On Saturday, my wife and I attended a funeral service for one of her co-workers, a woman I had never met. As I looked around the room, I saw the devastation of her family, her friends, and her co-workers. Mourners spoke of the lives she touched and changed forever. The husband she left behind wept, and I wondered if he could ever recover.

My sadness and my anger deepened with every moment we were there. I wept with everyone else, for a woman I had never met.

On Wednesday, I was afraid that our government would respond with a symbolic gesture, a token bombing of aspirin factories and empty training camps. But I am relived to hear that our leaders are as angry as they should be. They realize that we are at war - and that we have been at war since 1993 or earlier, even if we never realized it. Our enemies have been warring against us with every bomb they detonate within our borders, and every battleship they bomb in port or elsewhere. Only now that the devastation has been so horrific have we chosen to act as if we are at war.

What lies ahead cannot be regarded as a "response." It will not be justice, nor will it be revenge. It will be, and must be, a resolve to eliminate those who have the will and the ability to strike us like happened on September 11, 2001. As Henry Kissinger said this week, we must destroy the system used to wage war against us. As Colin Powell said, we must tear them out branch and root. Whether it was Osama bin Laden, Iraq, or some other group does not matter. We must adopt the policy of the ancient Romans who sought to end the Punic Wars against Carthage. They knew that to protect their citizens, Carthage had to be destroyed- Cartago delenda est. The Romans invaded Carthage, tore the city down, and sowed its fields with salt, so that their enemy could never rise up again to strike them. America faces the same task today.

Our actions should come not from anger, but from coolly rational resolve to never again be victims. We should seek not justice, but the elimination of threats against us. Finally, our nation appears prepared to carry this out.

BtS, bin Laden and his proponents have been calling it war for many years. I'm perfectly willing to take their word for it.

I cant believe the things i am reading here right now.
America is not at war. America has suffered the loss of around 5000 souls after a horrible terroristic attack. Thats all. Every day of WWII Killed around 25.000 people, mostly civillians. THIS IS WAR. More death. More suffering. More families crying at funerals. If their son's body is returned, not MIA.
If GWB and people like Mouthpice would fight a war agains terrorism, they have to wipe out THE WHOLE WORLD!
If the "suspects" the FBI (and the german BKA) present us are really connected to the NYC attack, the US have to wipe out Germany, Texas and Florida by now.
Attacking the Taliban will not change anything. If bin Laden really is smart enough to plan something like the events of 11th September, he is certainly smart enough not to be in Afghania by now. If he is half as smart as the US pretend to think, he is in the US right now, watching CNN and laughing his head off. He knows the USA quite well, the US gouvernment trained and funded him and the Taliban, just like Iran, Iraq, Panama and a bunch of outher totalitarian regiemes they once found useful and lateron bombed out.
If the US does not carry on with life in a normal way, searching for the terrorists via Interpol, doing the things a democratic country does when terrorists strike: USE THE POLICE TO TRACK THEM, NOT THE ARMY AND PUT THEM TO COURT, but will use the army to randomly blow away a small, rather defenseless country, terrorists will strike again. This are fanatics, they will gain more power and more followers if the US bombs a muslim country, and even if they did not fly those planes into the Twin Towers and these Pentagons, they will massively attack the US main country, US Army bases in Europe and US embassys around the world after this. We have to stop the violence, not fucking start even more!

Over here in Germany, we have tracked down every member of the Red Army Faction and put them all to court and after that to jail by now, without dropping any bomb, just by normal police investigation. Exept for Wolfgang Grahms who was suspectedly executed by a special commando at the railway station of Bad Kleinen. Officials say it was "suicide".
Anyways, the problem of organized terrorism in Germany is solved since the late 80s.
By the way, the RAf were kinda gentleman terrorists. Once they blasted away a whole wall of a prison to free some jailes members, but not without evacuating the whole area around, so no civilian would be harmed....

All your country are belong to america. Except for Europe. Launch no Zigs there.

Yeah, Yeah! Vote me down!
LX: In the war against nazi germany the allies destroyed whole cities, most noteable Dresden, without making any difference whom they kill, not to mention Hiroshima or Nagasaki...
Mouthpiece: c'mon. were on the same side about bin Laden being the bad guy, so you don't want to justify anything the good guys do by saying he did it, too?

Song of the day: Peace sells by Megadeth
This weekend seemed long as hell. Normally this wouldn't be a problem because, hey, who doesn't want a longer weekend? This was one of those dreaded weekends that is all work and no play. I hope I do not turn into a dull boy. I mean more than I am now.

Yoon and I signed the lease for our first shared living space on Saturday. It's really nice, actually, probably the fanciest home that I've lived in for ten years. After spending the past six months in my 10x20 studio I'm ready to stretch out a little and maybe have less of a pest problem. The landlord actually seems cool. I know those words are a total jinx but the guy actually bought new appliances after a long term tenant moved out. That's usually a good sign. We'll actually have space to do a little gardening and backyard sort of stuff. I haven't had a yard for something like ten years as well so it probably sounds pretty lame to the rest of y'all.

We also had lunch with Yoon's mom. This also sounds a lot more relaxing than it really is. The language barrier is difficult to overcome. It makes the most simple social interactions awkward and laborious. The situation with her parents has depressurized a little over the past couple of years but I still feel like her dad is going to beat my ass whenever we're in the same room. I'm not Korean or Christian. I'm not a business major. I understand their concerns but it does make me reluctant to open up to them very much. Her mom hugged me after lunch. It felt a lot more real than a handshake. Yeah. It's probably going to be ok for the time being. When it comes time to plan the wedding I'll be wearing a crash helmet and shin guards.

Still putzing along with OS X and trying to find as many security problems as I can. The fact that a portscanner is part of the system is a little disconcerting. I'm having a hard time being the police when I'm used to being the criminal. Is it totally unethical to leave little easter egg ins for the best and brightest? You also have to love the ping flood feature built in to the system. Macintosh security is usually mentioned as a joke. How did I get myself into this?

There are too many exams this week. I either have a mid term or a major project due every day this week. I guess band practice and my skateboard are going to be the last things on my mind. Besides Yoon these are the only things that keep me sane. Nothing relieves a rough day's stress like slamming metal and wood into curbs and coping. I don't know how I managed to quit skating for nearly ten years. It has barged back into my life with a vengeance. This vengeance also extends to my ankles, knees, and lower back. Skate and destroy (yourself). Yeah.

I hate goodbyes.

Not just the short, sad goodbye at the airport. The feelings you have afterward. Coming home to a house that is empty, except for the fresh memories that assail you as you walk in the door.

There are pieces of him all through the house. It seems I can't look anywhere and not see him. I open my refrigerator and there is his half drunken bottle of black cherry soda. In the bathroom there are hairs in the shower that are not mine. When I go to bed, there are traces of him on the sheets and his smell on my pillow. All of this is driving me nuts. It will be two months until I see him again. All of these things will eventually fade. Except the memories. They will continue to haunt me until we are together again.

Daydreaming, I put a foot wrong, my ankle folded and I flipped into the air. Using my Special Cat Self-Protection Skills I span (in slow motion of course) so I landed on my left and not my right*.

A moment later, I am flat on my back, yelling a mouthful of obscenities at the sky and running a checkpoint on my body:

Hip? Seems not to have come out.
Thigh bone? Still there. Phew.
Wrist? Hmm. Wait and see.
Ankle? Ouch. Twisty. Ouch. Ouch.

A face appears over me, with a look of concern. "Are you OK?" it asks.

"I don't think so."

"Oh, OK." And the face vanished.

Baffled, I'm still on the ground. Another person comes along, "Are you OK?"

"No. Not really."

"Oh, OK. You've broken your phone."

And he vanished too.

* My balance is so screwy I've developed a weird reflex which spins me around like this because I'd rather break my arm than risk wrecking another damn hip replacement. I'm told it's quite something to see. Falling over in the street is far from the worst thing ever to happen, but, it scares the hell out of me for the first seconds after I hit the tarmac.
Our cat Yoshi died today. She'd been sick this weekend, and this morning, she was miserable. She was in her basket, drooling and panting. When I came home from work, she was gone. It felt funny, touching her, so stiff. She used to be the most elastic and flappy cat I have ever seen.

I guess it was the karma police that got her. She's spent her entire adult life (3 whole years) killing mice, blackbirds and sparrows. She even managed to kill a rat that was larger than her own head.

When she was a kitten, she used to sleep on the nice and warm satellite receiver. Even when she got too big to fit in there, she'd squeeze in and look all stupid, wedged in our furniture.

We just buried her under her favorite bush. My sister cried a lot today, yet I don't.

My dad speculates that it could be internal haemorrhaging from a blow to the head. Or poisoning. I don't know. Bleh. As if last week wasn't bad enough, then this.

Okay, not totally off the paxil. I got a bad case of the dizzies again this weekend, so now this week I will take half a dose every second day, and then try to stop again.

Boy moved in last night. Late, after I turned the lights out and went to bed. Now I have hugs on tap, it's nice. I don't think I woke him up this morning at 5:30am when I leave for work, which can only be good. He's changed his schedule a bit too for the inevitable mornings when I do wake him up, he's going to work early today. Apparently a coworker of his drives right by my house on the way to work every day anyhow. Convenient, convenient.

Markets are all kooky. TSE is up right now, amazing. Dow is down down down, 600 points and now is creeping back up and now is creeping back down. So far we have had one client do the panic thing and sell a bunch of stocks. Oh clients, please don't do that. You will regret it next week or next month or maybe as soon as tomorrow. We try to talk them out of it, but what can we do? It's their money. Whatever helps you sleep at night, I guess.

I fried up some eggplant last night. I have decided I hate the texture of eggplant forever, and it makes me want to vomit. Yuck. I will now stop eating eggplant except for the one dish at Habibi's, which somehow transcends the eggplant curse of being mooshy and gross.

I will exercise today, maybe. Exercise has been on hold during the dizzies. But oh, I am missing it now.

I'm still grieving over all the dead and missing over the country, but I'm not in shock anymore. I want a rational, measured, prepared response to the acts of the barbarians who threaten my life and my country. We mustn't forget the other things besides lives were threatened. Democracy. Freedom to live without fear. To name just a couple.

I'm proud of our president and very proud of AMERICA. We are a nation of disparate peoples, united in the concept of freedom for humanity, without regard to color, race, creed or heritage. We don't always live up to our ideals, but at least we have them, and the system STILL works better than any other. I have seen communism FIRST HAND. I was in the Soviet Union in '91. I SAW people stand in line six blocks long for a roll of toilet paper. Our system isn't perfect, but rather than bitch, find a better system, or shut up.

Some opinions I have read say that we aren't at war, that 5000 dead isn't enough to qualify as war.


How many have to die? What is the exact number? I'd really like to know. To the person expressing that opinion...do you know 5000 people personally? Since I doubt that the answer is yes, then I 'll ask if you'd like to have all the people you know killed? Is that enough to qualify as war? I understand the statement that it's difficult to pin down a terrorist. If I KNOWINGLY invite and allow a murderer into my house, I can't claim to be uninvolved. The countries that harbor terrorists are guilty. Like it or not, we are known by the pack with which we run.

One last thing to those saying killing this group or that group will not help. I've noticed that cowards and weak people love to point out flaws, but they never have a solution. I could spend all day thinking about reasons why a solution won't work too. That's not the American way. America is about trying to overcome, rather than hiding and waiting for Reaper to take us like sheep. Does anyone remember t.s. eliots' Hollow Men? The last line is the telling one. Not with a bang but a whimper. I don't want to live like that. I have another quote to end this with and then I'll get off my soap box and stop preaching.

Some of the greatest things in history were accomplished by people who were tired of being pushed around1.

That's the way to live a life worth remembering; THAT is the key to immortality.2

1. I don't know the author of the above, and if anyone does, let me know please via /msg. I'll attribute it promptly.

2. Paraphrased from Brandon Lee.

It came out of the blue but it wasn't surprising. The US government just doesn't bother to tell you when they fuck up.
  • We gave 34 million to the Taliban in may because they were "tough on drugs."
  • We killed 200,000 Iraqis during and after the Gulf War, many of whom were civilians or conscripted peasants sent into battle without shoes or guns.
  • The last time we attacked Bin Laden we killed 23 people in the mountains and it's not entirely clear that they had anything to do with him.
  • We blew up a Sudanese chemicals weapons factory that, a couple weeks later, we realized probably wasn't making weapons at all. Tens of thousands of Sudanese took to the streets calling for American blood.
  • We are one of, if not the largest exporter of guns in the world.

There are hundreds and thousands of other reasons to hate us, reasons to lash out at America. In the coming days we need to keep in mind that, whatever we decide, America was not an innocent victim. We were victims... but we are not innocent by any means. The individuals who died on the eleventh were, but the America wasn't, and it was America they struck out at.

Another day, another... please get me the hell out of this place! Not Brazil just this Caterpillar dealership. Sure the people are friendly, and the smoking in the office is nice, but hot damn I got a date tonight! I've been rereading Siddhartha all day to keep myself calm. I met her last night in the bar across the street from the hotel I've been staying at, and I didn't think about New York or terrorists or war for four hours.

War. Like other emotive words - rape, genocide, tragedy, war has had its corners worn off of it by excessive and inappropriate use.

On the one hand, war is a legal state of affairs, declared by a government (in the US, by Congress, according to Section 8 of the Constitution). It's declared and waged by one nation, on another nation.

But war has also become any form of all-out agression, notwithstanding the legal status. The War on Poverty, or the War on Drugs. I don't recall seeing soldiers in camoflage on the streets, making war on poverty. These were wars of political hyperbole, dramatic at the time, but having the effect of cheapening the word.

After September 11, 2001, America is half at one kind of war, half at the other. The situation has all the informality of a hyperbolic war...and threatens all the violence of a real one. This hybrid beast is dangerous. It circumvents the care and caution the framers of the Constitution put into controlling how the nation goes to war, but still gets people killed.

Mind you, the United States hasn't declared a war since Pearl Harbor. Korea, Vietnam, and the Gulf War were not officially declared wars, either. The American government may be be outside of the strict definitions of the law right now, but they've been here before.

On another note, I see that some noders feel that anyone who points out the flaws in the administration's proposed action is a coward and a weak person. Actually, criticism of bad government policy is the only way to get good government policy, and people who do it are better known as responsible citizens.

As time goes by and we count the dark days from the WTC-Pentagon-Pennsylvania massacre, concerned voices are raised throughout the world at the realization that people die in war, calling for moderation in the U.S. response.

The United States must act and respond with violence. This is the cold, harsh truth. America has been put in a situation where, paradoxically, war is the only morally correct response. (Before you downvote, read why! I am not a hawk.)

What happened at the World Trade Center in New York, in Pentagon, and on the plane whose brave passengers sacrificed their own lives to save so many lives on the ground, was not only the worst act of terrorism anywhere in the world in the history of mankind, it was a blatant attack on the free world misdirected so as to affect innocent civilians.

Two years ago, roughly at this time of year, I was standing in the observatory of the World Trade Center, looking out over one of the most fascinating cities I've ever seen. I am well aware that this attack could just as well have killed me, and I have taken it all very personally, not just because of that, but because the attacks are rooted in disrespect for the things I value: freedom of (and from) religion, freedom of speech, justice, and gender equality.

These individuals belong to a cult of misguided so-called Muslims, who have severely misunderstood their holy book and use it to promote a culture of oppression and destruction. Unfortunately, this system of belief has grown powerful in Afghanistan and nearby countries, and created a dictatorship of terror, oppressing the countries' citizens. Not satisfied with this, these delusional leaders look abroad to destroy those who dare think differently.

While it is true that no organization or country has been ultimately proven to have conducted this act of war (for it is an act of war, no matter how undeclared it is; declared wars belong to medieval times as any informed person knows), Osama Bin Laden's al-Qaeda organization is the prime suspect in the recent deeds as well as confirmed and self-proclaimed mastermind and/or financial supporter behind at least five earlier attacks on U.S. targets. He has yet to admit to the WTC-Pentagon-Pennsylvania wave of terror (perhaps the result was a little too "good"), but encourages further crimes of its kind.

The oppressive and anti-democratic Taleban regime in Afghanistan has yet to present Bin Laden to the United States, despite claims of keeping the terrorist leader under house arrest (whether or not this is true is hard to say; at any rate, the female population of Afghanistan knows this way of life all too well). In this, they are contributing to continued acts of war and terror against the free world, and this is no different from participating directly in a military operation against foreign countries and their civilians. This does give the United States the right to respond with military force. Lest more innocent civilians be killed, it is also their moral duty to do so. Just as the citizens of the United States pay taxes to receive police protection, they fund the military for military protection.

Military operations demand civilian lives. This is inevitable. However, the United States should not, would not, and will not, unlike its opponent, select civilians as their primary target. The civilian toll will be high in a full-scale operation, but it will be much, much higher if terrorists are free to roam the earth, and the civilians of Afghanistan would most likely be grateful if the western world can rid the country of the Taleban regime and provide an opportunity for democracy.

Military operations demand the lives of soldiers. This is also inevitable. However, anyone signing up to join the military is aware of this. If they are not prepared to risk their life for their country, they should not be in the army in the first place. Unlike the uncivilized country I live in (Sweden), America gives its citizens the right to choose whether or not to serve its country (personally I am disqualified from the Swedish Armed Forces with respect to poor eyesight without glasses or contacts). Worrying about the lives of U.S. soldiers is ridiculous, and I am sure the honorable soldiers themselves would feel quite embarrassed at some of the statements that have been made the last few days. What one should really be worried about are the civilians who have not opted to risk their lives to foreign military, in whatever shape it may come.

So what should the United States do? It should firmly demand that Bin Laden and anyone associated with him be turned over immediately and unconditionally in an act of unreserved co-operation to pull terrorism by the roots out of this world. If the Taleban regime is unable to present Bin Laden, the United States should demand the right to send whatever units it deems appropriate into Afghanistan on a search and retrieve mission. Any resistance to this is in itself co-operation with terrorism, and any individuals standing up behind such resistance must be eliminated, by force if necessary, and ideally by detainment.

The objective is not revenge. Revenge will not bring back the dead. Two wrongs do not make one right (we're adding, not multiplying). The objective is to prevent further acts of terror. The objective is to detain the terrorists to protect the free world. Punishment is an outdated way of thinking. There is no adequate way to punish these individuals anyway, and the only justice we can get is the justice of peace of mind. Skillfully planned operations with well-chosen objectives are the United States' best ticket to support from the rest of the world, and the best way to prevent nukes and other unwelcome objects from swarming in the air.

The rage that the U.S. as a nation is feeling is understandable and easy to sympathize with, but it is also dangerous. If I may, I would urge Americans to be proud of their brave workers and their brave military, to have faith in their institutions and agencies, and in their president, who is so far handling this crisis in a rather competent way (normally I am personally strongly opposed to most things Dubya, but I am making an exception here). However, most importantly: be proud of the constructive forces that exist within the American nationalism and guard against the destructive ones. Rage leads to a path away from rationalism, and irrationality has a bad record when it comes to solving problems.

One example of irrationality is the many attacks on Muslims and people with an Arabic appearance in America and many other countries. These people have left their homeland. They have traveled across half the globe to a different country, abandoning everything to escape the reign of terror in their own countries. They have gone through the process of becoming American citizens. If anyone is an American, they are, for they have actively chosen to become Americans.

Imagine their horror in days like these. Not only has the very terror they escape from come after them halfway around the world (many, many Muslims were killed in the attack on the World Trade Center), but they get the blame for it from ignorant idiots with more hair than brains. (And then ignorant Muslims think that the general public shares the views of the brainless racists, and so on.)

We must be rational, constructive, have a long-term perspective, and we must work together.

For closing words, I would urge everyone to continue to honor the victims of the attacks at a place of worship where they feel comfortable, and for those who, like me, find worship of a divine power impossible in days like these, go out in nature and lend your thoughts to their memory. In Sweden today, a violent crash between a timber truck and a school bus killed several children. The tragedy of their families is hard; send them your thoughts too, please. Let us pray and/or hope for better months to come. Thank you.

Don't get me wrong, I still don't daylog.

It's okay, I can lose some XP. I don't mind. Really.

And in related news, analphabetism is on the rise.

BtS says: LX: In the war against nazi germany the allies destroyed whole cities, most noteable Dresden, without making any difference whom they kill, not to mention Hiroshima or Nagasaki...

Your point? What I am advocating is that difference be made. Did I advocate nukes? No, I warned against it. This is not World War II. Hopefully we've developed just a little since then.

I had to stay at work for an extra hour today, because two people called in sick. The last time that happened, two people called in sick too (except I had to stay THREE extra hours). Why is it that when one person calls in, another always does?

I had to sell a bunch of those Time and Newsweek special editions today. People have been calling us asking us when we're going to get ours since Friday, and demanding we pull them out of some proverbial back room where we must be hiding them from the public. Well, we pulled them out of our asses today to finally feed the public (translation: they came in), and they were snatched up like free candy. (Not like hotcakes; hotcakes sitting at a register would probably be eyed suspiciously.) Some dude wouldn't let go of his newspaper when I was trying to ring him up, and when I tried to take it, he mumbled disgustedly, "It's a paper." I know that! I have to scan it! Damn, dude, let me do my job. ::sigh::

They have pictures in the Time and Newsweek special editions that show people jumping out of burning buildings. That is so fucked up. I read that a man and a woman held hands on the way down. I haven't cried at all about this whole thing, but for some reason looking at those pictures and hearing that made me have to wipe my eyes. I think I never cried because it was just so shocking that by the time I realized it had really happened, some weird part of my brain had already assimilated it. Yeah.

I'm going to an anime convention at the end of this week. My friend Ammy convinced me to go in costume, even though I didn't really want to because I was broke and busy. Since she REALLY wanted to go in costume and didn't want to go it alone, she offered to cover the expenses of making both our costumes. It's turned out a little good and a little bad. We're going as Sae and Nanaka from Maho Tsukai TAI, and my wig has been marvelously created out of sponges. The dye didn't work that was supposed to dye our cover-ups black, and before that I accidentally my the costume in half (oops) when I thought it was extra material. (Not that it would have mattered because it's now dyed gray, which is not black.) Oh well. I'm busy.

Also, since I will be at Anime Weekend Atlanta (anyone else going?) during the festival of Mabon, I have to celebrate it early. We are leaving for Atlanta on Thursday, so I must do it Wednesday, even though the actual equinox is Saturday. That is not satisfactory to me, but it will have to do. But it means lots of preparation--NOW, including some serious baking. Ugh.

At Mother Earth health food store, I found this herb called asafoetida, and I knew it was used in some unusual protection and exorcism rituals. I bought some, and was surprised to find how horribly it smelled! I took it home, and it stunk up my house. I sealed it in an empty ink bottle. The stench is dissipating, but I can still smell it. I hope I never have to perform an exorcism, but let me just say if I were a malevolent spirit that shit would almost be enough to chase me away.

Okay, enough of this: Now for some news about my diet.

I'm drinking lots of Pepsi One these days. I don't like it, but it's better tasting than water to me, and much less calories than something like fruit juice. Dieting is easier with something sweet and carbonated to drink. I found this stuff called Tuno, which is fake tuna, and it is decent to eat. It amuses me because it says on the side "Dolphin safe! Tuna safe!" Heh. And here's my menu:

1 granola bar: 110 calories

1 apple: 80 calories
1 biscuit: 200 calories
½ cup vanilla yogurt: 115 calories

20 baby carrots: 35 calories

2/3 cup mixed vegetables: 60 calories
1 banana: 105 calories
1/3 cup Tuno: 60 calories
½ tablespoon lite Miracle Whip: 20 calories
20 potato chips to eat with the Tuno: 150 calories

That adds up to 935 calories! That leaves me 65 calories. I am going to bake tonight so maybe I can actually taste what I make. :( Let me reiterate that dieting sucks.

The aftermath of September 11, 2001 continues.

I have seen in the news that since the terrorist acts (how's that for an understatement?) of last Tuesday, apparent hate crimes are up.

The targets of these crimes have been Arabs, southeast Asians (from the Indian Subcontinent. People have been attacked because they are (or perceived to be) Arab Muslims. However, many of attacks I've read about have been on Sikhs. They have been mistaken as Arabs and Muslims because they do not cut their hair (or their beards), and men who are followers of the Sikh faith wear turbans as part of their customary dress.

However, people of Arab descent are being harassed as well. My grandmother related a story she saw where a woman and her child in Chicago were threatened because they are of Arab descent. She is a third generation American.

People have been shot coming out of temples and mosques. Yells of "Go back to your country" are being heard. I myself have heard numerous references to rag heads, towel heads, camel jockeys, and sand niggers.

One would think such blind bigotry would be contained. After all, it is blind bigotry and hatred (and the "faithful" looking for a Prom date to Valhalla) that most likely drove those madmen to fly their hijacked aircraft into the towers of the World Trade Center, and into the Pentagon. This blind hatred for Americans, the bigotry against us, is what drives these terrorist organization to undertake such campaigns against us. We are painted as hating Arabs and Muslims. If we're going to kill those in this country who are (or perceived to be) Arab or Muslim, we might as well start printing Jihad recruitment pamphlets and drop them on Afghanistan instead of bombs.

Even of the people who are Arab Muslims in this country, most of them have come here not to kill us, not to subvert us, but because this is the land of opportunity. Some seek better opportunities for employment. Some come here for an education. Some come to this beacon of freedom to escape repression, poverty, and war. They are here because they WANT to be here, because they want to pursue The American Dream. Some of them have been here for generations, some of their family fighting in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam in American uniform. Some have become naturalized citizens. Some are working to gain citizenship. Some are the American born children of immigrants.

What many feel to realize is that Islam, in general, is not a threat. From what I have read of the Quran, I believe Islam to be a religion of peace and respect. I believe that the meaning of Jihad has been twisted by those who would use religion to justify the most unholy acts before man. Religion and Politics are a dangerous mix, especially when religion is twisted to justify murder, persecution, genocide, and war.

Make no mistake about it, those "Americans" who kill people for their (perceived) race or religion are no better then the hate filled monsters who killed thousands last Tuesday. Their just monsters on a smaller scale.

Yea, I know I'm probably preaching to the choir, but I had to get it out.

So, due to a cancelled flight, I get into BWI airport at 2:30 am, and I'm home about 4. I immediately imitate the dead.

I get up at 8, I'm at work by 9, and the boss turns around in her chair with a sorrowful look on her face.

And you know, I've been waiting for this. It's not a surprise, that shoe has been dropping, ever so slowly, for about half a year.

I'm sorry to have to tell you this, but we can't afford to have you any more. All of the company money is going to salaries, and most of our goverment contracts have fallen through.

Yeah, I've been watching. And hurting. This is her dream, her business, that's dying before our eyes. I'm just a minor casualty.

She's more than a little distrubed by how not upset I am about being layed off. It actually makes it harder for her...but really. What would I gain from being upset? It's just time to find another job...and I've been doing that since High School. It's just life as usual, yet another move.

Because there is no such place as home. Just nice places to pause for a while.

I find myself pitying the people who have been in one place for most of their lives, went to the same schools, had the same friends, worked in the same job for upteen years. They're not going to be ready. Ends will be tragedy for them, change will be a source of disaster and pain.

God has far more control over any of this than I do...why worry? Ride it out, gain the new experience. Maybe I'll start working on grad school. Maybe this is the opportunity to learn some new computer languages, or finally get involved in theatre again.

The light changes. Traffic moves. The world turns another turn, to quote my boys in Queensryche. Such is life.

*grin* and in the meantime, I wait for it all to hit home...

Tonight, driving home from a scholarship meeting, my mother started screaming at me. I had been expecting it all day-- she had been vibrating on the knife edge of barely contained hysteria since she picked me up at school-- but the suddenness of it startled me. I don't even know what I said wrong, or what she screamed back. I remember stopping at the stop sign right before the entrance to our cul-de-sac and praying for a quick exit from the vehicle, and I remember stopping the car on the driveway to wait for the garage door to lift, and I remember her suddenly hitting my arm, ten or eleven times, first with her open hand and then with her fist. She was screaming again. The car started to roll down the driveway and she told me to turn it off. I pulled it into the garage, and she screamed some more, and then I turned it off and got out as quickly as I could without losing dignity-- that's key, not to lose dignity, because if she sees any weakness in my emotional exoskeleton she'll go for it-- and entered the house. I had hoped to be out of the hallway before she came in so as to avoid being trapped. Unfortunately, I missed this opportunity and was cornered for the next hour while she screamed more. Every time she raised her hand, I cringed. I'm certain that I did something wrong, but I don't know what it was. She threatened to take away everything I hold dear, but I refused to cry-- I always refuse to cry in front of her, no matter the pain-- and then she said it.

"You're just like your father sometimes, the same stupid, selfish, hypocritical things. The thing there is that I love him enough to put up with him. You don't have that to fall back on."

She's my mother, for Christ's sake. If I can't count on her to love me, then who can I count on for love? If she doesn't love me, then what qualities can I possibly have for anyone to love, ever? This self-pity shall pass, but right now I feel like this bleeding mass of betrayal. I should have expected it, knowing her, but right now I can't imagine why anyone would love me if she couldn't...

Today has been very difficult for me.

It started out innocently enough, your average day at school. But after third period, a girl I just met a few weeks ago asked me to go to Homecoming with her. It's not that I don't like her; I'm just not interested in dating with her. I really didn't want to go with her, but for some reason I said yes. Later I tried to remember the details, but I can't figure out what was running through my head at the time. It must have been because of all the shit that happened to me over the weekend.

Right after, I mentally smacked myself in the forehead.

"Carl! How the fuck did you get yourself into this one?"

I immediately began developing schemes to get out of my date without offending her. My friend from Idaho is coming down here for Homecoming, and she needs a date. I could tell her that I need to go with her.

Or I could convince this other dude she likes, David, to go with her. Then it would be out of my hands.

I could go to Homecoming at the other school, as a guest with my friends from last year, instead of going to the one here.

I didn't talk to her again today, but I went home and immediately became depressed, but I couldn't figure out why. After a few hours of total mental anguish, I think I have discovered the reason.

A few days ago, when I told Allie that I really wouldn't mind if she didn't go to Homecoming with me, I thought I meant it. But I was wrong, I do mind, much more than I thought possible.

I discovered only a few days ago that she thinks of me as more of a brother than a guy, and that also upset me.

I think that I am still in love with Allie.

Tomorrow I am going to go to school, and tell Christy that I am not going to go to Homecoming with her. Then I am going to explain everything to Allie, and hope she understands. Or I might wimp out, and stay completely quiet.

Who knows?
Disclaimer : names are changed, but will be modified when this will evolve.
This is my view of the story, maybe I missed important details, maybe recent events are overmagnified.
P.S. : I am a guy, not Bridget Jones
I first met Vanessa when I was eighteen in 1996. We just met each other every many weeks on the university classes in our freshman year, but we weren't very close, because she was not in the same subgroup as me (I was with the good programmers). She was just that nice girl with unbelieveable eyes. It was not their blue color, it was their shape, and the ratio between the different circles. But once again, we barely knew each other. Right from the start of the academic year, Vanessa fell in love with a rich kid, Victor

The next year - 1997, I deliberately changed subgroups, to be in the same group as other friends I had met during the previous year, and also because I was not that good a programmer.

I live in a two-cultured land, like Switzeland, Belgium or Canada. Instinctively, every one of the linguistic minority moved to the B-group. We were all fluent in both languages, but I guess it's easier to have fun in your own language. Soon, we were the linguistic majority in the class, and one could hardly know we were in fact a minority. My last year's friends, although deep, great people, were not very funny. This has changed since 1996. Vanessa and her friends Victor, Felix, Kris and Gerry, were just too cool. Always having fun, always inviting me to parties. Only after one month, I understood Vanessa had been officially dating Victor for the last four months. I didn't care though, I was just getting to know her. And besides, it had been clear from the very first moment those two would have ended up together.

After some months months, we began working together one a computer science project. Vanessa had picked me deliberately because she thought - as everyone did - that I was a CS-ace. I was not that good, but not that bad either. In the same period, I got a job fixing computer installations in the area she lived. We began taking the streetcar together. We were getting along quite well. She liked comics like I did, and I liked her way of being antimilitary while her worshipped father was an army colonel himself.

Then one day (1998), I called her because I needed her notes on chemistry. She told me to come along at her home. After biking in the rain for one hour, I finally found her house. She was wearing the least sexy clothes I had ever seen on a girl in my ten years of watching girls. But when I saw her, I knew I was in love like I never had been before in my whole life.

She is not the kind of girl you come across in the street, and turn your head and say to yourself or to your pals "ay caramba !" with the tongue hanging, she even has a little fat om some places, slightly hanging breast, big teeth, but she is just sooo cute, the kind of girl you wake up at 2 AM and say to yourself : "I am in love"

When I realized I was In love with her on my way back home, I also realized she would never date me : she was too much in love with Victor, she had been fighting for eight months just to have him dump the girl he was with. She would NEVER dump him. So I made this promise to myself : as a revenge to life, I would become her best friend, to get what she would maybe not give to Victor : full confidence, to be the one she told secrets she would even tell her boyfriend. To be the one she would go to to cry when things wouldn't go well. In the beginning, I recognize, I also planned to do this to have the best place to start with, in case of a breakup. This later faded, as not very honest indeed. I guess I also wanted to be the guy who would never hurt her, a bit like the kind, homosexual guy who dies for their girl friend in cliché movies.

Life went on. It always does. The next year, Victor, Felix and I went skiing in the Alps with our friend Cecilia. Back home, Cecilia invited us all for a after-party dinner where we could of course bring our girlfriends if we had one. That night, Victor met Cecilia's younger sister.

Still life went on. During the summer Vanessa went to visit me for my birthday. I was studying, trying to save my last chances to pass the classes, she had had her last exam in June. During the year, I had steadily fallen in love with Cecilia, who had a great body, and very great unusual red hair. At that time, she was dating a guy, Nardo, and it didn't seem to be a very hot relationship. They barely touched each other, and in the mean time, Cecilia was being very hot to every one of us and especially me. I now think she was gently playing with my being turned on by her, which I can easily understand and forgive. No girl had ever been hot to me before -I am not very sexy-, and at the end of the year 1999 I was totally in love with Cecilia.

This was good for my relationship with Vanessa, which began to look like a true, unconditional friendship. A little too unconditional maybe : we just knew the other was someone important, and were instinctively kind to each other, not knowing why, never really talking about Stuff That Matters. I guess we just felt what I was to be the other.

Some months later, at next academic year's opening parties, Victor began to cheat on Vanessa with Cecilia's sister, Lisa. A very hot, superficial affair. Vic and Van's relationship had seemed so deep, it was a shame. Lisa was just the opposite of Vanessa : a Barbie doll. Cecilia was a hot girl too, but at least she was a deep person. But Victor was too cowardly to break up kindly with Vanessa. Vanessa began to truly hate Cecilia and her sister. All the time she knew about the affair, but she was too blindly in love to abstain from forgiving him, like she had done before many, many times. In the same time, I was pretty embarrassed, having to take a stance between my best friend and the girl I was in love with.

For new year's eve (12/31/1999), Vanessa invited me to Victor's new year's party, I think partly because she hated Victor's rich ass friends. During the evening, she went on and on about how she hated Cecilia, because she had met another girl who hated Cecilia for other bad reasons. Later after midnight, she gave me a wonderful present : she invited for a dance. For the ten preceding years, I had had dancing in horror : I had always been too shy, and the previous experience four years before had been a fiasco, walking on the ugly girl's feet, clumsy as I was. With Vanessa, it was as simple as it gets. When we went home that night, she wished me sincerely I would finally get a girlfriend in 2000.

Two months later, I was on a diet, and went drinking with Victor, Vanessa and Felix. I drank too much for the small amount of food I had eaten, and got very drunk. Some time later, Victor told me I had told him in private about how much I loved Vanessa, for which I was the first to be astonished as I strongly believed in our "just-friendship".

Things calmed down, Cecilia took the first step to calm down things. At the time, I didn't know Victor was still seeing Lisa. I just went one with my life, having to pass the third engineering year and catch up with the fourth. I really wanted to graduate with my freshman year fellows.

In summer, Vanessa wanted to organize a party with all of us at her second home, to celebrate her and Victor's birthday, and the end of the exams. But she delayed it to september. For my birthday, she bought me presents she could barely afford. On one hand I think she just gave me back for the expensive present I had bought her the year before, on the other hand I now think she was overcompensating something. That summer, I finally passed to graduation year. In september (2000), Vanessa didn't organize anything. Something began to smell.

Then end november 2000, things got clear. Victor had dumped her. I got terribly jealous : she had not called ME to cry when she needed a friend, she had called FELIX instead. Then I began to self-criticize myself : I had been very superficial, I hadn't EVER spoken Vanessa about Stuff That Matters, I had only been kind to her as she was kind to me. She didn't even know I was in love with Cecilia at that time. But I still had to receive the big hit : the very next morning, in our image processing class, Cecilia told to me without an introduction : "You are in love with Vanessa". I almost fell off my chair. Someone had told the girl I loved, I was in love with another, while I was doing worthless efforts to see I loved her. I asked her who told her so, but she wouldn't answer.

So I decided to go to Vanessa, who was probably the only person Cecilia had seen that morning for an RF amplifier project. I asked Vanessa if she thought I had feelings for her. She almost fell from her chair too. She didn't know. She asked me why I asked, and I explained her in which situation it brought me. I also told her it was not so that I never had been in love with her. She told me it was OK I was not in love with her, because she was in serious need of friends - like in "just friends" - right now. We talked for an hour. She only could speak about how many bad sides their relationship had. I told her she would realize there were good sides too. At that time, I was very angry about Victor for what he had done to her and I guess I wanted to compensate the anger. Also I was angry at myself to have seen and kept silent for so many months. From the very same second I had told Vanessa about the feelings I had had for her, and the inexistence thereof at that moment, I was falling in love with her again.

The next saturday, I invited her to go watch a movie. It just looked the right thing to do with the girl I had been neglecting, and who was probably feeling pathetic right now. I was not aware I was falling in love with her. We talked about my non-relationship with Cecilia, and she didn't show herself very supportive.

Three months later, she went to Italy for four months for her thesis. We started emailing each other. It was generally about how great Italy was or about my finishing non-relationship with Cecilia, or about how naive she had been with Victor. I think we caught up with years of untalked talks. In one mail, she told me a secret she said she didn't even tell her sister (so I am not telling YOU either). Each email I got from her, the world stopped until I had answered the mail. Eventually I fell out of love with Cecilia. I just couldn't go on being in love with her without any success, while that girl I had always loved was single despite all her flirting with strangers. Meanwhile I had learnt about the drinking fiasco 6 paragraphs higher. It was Victor who had told Cecilia about my feelings for Vanessa. Meanwhile, I was feeling horribly anxious and jealous about her flirting with other guys, while I had put myself explicitly out of the game

On the last mail I sent her, I told her about a great film I had seen with friends. She told me her sister had seen it too. I really wanted to see it again, and with her. When she was back she asked me to see it with her, which is something I had never mentionned. She just had felt just the same as me at the same time. We spent the three days before cinema studying AI together in the library, which we had never done before. I had the most boring, but greatest time of my life. During the film, I really wanted to kiss her but I just couldn't, I didn't want to fuck this all up. After the film, we had this "How's your love life" talk. It was obvious she was still not over Victor, and that cut any remaining drift from me. The next weeks she was writing her thesis report, and I passed from time to time to spend some time with her

Three weeks later we graduated (july 2001). At the graduation drink, she was with her sister and her Italian boyfriend. She mentionned me learning Italian, so "the four of us" could speak in Italian together. The day after, she flew to Egypt for vacation with her female best friend Tania whom she had maybe - I'm not sure- neglected for the last four or five years because of Victor. The last week, she was to stay -alone- in Cairo with a guy she had be flirting with some months before. I was very anxious about that, but being Vanessa's private confessor, it was not appropriate to use that information. Meanwhile, I went to California for two and a half weeks with two friends.

The last week in San Francisco was horrible for me. She was getting banged by some hairy Egyptian, and there was nothing I could do about it. Besides, my single friend Tom,one of the two others was loosely considering flirting with Vanessa. For Tom, I was saved by the bell : he met a friendly Swedish girl in Las Vegas.

The next week, I was back in Europe. She was staying on the university to get funding for her PhD, I stayed because I got paid for. We met some times. It turned out she probably never had touched the Cairo guy which would have be the most obvious thing to do. We went to see "Bridget Jone's Diary". It was my idea because I knew she had loved the book. She had come with her sister and "brother-in-law". The next week was the housewarming of my new apartment. I had explicitly NOT invited Victor. I didn't want to ruin my party by having him and Vanessa in the same room, nor did I want her not to come because of HIS coming. Felix was not aware of this understandable decision, and asked Victor if he was coming to the party. So Victor knew. And he was very pissed at that. The party was fine, Vanessa had offered coming in advance to help cooking. I secretly hoped she would stay last, but she left with the big chunk of friends.

Last tuesday, Vanessa offered me to go to a comics collectors gathering the next sunday. Which I accepted with my legendary "If you really insist" line. later that day, she gave me an internal call to chat about what was happening in New York. She invited me to watch TV at her home, which I later accepted after a "If you really insist" phone call. Last Sunday, I went to Vanessa's home again. I called her the day before, and was about to ask her if I had to bring breakfast, and that is just what she asked before I had a chance. The sunday, I came, and I couldn't help noticing a cinema ticket on a cabinet. It was dated from June 16, 2001. She had been keeping the ticket for three whole months, and there was no other ticket around. Was this romantic or just a coincidence ? When she drove me back home at noon, I couldn't convince myself to kiss her. I just gave her the gentle kiss on the cheek.

She's so great. She's so cute. She hates sparkling drinks. She loves stupid top 40 music she'll have forgotten in one year. She takes notes on her hands. I don't want to lose her. I could live like a monk if she's there. I don't want to live like a monk. I couldn't live without her. She's just the only person with which I am 100% myself, and proud what I am.
I am afraid of losing my best friend if I try and get rejected.
I am afraid of losing my best friend if I try and it works for some time.
I am afraid of losing my best friend if I try and it works forever.

Today was my 21st birthday, which in America that means an achievement of sorts, drinking legally mostly. I've been sick lately, so no all night bar crawl or anything. Just stepped into a bar ordered a scotch and water and didn't feel afraid of getting my drink taken away by some overzealous manager. It was nice.

My birthday present is moving to level 4 with this writeup.

Back home after a week's holiday the shock an enormity of the World Trade Center and Pentagon disasters are finally starting to hit home.

Although I heard about it on the radio, read abut it on my WAP phone and checked it in an Internet café, it's not until I start to watch television and really surfing Internet that I realise what has happened.

Well, to be perfectly true, I still think I don't realise...,

I feel far less productive at work. Everything slooows down. In the evening I go home and start emptying my suit case. Everything is slow. I think about my friends, especially the ones in the US or in the Arab world. In a selfish gesture I hope I don't know anybody of the victims, then I feel embarrased for even thinking that.

I fall asleep in front of CNN not even having eaten my dinner. It's going to be a long cold September.

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