invited to the hut 10 party. It's a scientists party. God only knows how that will be. The beakers aren't known for their irrational exuberance. We might have sips of wine and lifted pinky fingers instead of pounding beers and making each other laugh.

It's Saturday here, Antarctic Friday. Sky looks ominous. It seems they're always predicting a terrible storm here. So far I've heard three terrible storm predictions, each of which ended in blue skies and sunshine. Maybe they'll be right this time.

Temps started at about zero degrees today, with a wind-chill of -43F. I was out in it all day. Didn't seem that cold to me. Now it's warmed up again, probably to 20.

The predicted bad weather makes them remind us of the condition one and condition two scenarios for bad weather. We had to sit through a 45 minute film in Christchurch before we left.

The video starts with a quote from Scott's diary, his words upon reaching the south pole and finding evidence of Roald Amundsen's having been there first:

"My god, this is a horrible place."

They didn't even bother to get a good voice actor to play Scott for the line. The video narrator just lowers his voice and makes the pronouncement with a phony British accent. Then he goes on to explain how to be sniffed by fruit beagles before you get on the plane in Christchurch.

That video explains the different weather status levels, as well as a number of good points for Antarctic survival. One survival point is hydration. While the humidity is frequently 25% here, the amount of moisture in the air when the air is zero degrees farenheit is very small. So one dehydrates quickly. And it's easy to forget to drink a lot of water when you're sitting around.

Signs of dehydration are the ones I have right now. Lethargy. Headache. Some flu-like symptoms. So I'm going to drink a bunch of water when I get done typing this.

I wonder what Scott would say if he knew what we were doing here. i wonder what Scott told his men about hydration--if he knew they were being dehydrated so badly.

At least a pack animal gets to drink frequently.

I'm off to the watering hole.

I leave you with this thought. Today I heard one of the saddest things ever said.

It's a well circulated saying that "Everyone is a ten" in Antarctica--meaning that when the friend/partner/mate selection pool is limited, you lower your standards and take what you can get.

A reasonably young scientist from Princeton was heading back today. While she was happy to be going home, she felt she'd miss all the attention she'd been getting from the men down here. Apparently, back home, she doesn't get such attention and feels herself "plain" in looks.

She said, smiling, "You know how it goes down here. You're just a plane ride away from ugly."

I wanted to hug her and tell her she wasn't ugly. But unfortunately for ice people, we don't accept comfort well. We all know people who walk in Scott's footsteps don't need a hug when their feelings are hurt.

Or maybe we're wrong about that.

Love to all.


"Challenge me,"
She said.

Well, you know, that is where we always get into trouble. Maybe we need to stop pushing that envelope so much. Maybe we need to open it instead, for a change.

Tom and I were sitting on lawn chairs drinking really cheap beer and listening to Nebraska, an album by Bruce Springsteen. We got nervous when he started talking about the chicken man. So we lifted the needle off the vinyl and went down to get some Kentucky Fried Chicken. There was a brief power outage. It lasted only three minutes. We never found out why.

They thought she might have a virus.

I suppose at one time or another we all have some sort of virus running around inside of us. They meant something else in reference to her particular story. They thought she was likely to never be able to relate to other people. They figured she was better off to stay in her room. There she stayed until her brother Stan suffocated her with a pillow. Yet I still wonder how I can challenge her.

"Remember me?"

Dead girls aren't supposed to tell tales. Or maybe that only applies to dead pirates. I'm not sure about the facts. I only read Bazooka Joe comics from gum wrappers and coffee table books. Everything else is rather annoying. You know it. I know it. We all know it. At some point we'll all admit that truth, but until then we have to go on pretending that we like reading high brow literary shit that is better used to prop up a short table leg to stop the table from rocking. Damn, that is a long sentence, isn't it?

Three misguided teenagers are standing on the corner, having escaped for the moment from their random foster homes. I pay attention to them, but not for very long. I have to challenge someone.

"Have you always been this good looking?"

I didn't know who was asking the question and who they were asking the question of, so I walked faster. I felt a bit mentally ill, and I had to get home and drink some liquor. It was on the schedule and I must stay on schedule. These ghosts that try to challenge me keep pestering me late in the night. I have to be properly prepared.

"Can I borrow your ass for fifteen minutes?"

I said yes. I probably regretted it later, but I can't remember. There is a lot of snow on the television. I don't remember how to change the channel.

Have you ever had the feeling that somewhere out there, there is an another you? That there's another life for you, one perhaps not dissimilar to your own, being lived at this very moment?

Have you ever felt that right now, that other you is experiencing something very real, very profound? That you are, in some way, within sacred space?


Canal and Broadway, New York City.

Street lights reflected on wet pavement, and a murmur of cars and conversation that is somehow more solemn than silence.
I don't fancy myself much of a daylogger, so two daylogs in a row is somewhat aberrant. But one otherwise-minor event required recording, and the best place for that is here.

As members of virtually all "Web cultures" likely do, noders often discuss how contributing to E2 has altered their daily lives. Aside from seducing me into spending many hours in front of the keyboard noding -- which I likely would have spent surfing for porn, but at the computer anyhow -- I had yet to experience this phenomenon. Until today.

Today, Everything2 altered my "IRL" life. While ordering lunch at McDonald's this afternoon, I found myself uttering the following words:

"Oh, and a Butterfinger McFlurry, too!"

It's doubtful that I would've ever ordered a BMcF if I wasn't a noder. For one, I'm not terribly fond of Butterfingers. (I hear they're made with real Simpsons!) Nor do I like McFlurries; living within walking distance of Dairy Queens for most of my life has spoiled me, I'm afraid.

Either way, I was compelled to find out for myself if the infamous Butterfinger McFlurry was indeed "tha macdaddiest, pimpin'est liquid in a cup this side of Abe Vigoda's urine". Of course, I'm not the first person to swat this particular monkey off his back.

And the result? I'm afraid I have to agree with most of Rev.Conor's conclusions, save for the final one. I'll take a Heath bar Blizzard anytime.

I finally finished the art boards for “The Rise and Fall” for Plastic Farm Press. These six pages, I was sure, would be the death of me. It wasn’t so much that they were difficult, it’s that drawing a story about a man who can turn his belly button from an innie to an outtie, a very phallic outtie, tends to wear on you. I’d listen to Rafer go over the pages, and tell me how much he envisioned this guy looking like David Cross.

“I like it here, here, and here Jake. Watch here that he doesn’t get too boxed in the shoulders. Remember I want this guy to look pathetic. It’s important for the story.”

So what was supposed to be a three or four week project turned into a month and a half. I love Rafer, and the story really was funny. It was a social statement about our fifteen minutes of fame. A man discovers he has a bizarre talent. He goes on a local late night show and is an immediate sensation. He moves to Hollywood. He finds work in commercials. He becomes a success and lands his own sitcom. It’s only at his peak that the truth about the man is uncovered and his career comes crashing down. Doesn’t sound too funny, does it? Well, keep in mind we’re talking about a man with a four-inch belly button sticking out of his stomach. Every frame I drew this belly-cock was hilarious and disgusting. If you like the Farrelly brothers work you will like this story.

I work for a magazine publisher, which means around art directors and prepress staff. This gives me plenty of opportunity to abuse company equipment for my own purposes. I take the last two pages down to the scanning department at lunchtime. The department manager, Vince, is out to lunch. Perfect. “Marc,” I ask, “ Do you think it’d be ok for me to use one of the scanning stations to get this work digitized?”

“Sure,” Marc mumbles between bites of his vegetarian spaghetti. His eyes never leave his computer monitor these days. Not after he’s found his motherload of Dragon Magazine PDF files on the net.

I lift the lid to the large format scanner and set up my first piece. Rafer is going to be so happy I tell myself. He’s been hounding me about this work, and being able to finally give it to him is going to feel triumphant. There’s no money involved in this yet, but Rafer treats it like a real business. He’s going to make a great editor someday. I set the software’s controls up to scan the line art at twelve hundred DPI and do a preview scan. That’s kind of a high scan rate, but I don’t want to lose any of the fine line work I’ve put into these pages. To tell the truth, I think it’s the best thing I’ve done yet. Everything looks great on the advance image, so I crop down the scanning path and click on the “scan” button.

I hear the familiar whines and groans that all scanners make, and then suddenly nothing. Perhaps it’s due to the high definition in which I’m scanning. This could take a few minutes, I tell myself. Nothing. I go back to the computer and click on the desktop window of the scanning software. It’s frozen. I try to navigate around the Macintosh’s desktop. I’m unable, as the G4 is completely seized up. I try restarting the machine, and it won’t boot up past the extension-loading phase.

The next few hours pass very fast, and eventually when I leave work a half-hour late, and the machine is up and running again. I had to reinstall the operating system and the scanning software. The pages didn’t get scanned though, and I’m feeling pretty bad about the fact that I’ve already emailed Rafer and told him to expect them. Damn, I think, and the day started out so good.
The day before yesterday it began to snow. As I was climbing into bed I looked out the big picture window that overlooks the main road in my town and watched these big fat snowflakes float around like tiny angels underneath the streetlamps. I thought about all the things I love about winter. About the fine smells of cookies baking and about reflective orbed ornaments and about shining Christmas lights and steamy hot chocolate and obese snowmen and these fluffy snowflakes that you can catch on your warm tongue. I felt serene watching these big fat snowflakes. I felt a little hope. That maybe there is magic after all. That maybe I could catch ahold of one of those snowflakes and fly around in the quiet for a little bit. That maybe when it coats the ground fully I could go outside, like a little child, and pretend I was a lost eskimo. I could bundle myself as warmly as possible and wander around in the sparkling snow of the night.

When I woke up the snow had melted.

I looked out that great big picture window and there was backed up traffic and no snow. When I woke up to the bright morning I looked down at the ugly oily concrete and cursed because the god damned snow had melted. Because lost eskimos don't fucking wander around when the snow has gone.

I haven't daylogged or that point nodded a lot recently. I have been trying to decide what great work I can add to the nodeshell and frankly I cannot figure out what I want to do.

Last night was the first night of registering for my wedding. It was acutally more enjoyable then I first thought. We spent a little over two hours at Bed, Bath and Beyond clicking on things we would like. Its quite a process. Some many things you have to figure out; what color will our living room be? Will this look good in the bedroom or the kitchen? Some decisions that I don't really care about, I just use the little gun to point and click.

On another note, I watched the Michigan-Ohio State football game today and became quite frustrated. Not especailly with the outcome, its just a game after all. But when the announcers are so in favor of one team that its all you hear about. For example, Michigan fumbles the ball and the announcer, Brent Musberger, states "the good guys have recovered the ball..." Who decides who is the good guys, what if you don't like that team? Do they become the bad guys. Whenever I hear the blantent favoritism I mute the TV and find someone else covering the game. It makes me really annoyed.

Woke up in Lexington as expected. Amelia got us up at around the regular time, despite having gotten to sleep much later than usual. Some Mountain Dew to get me started, and were off...

One breakfasting was done, the five of us (Ross, Danby, Ruth Anne, Amelia and I) went for a walk around the nearby lake and to a playground. Amelia loves swings and slides, and at less than 17 months, can already swing in a big kid swing, meaning the kind where you have to hold on and balance a little. We suffered through the arctic cold (36oF -- ok, so I'm a wimp) for about an hour and then came back. After lunch, we hung our in their newly re-finished downstairs room. I gave Ross a tour of E2, and there's a chance he might become a regular (keep your fingers crossed, he'd be an excellent addition). He has a big screen TV and lots of speakers, and I asked for a demo. We watched the first ten minutes of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, and I was duly impressed. 5.1 channels of sound really does make a difference. Now all I have to do is resist the temptation to get a second mortgage on the house to finance a similar system for myself.

Much joyful hanging about, then back to Cincinnati. In the mail, I get The Infinity Gauntlet and Watchmen from amazon.com. You see, when I ordered Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again, I needed to add a little more to my order to qualify for free shipping. I, perhaps, went a little overboard in the graphic novel department. There are more on the way.

That pretty much brings us up to date. I fixed a couple of bugs I added yesterday to my E2 Node Tracker, where I was displaying the wrong sign for a few values. Bathed the child, typical heading-for-bed stuff.

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