So this is it? You're gone?
What can I say? What should I have said? For three years I've asked myself the same questions- What are you thinking?, What do you want?, and Should I say it now?
And now, finally, finally, when I have the last chance to get it out there, when I can finally say it- I squander another chance.

And now you're gone.

God! Three years! That's so long!

So now you've gone away. The sunlight already started dimming the day after you left, and the leaves have started their death-flare to red. It is probably best you take summer with; I can't enjoy it now anyway.
When I met you I was young and stupid and shy, and still am, I suppose. I decided I would settle on you. So I gathered information, waited, waited for an opportunity. Now I see that opportunities don't just come along- they have to be made. So we were friends. Then you found someone else and my world shattered.

The last Friday, we talked. I said I had questions that needed answers, but I hesitated again. What was I waiting for? I was still afraid. Not of anything, certainly- what risk was there? Future awkwardness? Why haven't I learned my lesson?

But again I took too long. The next day, you were gone.

Two hundred fifty miles only, but it might as well be the other side of the moon. You'll be back soon, of course. But you'll have changed. New friends, new experiences, too fast. Education from a cannon. Even if you visit in a month, it won't be you. You're gone.
I was a zombie through Saturday. Sunday I cried. Monday I lamented. Tuesday I wondered how I could go on. Yesterday I was caught in unimportant things. I wrote this in my mind for a week.
I don't know what to do. I wondered if it might have been better if you had died, so I wouldn't have to suffer seeing you again, knowing that you're gone. Then I could move on. Instead you're in limbo- You're still here but I can't get at you. You're gone. But I can't move on.

So I'll say it now, now that it's too late, now that it can't change anything- now that you're gone:


Yesterday, Al Quaeda’s number two, Ayman al-Zawahiri, released a videotape where he asserted that the United States would soon be defeated in both Iraq and Afghanistan. He declared that the U.S. “Is caught between two fires. If they continue they will bleed to death, and if they withdraw they lose everything.”

The sad part is that Zawahri's almost certainly right. America is losing in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and George W. Bush"s claims that we’re making progress in the war on terror constitute pure bluster. No matter who wins in November, the United States will be out of Iraq before 2008. We will not leave a stable, democratic nation in our wake, but a Balkanized mess that will prove a breeding ground for terror.

When you are winning a war, or in Iraq’s case an occupation (which is NOT over), one good measure is how much of the country do you actually control. In the case of Afghanistan the Bush Administration can rightly point to the upcoming election, a mammoth political undertaking in a country with little or no infrastructure. If Elections succeed they will prove a real coup. There is little doubt that most Afghans do not want the return of the Taleban.

But the flip side is very dark. Afghanistan has always been a fractious country but in truth the Karzai government controls Kabul and very little else. Without 26,000 US and NATO troops they might not control that much. Assassinations and combat between the Taleban and US troops is increasing, not decreasing. Taleban threats and warning show up on doorsteps everywhere. International organizations such as Doctors Without Borders and the United Nations agencies are abandoning the country because they can’t afford to lose more people. A number of warlords operate in open defiance of the central government. One, Abdul Salaam Khan deposed the regional governor of Ghor when he became displeased.

Moreover the elections there are in question. They probably cannot be monitored because of persistent threats by al-Quaeda and the Taleban, who very much want them to fail.

If the elections occur and are widely seen as free and fair that will represent serious progress. Many see that outcome unlikely. Election monitors have warned that their work cannot go on because of persistant threats from Islamic extremists. Many Afghans believe the US has stacked the deck in favor of Hamid Karzai. All while the NATO officials and troops beg for more soldiers.

The situation is even worse in Iraq. In the Sunni Triangle strongholds of Fallujah and Ramadi US troops huddle inside fortified bases. An earlier agreement gave former Republican Guards troops authority over those cities and for a few weeks the situation seemed to work. No more. Instead those cities seem to have become bases for Sunni insurgents and Islamic terrorists. In the last few days US troops have begun operating there, but really the Iraqi central government or security forces do not control either city. If you can’t patrol, you don’t own the land, the other people do.

Yet with every day it seems more and more likely that the Shi’ite Muslims who make up the majority of Iraqis may join in the rebellion. The fact that Ayatollah Ali- al-Sistani was able to negotiate a cease fire and evacuate Moqtada al-Sadr's ‘Mahdi Army’ fighters out of the Imam Ali Shine. That bought some time. But most believe that Sadr came away stronger among the Shia, and Sistani weaker. Now US troopers fight Sadr’s men in the ‘'Sadr City’" area of Baghdad. The Mehdi Army, as always, is not doing well in direct combat. But the Shia of southern Iraq and Iran are watching. With each new casualty more and more move to Sadr’s side. Once again armed rebellion will spring up in southern Iraq, and like the Phoenix it will arise stronger

Simply put US and British troops barely control Iraq and don't control all of it. Because the Bush Administration chose to ignore the professional advice of it"s uniformed officers, America began this war with way too few boots on the ground. In the short run America can surge some more by rotating units to Iraq from Europe, Korea and the United States. But the US cannot keep the entire US Army and Marine Corps in Iraq all of the time.

Winning a war entails your side becoming stronger faster than your opponents. In both Iraq and Afghanistan, the opposite is the case. Islamic fanatics and Saddamist rebels are gaining strength faster than US forces on the ground. Simply put, America must man up in both countries if it simply wishes to maintain the status quo. A very large infusion of troops that do not currently exist will be required for victory.

America, of course, is quite capable of manning up. We’re a superpower. But to do so will open a major can of worms inside American domestic politics. I expect that both George Bush and John Kerry know that if America wishes to 'stay the course’ we will have to re-introduce the military draft and almost double the size of the Army. For both to make that announcement would precipitate a political crisis.

John Kerry would probably have an easier time getting the needed votes, but to ask for a draft will alienate a lot of Democrats who never agreed with the war. George Bush will have to eat a lot of crow. Democrats will make him pay every step of the way, starting with his beloved tax cuts and they will ensure the sons of both Wall Street and Flint, Michigan will fight, and die, together.

Bills authorizing the draft have been introduced already by two Democrats, Senate Bill S.89 sponsored by Ernest “'"Fritz”'" Hollings of South Carolina, and House Resolution H.R. 163 sponsored by New York’s Charles Rangel. Currently they languish in committee, but expect both bills to emerge after the election, with the draft to begin next summer. Even in 2003 Democrats saw the need for more soldiers, at the very same time Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld and everyone else in the Administration was were pretending the war was over. H.R. 163 was sponsored primarily by members of the Black Congressional Caucus does not offer college deferments. Black representatives are betting that once the fortunate sons enter basic support for the war will dry up.

The problem is that even if we do begin the draft (early reports suggest the first inductions will take place in July 2005) results will not come quickly. It will take a year, minimum, before new troops can be fielded. Longtime troops will have to rotate out. So the question is, will things get really ugly in Iraq and Afghanistan before the reinforcements can be trained and equipped?

I fear they cannot. As I have written before, it all depends on the Shi’ites. If they stay cool until we get to 400,000 troops, (the numbers the Army wanted from day one) American soldiers may be able to complete their mission. If their rebellion really gains steam before 2006 American troops may be driven into enclaves, which would render our troops irrelevant. They may even be forced to fight their way out of Iraq.

If so, al-Jazeera will show the world what Osama bin-Laden’s smile looks like. America will taste humiliation.

Wow. Haven't been here in awhile. Lots of stuff has been happening, most of it bad.

I lost my job, for one. Don't really want to discuss the details. Suffice to say I did something really fucking stupid and I paid the price for it.

We discovered that Dad's prostate cancer has begun to spread, and so they cancelled the second surgery. I don't really understand why; maybe the idea is that removing it now will make it more difficult to treat the remaining cancer. Right now he's undergoing a host of therapies to treat his condition.

Even worse, we've looked through some medical records that were sent to the surgeon, and it seems one of his old doctors had gotten test results that clearly showed the need to check the prostate for cancer (to the point where either the doctor or a technician wrote on the paper, "refer to specialist immediately"), but for whatever reason did not do anything about it. We're looking into legal options right now.

And my computer died on me. Near as I can tell, the northbridge either overheated (When I opened up the case to do something else, I noticed its fan wasn't running), or when Dad was trying to help by clawing dust out of its cooling fins, he damaged it. Either way, doesn't really matter. It's gone. I was plodding along on an old failing Celeron 533 for a couple weeks, but I finally bit the bullet and bought a cheap pre-fab. Not much, but it'll run all my apps, and should run most games, especially if/when I get a decent video card in it (the current video is an onboard 64MB "Intel Extreme Graphics" chip).

On a completely unrelated note, I bought a PS2 in early July (right before I got fired... probably should have returned it), making it the first console I've owned since the Sega Genesis; that is, unless you count handhelds (in which case I've also had a Game Gear, and currently own a Game Boy Advance). I may yet get a GameCube, especially if the Metroid package doesn't go away, and I definitely want a Nintendo DS, but I don't think I'm ever getting an X-Box. Mostly because it seems to be gears mostly toward online play (which you have to pay extra for), and just about any game I might want to play on the X-Box I can probably get either on the PC or the PS2.

So... yeah. Expect to start seeing more classic nodes by me about things you couldn't care less about.

India. Contrast seems to be what this country is all about, and it's probably near the last thing I expected.

5pm on the streets of Jodhpur, and it's chaos. Rickshaws weave wildly around scooters and motorcycles, bicycles wobble unsteadily through the crowd, and pedestrians are seemingly deaf to the constant blasting of horns - this din that is India.

If you want to get a feel for what 'India Time' is all about, don't look for evidence in train and bus departures, schedules and timetables. You'll see it as a grou of people, 3 across, walk up the highway, and you're in the front seat of a tiny minivan bearing hurtling down on them. On the opposite side, a truck is overtaking a cart towed by a camel, and these people are facing death in both directions. Still, they don't budge. Not until we're almost upon them, when they swerve to the side with just enough time to spare. The only other living creatures in India with less concern over trivial things such as murderous traffic are the cows. They simply don't move. Actually, they're more likely to lay down. India time.

So we arrive in this chaos, our tiny van feeling massive in these tiny laneways, the noise unbelievable. When we stop, step out of the van and grab our packs, it feels like we've stepped out of the safety of some form of cocoon. When travelling, you can't let your guard down for one moment. Strap that pack on though, and it's as good as screaming 'I have money!' We're the flame, and the moths never fail to disappoint.

It's a fine line, the point between sensible caution and downright mistrust. Of course, everyone you speak to has their own little horror story about India - don't hang your arm out the window, they'll chop off your hand to get your watch - the rabid dogs will attack you - everyone is after your cash - etc etc. First day in India though, wandering blindly through Mumbai, hoping we were heading towards the railway reservations office, we came across Mike and Sam. Before we knew it, they'd walked us to the reservations office, helped us book tickets out of there, and arranged a taxi for a whirlwind tour of the highlights of Mumbai, spread over a couple of hours. They refused any payment for their services, save a bottle of beer, and dinner (dinner was our idea - they would have been happy with a second bottle of beer and nothing more!) One day in, and we'd learnt that trust, even in the midst of the chaos that is India, gets you a long way.

Jodhpur feels like it was created by the hand of a mad god. He took a handful of blue coloured blocks, and threw them into the air. Where they landed, is where they stayed. You wind between impossibly tight laneways, barely enough to fit two people abreast, before the frenzied honking behind you warns of a rickshaw driver closing in. Finding your hotel, you finally can breathe again. Of course, before this you've said hello dozens of times, and answered the question 'which country?' just as many. It's impossible not to smile - while many times the questions lead into a tout, or a scam, many more times they don't - just a smile, and for me, the only boy in our group of three, an inquiry over whether I like the cricket.

In this city - at least this section, the old part circled by a stone wall - every place has an open rooftop, many times a few levels. I walked onto the rooftop above our hotel, and I may just have stopped breathing once again. It's called Meherangarth - 'The Majestic Fort'. It's aptly named. Towering over the city, atop a mountain of sheer rock, sits this fort. It's massive. It is so totally dominating, that even if you try to focus on another part of the city, your gaze is invariably drawn back to it. When I hear the word 'inpenetrable' from this time on, this fort will be my minds reference.

Sitting high on a rooftop, the entire city spread before me, it's easy to forget the scene played out at street level. Up here, you're in a different world, and all I want to do is run across it, rooftop to rooftop. I believe you could make it from one side of the city to the other this way.

Then, the kites appear. At first, only a few. As the sun gets lower, and the breeze picks up a little, their numbers grow. Before too long, there are dozens and dozens of them, in every direction. People occupy rooftops everywhere, mainly children. In the absense of any open space, this is their playground.

In the space of a few hours, I've gone from the mania of an Indian highway - pot-holed and dusty, passing thousands of pilgrims making a long trek to a holy destination - to kites above Jodhpur.

Sometimes, this world is beyond wonder. You simply have to sit on a quiet rooftop, and soak it all in.

And hope you never forget this.

Apologies for minimal linking, and possible (probable?) spelling errors and typos...the PC in this tiny little Indian net cafe, in the middle of a desert, is none too flash. Particularly the keyboard!

If you're interested, there's a picture of Jodhpur on my homenode.

She's gone, left me... she had to think she said. She had to get away from her...

It's scary. The one you love, having to hide from one of your friends. Scary. I miss her so much.

Will she return?

Will she come back to me?

Or will my heart hold its beat forever?

I've never touched her. I've never held her in my arms. I've never kissed her, either.

She doesn't have a body, she is only in his mind. But I love her.

Is that so wrong?

I’m sick and tired of hurricanes. I spent an hour and a half hiding in my hallway as Hurricane Charley blasted through my town, listening with horror as the storm snapped the power lines in the back yard, took down my big, beautiful orange tree and helped itself to part of my carport. We had no electricity for three days, during which I was in remarkably high spirits although feeling terribly cut off from the world because, obviously, we had no television or internet access. At least we still had our roof and windows.

Three weeks later, Hurricane Frances decided to pay a visit. We willingly stood in line for three hours at the home improvement store for plywood, got our precious ten-sheet rations, boarded up the windows on the sides of the house we figured the winds would hit the hardest, then skipped town in a hurry. Three days later, we came home to find part of our back porch roof in shreds and the neighbor’s huge pine tree draped over the power lines. Needless to say, my spirits were not as high this time around. Still, we got off pretty lucky. Many of the other houses on the east coast of Florida didn’t fare nearly as well. From the time we got back home to the time power was restored a second time, another three days.

It’s a wonder that I haven’t gone violent nor had a nervous breakdown. But of course, there’s still plenty of opportunity and time for that as the power of three rears it ugly head yet again and promises to bless us with a third hurricane, Ivan. There’s absolutely no point in taking the boards off the windows or buying anything that requires refrigeration for about a week. I’m not sure whether to be apathetic, resigned and patient, or run screaming for the hills that don’t exist in my state. In any case, I’m really, really sick and tired of hurricanes.

Three years past now, and the pain, hurt and missing is still very present.

I don’t want to go into detail about how weepy and shitty I feel right now. So instead, I will tell you about my most recent dream about Adam. This was another one of the dreams in the “He’s not really dead” line.

He had shot himself, but did not die. He had been in a coma for a long time and when he woke up, he decided to follow his passion in life. He still looked perfect, no scars and golden tan. He now lived underwater. He had a special underwater vehicle that had handlebars that he could hold onto. I can see it even now; Adam holding the handles flying through the water, easy, relaxed and natural. He told me that this was what he had always wanted. That he could not have wanted his life any other way. I was along side him, feeling free in the flowing coolness of the water. He was excited to tell me about the happiness he had found. He showed me around the underwater city he lived in and then we went back to my house. Of course, the house that was mine was a combination of multiple houses, the townhouse in Damascus, but with the decoration of my current house. Chad was there and said hi to Adam. Adam returned the greeting and went into Dylan’s room. He held Dylan on his lap for a while, joking and laughing as Dylan squirmed. The next day, I went to take Dylan to his new school that was underwater. I had to take him to a small inlet, I was worried because there was ice on the surface of the water. Dylan didn’t care and stripped naked, giggling the whole time. As he stepped into the water a bubble formed around him and he went under the water, smiling the whole time.

I woke up around 4 a.m. feeling as good as one can after having a dream about someone who truly is dead.

I still have too many Adam dreams. I still think of him often. The crying is much less frequent now, and I can sometimes hold back the tears until I am somewhere alone. My heart still aches when I think of him and I do not know that the aching will ever go away. I can feel completely fine one second and the next, something small will make me fall apart.

My life has changed so much since that warm sunny September day three years ago; I moved twice, and then once more with Chad. Chad and I got married this past April and I am still thrilled to have him in my life. He is the most incredibly loving and understanding person I have ever met and I can not believe that I was lucky enough to even meet him in the first place. I would have never met him without E2 and the Wicked Retahded gathering.

So, yeah, just in case you wanted to know. Everything is alright.

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