So it's that time of year again....

What the hell am I talking about!!!??!!

September the 11th isn't some Holiday, or some day of national mourning, it's just a day. Something tragic happened last year, but the mark of our strength is our ability to move ON, not dwell on what went so terribly wrong.

If anything, the media feeding frenzy and the dissections of the event last year which are becoming more and more frequent are making me sick of the thought of it. How morbid is it to have our media shove the images of two planes hurtling into a couple of tower blocks again, and again, and again?

I got the point the first time, thanks, and so did the rest of us who watched it, and I am 1000% certain that so did those poor people who were involved in that one horrific moment. The fallout from that day has taken months to sift through, literally, emotionally, and physically. That day lead to a war, an increase of international tensions, and a political drama which is still playing out on our screens.


Let's get back on with our lives. Let's stop inflicting the families with recurring nightmares about that day, let's just remember the day personally, and NOT institutionalize and corporatise it, selling it off piece by piece until finally we end up in our shops looking for 9-11 cards for our loved ones.

A lesson learned in trauma recalled

My friend Norm lives in New York, as do I whenever I have a few days' chance. This weekend I took the opportunity to ask him about something that has bothered me for a while. Late last October he told a mutual friend "New York is completely recovered" from the September 11th attacks. It seemed strange to me because I certainly wasn't recovered at that time, and a year later mental health specialists are talking about 10 to 20% of New Yorkers suffering persistent post-traumatic stress syndrome. Such matters have been on my mind again these days, and today I decided to ask him rather than let the matter fade forever.

It seems Norm is actually fed up with what he sees as greed on the part of some people publicly known as survivors of the attacks. He sent me an article complaining about the whining of those who play-act the role of victim for the media. I gather he feels that anyone who doesn't recover rapidly from trauma is purposely dragging things out. For my part, I don't have a TV and really haven't followed those news stories enough to say what the truth is. But I see people around me who have been affected for the long-term by the attacks, and I had my own experience with a form of shell shock this past year. I don't think any of the people I have encountered are "play-acting".

After the attacks I myself suffered from anxiety for, I suppose, the second or third time in my life. For the first two months or so, I woke up four nights in five feeling ill at ease, finding my hands twisted tensely into strange positions, or convinced (until the first 30 seconds of semi-wakefulness wore off) that some highly improbable event had taken place - someone had drilled into the San Andreas Fault and placed powerful charges there and caused a massive and destructive earthquake. Or the sea wall had given way at the World Trade Center site and the subways had flooded and the whole west side of Manhattan had been undermined by the water pressure and fallen into the Hudson. Etc. etc. These events were actually real to me for about 30 seconds each on different nights last October, and there were many others I can't remember now. I felt stupid for having believed them once I became fully awake, but I also felt frightened to have dreamt such things up in the first place.Although I knew I was suffering from shell-shock and wanted to be well, and actually believed I could be well if I willed myself to fortitude, that alone didn't have an immediate effect.

The only short-term help for it was to get out of bed each night at 2 am (or whatever the time was), turn on my non-endocrinally challenged companion, and read obscure international news sources or histories of the New York subway system till I got sleepy again. I also found that a glass of scotch and soda or dry sherry in the evening helped me unwind before sleep, but my stomach doesn't take alcohol well and I haven't made a regular habit of it.

What helped me the most, besides living in New York again for a few weeks over the winter (for life in the city heals all ills), was taking the time to write random stuff on everything2, which seems to have exorcised my legion demons adequately.

But I'm sympathetic to people who can't get completely back to normal. I can't say about professional survivors acting for the media, but I know most of the people I talk to have been affected by what happened, even if they aren't New Yorkers, and there are plainly people who remain more affected than I am now. In the past week I've started feeling a little tense again, but now I see quite plainly that I'm not nearly as tense as a lot of other people around me. Maybe I'm better now because I was worse at first. Anyway, the military seem to have begun protective flights over the DC area again, and yesterday on the shuttle bus home from the University a helicopter passed low overhead and a lot of people turned instantly to the windows and looked up at it until it was gone. I used to feel an irresistible need to do this, but no longer do. And that fact struck me, suddenly, when I saw them doing it.

I wanted badly to start talking to all of them to ask them how they were feeling, but my nerve failed me. We were a few minutes from the end of the ride, so when I got off I addressed the nearest person to me and asked her if she had been thinking what I had been thinking when she heard the helicopter. That was enough to make her voluble about her feelings. She had it, all right. I told her my adventure in the Frozen Area last September 12th, and we chatted a bit about how we felt then and now. I think that little conversation relieved her, and I think I did the right thing. Actually, I'd like to do more of it. Perhaps, as a teacher, I can create some opportunities to do so without too much strain. This semester I am teaching a course on traditional Chinese values, and one important question is under what circumstances Confucius and Mencius think murdering an evil ruler is legitimate. That is plainly a current topic, so perhaps my class and I can cook this dry bone into a rich soup.

Norm is a decent and honest fellow, but he has a very low tolerance for complaints by anyone he judges "privileged", as indeed he considers himself to be. Faced with his strong opinion, I see that I consider everyone's suffering legitimate, and I think that to listen in sympathy is the right way to help people - to help everyone who isn't actually causing that hurt to themselves through self-destructive or self-indulgent actions. It is a question of humility and compassion. Shell shock is, after all, a form of mental illness, and who am I to judge other people's mental illness?

It seems to me that we would be silly to pretend there will be no more attacks - my feeling since the first day has been that this is how warfare will be conducted from now on - and if that turns out to be true, then listening to other people's fears will be a valuable gift in our new way of life. It is a skill that I can improve at through practice, and one that I hope will protect me from relapsing into my own fears.

last day-log entry: July 6, 2002 | next entry: October 15, 2002

I can't believe this.

I can't believe that this actually happened.

I drink too much, and for the wrong reasons, yes, I knew this. Not exactly new news.

I am am alcoholic, yes, I had said this recently, quite a bit, and I even sort of believed it, but I had not acted upon it.

And tonight was proof.

Worked till maybe 10:30 mending tears and cleaning up the Oxford Lectern Bible (writeup to come sometime in the next week), then decided to go over to the campus bar and enjoy the $1 pitchers that they were offering tonight. Took the Bible back to my room, because I didn't want to damage it, and because I was worried about something happening to it. Then went over to Extreme Pizza and put my $1 down for a half gallon pitcher of beer. (Gave the guy a $1 tip, too, been there, sort of, and I know what it is like.)

Walked around, talked with people, had a good time, and didn't really feel the effect of the beer, at all, till I was 3/4 done... and then only slightly.

So I got another pitcher. Another $2, one for the bartender and one for me, and I continued drinking. Gave a dollar to the guy cleaning the table - definitely been there - they deserve it. After finishing that, sharing a little with those who wanted, I got another pitcher.

Yep, a gallon and a half of beer, total.

Sipped, slowly, until some of my friends started talking about leaving. Slowly, casually, poured my pitcher into the pitchers of others.... oh yeah, and during this time, I told T. that his girlfriend was hot as hell, and also L. that she was hot as hell... - and I got L. kicked out, because I was giving her beer and she was underage. They both are, but I wouldn't mess with T's girlfried, S. - it just would not be right. She is so attractive, though. L. is so nice, too...

So, I went to my dorm, then to T. and S.'s dorm, to hang out. Saw T. wrestle with some guy, talked with S., then decided to go back to my dorm...

I ended back in T. and S.'s dorm, in the computer lab, because I had to talk in the catbox - my computer was not starting up fast enough. I said some really stupid stuff, something to the equivelent of "Fuck, I am drunk", and then C!d a writeup, because, well, it seemed cool.

Then I went outside, played electronic games for a little...eventually I went back to my dorm.

Here I am, now.

I am done with alcohol. Now. No more. Period. Tomorrow evening I am going to look into AA meetings on campus. I have proved, time and time again, that I cannot drink in moderation. I have tried hard, starting at just a beer or two a day, but it adds up... I drink more and more each day, and it just fucks stuff up. I can't drink in moderation - I have tried.

So I am done. I am sorry. I am sorry that I have messed stuff up for so long. I am sorry for all the trouble that I have caused. But I am done. I don't know how I am going to do this, I don't know how I am going to deal with the stress, I don't know how I am going to flirt, but this is ridiculous. I am done.

I am sorry to the people here that I have screwed stuff up for. It will not happen again. Or if it does, it will be due to my own stupidity and nothing more.

And I am sorry.

Dealing with stress... I can sympathize with where cbustapeck is coming from. Stress seems to be part of our daily grind nowadays. Got to get the "A", got to get the debt paid off, got to avoid getting shot, got to impress dear old dad, got to get into the right circle, got to feed the kids... it all depends on who you are. Everyone has their own source of stress. No answers from me, just thought I'd sympathize.

Meanwhile, life goes on. I can't believe that I've been here in Boston two years... time has flown by and I haven't really done much for myself except work. Sure, I have my excuses and I have had some good reasons for being the way I have, yet I wonder to myself how much longer I will put my life on hold. I have seen clearly for a while that it is not any external thing that is influencing my life here especially -- it is my choices, my fears. I guess it could be worse. Maybe it is better to go slow than to rush ahead foolishly. Blah blah blah.

Hope everyone has a good week. I know it will be stressful for many because of last year. Hang in there.

Friday, September 6, 2002

Free Show, Mesker Shelter #17
American Terrorists
punk band
School Yard Dope Fiends
punk band

I'm all over it.

Saturday, September 7, 2002

Where the hell is Mesker Shelter #17, or any of them, for that matter? There's a Mesker Zoo ; surely they wouldn't hold a punk concert at the zoo . (Surely, they would!)

A friend and I try to recruit people around campus to go to this free show, but no one's interested. Specifically, we're interested in women, but the one's we're able to get a hold of only want to watch movies. Fuck movies. And we don't even know where this place is, nor does the enigmatic Steve, o RA del second floor, but we leave anyway, in search of sex, sgurd, and rock and roll, and we're not coming back until we've found at least one.

It's six thirty, post meridian, and we're going to the Zoo when we spot a Volvo full of girls. Two in the front, four in the back: a concert car if I ever saw one. They seem to be headed for the zoo. We follow them until it becomes apparent that they aren't going where we'd like. Shit, because now where are we? Evansville. No help there. So I trust my instincts and begin making random left turns--a tactic that has yet to fail me--and lo, we come upon the Zoo once again, a back entrance I almost don't make.

Along a winding road bound by trees and a few bungalow homes, we discuss how this is so not where the hell we need to be. There's a road that branches off, looks like a driveway, we almost take it, thinking it goes where we need it to, but then somebody in a Frankenstein El Camino who himself looks rather bulky in a zombie, shot-gun owning way, turns onto it, and we drive on, relieved.

Free Show says sign number one, hand spray-painted, green on white.

Mesker Shelter #17 says sign number two, carved and crafted of wood and latex paint, yellow on brown.

We have arrived.

Free show. Free punk show. Free.

It was better than you'd think. The bands I remember are the ones listed: American Terrorists and School Yard Dope Fiends. They're really the same band, only SYDF has more class: a very pretty female lead. We found the violence. Three hours and forty-five minutes later , having expended no funds and having had a great time, we leave because the show's over. We stop by the grocery store because we're dying of thirst and pick up some Cream Soda and some Green Tea. I can't find the Green Tea! We head back.

There are unfamiliar girls on our floor in an open room we must pass. This room also contains those people who didn't want to come with us. We brag about what a good, free time we had. We demand they accompany us, one and all, the very next Friday for some hard rock (sgurd, sex). We go to our room, we stowe our stash, and Adam goes back for the talking, while I, I sit down to do a little typing, only to have my computer say to me, GO TO THE WOMEN! . God bless this box.

They have gone frisbeeing, and I must find them. Random left turns, there they are. We frisbee, it's pathetic, special Olympics style, so we quit--it's also midnight. You guys want to walk in the woods? Kevin cops out. The six or so girls agree to walk in the woods with us two guys.

About the time we near the woods along a concrete path, they begin to realise it's dark outside, and will stay that way. I offer to run back and get a flashlight (a valiant offer, given the distance), but they decline. We point out the trail, where it begins, and the dark, dark woods (lions and tigers and bears; Steve: POLAR BEARS). No, five of them are unwilling, even with a flashlight, so we continue on this concrete path. I winds through some treed areas, on which the road is deadly dark, and passes this electrical relay station, or whatever it is. It's sepulchral, and there's a light--like a floodlight--that blinks on and off every twenty seconds. This scares the girls. One nearly jumps into my arms the whole time. Not that I'm complaining. The only one unphased by the obviously demonianiacal light is Jenifer. We're all the way to the end of this path and back, and back at the dorms again. Well, we'll get the flashlight, who wants to go back? Only Jen.

We met this girl when we came back from the concert, and now a few hours later, she's walking through the woods, and we're sharing stupid stories. It goes on like this for eight goddamned hours , which is fine as pie by me, but still, it's odd. I've never spent that much time with someone I just met whose name I can barely remember. We go back to our dorm and we talk. We leave the dorm because my stories about my friends and my prediliction for towel wearing are probably too loud. It's probably Sunday, September 8, 2002 by this time. We go to Steak and Shake where the angry Samurai waitress nearly kills Jen and Adam for ordering shakes (I order a Coke prudently). We leave her a seven dollar tip, but receive no bill. We go to Wal-Mart, we go driving. It's dawn.

The spaces in between, I can't reasonably account for. It's surreal, just spending that much time with a stranger, for some reason, opening up to a stranger. I'm terribly afraid. I haven't felt this alive in so long. So, it's September again in my world.

November is coming. November is coming.

I've got a bird that whistles
   I've got a bird that sings
I've got a bird...
   Well, I worry about that bird
And I worry 'bout everything
   And I worry when I see my subjects
Bow down to the Worrier King

               "Worrier King", Warren Zevon

dance like no one is watching...
work like you don't need the money...
love like it's never going to hurt...

live, love, regret, forget, die.

Two days ago, I was living with my girlfriend when I found out that I truly love her and eventually I wanted to marry her.
Yesterday I lost my job, then came home to find out that my girlfriend has cheated on me with at least two guys (that I know of). I am now homeless, unemployed, and utterly alone.
I think I'm going to do something crazy and poorly thought out like drop everything and move to victoria... live on the streets for a while... fix people's computers to get by... save up a few thousand dollars, maybe see Europe...

honestly, I don't know who I am, what I'm doing, or where I'm going...
September 8, 2002

I awoke this morning wishing I could remember my dream last night, but seems that today almost was a dream. I sat up, opened the drapes of my room on Level 9 of Crowne Plaza Pyramid, Albuquerque. At that moment I decided that New Mexico sunlight is brighter than California sunlight at 7am. I closed the drapes again. After doing the normal morning things and taking a shower, I grabbed my room key and walked towards the door, wearing black slacks and a thin button-down blouse. It was going to be a hot one. Stopping dead in my tracks I picked up an Albuquerque postcard that had been slipped underneath the door. It was un-adressed, unsigned, and unlabeled, containing only one sentence handwritten on the back.

"Do what you love, love what you do, and deliver more than you promise." -anon.

Puzzled, amused and grinning, I tucked the postcard into my grey notebook and headed towards the elevator. As soon as I stepped out on the ground level, two security guards waved at me. I vaguely recall meeting and spending a few moments with them in the dead of last night at 2:00 AM, drinking coffee. I grabbed myself a cup of English Breakfast tea and sat down next to the huge three tier waterfall in the center of the spacious central lobby area, pulling out the postcard again. I couldn't think of a single person here who'd do that... and so I pondered until my eyes settled on a lone figure writing at a close-by table. He looks up, and instantly I knew it was him. His grey eyes pierce right through to my soul as he starts to speak.

"Good morning."

--it was you, wasn't it..
"Good morning..."

"Beautiful day.. shall we walk?"

--yes, yes, of course.. but, why?

We start to walk in the broad hallways that circle the lobby... quiet in thought.. Until we reach the gift shop and stop to examine the postcards. Holding one up to him, the one from under my door.. I ask the burning question.

"It was you, wasn't it?"

"Yes, darling.. I saw you here last night cloaked in darkness and quiet. You fascinated me momentarily and I wish you luck in every endeavor.."

--tell me please why are you here, who are you
"Interesting.. but why? I thought no one else was here.."

"Friends come in odd places.. I shall see you again, dear - but now, I must catch a plane to New York."

--why are you holding my shoulders.. hugging me briefly.. kissing my cheek.. leaving. who are you? what are you? name? please?
"Hey, wait! What's your name? Who are you? Do you know me from somewhere?"

"Goodbye, sweety. I am grateful to have met you. Watch out for the world and for yourself."

--and now you're gone. what the hell just happened?

Deep in thought and more confused with every second, I head down the hallway once more, stopping into the Business Centre to lose myself in technology for awhile. I push the last few moments to the back of my mind, and proceed to return emails and finish up the most urgent things for work. As I am sending my last email to my company's branch in Cambodia, I hear a loud announcement being repeated in the distance. Closing all programs and opening the door of the Business Centre, I heard the last announcement but couldn't hear what it was saying.

Walking out into the lobby, I notice the entire place is empty. Reaching the front door a security guard shouts to me to get out of the building now... it's an emergency. I find myself walking quickly out the doors with a barefoot girl by my side, close to my age and height. We're told to go to the far side of the parking lot... over a thousand guests are over there already. We reach the huge crowd and see a man standing higher than everyone else, talking. It was hard to hear his words... but I caught some of it.

"Do not panic, pull yourselves together... There was a bomb threat, we needed to evacuate... This is just someone having a problem with themselves... and we can be calm about this. Look at this as an experience, we all have something to learn..."

He talked for a long while... my ears were ringing with his words.. "A bomb or other devices may be in the building.. stay calm.." It was easy for me to keep my cool and to stay calm outwardly.. and my companion in bare feet found her family. I head towards my grandmother's car.. to find a phone thrust towards me.

Achromatic is on the phone, asking how are things. I laughed, said things were interesting here... he said he heard.

After talking a for a bit with wonderful Achromatic, I discovered the crowd was in the middle of Darshan, and I was told I should go participate, so I did. I received blessing from the man who had been speaking and then we decided to maybe go for a walk, get Starbucks. On our way out of the parking lot, I noticed an older teenage boy smiling at me from the back of a police car and a bomb squad running into the building. The short walk to Starbucks was pleasant and the Iced Latte was even better.

Figuring we wouldn't be let into the hotel for awhile - we decided to go to India Palace - an East Indian restaurant not far away. Every once in awhile distinctly foreign foods find their way into my diet. The buffet was something incredible...

Later in the day, things were back to normal and checkout was fast, simple. On the road again...

Midnight in another state, I stop for gas on the Historic Route 66. It is an American-Indian looking town called Gallop. Worn out looking, crumpled up and thrown in the dirt a bit... Gallop had a lot to be desired and made me realize what kind of paradise I live in. A red bumper sticker saying "" caught my eye and I think to myself that I could never live in a place like this.

"I realize now that I have to be sensitive to that fact that you're dumber than me." -anon. (appeared handwritten in my grey notebook today as well)

The road greeted me in silence and proceeded to not care who I was, what I was wearing, whether I was cute, knew too much, had friends, or cared about anything at all. The open road has a certain raw appeal that could attract almost anyone...

California is calling my name.

Yesterday’s post brought an absolutely unexpected surprise, a package emblazoned with the line, "You may have already won!". Of course I tore into it immediately and found that I had in fact won The Great Grand E2 Cookie Lotto. Crunchy chocolate chip oatmeal walnut cookies courtesy of qousqous! And they arrived the day before my two-year Noder Anniversary! Somehow it all contributes to the spirit of the project I had set aside this special day for . . .

Irregular Zymurgy is pleased to present Sneffelicious Dark Ale - batch number 02-7

Rumor has it that our very own chef d’cuisine used to be quite the homebrewer. After a few conversations with him on some of my previous brews, we decided to attempt

the First Ever E2 Intercontinental Brewing Happenstance
You can be a part of this too!
Read the Node by Mad Dog Fargo
Brew the Ale with sneff and ouro
Drink the Resultant Goodness

    This morning, as on every episode, we take our five gallon stockpot and set
  • gal filtered water to boil with
  • 1 tsp baking soda.
    In a separate medium-sized pot, we dump
  • ¾ lb crystal 60L malt,
  • 1/4 lb chocolate malt, and
  • 1/4 lb black patent malt into
  • ½ gal filtered water
    and bring them to about 180 deg F. Hold this temperature for about 30-45 minutes. What we are doing is pretending to mash the malted barley ourselves by soaking the crushed malt to bring out the starches and the enzymes that the germination produces that would convert that starch to sugar. Once the larger pot is at a boil, strain the contents of the smaller pot into the larger. Sparge with about a pint of water. Add to the large pot,
  • ½ cup molasses and
  • 5¾ lbs amber malt extract,
    stirring all the while so that it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot. After the pot returns to boiling and has been allowed to boil about 20 minutes, we add
  • 2 oz Fuggles hops.
    After 30 minutes of boiling to let those hops flavor the wort, we turn off the stove and throw in
  • 1 oz Cascade hops
    to steep 15 minutes to add aroma. We strain out the hops, pouring the wort over ice to speed its cooling. In a couple of hours we decant the bucket of wort into a carboy and pitch in Wyeast strain #1024 “London Ale”.

Update Tue Sept 10 2002

Sometimes the yeast just doesn’t take. The darker ales sometimes take longer to begin to ferment, but it’s been 48 hours and there is no action in the carboy, neither flocculation on the surface of the wort nor any carbon dioxide venting off through the air valve. I fear that the wort was perhaps too warm when I pitched the yeast and the high temperature killed some or all of it. This has happened to me once before. I keep a packet of champagne yeast on hand against this very situation. The 5g of dry yeast go into a couple of mils of water (suddenly we’re in metric!) and after 5 minutes it gets poured into the wort. If this doesn’t kick off fermentation, the whole five gallons will have to get boiled again to kill anything that might have grown in it, and then more hops to replace the aromas that would get changed by the boiling. I hope it doesn’t come to that.

Update Mon Sept 16 2002

The ale seems done with its fermentation. I decant it into three bottles and a keg. The bottles are for tasting the ale as it conditions. The keg is going to Portland.

Update Sat Oct 12 2002

Noders are thirsty following teh nodeslam. This keg doesn't stand a chance of seeing the morrow.

Fortunately the hairdresser, Steve, is one of the type that recognize that I would rather gnaw my own arm off than engage in conversation while my hair is being cut. On the other hand, he might be a mute. The sum of conversation during the procedure is:

  • Discussion of style of hair:
    Him: (waving hand by my ear) Mmmh?
    Me: Yes. I think so...
  • On completion of the task:
    Him: (flashing hand mirror behind my head so I can glimpse my right ear, the back of my neck, and part of a tuft of hair) Uh?
    Me: Ah, yes, that’s, uh, good.

Sitting down, I realize that this is the first time I’ve been in in front of a mirror for more than about two minutes in months. A quick glance reminds me why - my face has the greyish pallor of people who only go outside for ten minutes a week, and corpses. After that I steadfastly avoid looking in the mirror.

As I sit there, I start to plan out a node describing my experience, creating a horrible stream-of-consciousness-paradox thing, so I have to avoid thinking about that. My mind wanders to other things of e2, and, as I always do in situations like this, I think of something funny, grin like a maniac, manage to get my face straight again, then think of something else hilariously funny, grin like a maniac - and so on. I must look completely insane. It’s a good thing I’m not looking in the mirror.

Eventually the task is complete and I look up at the mirror again. And do you know what? It looks really bad. I look not unlike a chipmunk, albeit a slightly longer-haired version than would usually be found in nature. Just like last time Steve cut my hair, actually. Ah well.

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