Inside my head, the bags are already being packed.
The carpet of my mind, ripped up and rolled away, to make room. . .

for new experiences, in a land far away, where the world is innocent and old, and real.

Inside my head, my boss is already looking
for someone new to train,
and someone else to bitch at about all the things for which he doesn't want to be responsible.

My coworkers will all say that they admire what I'm doing, but they will never admit they are just afraid of turning into someone like me.

Inside my head, the world spins and resolves itself into a new answer to an old riddle, and the escape appears before me like a welcoming child.

"Come and play with me!" the orphan calls. Escape is the easy way out for me, but maybe it is the hard way out for everyone else.

Inside my head, I want to be told that I am needed someone far far away from here. Where my two hands are needed. Where my back may be burned in work under a new sun, that speaks a language far different from my own.

The sun that I long to meet speaks the language of the curry and rice fields, and knows nothing of cotton and corn-mash whiskey.

Inside my head, my fingers are pulling apart boards, to be built into new homes, with new foundations, to cover old heads and young alike. The dirt beneath the nails in my mind is the land of a country currently bathed in sunlight and tears.

My shoulders call out that they are bored with the life I have chosen, and they long again for the toil of work that lasts as long as the sun is in the sky.

Inside my head, I am already in the middle of the breakout.

God grant me this favour? Let me follow this dream inside my head. Let it become my reality.

Monday, January 31, 2005

I grew up.

Today I had the following conversation with the psycho, immature girlfriend of one of the cokeheads waiters with whom I work.

"Are you married?"
"Are you kidding me?"

"No, I'm not married."

"Do you have a girlfriend?"
"I used to."

"What happened?"
"I grew up."

"Oh, one of those relationships."
"No, not quite. But close."

Tonight was a bad night. I had another server ask me why I didn't like her. I told her I didn't like anybody. At least it made her laugh.

I've given up any pretense of not offending my fellow employees. And appearantly that doesn't matter in the least. I have a feeling that next weekend isn't going to go as well as we all hope it will. We'll see.

[Hindsight-o-matic: I was totally wrong on that call. We made bank.]

I had a manager jokingly question my sexual orientation, so that was entertaining. I have considered, more than once, faking complete homosexuality while working there. The downside is that there are a couple of stylish and attractive young (single?) gay men that actually visit the place and I'm afraid one of the other employees would try and set me up on a date.

I have enough trouble as it is, thanks. A shakespearean comedy of confused sexual leanings and mistaken identity is the last thing I need right now.

Later in the evening, the same psycho-girl asked me why I wasn't nice to people, and I asked her if she remembered what I'd said earlier.

"I grew up."

She said that seemed like a lousy reason to become an asshole, and wandered off to find someone nicer to harass.

I mumbled "Well, it got you to go away, didn't it?" and went back to work.

I think I would make a terrible parent. I appearantly have no patience for children.

I think I'm actually becoming the bitter person I set out to become summer before last.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Family runs deeper than Blood.

Ok, so now the update system works.

go figure.

To repeat what I said in the 'update' edited into the last post:

I got a letter from John today. He's my brother, after a fashion. He's in Bandah Aceh doing relief work for the Tsunami. It sounds horrible to say it but I'm wired up to be in places like that, and it is killing me that I'm here. I asked him to call for me in my last e-mail, and hopefully when he reads it he'll tell me who to contact to start the process of going there. I need to be involved in something like that. My life these past months has become completely devoid of any depth or purpose. Maybe spending some time doing something that matters will help me.

I sure hope so.

If I were to have a long-lost twin from whom I was seperated at birth, there are days that John would be it. It's scary the ways we realized we were similar while we were roommates last year. I miss him a lot. Of course I miss the other boys too, Justin and Jesse and William and Sean too, if I reach farther back into memory. But John I seem to miss most of all.

May God protect you John. May his blessings be upon you. And may I see you again soon, and I say that though we are surrounded by the devastation of the end of days itself, there will be joy in our reunion.

Sometimes "Family" runs deeper than blood.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Sick, Sick, Sick.

Update, 1030 pm: work was interesting. Thankfully I only had to stay 'till 6. Working a full shift tomorrow but I already feel well enough that I think I can handle it.

I got a letter from John today. He's my brother, after a fashion. He's in Bandah Aceh doing relief work for the Tsunami. It sounds horrible to say it but I'm wired up to be in places like that, and it is killing me that I'm here. I asked him to call for me in my last e-mail, and hopefully when he reads it he'll tell me who to contact to start the process of going there. I need to be involved in something like that. My life these past months has become completely devoid of any depth or purpose. Maybe spending some time doing something that matters will help me.

I sure hope so.

I am vey, very sick.

Total amount of food I've been able to keep down since 1PM yesterday? 1/3rd of a bowl of Cheerios, and a Peanut Butter and Jam sandwich.

No energy, no vim, no vigor. Extremely dehydrated.

Leaving for work in 40 minutes, to work until at least 5:30, and then maybe as a waiter as well.

*this* should be good.

There's a Rose in my Trashbin?

Is it bad that I can commit to permanent memory a 6 or 7 digit number without much effort or repetition?

What would those braincells do if they weren't tirelessly storing my login numbers which I'm too lazy to change, or the phone numbers of people I will never again voluntarily call? Probably help me write poetry that doesn't make cats spontaneously combust with wretchedness upon the utterance of it.

(no, I don't read my poetry to any pets, especially not cats. The fear that they might actually burst into flame or explode is part of the reason).

I'm having one of those 'off' days.

I like being secure in my superiority, but lately I've been both less secure and less superior than normal. Which is odd because I've basically gotten to the point where if ignorant people tell me I'm wrong, I tell them to fuck off, then break all contact with them if they are unwilling to demonstrate some humility.

I mean, doesn't that *sound* like the Modus Operandi (look it up, I'm too lazy to link tonight) of a secure, elitist asshole to you?

I dunno, maybe I'm losing my edge.

Tonight at work was odd, because we were busy, and it was thursday, and we're usually never busy on thursday. So not-busy, in fact, that I have plenty of time to pimp the special-du-jour, which is a very tasty surf-and-turf dinner with--[slap]

Ok, sorry, I'll shutup about the special. My point is that I didn't even think about the fact that we *had* a special tonight until just now, because there were 60 bankers in my bar, all drinking on seperate tabs, and half of them ordering expensive or complex cocktails that are really just excuses to say aloud "I'd really like to get laid more often, please" via innuendo without the people around you laughing.

Anyway, it was a long evening, because my bar isn't really set up for busy, fast moving crowds and two bartenders, it's set up for me. So having two bartenders and a fast-drinking crowd really made things less-optimal than they should have been.


So I come home, a bit wired and a lot tired and kindof just 'off' and someone who I was pretty sure had finally admitted that she's always been sick of me, even when she really thought she wasn't, has left me a note saying she wants to talk to me.

Which is, to say the least, a bit disconcerting. I compare it to finding a whole, healthy rose growing from your trash bin when you go to throw away a copy of Awake! that some missionary for a religion that sounds frighteningly similar to what you believe (except that you're not into, y'know, cults) left at your house.

What the hey? Yes, it's really is a rose. Yes, it's really alive. Yes, it's really your trash bin. Yes, it appears to be sweet-smelling despite having roots entwined in old-kleenexs and a banana peel.

You must confirm all these things, although they are self-evident, one by one, before you can even tackle the messier, bigger questions of "why?" and "how?".

And more importantly, what is the appropriate response? It seems too absurd an event to simply ignore. It's not like you can just slam the lid down on the trash-bin and let the damn thing starve for light in there until Thursday, when the dustmen will come and take it away without a second thought. It's a rose for crissakes, not a damn weed or a copy of the Penthouse Forums XI that some inconsiderate neighbor left in your bin so it wouldn't be discovered by his wife.

I mean, can you really be expected to attempt an extraction of this rose? What if it is used to trash? Can it live off regular soil? Will attempting to transplant it merely kill it, or will the plant (which is obviously opinionated enough to survive) merely be offended and crawl back into the trash-bin (or worse yet, your sock drawer) under the cover of darkness?

Besides, the last three plants you had, (real ones, the kind you buy at the store) all died, and they were normal healthy water-and-sunlight sort of things that you should have been plenty able to handle. What if you just get this one out, only to let it die a grumpy death like the others? Once it's given up the ghost what will you do with it? The ultimate irony is that you might throw it out, and then it would be back in the trash. Could this create a vicious cycle? Will this rose haunt you until you move, dying and being reborn in the bin each time? Might it become sortof creepy it-won't-go-away flaura-based-pheonix that you'll just have to live with, like a crazy relative that pops up at the most unexpected times in December with useless holiday gifts and a bad joke about reindeer?

And if you don't attempt to save it, can you tell anyone? I mean, it's a story worth repeating: "I found the strangest thing in my trash-bin yesterday. . ." --but that's hardly worth starting if you can't go on to say "oh yes" when everyone asks, with great interest, if you kept it.

I mean, certainly some response more in-depth than -- "huh." [shut lid, shiver, plod back inside] -- is appropriate for such a random event.

I think my mind is wandering, but perhaps all this pointless rambling has made clear in what an odd position I feel myself to be.

I suppose I just leave the lid on the bin open and let the thing sort itself out. Maybe that's for the best?

[Hindsight-o-matic: Appearantly the Rose left on its own.]

I didn't like it.

Reguarding the last entry: which I posted only an hour or so ago.

I didn't like it. So I took it down.

I hope you don't mind.

In other news: I got a phone call today.

*tap tap tap*

*pause, mute speakers*

"Yeah, come on in?"

Mother in doorway: "Uh, it's [your Ex-Girlfriend of 16 months.]"

me [bizarre, confused, "why?" expression]: uhhh. . . ok.

For the record, this marks the first time we've spoken since August, when she said "see you later" and I said "probably not." And the last time we exchanged commentary on an instant messenger service a few weeks ago, one of her last comments was "[That last time] I got tired of trying to pretend that your presence wasn't making me want to shoot myself in the face...

So I snap myself from my confused reverie and pick up the phone.


"Hey, I'm putting together a portfolio for Huntingdon, and I'm looking for some photographs of myself. And I was wondering if I could have some of the ones I gave you back?"

I briefly wonder whether she knows that I kept many of them up long after we broke up, and is simply weirded out enough by it that she has decided to screw up her courage and try to get them away from me. Then I realize that's silly, and even if she does, what does it matter? I can give her some of the pictures I have. One of the ones she liked best I always thought was pretty poor anyway.

"Uh, sure. . .well, wait. . ."

I draw out the pause.

"I think most of them are boxed up and buried. . . in the workshop."

[worried pause]. "In Macon?"

"Oh, no, here, but underneath 5 feet of other stuff. I couldn't dig them out if I wanted to, I don't know where they are. Oh, but wait, I might have a couple here left in the room."

I have a box where I file paperwork, like a single-drawer filing cabinet. 4 or 5 years of my life, professional, academic and personal, have wound up in there in various forms.

I chat about school, and why all my stuff is in the workshop (I'm remodeling my bedroom into an office for my parents after I move out again this summer) and other unimportant things while I'm thumbing past "Bank stuff" and "JEEP" to get to a divider marked "Nostalgia" and pull out a manila folder on which my nearly illegible handwriting spells out "The women I have loved."

If I have any pictures of her easily accessible, they are in here, with the pictures, writings, and miscelany of two others whom I once adored.

"Oh, wait, maybe I have one or two after all."

"Oh, good."

I can tell she's a little relieved, but she's hoping for more. She'd like my copy of the graduation picture. Tough shit, I tell myself, I like the graduation picture.

"A yeah, here's the one of you on the bench" that I always thought made you look bad "and the one of you with the girls in Destin." you remember the Destin trip, right? The one where I spelled out "I love my Kawaii Girl!" on the sand in letters that could be read from the 14th floor where all of us were staying? It was a long time ago.

But what is left unsaid between the words is more than plentiful, and I doubt she thinks back in enough detail to remember that.

"I don't have the graduation one here. I'm sorry, I know you'd probably like that one too."

She tries to make up some bullshit about not being able to get copies of that one without going back to the printer where she had them taken. I hold to my excuse that they are buried and I don't know where. She can always get her parents' copy (larger and in better condition anyway) and get it copied. I don't really care.

"Oh, yeah. Ok. I'm coming up this weekend, and I'd like to start on it"

Of course you would. You're probably already pushing the due-date. I doubt you'll get it done in time. You never were good about that. Too much like me. "Yeah, of course."

"but I don't want to drive all the way out there to your place. . ."

"No, there's no reason for that. You can just come pick them up at work."

"Oh, yeah, where do you work?"

I start to give her directions, then realize I'd rather keep control than be surprised at some random time by a ghost I'm trying to ignore.

"Wait, why don't I just drop them off at your parents' place? I'll be right around the corner tutoring someone on Tuesday. It'll be easier." Plus I don't have to see you and try to act normal, or lie.

"Oh, yeah, that's a good idea."

"Ok. I'll do that then. No problem. Take care of yourself."



Of course I didn't mention the black-and-whites I have of her that would probably be far more fitting for huntingdon. Especially the profile I'm so proud of that reminds me so much of the picture Mandy gave me so very long ago. But I've only got a couple of that one and I don't even know where the negatives are. It's not really my problem whether she gets into this new school or not, I don't have access to a darkroom to develop more, and I'm not giving her my originals.

I have learned to say no. And I've learned to watch out for myself all of a sudden. It occurs to me that it's funny what a sudden, cataclysmic failure to believe in humanity will do for your survival instincts. Should I be glad of this, I wonder?

In other news, I invited Kid to see Stomp with me in Columbus in February. I wonder if she'll accept?

Monday, January 24, 2005

What is Funny -- A serious discussion of humour.

What is "funny"?

Of course, one can always resort to the funny explanation of the funny phenomenon: "Funny Comes from Special Cows" (five geek points to anyone who knows the reference), but that doesn't really answer the question.

I ran across a video(qt) today. I expect it's a leaked or viral advert concept, for the VW polo (Not sold in North America, don't get your hopes up, indie boys and girls.)

Now, theres a quote widly attributed to Mel Brooks that goes something like this: "Tragedy is when I stub my toe. Comedy is when you fall down an open manhole." I must admit this is pretty much true. If you unintentionally fall down three flights of stairs like an auditioning reject for a movie needing a Chris Farley impersonator, odds are, even your closest friend will laugh at you. You, meanwhile, will only shriek in agony and beg for ice and medical bandages to be brought to the scene as quickly as possible.

But I firmly believe there is more to funny than just watching other people do stupid or painful or embarrassing things.

So what else is there?

Isaac Asimov was a writer with a book in every category in the Dewey decimal system. His work included a book called "Isaac Asimov's Treasury of Humor" and it is filled with and writing about humor, delivery, and the after-dinner funny story, which is the format most of the jokes use.

In the Treasury of Humor, Mr. Asimov says ". . . the one necessary ingredient in every successful joke is a sudden alteration in point of view." He calls it the Anticlimax, and says that this sudden drop or rise in mental location is what creates the laugh in a joke with a punchline.

I say that the definition of humour can be even more generalized than just the anticlimax description of a joke's punchline. I think that humour lies in juxtaposition.

Humour, is most funny when it causes us no harm, but creates a careful contrast between what is and what should be, or what shouldn't be and what should. For example, much of Monty Python's Flying Circus work is the most basic of juxtapositions. One may remember the Flying Circus episode with the forest scene filled with animals. Throughout the episode the scene, peaceful and serene, would appear, and then there would be a blinding flash and one of the animals (I believe a rabbit was first to go) would simply explode like a miniature grenade. No explanation, lead-in, or plot. But still most people laugh compulsively on the spot.

Despite the fact that the video I linked to above mocks a most serious modern issue (Terrorism), and involves a death, the juxtaposition of a car-bomber failing miserably at his attempt, the people outside calmly continuing with their tea, unaware that their lives would have been threatened, and the car remaining perfectly unharmed from the outside is so odd, so strange, and so out-of-place with what we know, that we are drawn to laughter.

Humour is juxtaposition. Entire movie scripts have been written around this concept. Look at Down to Earth or Mrs. Doubtfire or Miss Congeniality. This absurdity of the person assuming a different persona is always good for a laugh.

So there it is. My theory on what makes humor funny. It must be the contrast of a surrealism with reality.

And if any of you were wondering about that Cow reference at the top? Here's the answer. Just read the five page links in the body.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Gentlemen Shake Hands.

And we're back.

Allow me to rant, briefly.

For those of you that don't know, I work in a restaurant as a bartender.

As a Bartender I'm proud of three things:

1) I know the Abalama law as it applies to any liquor-serving establishment.
2) I can pour an 1.25 oz shot, or a 2 oz shot, freehand, consistently.
3) I can make a damn fine martini.

There are lots of things that I still have to learn as a bartender. I need to get faster. I need to improve my knowledge of drink lingo and recipes. I need to be more pro-active in my transactions with the customer, etc. But those three things above are things I am proud of, and I can prove to anyone willing to pay attention.

Tonight I had a girl who has worked as a bartender/waitress for years tell me that I couldn't fit 2 0z. of liquid and ice in my rocks glasses. I measured her a 2 oz. shot on the spot and proved her wrong.

But that's not what I'm ranting about.

Where was I?

Oh yes.

First I will quote, in its entirety, Section II, paragraph 4 of Montgomery City ORDINANCE NO. 23-2004(PDF) (ORDINANCE REGULATING SMOKING IN FOOD AND BEVERAGE ESTABLISHMENTS REQUIRING THE DESIGNATION AS SMOKING OR NON-SMOKING.) which went into effect on the first of January, 2005:

"For establishments designated as SMOKING, smoking by patrons shall be allowed throughout all enclosed areas generally occupied by patrons. No person under 18 years of age shall be admitted on the premises of an establishment designated as SMOKING as a patron or employee, and it shall be unlawful for the owner, business agent, manager or other person having control of any such establishment to admit any minor under 18 years of age to the premises as a patron or employee."

Now, allow me to speak briefly about the restaurant where I work. We have two completely seperate rooms, with seperate HVAC units, a full wall, and self-closing doors seperating our 'Bar Section' and our 'restaurant section'. We are entirely non-smoking during lunch. At 3PM each day, after lunch is finished, we close the doors between the two sections and operate the bar-side of the restaurant under a seperate, secondary business license, which allows it to be a smoking establishment that is an entirely seperate legal entity from the restaurant itself.

Under ordinance 23-2004, quoted above, this means that no person under the age of 18 may set foot in the bar side of the restaraunt during dinner hours. Period. The first violation of the ordinance by us would result in a $100 fine. Any second violation occuring with 24 months results in a $500 fine.

Tonight a group of about 6 or 8 people entered the restaurant and asked a waitress to be seated on the smoking side. The group included one boy in his early teens, probably 14 or 15. They were told by the waitress that they couldn't be seated in that section since their party included a minor.

All of this happened without my knowledge. I was asked by the waitress, after a man in the party got insistent, to come speak to them. At the time my manager was in the deep freezer, and I didn't know where he was, so I went to talk to the party.

I walked up to the man making the most noise and introduced myself, extending my hand, using my full name, and explaining that I was the bartender and asking how I could help them.

The man refused to shake my hand, and proceeded, with great bluster but very poor dignity to insist that he and his party be seated in the bar area. I turned him down, as politely as I could, and after a great deal more bluster on his part, as well as some digs at our level of business and mention that we were "turning away a 250 dollar ticket" he rounded up his party and they left. During this time I was told several times that there "was no such law" (It's not a law, it's a city ordinance) and that I "didn't know what I was talking about" (My Owner/Manager was on the committee that drafted the ordinance and I have read it personally, thank you).

They seemed like nice people. He was frustrated because it was late, and he had wanted to treat his son and family to a nice dinner, and have a smoke, and he was being turned away. Certainly I can empathize with his frustration. However, he was also completely ignorant of the ordinance, and instead of accepting information about it, he denied it's existence and insisted loudly that he was a lawyer and I was wrong.

This is not a time that I will plead for people to act with more tact or humility in the future. People will always be tactless assholes when they want to be. That's humanity. I've met very few who don't qualify for that title on some level at least once in a while.

But that is never, ever an excuse to turn down a chance for a civilized handshake. This is America*, and even during conflict, Gentlemen shake hands.

That, more than any other part of the interaction with him, irked me. Simply put, it is incredibly poor manners to refuse a handshake offered by anyone, let alone someone who has gone out of his way to speak to you and attempt to resolve a grievance you are expressing. It is undignified and poor form.

*I very much want to insert a "dammit" at this point.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Behind the Masks

To my 312 buddy: if you don't want this left up, drop me a note or an e-mail and I'll take it down.

There are some things going down over at Behind the Masks, that, if you're a student of humanity, you might find intriguing. The Author of BTM and I have known each other for several years.

In a lot of ways we're opposite sides of similar coins. We aquire the same degrees but I go crazy while I'm getting it, but have a great plan for what I'll do with it in the long run. BTM knows exactly what to aquire, but hasn't a clue what to do with the degree after getting out.

The author is a good person, and a strong leader, and the writing is taking place in a space that is marginally anonymous (as anonymous as any blog is, really), and so it reveals some strength of character and some wisedom that the writing is what it is.

I'm not saying "Hey, go read the work over there because it is 100% brilliant" or "Hey, my friend needs readers!" or anything like that. I just think that if you've been reading here for very long, you're probably intrigued by a certain blend of exposition, introspection, and exploration, and I think that is happening at Behind the Masks right now.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

The Ring Piece

I was out wandering about the internet a few moments ago (you know how it is: you're reading content, and wind up taking a jump to somewhere else, and four hyperlinks away from your review of the new Ford Concept Car you find yourself reading about Tibetan Monks), and I ran across something beautiful.

I rarely discuss my political leanings or personal convictions here, because this is a place for my musings and philosophy, not for my politics and my religion.

But if we were to be applying labels in order to attempt to clarify, I am a heterosexual, fundementalist christian, libertarian.

I've touched briefly on each of these concepts in the last 11 months.

I don't plan to discuss them any more here, except to say that I found the piece I linked to above to be beautiful and poetic and sweet and kind and earnest. I found it to be the sort of statements I wish all of humanity could make in good faith when they enter into a marriage.

The fact that it was written by a homosexual is a non-issue to me. I am aware of it. If it is an issue for you, I recommend you refrain from telling me so, as your assertion will be met with blank indifference and will only waste your time in its communication.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Are Blogs the New E-zines?

When I was 'coming in' to the internet culture, Zines were at their peak and just starting to fade out.

I grew up reading MA-wired and the TheForce.Net, which used to be an E-zine (not even sure what it is now--appearantly it is daily news).

But after the 90s ended and I started Uni, I noticed that sites like Riposte started making more sense, giving different information in a more practical format.

E-Zines like MA-wired were stand-alone websites that ran on a magazine-on-the-web model. They generated or recruited their own content (some good, some bad--heck, I was published in MA-wired, and I know as much about Martial Arts as Aristotle knew about writing with clarity). With that content, either from independent sources or their readership, they usually created a 'publishing schedule' and would then pipe this information to the readership at a fixed time frame (once a week, or once a month, etc).

You waited patiently for your update cycle to end, then checked the site and read all the new articles that interested you. Just like waiting for a magazine to arrive and then thumbing through it.

Now, I think we can all agree that the e-zine is a thing of the past. It was a good way to transition from printed text. It didn't challenge people's standards too much, and provided a comfortable move to internet publishing that didn't scare or confuse the readers. But it obviously was not the best way to drop editorial and news writing on the readership.

In the place of Zines, the Weblog has arrived. These daily-update sources like Gizmodo, Kotaku, OnRobo and DefenseTech are where I go for my information and commentary.

The new system is very different. It provides a different, less-editorial and more focused structure for the news-based Blogs, because they are all really just collection-points. They are mini-portals (to use another 90s word) for news in a specific area. Since someone else is doing the searching for you, you no longer have to waste your time trying to collect all the news on a topic that interests you--just find a blog that focuses on that topic. In addition, the commentary (be it derisive, jovial, or just a little extra info as background) is generally more reasonable and focused because it is attached to a particular news story.

These advantages are great, and make News Blogs a fantastic way to keep up with a sector of industry or particular community. They can be quite handy.

In addition, there are personal Blogs. Rather than an E-zines collection of the month writings of 30 people, you get access to the daily musings of a single person.

In many cases (such as my own blog that you're reading now) I feel these are pretty much useless. They allow you to consider life in general from someone elses point of view, but much like the difference between a photograph and a snapshot, unless you know the author, they are rarely worth your time to investigate--they don't apply to everyone.

There are, of course, exceptions, focused personal blogs. These are doing quite well in certain areas. The first that comes to mind is The Big White Guy blog since he restricts almost all of his writing to one topic - being a Guai Lo (Foreigner) and living in Hong Kong.

These are far more often, like a photographer taking their first shots of sculpture or landscapes, likely to appeal to a wider audience and have a real connection with the readership.

I think that in the long run, America's fascination with having their own soapboxes will continue, and many personal, unfocused blogs will remain, even after the 'fad' fades out, but I think that for those who have some reasonable expectations for their lives and from what they read, they'll stick mostly for focused personal work like BWG and News and Link blogs like Gizmodo. I think their implementation at this stage will shape the future of the non-commercial internet.

I'm intrigued, and even tempted to try and start my own.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Cows, Continued.

Ok, I know that last post really sounded crazy.

Sorry if anyone thought I was just hallucinating in the middle of the night.

We really did have cows in our yard. Appearantly our fence and our neighbors fence both broke, and some of their cows wandered through our property around 4:30 in the morning.

This must have bewildered/frightened the living sh*^#@$% out of our dog, because he of course barked up a storm, waking up my mother. She describes the recognition of a 700lb+ steak meandering through the yard as an istance/object of the Cow class with something akin to wonder.

She woke me, and we stood briefly in the doorway calming the dog and staring with amazement at the cows, which stared at us. They seemed less than impressed.

Maybe that's because the house is the natural habitat for humans, and so it didn't seem odd for them to see us there. For us to see cows in our yard, however, was entirely a different story.

It was a surreal moment. The kind of thing you can't script because it is too spontaneous, or something. I don't know. It was just weird.

In any case, I've got to be up to tutor someone tomorrow, and then its off to work to (hopefully) make a little money on a busy Friday night.

So, g'night.

Maybe I'll post something more introspective later. I doubt it.

Friday, January 14, 2005

We have cows. We shouldn't.

4:44 A.M.

There are cows in my yard.

Please note the time.

Worse yet, they appear to be migrating south.

Cows don't migrate. . . do they?

Thursday, January 13, 2005

"It's a buck."

Before I was born, while my mother was heavily involved in the health-food movements of the late 70s and early 80s, my father was a manager for Hardees.

When my mother's friends through food co-ops, organic grocery stores and health-food suppliers would ask what her husband did for a living, she would say "He's a manager for Hardees", and in return would receive looks of disapproval and shock. In essence, they believed that she was somehow betraying the health-food ideals by 'siding with the enemy'.

And she always said the same thing about it to her friends. "It's a buck." "It's how I make my living, not how I live my life."

Just because my dad worked for a fast-food place didn't mean we ate fast food. In fact it was such a rare occurence for us to eat fast food that we considered it sortof a surreal experience.

Heck, even when we were on the road for months at a time, years later, we would eat cereal and milk for breakfast. The occasional bacon-egg-and-cheese crossandwich was almost a delicacy. That was just life.

Now I'm a bartender, and when I talk to many of my aquaintances, especially certain kinds of aquaintances, I get that "You're working for the enemy!" response. That idea that somehow because I sell alchohol to people, I must be a drunkard.

It's an odd moment for me because I get to use the defense I was raised to accept as valid.

The irony is, now my mom encourages me to tone down my 'bartender' status and simply say "I work in a restaraunt" in certain crowds. Which I can understand to a certain extent. Not giving people the wrong idea is certainly reasonable. After all, that whole "don't make the brother stumble" advice is wise and prudent.

But I often want to turn to her and say "But mom, it's a buck."

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

The Man-Child that lost the American Dream.

There is a Wasteland that we stumble into as we enter our twenties.

We stumble out of the shelter of our parent's homes and we find ourselves homeless. Not unhoused, perhaps, but homeless nonetheless.

What follows is a reflection of that empty space.

The Man-Child and the Wasteland.

"Where, in all of this expanse,
Is a place more real, or a head less empty than my own?

I am searching for myself, but I lost my destination and I realized the map was a crayon-and-napkins construction, very little more. . .

. . .than the slightest figment. . .

of what I once dreamt the world was."

The echoes followed Man-Child through the night,
and into the dawn of another day beyond the edge of what the 'real world' calls the wasteland

--that moment between loneliness and love, that hair-thin line between failure and shame, that space where we are after we've said goodbye, but before the phone has hit the cradle.

In that empty disconnection of dreams and memories, where the only thing that's real is that you've never been this lonely before.

And Man-Child gazed upon the dawn and asked it for an answer, but it refused, instead content to shower him with light and little more.

And Man Child called out into the expanse, and he saw that his voice carried over the pools of water in the wasteland, and from each pool emerged a figure. Some where ghastly spectres of his past. They were spectres of his home, cathedrals and temples and libraries, buildings from which he had wandered.

And some were spectres of his present. Lonely figures that attempted to draw him into their pools, welcoming with open arms and lips and legs and lies. The smell of someone else's hair and the taste of ashes cannot draw Man-Child into the pool, and he finds himself distressingly content to stare into the pools and smile at the polluted reflection his own desperation casts upon the water.

And some others are spectres of his future. The lives of others that have tread a path like his. He can see their footsteps in the wasteland, but they only trace circles in the dust. None of them double back (how could they?) and none trace a line toward the dawn (there is nothing there to chase). Each of them just loops, creating the miniature replica of the lives lived previously to their own.

Man Child thinks he should be afraid. After all, he came here to escape the life he thought he didn't like, but these lazy circles in the dust are less enchanting than the escape had at first appeared.

Is there a lesson for him read, written in the dust? Does life use the footsteps of others to leave us the memos we missed when we were too busy staring at the sky?

Monday, January 10, 2005

Time to start hunting.

I find myself reading the Big White Guy, and staring with fascination at Cloudless.

I really want to go there. Even with all the complaints I hear BWG lodge about the pests and the rodents and the pollution and everything else. . . something about it is screaming my name.

Maybe it's just being away--anywhere.

If so, why don't I pick a more convenient place? Maybe somewhere that they speak my language naturally?

I did like London when I was there. . . maybe I'll consider London.

But no, I want to go farther east. All the way over to somewhere I've never been before. It's time to break some new ground, and some barriers.

I guess it's time to start hunting then, isn't it?

Sunday, January 09, 2005

If you could dream yourself into a new life

"If you could dream yourself into a new life, would you?"

A question I posed to a girl I know.

Imagine that your life is like a chalk-picture in the park. Mary Poppins gives you the option of jumping from picture to picture. Climb out of one a little bit dusty, and clamber into the next. Keep on until you find one that suits you.

Would you do it? Would you keep climbing in-and-out of your dreams until you found a life you dreamt close-enough-to-perfect?

Maybe all you want is a life where you didn't break that vase in 4th grade. A life where your mother said she loved you every day. What about a life where you never told that one boyfriend who failed you so badly that you hated him and never wanted to see him again? Does a life where daddy never left tug at your heartstrings enough to make you cry?

Or would you start to sacrifice the little things to make the searching less long and less painful? Would you settle for one where you didn't scream at him quite so much? Perhaps a life where your mother hugged you more often would satisfy. Maybe it would be okay if daddy just came back after a few months and said he was sorry.

Would any of them still be your life? Is this newness and difference from your current universe attainable?

Would you dream it into vibrance and fullness so powerfully that it would become your life, and become everything you were and are and will be?

Could you dream such a life for those around you? For yourself? Can we dream such lives for one another?

Would you sacrifice the little memories for the big picture? Would you believe in demons and ghosts and hate and pain so that you knew what Angels really looked like?

Dream your life around you.

Saturday, January 08, 2005


When I was growing up, every Epiphany (January 6th, the 12th and last day of Christmas, for those of you that don't know) my family would get Chinese food and have an epiphany dinner.

Really the appropriate fair is middle-eastern, but we usually settled for takeout from the Great Wall. It was close, and we were often too busy in the fallout from the holidays to take the time to cook the meal ourselves.

In addition, my mother and sister and I would write "letters to Jesus". It is sortof an obfuscated way of both performing a soul-search and writing resolutions in one concise package. The letters were sealed after being read, and then the letters from the year previous were opened and read.

It was interesting, and the things we wrote in the previous years letters were often funny, either for their shortsightedness or for how pathetically we had failed at them. We were human, and not only did our reach often exceed our grasp, but our dreams often far exceeded the bounds of practicality, or even physics.

We haven't managed to maintain that tradition over the past 4 years really. Too much time away, too many distractions. But the tradition is something I remember on this day, every year, and think about.

I think reading those letters from the previous year helped me realize just how much I change in 365 short days, and learning to adapt to the changes of the self is an important skill. Perhaps, if I ever have children, I will encourage them to write such letters in the hopes that it will open their eyes as the writing once opened mine.

It's a good time for memories. I recently re-watched a Charley Brown Special called "Why, Charley Brown, Why?" about a girl in Linus' class at school who contracts Lukemia.

The story takes place between a fall and a spring, so I'll always think of it as a Christmas tale, in a way. Since my grandmother died of cancer just a handful of days ago, it was a bit closer to the mark than it has ever been before.

It's a great piece of work, very honest and authentic. I don't doubt that the team that put it together were proud of what they did. They certainly should be. Watching it brought back memories of childhood and realiziations of adulthood that reminded me about some of my own past that was very worth remembering.

All in all, despite all the bitterness, this Christmas season has been the appropriate end to my year. The bitter and the sweet mixed together, with melancholy and solitude being the primary features. . . it describes the feeling that this whole year has had for me, very well.

But every January 6th, I'll be damned if I don't get the strongest craving for General Tso's chicken.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

The Familial Prayer

As an afterthought to my recent musings, I think I'll catalogue all the ways my family's Christmas has sucked.

But first, let me dredge up something from my past. Long before I began writing all is well I kept my various musings recorded in random text files scattered around my hard drive. This one is called "Mental Cigarettes" and is one of the first things I wrote after the death of my Granddad in August, 2000.

Mental Cigarrettes.

I lost my Grandad today. On my mom's side of the family. Actually, he died yesterday, but I didn't learn of it until this morning, around 9 or 10 AM. He was, I think, one of my favorite people. He was a great man, the kind they don't make anymore. He was honest to a fault, controlling, belligerant, grumpy, and just generally an 'hostile elder' (as Crankshaft put it in todays paper). But I said something about him a long time ago that still rings true, and did for all of the 17 years I knew him. He was a burnt marshmallow. Well made, crusty on the outside, soft and mushy on the inside. Temepered by fire and filled with love. Of course, if you'd told him that, he would have laughed and said in his normal gruff, military tone "like hell I am!" and laughed. Or something remarkably similar. But you know, that if he'd heard that (mom may have told him about it,long ago, I'm not sure) I know he would have been honored.

He was, in essence, some sort of huge, grumpy Santa Claus, and if there was a Kris Kringle, I'd be a lot happier knowing he was like my Grandad than some smarmy, cheerful, gullible coot like he's portrayed in Coca-Cola Advertisements and children's films.

It's interesting, actually. It's like he choreographed his death. Not that you can induce a heart attack without some hard-to-find drugs and some serious work, but it seems as if he planned it. He was at my Uncle and Aunts house with his wife for the weekend, and a worry of ours (his especially, I'm sure, though he never voiced it) was that he didn't wish his wife to be alone with him when he died. That sort ofthing is trying, and while he was the type to impose anything he felt like on anybody, he also knew what it meant to worry about people you love, and didn't want her to go through that. It was a wonderful day, he was outside, he'd been productive, without destroying his already damaged and painful knees (he was Mowing with a riding loawnmower), and he'd just had a beer. No one was watching, so there was no embarrasing or tearful death scene (he would have hated that). He would have said it was "A damn fine way to go." and left it at that. When I think of him, dead or alive, it doesn't effect me much, but when I start thinking about the way he talked, and laughed, and what a great grandfather he was, it messes me up something terrible. Right now I can hardly see the screen, so I guess all these years of not having to look at my hands when I type are paying off. When I think about his actions, his mannerisms and his character, is when it really gets to me.

When someone you love and have respected for years dies, and it's someone you only see on a weekly or monthly basis, rather than daily, it's hard to really believe that they're gone, even when you know full well, logically, that they're dead. Your brain sort of cruises on autopilot calmly stating the facts and telling you "They are gone, you won't see them again." and your spirit, the part of your body you are actually paying attention to is sitting there, thinking "nah, it's just a longer stretch between visits now, right? I mean, he'll be back sometime, won't he?" So, you smoke Mental Cigarettes. I noticed these this morning when I got up and mom told me (much like her dad would have) that he was dead, in a simple sentence. I dealt with it them. It wasn't difficult, I just listened to all the facts and reacted the way that seemed natural. A little voice in the back of my brain was still shouting, of course, that I was supposed to break down, or be depressed, or something, but there were things to be done and discussed, so I smoked a mental cigarette by considering what would change in the coming weeks. He had offered to help me move to Macon, and that would now have to be changed. There would be a memorial service, maybe two, since most of his "buddies" still live on the beach in Florida. That would have to be scheduled for, planned around, etc. So I puffed on these things, and knew that I'd have to deal with the real part of my thoughts on the matter later. Which I guess, is what I'm doing now. It's almost 1PM, so I've only known for a few hours yet, and I hadn't cried until just now. And I guess, in my own, "manly" (*bitter voice in head* "ha!" */bitter voice*)way I've had my 5 minutes of tears for one of the greatest men I know and I'm allowed to go on with life now right. He would have told me to in his normal gruff way. "Go, sport, you've got a lot of work to do. You haven't got time to sit around morning old buggers like me." Those wouldn't be his exact words, but they'd be awful close.

I was lucky, I guess. I saw him last Wednesday, just four days ago. He was happy. I've had the honor of seeing him at least once a month (usually more) for the last year or so, which has been wonderful.

He would have been happy with the heart attack. He had Melanoma Cancer, and he was being carved on a few times a year,once a part of his neck, then the back of his head, etc. etc. He wouldn't have liked to die over the span of five years, waiting to see what part of him they'd have to cut out next. Over the last two or three years (since he discovered the cancer) he really had a good time. He went on a few cruises, enjoyed the company of his family and really refused to act like a dying man, instead acting like a man determined to have a regular, normal life. I don't know if he even had a recent will in order. The last one is probably 10 years old, at least. He wouldn't have cared much I don't think. He has a lawyer for a daughter, a lawyer for a son-in-law and a determined wife (already well-off from her own work) who will worry about all that for him. There, that was another mental cigarette. I guess my breaks finished. He wouldn't want me raving on for hours about him anyway, though I could, easily. He was the kind of person that every family should have at least one of, because they have a character that you can't find anymore. I loved him very much.

PAG, August 2001.

With that out of the way. . . My grandmother died last night.

We've been expecting it (generically) for a few years, and actually planning on it for about a week. She was diagnosed with lung cancer in the spring of 2002, (Has it been that long?) and ever since it's been the normal on-again-off-again battle that cancer always becomes. In mid-december I saw her at a party, she was feeling well and was very happy. It was a blessing for us all. But by the time morning came, she was having difficulty breathing again, and they returned to Philadelphia to seek further treatment. She's been there since the week before Christmas, and she died last night sometime in the early evening.

She was waiting for the New Year.

My grandmother was an amazing woman. She was an artist, with a professional specilization in watercolors that put her work in amazing places, including private galleries in Japan and on the national postage stamps for Bali.

We have several of her originals and prints here in the house and I deeply appreciate being able to relate to professional grade art not just in a disconnected sense, but also as a living effort put forth by someone I knew. She was entirely different from me in many ways. She had an irrespressible flair for the dramatic, which could be both good and very, very frustrating. She was very kind. She had wonderful stories and loved to tell them.

I do not know if it is a result of the fact that I connected less with my grandmother or merely the passage of time that makes it unimportant to me that I distract myself with 'mental cigarettes' as I did when I lost my Granddad. Maybe it is that I had so much more time to prepare (after all, my Grandfather was hale-and-hearty a scant 72 hours before his death, and I saw him in that state, but I have heard much over the last two weeks about Grandma in the hospital and about the plans already begun for a memorial service (my family is nothing if not pragmatic, sometimes to a fault).

But I loved her. She was my grandma, and I will miss her, of course.

In any case, her death taking place this holiday season was one of a handful of things that have made this difficult for us.

My grandfather's second wife (N.), has been having a rough Christmas. Her blood-grandchildren have gone a bit. . . off, and one of them is now in jail (and the family line is appearantly that we hope she stays there) and the other has been kicked out of her mothers house. It has made the christmas season a bit awkward for her.

Of course, my Grandfather's first wife (my blood grandmother) has been dying of cancer, and that has put immense strain on my immediate family since my mother has been part of her caretaking team for the last three years and she has had to spend lots of time with her. My mother came home a few days before Christmas and the day after Christmas she and I drove up to visit my sister in Nashville. My dad joined us later that evening.

In Nashville, we found out that my sister's husband is appearantly trying to give up on their marriage (my sister's second) and felt it would be too awkward to stay. So my sis has also had a difficult Christmas.

The next day, I returned here to resume work, and my parents drove on to St. Louis, but we had been speaking with my aunt and my grandmother's partner in Philadelphia and knew that things with my grandmother were degenerating rapidly.

Sure enough, within 36 hours of arriving in St. Louis, my parents boarded a plane and flew to Philadelphia (leaving a van full of their things in St. Louis) and have been there since Dec. 28th.

So my father's parents got to see their son and daughter only for a few short moments before their visit (planned for a full 5 days) was cut short. So I'm sure they are more than a bit dissapointed as well.

So, Christmas for my family this year, sucked.

To top all that off, I'm absorbing my loneliness like a sponge, and New Year's Eve (far more so than Christmas, which I never really shared with my Ex-Kawaii Girl) made me feel absolutely sick inside - as evidenced in some of my previous writing.

So you might say that live has been a little tough for us as a clan this holiday season. We'll get through it though. We always do.

In fact, in many ways, my Father and Mother and I will serve as the rocks of support and stability for our sisters, brothers, family and friends.

It is our way. We will steady the rocking of the waves, and sooth the storm that rages just outside the door. We will whisper the wind to sleep, and hush the mongrels snarling beyond the walls.

Be restful, and at peace. For we are here, and we will comfort you in your hour of need. It is our calling, it is our meaning, it is who we choose to be. It is what makes us who we are.

But when the mongrels are outside our walls, and the wind howls outside our door, who will comfort us? When the waves crash in upon us and the storm crashes in fury, who will watch over us? For we are lost without a greater power than ourselves.

God be with us, we beg of you. For we are without comfort or shelter or strength and we are in need.

Lord hear our prayer.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

The Bowl of Ashes

Listening to a combination of Air, Phillip Glass, Rob Dougan, Ikarus, and Hanz Zimmer is a hard feeling to describe. Especially when it builds on my current mood.

Imagine taking a shot of Happy Vodka and expresso just after having a handful of caffiene buzzed and wired friends show up in a frenzy of goofiness. If you are a social person, imagine they drag you out to a house party or club, if your a geek/gamer, imagine they brought their rigs over and set up an impromptu lan party. Imagine the laughter, the joking insults, and the slightly carefree dissipation of the edge of all that pointless sobriety you deal with every day.

Now invert the sensation you are imagining. Let your soul settle deeper into your self, and let your mind's eye turn inward, and drift down to the murky depths of your loneliness. Let your decisions and resolutions set further still, solidifying who you are until you know beyond any reasonable doubt that more of your defining moments are past than before you now, and your life from this point on is more a series of results than a series of inspirations.

Let the unfinished portrait of yourself, blank swathes whispering promise of what could have been, become your mascot and the most authentic artistic personification of yourself.

Remember that 2005 has begun, and that you're past the age of manhood in every culture in the world now, even America's, where we put it off as long as possible. The rites have all been completed. The payments in blood and innocence given, the wisedom and bittersweet memories that they purchased stored away in the archives of the mind.

You have abandoned or will abandon the demands of your god, the expectations of your woman, and the fashions of your culture.

You will either wither and die from here until the moment your heart stops, or you will find a way to be reborn like a phoenix from the ashes of the chaotic cataclysm that was your first attempt at adulthood. But at present, the later path seems unclear and unlikely.

Will you have the resolve to try to travel it in spite of your doubt? Will you draw from within yourself hope--the one thing you seem to have forgotten was ever in your possession?


Did you hear about the computer monitor's New Year's Resolution?

. . .

It was 1024x768!


So, with the horrible joking aside, yes, I'll admit that I failed at finding any place to go, came back here, and decided to drink a bit, play some games, and maybe watch a movie.

I also decided to post some resolutions here. After all, maybe knowing that a bunch of faceless strangers know I promised to do something will make me more likely to do it.

So, my New Year's Resolutions. And to keep things interesting, each one will be counter-balanced to my fantasy resolution.

To get an idea of what I mean, compare:

Res: Be nicer to people.
Fantasy Res: Kick fewer peasants.

Got it?

Ok, and away we go!

Resolution: Gain 10 lbs (I'm very skinny right now, and I need some of my muscle mass back).

Fantasy Resolution: Gain 2 inches. I may be above average, but a little extra never hurt.

[Editor's Note: "I think I just recieved an e-mail promising this, actually."]

Resolution: Start running and keep it up regularly enough that I can start and maintain a 2 mile run at any time.

Fantasy Resolution: Work up to 2 mile windsprints, daily.

Resolution: Start training again. Nothing serious, mainly focusing on power generation and conditiong, with a heavier focus on brutality and a lighter focus on bullshit.

Fantasy Resolution: Wander the streets seeking out and suppressing violent crime using my blend of martial arts and an arsenal of technological weapons and toys.

Resolution: Eat more healthy food (raw veggies, etc.).

Fantasy Resolution: cut sugar out of my diet completely.

Resolution: Become a connoisseur of all things bar related. Become aquianted with all the drinks I can make and expand my knowledge of both wines and cocktails.

Fantasy Resolution: Drink more alchoholic beverages.

[Editor's note: "Hey, SWEET!"]

Resolution: Find a woman that I can understand, love, and trust.

Fantasy Resolution: Find a woman that I can understand, love, and trust.

[Editor's Note: Hey, admit it, you know it's true.]

Resolution: Become more respectable both at work and in my social circles.

Fantasy Resolution: Develop and become known for my incredible sexual prowess until the money offered becomes so good that I have no choice but to abandon my principles and become a billionare world-traveling gigolo.

Resolution: Be working somewhere outside of the United States before my next birthday.

Fantasy Resolution: Win the lottery and spend a half a decade traveling the world for fun.

Ok, so there ya go. Now I can go about failing with at least half of those without feeling too bad about it.

Saturday, January 01, 2005