(23 November 1999, Living Room. Same place, same people, same time.)
Made plane captain today. Something of a long road back from where I was a long time ago in 41 the first time I picked up my PC quals, stirring of an old feeling for work. Not necessarily believing in the bullshit but of an old sensation of having a point versus where I am now. Chief Lang made large amounts of noise yesterday during a det meeting concerning the fact that the Tactics department head (LCDR. Hallman,) made large amounts of noise at the MO about all of the shit that I have doing with Pandora. My daughter has problems, yes, but she's not dead yet. Why the Maintenance Officer needs to be appraised of these things I am not sure, however it is probably a part of his job since I still work for the det and this whole projects thing is on the side. I am nervous about letting Mike take over when I leave for Japan. It just strikes me as though he'll wind up either paying no attention to what is going on or screwing something away. Probably just unfounded bullshit and the idea of having someone mucking about in what isn't really 'my' work at all to begin with. It is and then again it is not, in between right now. Nevertheless I sincerely hope he has the same luck I did.

"Overspecialize and you breed in weakness." Had something of an interesting conversation with Cory yesterday concerning the nature of mysticism and it's place in troubleshooting. I guess it wasn't too much of a conversation, I mainly talked and he primarily sat there. Probably not the most socially sound of my methods; the oddest thing though is that it actually works. Oddest thing, indeed. I don't know, but the machines do talk to me in a way. Hard to rationalize on paper with the same esoteric subtleties as I am used to here beyond the starch white world of a blank page. Not so much a clear voice booming out from the heavens to guide my hands towards some divine act of avionics maintenance. Blah, blah, blah.

Winter (perhaps the winter of my content, HA,) is here and forcing the cold tang, the same one I smell in the air every year back into the mornings. Swirling around me as I move through space the coldness of the outside world drops in even measures with each day to match something of the frigid isolation within. Blah, blah self-pity blah, blah more morose notes and observations of normal natural cycles blah, blah, blah. There was something I was going to write about for some reason or another, ah yes, The Weird Man.

Went to dinner the other night with Kate for the first time since I went and done gone beyond reasonable. (Tangent: I tried to explain to her that I believe in 'god,' it is just that I don't think that she's picked up on the fact that I don't exactly share the same fervor for Christianity that she does. As a matter of fact, I could give a giant damn about Christianity in general. I just don't have the heart to tell her that I believe in god but I cannot accept organized religion as having anything to do with truth. God exists and I am sure of that, however to me the concept defies simple linguistic descriptions inherent to the bible and most churches. Kate I am sure has some idea in her head, one that I no doubt gave her, that I have accepted Christianity and had a 'Coming to Jesus.')

The man walks up across the open space at the center of the Mission Valley Mall where I am standing, smoking a cigarette and watching the people go by. Intentionally and as usual I am standing where I can see everyone coming in and out, yet very much out of the way. I do not know where it is that I picked up this habit or where I learned to behave this way but I always look at buildings and figure out at least three ways of getting out before I walk into the place. I guess eleven years as a Boy Scout and then seven as a squid sort of makes you take preparedness to an extreme.
So the man is walking toward my little perch in a dark corner near the exit door to the restaurant by the AMC 20 in the center of the mall, knit rayon or blend sweater with a maroon and two navy blue bands circling the center chest. I look at the guy and squint, as far as I can tell he's not packing anything except a few extra pounds and an unhealthy urge to talk to me for no apparent reason. He sort of swivels his head back and forth for a second and then makes the last two steps to where I am standing after waiting for some people to pass out of the exit.
"Hello." Touch of an eastern accent, probably New York or North Jersey.
"Evening." I drag heavy on the cigarette and look around for Kate, who I am supposed to be meeting and not supposed to be smoking near. She hates the fact that I smoke. I don't much like smoking myself and I am well aware of a serious need to quit.
"How are you?" Guy smiles too much. Don't like smiley people much either.
"Fine." I try to be curt as possible without being rude, the Southern California I-Am-Far-Too-Busy-For-Your-Shit-So-Go-Away-Right-Now tone.
"You're in the military right?" Goddamn haircut every time, I really need a hat.
"I work for the government." Another drag and a slow scan for Kate who is atypically late.
"What do you do?" This guy just will not go away.
"Computers." I look at the guy and glare at him again. He smiles pleasantly and elects to drivel on instead of going away.
"Who do you work for again?" Either this cat is foreign intel or he's a fundy.
"The government." I stand and stretch, drag off the cigarette and then drop the thing to the ground to be crushed under a heavy Kevlar reinforced toe. I like large hiking boots with composite materials in them, almost as effective as steel. The only thing I don't like about Kevlar is the fact that knives cut right through the shit. I am hoping that the universal signal for 'You May Go Now' has been observed. It hasn't and he asks me more questions.
"So are you in school right now?"
"Want to be?"
"Do you work with anything secret?" What the fuck is this, what does he want to do next? Go on a fucking tour of the building I work in or something?
"Excuse me?" This I say with a genuine sense of irritation and rising anger.
"I didn't mean anything by it, I was just curious. A lot of the Navy and Marine guys that I meet who work in intelligence or around that sort of thing are a little." He smiles and looks around for something, his teeth are too good for a Russian (dental surgery?), he's 5'7"-5'9", JC Penny or Mervyn's clothes, cheap leather shoes, pen in pocket beneath shirt, brown hair, between 35-40. Bit of a gut, put weight at 160-180, medium build, Caucasian. Clean shave, hair well kept and neatly trimmed. Clean fingernails, means he doesn't 'work' for a living, heavy hands suggesting that he has at some point or another. No obvious signs of calluses on either index finger, discolorations or texture differential indicating he probably does not fire a weapon on a regular basis and if he does he wears gloves. Tan, spends time outside, ring of keys in one front pocket and wallet in the other. He can see it on me that I just did a whole scan and took notes in the process. Eyebrow wavers; if he's intel he's either a rookie, out of the loop for a while or he's a legit guy just bothering someone in a mall, possibly an undercover cop. Not a cop, build and eyes are all wrong for that. Not designed or taught to intimidate, this is someone you would think to trust in the right light. "A little paranoid, that's all."
"Thanks, but I have to go now." Kate is standing near one of the yellow-orange support posts for the mall's open roof. A thankful reprieve from being subjected to more pandering, bought Kate dinner for showing up at the exact right time. I would have anyway but it seemed like more than sufficient motivation to do so this particular evening.

Do I tumble down this personal and moral rabbit hole now? Into the morass of my soul, where in the dark at the edges of performance and ability I see shadows move and hear the scrabbling of hands beyond vision. Where the fears are real. Where the waking nightmare isn't some fantasy but very much a reality. The reality that I inhabit in a way. Shall we talk in hushed tones about the demons that plague id and ego? Closely tied to the pervasive, desperate fears of failure and betrayal that I carry lurking within each waking day? The fact is that I don't see people as that (people,) but as potential threats, that I always have a way out and running is always an option. (Mushin is such a bizarre thing to apply to life.) Where exactly do I go with this, to what end am I going to take this to anyway? Again I am left with the task of transposing what is going on inside of an intangible thought process onto physical material.
First off, I am not sure why it is that I run, I just do. I run due to who I am in a way, to prevent the 'never again' from becoming an 'again.' I have no real desire to have anyone too close, at least I would like to think that way. Maybe just afraid of dragging them down into some sort of ever tightening circle of mechanization, always answering the question the same way every time it crops up.

If I could, would I? Be like Lain and relinquish inhabiting the real world in order to exercise almost total freedom outside the boundaries of reality? An attractive concept on the surface, however not so amusing once you begin examining the trade-offs and the burden involved in such a choice. From the outside it is a simple matter to pick apart the actions/consequences such a situation would involve at a base level. Up to your neck in it, where time moves in a far more linear fashion, the forest is not so easy to see.

Tangent: On the surface some people suck. Get to know them and you can really begin to not like them at all. The girls sitting next to me look annoying and have for the past 35 minutes been complaining about the same person without mentioning their name. Distilling personality and making generalizations about people is wrong, but still rather amusing. EOT

At the same time I examine and debate choices made by a fictional character in an animated series I am up to my neck in similar physical problems. Do what, when, why. Resign myself to what fate. (Jesus, Pandora is going to take an enormous moral toll out of me if she ever goes operational.) I am a hacker in the classical sense, (Gibson's cyberpunk perhaps?) always fiddling with wiring and taking things apart. Not the mass media horsepucky from the television, what it meant twenty years ago the first time I heard the term. I have become this way not only by actions actively conscious decisions but through the intake and subsequent internalization of external input. I am not a fucking machine, just some weird guy sitting in a coffee shop penning circular and pointless diatribes about being alone when it is ultimately my own damn dumbass fault for putting myself here. Speaking of which the guy next to me just got hit on by another guy about half his age. Hah. Irony plays a stupid game tonight. Fuck it. Need to solder some shit together before I go to sleep.

"I promise you I'll always be right there. I'm right next to you. Forever." -Lain, Serial Experiments Lain

(29 November 1999, Living Room. 59th and El Cajon Blvd, San Diego. I go here a lot. I need to find a new place to go but I do not have the time.)
CWTPI tomorrow. Had it out with Jesus today about what is and is not the right thing to do when being a cock to one's own people. I am beginning to wonder if he needs to be smacked down the ladder a few pegs or if he's just having some kind of pre-departure stress that has everything to do with his mood. Maybe I'm wasting space on something that has nothing to do with anything important. On to greener pastures.

Haven't been studying at all recently, mind isn't slipping strangely enough. Probably has something to do with the amount of crap I've been up to my neck in as of late. Pandora and her possible moral ramifications continue to weigh heavily on me. This is not something that is necessarily right, however it is sincerely more amusing than sitting about on one's haunches staring at paint peel and fixing TACAN volume control knobs. God lives in those wires, it lives and breathes there and it is my duty or something deeper that brings me back again and again. I know the answer to this question and I have in the past repeatedly stated the answer. That the work, being able to manipulate the data is a completion, a state of totality and unity of being that I find nowhere else in the world. Giving over my humanity and my soul to the machine is where the stupidity lies, committing oneself with no sense of abandon to an object can kill, (perception) given that nothing coming back is tantamount to suicide. One the other hand, you have the idea that the machine does give back, that the reward brought by seeing the wholeness brought to life is the point. People, capable of duplicity and retardation I find somewhat repulsive, not less pure however. Just less attractive than talking to the machines.
I wonder from time to time if I am becoming something akin to Lain. Software, given a body simply to make interaction with my surrounding environment less complex. This however isn't quite what I am getting at. It isn't a condition that I was created with, but a trait that I have picked up and amplified of my own volition.

After a time, it is easier to thing of oneself as a machine due to the repetitive nature of the habit. Like a junkie, the wires are in my blood. I put them there. I enjoy the reality that I have created for myself despite the almost constant whining. The world in shades of gray is far more interesting than the world drawn out in black and white, never smeared or interrupted. Around the edges of that gray, the fog; and in the neon accents of the data that holds this society today. Like the green lines held in suspension outside a Denny's in Mission Valley, the closer one gets to the form the more truth as to the nature of the object becomes apparent. Given that the world is an amorphous mass of these veiled truths is it not better to live as software, ready to exchange code for the reality around an individual? I enjoy this ability to manipulate my environment and would not toss it away to live in a static and constantly unending life. Patterns in the chaos, interrupted by the individual and never given over to the translation matrix of the soul yields a greater form of truth than fixed moral setting could provide. This is the end goal of being a classical hacker, to be able to better discern truth. To deal with reality on a novel and unique ground. To take the old ways, reject the status quo and push slightly past the edges of human perception, at least one individual at a time. This is the point. That, is all I have to say about that.

(7 December 1999, Joe's Oyster Bar, Mazatlan Mexico.)
The sensation of being squashed by work occurred the other day, again. The headaches are back again as well (I feel like the protagonist from Pi,) and are actually worse than they were before if this is at all possible. I wonder if the doc that I spoke to was right, that I shifted a plate in my can or if an aneurysm or worse a blood clot is impending. The notion of having a stroke at the age of 24 is less than attractive. Suppose I ought to quit smoking or something similar to that. Then again, fuck it, as everyone has to die sometime. Better to be remembered for mediocre genius than plain mediocrity anyhow. I wonder if I ought to submit a white paper to the NSA about Pandora and everything associated with it. It seems that I have not consumed enough beer to render the effects of work null and void. Ziggy has managed to find two buckets of Coronas, and I think that ought to do for an evening of entertainment.

Odd how during General Quarters people that come into the spaces are seen somewhat as aliens from outer space. We all perk up at the movement of the door dogs and the signs that someone is indeed coming to visit our cloistered asses.
Elise will get to San Diego in two days, unfortunately I am not going to be there to witness the event which is not only shitty but mildly depressing. Such is life, I suppose.

Moving right along. We left Mazatlan this morning, probably the last time that I am going to see that place. The only thing that I do not particularly care for about Mexico are the massive numbers of drunken goons there. I played at being a drunken goon this weekend, okay week, and managed a moderate success. In a way it is not all that bad to have those people there as they are a comic juxtaposition to being constantly serious.

(11 December 1999, USS Ingraham, still floating.)
Elise should be in San Diego by now, still not sure what to make of that. Part of me says that I ought to cut my losses and run with what I can lay my hands on right now. The other half (being the practical part,) says that I need to remember where it is that we are going. Still, the time that we did spend together stays at the front of my consciousness, reminding me not only of where I have been but where it is that I am going.
Where am I going anyway? Back to Japan or toward another phase of life that is forever going to alter who I am? I know I have changed significantly in the last year, more than that in the time from when I left the first time and until now. There was an almost palpable loss of innocence that first six months, I learned a few very critical life lessons about the nature of humanity. Hard to put my finger on at the time, but looking back on everything I can see where I was versus where I am now. I guess it's back to the lion in winter, just as cold and as bitter as I left it last time. Somehow, I seriously wonder if everything has changed that much, if I am still beyond redemption as a soul. Perhaps, lying in the cyclic conclusion of these two trips are the answers that I continually scream for. The justice and the peace that I somehow cannot seem to find at home. I do think that this will be the last of the wandering for a bit, tired of bouncing from place to place constantly. So much of what I feel I ought to say, of what I ought to do is rattling around in my head at the moment. I can't particularly define the sensation other than that it is a sense of loss preventing concentration.

"Pretty good year," so the song that Tori Amos sings says. Definitely not amusing in places but still better than spending another year on shore duty with my head stuck up my ass. Going back to San Fran and the Basque hotel bar, the weekend fraught with irony and off coincidence. Santa Cruz, now Mazatlan. Comparisons of where I was before, where I stood and to a degree what I was prepared to do in the first place. I can see the changes but I cannot put a name to them as they seem to be slightly without form. I don't really know what to write of all this, some kind of descriptive narrative perhaps. Some grand tale both enormous in scope and vision? The cliché I engage in now points to the fallacy of such an action. I could, however why? Just to suit the narcissistic notions of ego? (Speaking of ego the ship just bounced a good one just now, caused a bit of rattling and so forth that was vaguely reminiscent of the Killer Yuppie Typhoons; Todd and Babs. Appears that ship and person are being internally rattled to a degree. Why is it that there is this collective continual inability to keep the typhoon/hurricane name thing separate? Is it necessary to tag the same sort storm with two different terms?)

Going back to this whole Elise problem, I have no earthly idea what I am going to do. Obviously, this is some kind of test whose dimensions I am not capable of grasping. If there was some way of predicting all of the possible outcomes and then determining which would be the best or at least for the best. I fear there is no right answer.

(18 December 1999. Guess where I am? The LIVING ROOM on EL CAJON and 59th, THAT'S WHERE.)

Another day gone, only nine remaining until I go to Japan. Much easier to talk about in plebian terms than to aggrandize what are little more than words. Elise called on Monday, left a voice mail with no return number and then I have not heard a single thing since then. I suppose I ought to forget about it, however the idealist insists that there is something there. What this something is (some indeterminate and very much intangible quantity,) the conscious mind has no real clue. Rounds move downrange, cars move as temporary blurs of color on the road and I am no closer to any answer or any catharsis than I was before. I wonder if the Karma is just wrong or is it something far more shallow and translucent.
Shot today for the first time in four weeks, surprising how quickly one's skills go into the proverbial cocked hat. Not that I was any good to begin with, however I was better than this. As least I would like to think that way. Again, words elude explanation: pre-cruise, leaving, grand pronouncements on the state of life and the perpetual travelling hands of time. The car and my life is a haze of gunpowder and ending connections, machines in the dark cut off negotiating a release of communication according to the rules and bidding of some esoteric protocol set. Effecting change in this system is by no means complicated.

(22 December 1999. Terminal 5, Gate 52A, Los Angeles International Airport.)
Two hours sleep bleeds around the caffeine haze of Mountain Dew and nicotine from the excess number of cigarettes I smoked on the way up here. Cold from the outside pre-dawn air is soaking slowly through the glass against my feet, thin canvas does not provide any miracle of insulation, that is for sure. My brother's plane is delayed over an hour and I am currently debating whether or not to nod off and risk missing an uncertain arrival time.
Left the pad at 0230 (PST) and made it here in just under two hours. Easy to extract oneself from a warm bed and put pedal to the floor, difficult if not almost annoyingly impossible to put those pieces back again. Thoughts of being stuck in pre/early dawn Los Angeles traffic is the only thing hanging over my head at the moment. Elise has yet to call, another wisp of vapor for my collection of fog I suppose. On the other hand, Aimyko e-mailed me something along the lines of 'holy shit you are alive.' I wonder occasionally who is happier to see who and for what reason. In another way I think that the hotel industry in the Tokyo/Yokohama area is probably happy to see us back together at a minimum.

Bro's arrival is well timed, at least the burden of providing sufficient entertainment for the parental units does not rest squarely on my shoulders at this point. More than anything else I wonder if he is like I was at the end of my first cruise; much older, much emptier and searching frantically for a pulse on a dead (live?) body. Hopefully, this puts back more for him than it did me. The emptiness and subtle sense of loss is still with me although drastically less than before. The circular nature of these this cruise, the drawing end of the cycle which I have been riding for the last eight years is not something that has unduly escaped my attention. (Dawn has finally started, I'll have a decent seat to watch this off of the boat for once. There is something wholly criminal about seeing the sun go down and come back up again.) Going back, finishing the ends that were started. Closure and a good way to go out as far as things/effort required to make it to the finish. At least the initial shock of being there and figuring literally everything out again is missing. Nice things about the eight dets that I think will be missed but not noticed by the vast majority: the rules change but they don't suddenly up and rewrite themselves of their own volition.

I have just been pamphleted by someone of an apparent union bent, quite set on convincing me that a better of larger dose of union representation is necessary at the airport. Not to be callous but they really ought to join the damn military if they think they have it bad now. Griping about pay and so forth, at least they have a goddamn union to begin with. Moreover than that they ought to at least realize that they're the airport's security force, not exactly back breaking or award winning work here. Perhaps I am too cynical or too much of an elitist to deal with this shit right now, at a bare minimum I am too damn tired to care. The cries for higher pay and better working hours have fallen on the deaf ears of a man who remembers fighting more than his fair share of fatigue in the waters off of Korea.

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