so cold lately, like the winter is already here inside of me and the rest of the universe is still trying to tie up loose ends. it is seeping into my bones until i am stiff, alone. until my brain is numbed into some detached semi-conscious state.

i never realize until i am too involved - when my hands are rigid and my fingers curled to my palm. this need in me, a blue fire burning its way into my flesh. there is nothing about me except the heat that fills me, the pain. the cold that takes it all away.

i was warm an instant today, drinking in the sun - resting on the top of a subtle hill. it is there for me, i remember, when i really need it. there is a way the earth will cradle me when i am too tired. the insect chirp moist earth filling me and there was a thing i could do with my eyes. like a camera i thought, squinting the blades of grass into focus, staring through them into the sky.

slipping. i am tired of shoes and myself.

i miss new wave - and watching you walk away..

"I think Muhammad was a terrorist"

These are just the kind of statements that set my juices flowing and no, I don't think Muhammad was a terrorist. These words of wisdom just happen to be the latest outburst from Jerry Falwell in an upcoming interview with the CBS “news” program 60 Minutes. (Sorry all you followers of Buddhism and Hinduism, he’ll get to you next) It must have been a slow news day. Anyway, he also had this to say…

"Jesus set the example for love, as did Moses,I think Muhammad set an opposite example."

A few random thoughts.

Can somebody please tell me what the hell 60 Minutes is thinking? By giving Mr. Falwell a national platform to air his views they lend a certain tacit credence to them. Do they think that Mr. Falwell’s views are representative of the mainstream of American thought? Oh yeah, I forgot, its about advertising and ratings.

Moving on, since when did Jesus and Moses corner the market on love? I guess, in Falwell’s mind, Christians and Jews are the only ones capable of expressing this emotion, all those “other religions” have nothing to offer.

While we’re at it, what say we try and polarize ALL the Muslims, even the vast majority who are , for lack of a better term, patriotic Americans by reducing their most revered prophet to that of terrorist status. I’m sure all the law abiding Muslims that live in America are now rushing out to denounce their religion and embrace Christianity. I don’t even want to consider what Muslims from around the world might think or how they will react. Haven’t we had enough of profiling people and placing them all into nice little categories to be sorted out by some right-wing lunatic fringe?

Can’t Mr. Falwell see that it is statements such as these that invite more acts of terrorism and violence towards Americans? Maybe, subconsciously, that’s what he wants. This way he can justify the killing off of members of other religions around the world, all in the name of God, America, and apple pie. (Actually that's not fair to apple pie, it never hurt anybody.)

I would like to go on record and state that as a loyal American citizen, I offer up my apologies to the rest of the world. Yes, I am proud of my country but it is the blatant airing of statements such as these, that do nothing but inflame the passions of people and offer no solutions to the growing rift that separates us that cause me great embarrassment.

With the likelihood of war with Iraq growing closer with each passing day, and the ill-timed (is there ever a good time?) airing of Mr. Falwell’s statements, I grow more and more disillusioned as time and events progress.

Sorry for the rant

Note: This node was originally titled "I think Muhammad was a terrorist" but after advice from esteemed gods and editors a daylog was deemed more appropriate. Sorry 'bout that.

OK, here's what I'm going to do now...I'm just going to draw up a small, informal contract. Just between me and God. And that's it.

Dear God,

If you will just PLEASE allow me to get pregnant this month I promise, I SWEAR TO YOU, that I will not:

Use a taser on my child as punishment
Leave my child in a hot car to die
Order my child to beat another child to death
Sexually abuse my child
Abandon my child
Neglect my child
Hurt my child
Force my child to wear shirts with ducklings on them
Embarrass them on the first day of school
Call them 'punkin' in front of their friends

I am a good, strong woman of faith. I am smart, I am loving, I am compassionate, I am healthy. My husband loves me. We're going to be married forever. I promise. He's my best friend. We love children. We have a dog that we care for desperately. We have good jobs, we make good money.

I'm not quite sure why Amanda got to have a healthy beautiful baby boy when she doesn't have a job, is only twenty, was abandoned by the father, smokes dope, drinks and smokes while pregnant and leaves her baby with her mother so she can go screw in a hotel in Indiana. I don't get it. I'll admit it. I'm stumped. Why is she rewarded and I'm punished? How much longer do I have to wait? Why? I don't get this. It isn't really fair I don't think. Not at all.

sincerely, Jar

Regarding aforementioned informal contract.

Dear Jar,

I appreciate your vast concern for the treatment of your unborn child, and I have no doubt that you will indeed treat him or her well if you ever do have a child (I'm not giving any hints today).

Unfortunately, I can't be held responsible for the actions of Amanda; she has her place in the world and she will make of it what she can. Her baby boy wasn't all my doing, but he deserves a chance too. Don't be too critical of Amanda. In the words of a good friend of mine "The faults of others are easier to see than one's own; the faults of others are easily seen, for they are sifted like chaff, but one's own faults are hard to see".

Just remember that this life is all you have, in the here and now. Appreciate it while you can and do with it what you will. The future is uncertain, even for me!

I cannot grant your wish (although I am not saying it won't happen). I ruled out specifically altering fate for well meaning requests a long long time ago, in the first attempt actually when things went really wrong, but that's another story.

What happens will happen, maybe your waiting is a little test, and I suppose you won't know for sure for a long time. Sit back, look at the flowers, watch a sunset, and help someone. Things happen as they will happen, do you really think that I have never waited, that I have never been unsure on the outcome of events. I don't micromanage, that is for inefficient corporations in America.

Have fun, and what happens will happen, just don't spend your whole life waiting. And if you ever do have a kid, make sure you embarass him or her some. It's your job as a mother.

Sincerely, God

not just another ugly face...
lately, i've been having the greatest sleep on the bus. i'm not tired, yet i fall asleep only to wake up right before my stop, refreshed. not at all groggy or sleepy. i don't know whether i'm falling asleep or have attained some kind of trance.

when i sleep at night, however. i have dreams about my own death. i dreamt that i died. i drove my car off of a bridge. dreams like that scare me
"it might be a bit of your nana's clairvoyance" says my dad last night.

i've started writing again. badly, but at least it's something. i discuss this in my scratchpad. at first i thought it was a sign that i was no longer happy. now i know, that it isn't my disappearing happiness that's cured my writer's block, it's the fact that...

i've begun to fantasize again, begun daydreaming. i went camping last weekend, a boy i have a crush on smiled at me. now i keep wondering, daydreaming the what-if's. there's nothing really there, but
it's the building up in my mind that keeps me going. i don't think it's unhealthy. yet.
i don't think i have the capability to be happy with what i have. i'm not unhappy, i don't cry at night because i can't have something(one). i just need something to crave.

So Mami got here Tuesday afternoon. I didn't see her until that night, though, after choir. It was raining cats and dogs, I could barely see a couple of feet in front of my car. They called me and asked me to please stop at a grocery store and bring them ground coffee, because they ran out. Decaf for my aunt, as strong as I could find it for mom.

I walked in the house, a little wet from the rain, and took my shoes off.

We sat around the kitchen table and drank coffee, and ate some turkey my aunt had made and talked a little. I told them that as of next Monday, I'll be a permanent employee, and they sighed in relief because I'll finally have health insurance, just in time for the cold season.

Mom took out a bunch of pictures from her purse: "Your sister stole these from you father, and I took them from her to make copies."

It must've been about 50 or 60 pictures from the early 80's. The latest one must've been taken in 1984. More baby pictures of me than I had ever seen together in my entire life. Also, lots of pictures of my aunts and my grandma. Some of them were missing half, and we figured that Dad had probably torn mom out from them when they broke up. Some pictures of my older cousin, Milca, and myself. We were the first two of our generation, born three months apart, and everyone in the family was crazy about us. Well, except for my aunt Maggie, who was 10 years old at the time and felt robbed of the benefits of being the youngest in the family.

We had fun looking at the pictures, making fun of my grandma with huge hair rollers and a broom, and making Uncle Craig guess who's who in the pictures. Also, we were amazed at how much my cousin Elaine looks like my Aunt Maggie, and my cousin Silkia like my aunt Gloria, and I like my twin second cousins Blanca and Maria, and little Stevie to me when I was a baby. Or so they say. I think Steve is lots cuter. Besides, he has blue eyes, and mine are brown.

Then, it was late, and I had to leave. I hugged my Mom and kissed her cheek, and she said "I've missed you". I smiled at her like I didn't hear her, because couldn't bring myself to admit that I've missed her too. But I have, for a longer time than she imagines.

Some days, it's hard to face the mornings...

About two weeks ago, the leaves started to change and fall. One evening last week we turned on the heater for the first time and put the comforter back onto the bed. This week we turned the heater on for the first time during the day. Yesterday it rained all day, the cold gray drizzle that is the hallmark of the Northwest winter. Today, they forecast no rain, but the skies are a dull gray, a taste of the cold and the dark over the endless weeks and months ahead.

Tomorrow I plan to mulch the trees I planted in the backyard spring before last, they are young yet and need care and attention to make it through the winter. Next weekend we plan on taking down the apple tree in the front yard, it's dying and threatens the house if it falls in the winter storms certain to come.

Today I skipped what would have been my second funeral in a week's time.

Two weeks ago today, the house two doors down burned with a small child asleep inside. The heat was so intense the neighbors could not get inside, and even the firefighters could not reach the bedroom until the fire had been beaten down, reported the local newspaper. Such a simple sentence for the fear and horror and helplessness and anger we felt.

Monday, the owner of a local art gallery died. Even though Tony had been dying as long as I've known him, the ending is still a great shock. His energy and inventiveness will be missed in this community for a long time to come.

A flower that never had a chance to bloom, and a mighty tree, both swept from this earth with equal impartiality. Nothing but signs of winter and cold and death with the hope of spring, someday.

Some days, it's hard to face the mornings...

"Do you want your towel back?" the girl said uncertainly. I stared at her. The last question we'd been asked -- "Do you want to witness this?" -- had perhaps been the most horrible. But as I stared at the assistant at the pet clinic, standing in the hall hesitantly holding our pink towel out to us, the banality of hers made it seem even more grotesque.

"Yes," I said, smiling as best I could, and took it from her. We had gotten the pink towel out to wrap around our cat Gracie as we brought her to the clinic. We wanted to make her as comfortable as we could, and to give her something that smelled like home as she lay on a table being examined by strangers. They were giving it back to us because it wasn't needed anymore. In another room, probably at that very second, Gracie was dying.

We had talked about this day several times, in a hypothetical way. Gracie was not a young cat by any measure. Angela had lived with her almost since high school. She didn't know when Gracie was born -- she'd just walked in the door one day and taken up residence -- but it must have been something like fifteen years ago. Right up until this morning though you would not have been able to tell her age from looking at her. She'd lost a tooth earlier this year and when she jumped up on something she needed a moment to gather her energy, but otherwise she was healthy, active, and playful. Today, then, for us, came out of nowhere.

So often you don't know just what omeone has meant in your life until they're no longer there. I think now that Gracie provided the comfort and security in our home. For instance -- she'd mothered kittens once, and she liked to bathe people with her tongue. Things too: we would look around and find her energetically licking library books, our stereo cabinet, my laptop bag. Crazy cat! It was like she felt that everything needed mothering, that she needed to take care of everything and make it feel all right. On days when we didn't get up at our normal time she would sometimes lick the alarm clock, presumably to make it ring.

Somtimes I would wake up in the night and be plagued with those awful 3 A.M. worries that won't let you rest. At those times I'd shut everything from my mind but the feel of Gracie's small, warm body curled up between us, or the sound of her purring. Calmed, I'd slip back into sleep.

This morning Angela called me at work and told me that Gracie had just had a seizure. Her body had become stiff, her legs stretched out and rigid, and she yowled in pain or fear. She seemed all right now (though a little freaked out), so I told her to call me if it happened again and and I would ask if I could leave work to help her take her to the vet. Angela called an hour later; I could hear Gracie crying in the background. I had Angela call the vet and ask if there was anything we neeed to do. They told her to bring her in right away. Angela picked me up from work and we sped home.

The seizures starting coming closer together as Angela drove and I cradled Gracie in my arms, stroking her and talking to her quietly, trying to draw the pink towel around her as much as possible. When we reached the clinic the vet examined her and told us that she was in shock. First they would try to bring her back to normal and then they would run diagnostics on her. They quoted figures, money we didn't have. But we'd just gotten replacement credit cards that we'd intended to cut up as soon as we received them. There was room on that account but not much room; it was obvious that if the diagnosis was very bad, we might have no choice but to let her die. We asked to be left alone for a moment. Angela rested her cheek against Gracie's side. I knelt and scratched Gracie's head, looking into her eyes. We opened the door and asked them to go ahead and try to save her.

They said we should come back at around four o'clock to pick her up. A few minutes after we got home, however, the phone rang. Since we'd left -- maybe fifteen minutes -- Gracie had gone into seizures twice more. She was an old cat, the vet said, which meant that every one was doing damage to her heart. We had two choices: they could send her to an emergency clinic, or they could put her to sleep. Admittance alone to the emergency clinic would cost over a thousand dollars. It was likely that Gracie would not even survive the trip there; even if we had that kind of money, all it would do would prolong her suffering, frighten her even more, and then she would die anyway.

Angela had to tell them to put Gracie to sleep. Yes, she said, we wanted to see her before it happened.

Gracie came out of the seizures just long enough for us to say goodbye. The vet and her assistants were sympathetic and kind, but everything they said to us was like being stabbed in the heart. No, we did not want to witness her death. Yes, we'll take our towel back. When we left the little room where Gracie was going to die we heard her yowling again, anoher seizure starting. When it stopped I told myself that the vet had just closed the door.

We paid at the front desk. The girl there told us that they did a mass cremation of animals they put to sleep and took the ashes to a nearby memorial park, which was more than we had expected. We went home to our apartment where every corner, every chair, was now unbearably empty.

Gracie had been Angela's best friend for almost fifteen years. She had hunted gophers and mothered kittens. When she played with you, she knew to keep her claws in so she didn't hurt you. When you leaned toward her she'd touch your nose with hers. She tolerated it when Angela picked her up and danced with her. She had beautiful, plush gray fur that furrowed on her forehead so she always looked disgruntled. She would let you kiss her on the top of her head if you wanted. She was skittish around strangers but the times when she immediately wamed to someone, we knew that person would turn out to be a good friend. It was, in fact, her stamp of approval for me that started Angela thinking that I might make good boyfriend material.

I'll dream about her tonight. I'll dream that a small gray cat jumps on our bed and we discover to our surprise that it's Gracie. Right after we left the vet's office she made a complete recovery and ran home to us! It's the happiest dream I've had in years.

There are lots of people for whom pets are little more than property. I almost envy them right now. For us, someone we love has died, someone with whom we've shared our life together since the beginning. Yes, yes, I know she wasn't a person. She was a cat. Maybe all this grief is ridiculous. That doesn't make us miss her any less.

We'll adopt another cat, maybe later this month. We don't want Shere Khan to be alone, and we want to open our home to an animal that needs people to love and take care of it. They can't replace Gracie, though. God got a good cat today.

Looking for an apartment in Boston is sort of like purchasing drugs.

You agree to meet on some street corner in a couple of hours. Do you have a cell phone number? No? How about a beeper?

You get there. Hi, sorry I'm late. I brought along someone else who wanted to look, too -- I hope that's okay. You walk down an alley and up a staircase. First you knock, once soft, once loud, then the keys come out and the door gets opened. Hello! Hello! the dealer yells, as a formality.

Or maybe you pull into a parking lot. You sit on your hood for a bit, waiting for a car matching the description you were given last night. When it pulls in you see that the driver's still talking on his cell phone. Or maybe you're late, and he gets there first, leaning on his own hood, chatting on the two-way Motorola radio. To his sister. Or his partner. His man on the inside.

You get in and drive. You follow down winding roads that you thought you knew, but you have no idea where you're going. When you park and get out, you're confused. I thought we were just going around the block?

There's walking and looking and talking. Lots of looking and talking while looking. What else do you have? Nothing else like this but cheaper? It's where? That's too far. What? Why can't we see it today? Can't we talk to the owner this afternoon?

Or maybe you do get to meet the owner. We're just waiting for Jimmy. He's a bud of mine. He's a short guy, he'll probably be smoking a cigar, he's real funny. Sure I trust him. And sure enough he is funny and he's got the cigar. Jimmy will cut you a deal. Utilities are included.

We have to move fast on this. The market is so tight. Let's pull off on the side of the road -- into this abandoned lot -- and make some phone calls. So you like it, can you cut a check? Not now? Later today? How much money do you make? Nobody's selling these days -- prices are so high that nobody wants to move from where they are. People aren't moving so places aren't opening up. Five years ago everything was twice as cheap. The landlord wanted to sell to a quiet married couple. Keep it on the DL. You guys might be too young. Do you party? Are you loud? Can you handle yourself? I'll see what I can do to smooth him out. Leave it to me. I'll take care of it.

In the dead time you get to philosophize with the realtor. Yeah, it's an awful business. So competitive and catty. We're not your average dealers. We're looking to get out. Just a few more sales, buy some property, move on. I used to be an investment banker overseas. Or I spent seven years climbing the corporate ladder. I thought this would be freedom, a way out, but I was wrong.

And meanwhile all you want is to find a nice place to live. Something to make you feel good.

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