thoughts of the week
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1/23/2002 3:45am So many journal entries. So many people talking about this or that crap thing they did the other day. And I'm no different. Well, at least you attempt to amuse, or inform, or instruct. Rarely do you just sit online and complain, or deliver the evening news. Like I'm doing now, eh? But that's the thing. Even this rant has an undercurrent. The mass of online journals blends together. The myriad patterns fade away to an ocean of sour yogurt. Bland variations on temporary themes. Narcissistic spurts of emotion, hardly worth feeling, let alone documenting in lurid electronic detail. How can one transcend cacophony by adding a voice? So this whole journal operation is self-defeating, eh? If I am overwhelmed by words, why create more, even in expressing the thought? Exactly. You think too much. You desire to think too much. So you overdose on the thoughts of other people, crunching them, tasting them. Perhaps your own life is too bland right now, and you want a dietary supplement. Take a break from thought, instead. Maintain your human simplicity, and you will feel better. So it's all about feeling better, huh? I don't want to just "feel better". Feeling better is what people do after they spew out the latest complaint, or self-serving field report, into the online universe in hopes that others will read it. Feeling better is what the little comments are all about, the purging essence of transcribing a frivolous mood. Everyone feels pain, everyone posts, everyone feels better. The next day we finger the digital nets, hungry for the eyeballs of others. Hungry for a response. Social apes want to communicate. They feel better that way. It's not what I'm after. I'm sick of being an ape. Hey, now why the foul mood? What has my underlying mood got to do with the challenge of my dissatisfaction? Is this platform so apparently in need of deconstruction, and unfit for building on? Maybe it's your erratic eating habits, or a lack of sleep. Maybe work has you stressed. Shut up. I'm tired of being an ape. I am not interested in undermining my dissatisfaction. I am interested in satisfying it. But what can I do here, in yet another online journal? Next to nothing, I think. Perhaps I should abandon the entire pursuit. Maybe the cold eyes of an anonymous audience are the last thing I could possibly benefit from at this point, and my personal journey, however flawed, is the only true route to satisfaction. And yet, even that pursuit bothers you. Yes it does. If I am not creating art for yet another glassy-eyed audience, if I am making a real inner journey towards self-actualization, ... what good is my wisdom? Sure, it applies to me, and to my past events, but what about anyone else? When I account for the human potential in all of us, how can I condescend to dispense advice, when everyone is determined to make their own mistakes? So does this mean I should not bother singing? Should I give up trying to express my confusion in words? I have my music, and I have my reasons. Why bother expressing either? It's ape versus ape, and with all the connections I used to think I had with the infinite, I can only bend so many of those back in on myself before I drown in the conclusions of my brief, arbitrary form. Be nice to yourself. Cry on Sundays. Have some chocolate. Fight oppression. Don't smoke crack. Do your share of ape upkeep crap, and keep happy, since culture is moot and history simply peters out. Seek out quality of life, and don't worry too much, otherwise your hair will fall out and you won't get a date. Remember that poster you printed out, of the beer-swilling frat boy projectile-vomiting at a college kegger? Yeah. It said across it, in big embossed letters, "Monkeys doing monkey things." That, I believe, hits this nail on the head, and it rings truer than ever. Los Angeles is proof of concept. Yeah. I need to escape this land, where if you want to read by a creek you need to climb a razorwire fence, and three palm trees around a smog-streaked bush is considered "forest". Heh. So it is bad mood. Yeah yeah. Shut up.
1/3/2002 5:50am So, my friend is frustrated with his dating prospects. On a whim, he called me from his "posh" (read: cramped and shitty but on the waterfront) apartment a while ago, and before long I had an earful of his woe. Which was nice, but I couldn't think of any advice to give, for my situation was much the same. Now, after spending a few days in the far north, talking with my pop, I've formulated some advice to my friend, in the form of a reconstructed conversation between my father and I. The real one was a lot longer, so please pardon the flow problems. I say to him: "You know that time I wanted advice, on how to find someone I liked? And you said 'go where they are'?" "Yeah?" "Well, right now my problem is, there's nowhere I can go. I'm not in school, and I don't like bars, and I can't stand going to clubs or dances alone. There isn't even a local college I can take a sports class in." He nods. "Yeah, see, what you need to do is move closer to a college. You'll probably find more people there that you'd like. See, you're up here." He slices the air with his hand. "Most people are down here." He slices the air lower. "You're not gonna be happy with just anyone. And the way you describe your job, it doesn't sound like you have much chance meeting someone there." "You better believe it. My job is one big social graveyard." "Don't you have any friends down there you can go places with?" "Yes, but the problem is, we don't have enough common interests. ... So there aren't many places I could go with them, where I'd meet people I like." "Oh..." "Actually, I've had more success with my original set of friends, up north. A while ago I was up there and I went to a little in-home concert with a couple of them, and I met someone there. I hung out with her for barely a few minutes, but for some reason she stuck in my brain. After I went home, I noticed she had a bunch of stuff posted online, and I started reading through it, and realized that she was someone I could really like." "Sounds great. What's the problem?" "She lives, like, five hundred miles away!!" "But aren't you planning to move north anyway?" "Well, yeah, that's pretty much my plan. I could stay in the spare room at my friend's house, pay him a couple hundred in rent -- nothing compared to what I used to pay, and probably less than I'm paying now -- and go to the state college and finish my degree. It's just a matter of when. If I could, I'd take off right now." "Why can't you?" "Because I'm still dealing with my bills, I have a bunch of car payments to make, and I'm going to owe the tax-man a lot of money pretty soon." "Ah." "And the job I've got right now pays really, really well. If I were to move north, I'd probably take a 70% pay-cut just for changing locations." "So you probably won't move up there for a couple months, huh?" "Yeah, so, I find myself thinking about this person, and for me the question is, aren't I being a complete idiot for thinking so much about someone who lives so far away? Shouldn't I just go walk downtown and try and meet someone local?" "What, just go hook up with some random person?" "Well ... not just any random person, no." He smiles. "How?" I throw out my hands. "Yeah, that's my whole problem! I meet people I like either through school or friends, and I have neither here! I can't meet anyone local! Hell, I don't even feel like it. All I want to do is move north, but I can't because I need to save money." "Well then. You're not an idiot for thinking about this girl." I set down my drink, and sigh. "But what if I'm just torturing myself?" "Torturing yourself?" "Yeah." He arches an eyebrow. "Explain?" I lean forward, and peer into my drink. "Well, if I start talking to this person, say, through email, and over the phone, ... pretty soon I'll want to drive up and see her, and then I'll want to see her again, and some more, and I'll spend every weekend driving, and wear myself out, and spend a lot of gas money, and probably end up making a mess of things down here, and I'll never be able to move north, and things will only get worse. ... So shouldn't I just try and forget about it, at least for now?" He smirks, and says, "You worry too much." "Well it's hard not to! I don't want to start something that would just be torture for either of us." "Look, it's torture for you right now. You're already worrying. You can think about it, but you shouldn't worry about it -- because no matter what happens, you'll survive anyway." "Sure, I'll survive, I know that. But I just don't want to do something that would waste my time." He sets down his cup and points a finger at me. "Now look," he says. "You're young." "Oh, come on! You've been saying that forever!" "Yeah, and I mean it. You're still young. You're barely even started. I was married eight years, then eight years, and then twenty three years. I could even get married again. I met your mother when I was forty. You've got plenty of time." "Sure, but I want to spend it wisely. So I need to think. When I do these things without thinking, they get messy. I'm tired of things being messy." "Who said anything about not thinking? Think all you want, but don't worry about it." I lean forward with a wry look. "And just what's the difference, exactly?" "If you can't change it anyway, then you're worrying about it." "So how will I know if I can't change something?" He flips his hand. "Try it and see." "Pfft. Thanks." I say. "Well, I've tried to distract myself with my job. I know that doesn't work. I've tried to enjoy living in the south, and so far that hasn't worked. I've tried ignoring my interest in this person. And that's just depressing me." He tilts his head. "Does she even know you're interested in her?" "No, I don't think so." I shrug. "I haven't really stated it yet." "So." he says. "Just tell her what's on your mind." He puts his palm flat on the table. "Just say that you like her a lot, but you won't be close by for a couple more months. Tell her you feel stuck because you want to be with her, but at the same time you're earning good money where you are, and can't afford to leave it yet. Just explain exactly what's going on in your head. If she's the right kind of person, she'll understand. If she's the wrong kind of person, she won't understand, but then -- it won't matter anyway, will it?" And that, I realize, is profound. "Hmmm," I say. He reiterates. "If there is something bothering you, or important to you, you should always say it. Never avoid saying something because you're afraid it might disrupt your relationship. If you say it, and it does, then the relationship needed to be disrupted. And then if the relationship ends, that is fine. You will survive anyway." Because of this conversation I remembered two things. One, I didn't really have anything to be afraid of. And two, my Dad kicks ass. As soon as my phone is back in range, I'm going to make a call. Confidential to my friend in the beach house: I hope you can discern how this conversation applies to you. And, if you want your secret web page to remain secret, embed a robots meta-tag in the top, with the keyword "NOINDEX". You can find details about this almost anywhere online.
12/12/2001 3:54am Let me tell you about a certain type of person you may encounter in life. You may even be this kind of person, or perhaps you already know someone like this. I was like this for a while. I had to put a few things together first, but the pattern eventually became clear. My friend Ñ told me about this woman he knows, who comes over to his house bi-weekly for a haircut. This woman has a boyfriend, an alcoholic attorney who gets mean when he's drunk. He uses his mastery of language to claw at those around him, especially this woman. Sometimes he apologizes for it, sometimes not. Sometimes he goes for a while without drinking. When he's off the bottle, the woman is happy. She talks about how great he is while Ñ listens and cuts her hair. She gushes about how much better they're all doing, and rationalizes his nasty behavior away. Ñ can't fucking stand it. He would tell this woman to get rid of her shit-stained train-wreck attorney boyfriend, but he knows that his words would have no effect. She doesn't want to leave him, because he gives her what she really wants in life. She wants someone to take care of. She wants someone to fix up, and rescue. She wants to be the proud courageous martyr, and so her self-worth is tangled with her alcoholic attorney's moodswings. While I was ruminating on this, I was driving with my friend £, and the discussion veered into relationships. He knew this girl back in high school, and they used to talk about their crazy relationships together. £ decided to share one of those conversations with me. This girl had a boyfriend. He was patient with her, kind to her, and seemed to think the world of her. At the same time, she felt like she wasn't stable with him, though she couldn't pinpoint why. Finally, she realized that it was because he never seemed to need anything. He never crucially needed to share something, never took issue with any of the things she did, never displayed a shade of doubt or poor resolve. And because he never seemed to need anything, there was never anything she could do for him. Then, all of a sudden, he broke up with her. At least, on the surface it seemed sudden. She'd known it was a possibility. She'd known it because she'd felt an imbalance, seemingly out of thin air. A while later, after going over her feelings and seeing other people, she figured it out. The imbalance was ... nothing. Nothing where there should be something. It turns out that this guy had been seeing another woman anyway. Why hadn't he brought it up sooner? It was totally incongruous. Suddenly, he was brimming with anger towards his ex, and didn't want to be near her at all. "She couldn't figure it out for the longest time," said £, "but eventually it made sense. He was one of those people who wants to be the perfect mate, or if not that, wants to appear to be the perfect mate. He had been having problems all along, but he hid them, because they didn't jibe with this 'perfect' image he was building for himself. He was more interested in playing a role than being honest." "When she realized that, she was suddenly furious at him. The last thing she'd ever wanted in a relationship was a false front. It turns out he wasn't a good communicator, he was an excellent actor. No wonder she'd felt like something was wrong, even when everything appeared fine." £ finished his story, and I ruminated some more. A while later, I saw the connection between these two stories. Some people claim that all charitable acts are motivated by greed, by a desire to feed the ego. While I think this is an unreasonably harsh view of human nature, it does explain some behavior very well. If you considered yourself to be the perfect mate, and wanted to go and prove it to yourself, who would you hook up with? There's no point in dating someone who showers you with affection. No point in dating someone who is secure, or self-assured. No, the best way to prove your divinity is to shoulder an imbalance. Find someone who wants love, and give it to them. Find someone who is so completely absorbed in their own problems and weaknesses that they feel unable to return your love. Stick with someone through hell and misery, and don't ask for anything at all in return. Boy, that sure proves your superiority. To put up with this, you must be the best. You'd also be a gross liar, as well as a goddamned fool. And that's what I was, for a while.
12/3/2001 3:39am How long should one make signs, and sit wondering in the idle hours, before deciding that the message is clear? How closely should one examine the edge of a cloud, one hand on their hat, attempting to trace the silver lining? Or is the uncertain grayness a message in itself? "Do not look here. I understand your message, but I am full of rain." I saw something in the sky a while ago, walking where I didn't usually, and it's been stuck in my mind for two seasons now. A fleck of ice could form a warning. I feel a matching turmoil, and a compulsion to reach. I have roads around me, but am caught staring at the sky. If I could somehow know that the road into the mountains didn't dissolve into an empty fog, like the others, I would climb it with no hesitation. I understand how the sharpness of the earth can drive a wounded creature into the clouds. How it could refuse to descend. But sometimes I wonder, standing on the roads, if my message is only a fruitless gesture at an empty sky.
11/26/2001 4:10am I saw this survey and thought it would be fun to answer. I haven't done any online survey-stuff in a long time, and your survey covered the exact subject I've been angsting about recently. I broke off a relationship a while ago, and I feel like using these questions as a jumping-off point. I need to vent some of my frustrations and desires from the wacky universe of dating. As I type this, I'm not sure if I'm going to even send it to you, or if I'm going to just put it on my own personal web page. I mean, taking it from your perspective, it probably seems creepy to get a big survey response from someone you don't really know. And my purposes are mostly introspective. But I dunno, maybe you could compile the answers into your survey results or something. 1. Ñ is really tired and she happens to be over at your house. Do you: a: try to give her lots of caffeine to wake her up b: make her drive home c: offer for her to take a nap d: tickle her Would you believe that my ex¹ did 'a' to me? I should have known right there that she was a little too greedy. I think I was distracted by her other qualities though - invariably she wanted me to stay awake so we could make out, and I had a hard time saying no to that. Eventually I convinced her to find me a sleeping place instead, and I had many an unsound nap on her messy bed while she watched tv or did schoolwork. She had very irregular sleep patterns and often stayed up for 24 hours at a time. Now that I think about it, this was part of a greater pattern. Always when she asked if I wanted to do something, and I said no, she would wheedle and whine and make playful comments and try and convince me to change my mind. When I say no, it means no the FIRST time! I shouldn't have to say it six times before it sinks in. I guess it was kind of manipulative of her. My ex² (the person I was dating before my ex¹) was much more considerate. She would set me up a little bed next to hers, in her cramped dorm room. Even before we were seriously together, she would tuck me in and tiptoe around so I could sleep well. My fondest memories of that relationship are from bedtime, when one of us would tuck the other in, whisper cute bed-time things, pet the hair, kiss the forehead, and softly close the door. Often we would fall asleep holding hands. That's the sort of thing I like, and never get tired of. And when it's an SO or a random acquaintance, I always try and find a nap-place. Sleep is very important to me. I NEED MY SLEEP. 2. What type of video games do you like? Good engrossing RPGs are a favorite. My last RPG was Ultima 9, played with a long USB keyboard and a 31-inch tv. It was so fun to wander around the landscape and talk to all the incidental characters. I had never seen such a technically detailed and gorgeous game before. I actually got my ex¹ hooked on it, which was the first time I'd ever been able to share an adventure game with a significant other. After a while she would even play it by herself, when I wasn't around. I thought that was great at first, but then she started wanting to use my computer all hours of the day, and pestered me to boot up the game every time I was in front of my PC. The novelty wore off when I realized that she was just as happy playing the game by herself as she was playing it together. I've only been into one RTS-type game, and that's Starcraft, and only when I play it against friends I know. For a couple years I ran 'StarBash', a bi-weekly thing in the UCSC labs where my friends and I played team games and yelled monty-python style insults at each other the whole time. Sometimes we had as many as ten players in the lab, all lined up, with no other students around, making stupid puns and cackling madly. It was hilarious. Sometimes the gang in Santa Cruz gets together, and we resurrect it. And then there's nethack, and civilization. SO ADDICTIVE. I had to delete them both or risk going mad. :) 3. Ñ is a klutz-this is a known fact. If she stumbles in front of you, what do you do? Catch her, for goodness sake! Unless it was harmless and comical, in which case I'll probably laugh and then smooch her. My ex¹ was a klutz, and occasionally she would knock food off tables. Sometimes she'd get really embarrassed. I'd always smooch her while we cleaned it up, to kind of make it obvious that there were no hard feelings. 4. You are in Ñ's car. She is obviously enjoying a song that you don't particularly enjoy. What do you do? It depends. If it's something I'm not in the mood for, I'll just ask to change it to something we both like. I've gone on lots of road trips, and sometimes not having enough good music in common can make things very hard. In general, I'm not really bothered by any music, with the exception of Country. For some reason, Country music irritates me, and makes it hard for me to think. This requires some clarification: I think there there is "good Country" out there, namely all the old artists like George Jones, Tammy Wynette, Merle Haggard, etc. But I don't really "like" that stuff, I think, because I don't listen to it. It's like Death Metal ... four or five real pioneers, and then an ongoing parade of imitators trying to either "perfect the genre" or "reinvent the genre". If you're interested in the history and the culture of it, Death Metal and Country can both be fascinating. However, these are factors external to the music itself. You may listen to it for another reason, too: Your own personal history, like what you were doing when you first heard a certain song, or who you heard it with. And there's nothing wrong with that. It's an illustration of how music integrates with our lives. However, people never consider any of this when they jab me about Country music. I have no history with it. They expect me to like it based purely on sonic texture. To me, this is like telling a gardener, "Hey, I like dirt, and I like gravel. Why can't you just grow your plants in gravel?" It just doesn't work for me. Music of a certain type, most music with lyrics in fact, just fucks up my concentration. Same with the news-radio shows that some people turn on in the mornings. It actually interferes with my ability to think. Do you know how annoying that is? Have you ever tried to rollerskate on cobblestones? It's that annoying. I'm tired of people saying the equivalent of, "Hey, I can tolerate the CRAP you listen to, so obviously you should be able to tolerate the GOOD MUSIC I listen to, you just DON'T WANT TO." They can claim to enjoy the sound of a jackhammer on their foreheads, too. It won't impress me one [expletive] bit. Pardon my rant. My ex¹ and I shared maybe 20% of our musical taste. Mostly we could agree on Front Line Assembly (Delerium etc) and The Clash. She had this habit of taking over the radio, which we had trouble with. She also didn't like They Might Be Giants, or Weird Al, or Suzanne Vega, or David Bowie, or Tori Amos ... which made it hard for me to sing along to stuff while we drove places. I like to sing along to TMBG, Tori Amos, Bjork, Pink Floyd, and NIN, mostly. When I'm really lively I'll sing loud, and get majorly into the song, but if there's someone else in the car I ask if they don't mind first, so I don't embarrass myself. I'm a little sensitive about using my singing voice around other people, because it's so much louder than my speaking voice, and I don't want to irritate anyone. One of my favorite memories of my ex² is when we both sang along to "silent all these years" in a parked car ... and then compared notes about how the other sang. Oh yeah - and there was that time Zog and I totally went off to a Meat Beat Manifesto track on a road trip. That was rad. 5. Ñ tends to procrastinate sometimes. How do you feel about this and what would you do about it? I tend to procrastinate about some things too, but when relationships are concerned, I try and combat this tendency by setting up schedules for stuff. Light things, like, "every Tuesday after dinner is bill-pay time." Beyond that, though, I think what works best is to essentially let the other person do what they want. If they don't feel like going out for a jog and you do, for god's sake DON'T PESTER them about it. Usually the vital stuff can be sorted out pretty well, when both people truly care about each other, and like to talk. My ex¹ would always try and convince me that her agenda was the superior one, even when I was clearly not interested in it. I totally resented her for that. By contrast, with my ex² it was never a problem. When she said no to dinner out, because she wanted to hang out with her friends instead, or just eat leftovers, I either suggested a compromise, or just said "Ok". And when she asked me if I felt like going to a particular movie, or hanging out with a particular person, and I said "No", she would understand. If she didn't understand she would ask why, and I could tell her, without worry that she would try and use my reasons against me. I think it was a respect thing that grew out from an intimacy thing. We both loved to just talk to each other, about everything, and really tried to understand how we worked. After I broke up with her and hung out with other girls, I was dismayed at how uncommon that trait really was. It's hard to find a girl who will not just talk or just listen, or just talk about the weather, or get nervous in intimate moments. I guess I'd forgotten how carefully I picked my ex² for her conversation skills. I generally don't do well in relationships with people who say to me, "I don't want to talk about it." People who yell easily in conversation are also immediately scratched off my list. I learned that one the hard way. My ex¹ once yelled at me - YELLED at me - for not putting the remote control back where she had left it after I turned the volume down. I am sensetive about yelling. Yelling is reserved for when things are really, REALLY BAD, like when you tell your girlfriend that what she just said was very hurtful, and she replies with, "good." If another SO ever says that to me, it is over. No second chances. More on my ex¹'s procrastination below. 6. Have you ever been accused/convicted of a crime? I was 'convicted' of violating the 10pm curfew in Scotts Valley once! My Dad had to drive to the police station and pick me up. I don't know if he was more pissed at me or the police for that one. My friend and I had a backpack containing two cokes and a pair of leather welding gloves. We were planning to go 'dumpster diving' behind the local computer companies in search of old equipment we could repair and use. 3.5" disks, EPROMS, ribbon cables, that sort of thing. 7. Ñ tends to get irritating to others when she's hyper. How do you propose to keep her from grating on your nerves? I imagine that Ñ would have the presence of mind to ask me what was wrong, if she was jumping around grinning and I was sitting there looking glum. On the other hand, I sometimes get hyper myself. I boogie from room to room with loud music, and sometimes in groups of friends I start going "yoing yoing!" and acting like a loon. Generally, when it's just me and an SO, and I'm not feeling down, I enjoy hyper. I greet it with dancing and smooches. 8. How do you propose to keep Ñ from becoming banal, trite, and stagnant? That's Ñ's job, mostly. If I'm worried, I'll say; and I'm always up for new things. But since I have no intention of becoming banal, trite, or stagnant any time soon, or ever, I'm not sure how I can relate to this. My family is very lively and intellectual, and my two sisters and I always have terrific conversations at the dinner table when we converge at my Mom's house. But how could I tell if I became banal? I try and get out and see stuff, and think of new things, but it seems like a relative condition. I'm probably banal to, say, David Bowie. 9. Ñ enjoys being spoiled, just like everyone else. How would you spoil her? Once when my ex² was preparing for a family vacation, and wouldn't get to see me for a week, I stayed up for 30 hours, cooking two chicken-pot-pies from scratch, and making a fresh salad. I drove to her apartment and set this up on her kitchen table, with a bouquet and a white tablecloth and a bottle of sparkling cider, and surprised her with it when she got home from work. I did it so she could have one last delicious meal with me just before she left for her parent's house in San Jose. A couple days later I got an email from her, on vacation. She said that she thought the dinner was the nicest thing anyone had ever done for her in her whole life. A year later, after we'd broken up, I ran across that email by accident, and cried, because I didn't have anyone in my life I could do stuff like that for. 10. Ñ tends to spend too much money. How would you deter her from spending her entire paycheck on music? The internet!! Awwww yeah! DSL and ! I figure that if me and a SO are both open with our finances, about how much we have and what we need, we'll tend to even out our spending problems. It should be a while before we start sharing accounts and shit though. Time to build trust. I got the short end of the stick from my ex¹. It was a bad situation. She had been laid off of her job, and had accumulated 7000 dollars in credit-card debt. She said she felt like she needed "a break" from working, because her confidence was damaged. I offered to pay for everything for a short while, while she gathered her wits and looked for another job. Two months passed by, and she had barely left the apartment, let alone looked for a job. She spent her time cleaning the house, snacking in front of the TV, and websurfing. I was paying the phone, electric, gas, cable, internet, water, and grocery bills, as well as all the rent, all by myself. I started to resent it, and I told her so in a very cautious conversation. I said, as nicely as I could, that I was worried about her and it seemed to me like she wasn't trying. She got pissed off, and almost immediately declared that she was leaving me, in order to go live with her mother, because her mother wouldn't 'pressure' her like I was doing. Over the course of the evening she packed most of her belongings into boxes and called her mother, while I talked to her and tried to figure out why she was so aggravated. I didn't try as hard as I could have though, because part of me was just thinking, "you've done everything you possibly can for as long as you were willing. You shouldn't offer anything more; and if she wants to drop the relationship on a moments' notice, then good fucking riddance to her because you need someone more willing to try." That was a hard situation to be in. I hadn't expected her "break" period to last so long, and consist of her doing nothing. The most irritating part of it was, she'd deliberately hedged about her money situation before we moved in together. She said she "had unpaid bills" and "wouldn't be able to contribute much". She didn't say she was SEVEN THOUSAND dollars in debt. 11. There is a show that Ñ really wants to go to and you do not like the band that is playing. What do you say/do? I'm not sure how this could possibly happen. If I like Crash Worship concerts and Cowboy Junkies concerts, what's not in between?? But anyway. If I wasn't doing anything else that day, I'd offer to drop her off and pick her up, so she wouldn't have to drive tired. Or I'd offer to meet her before or after the concert for dinner, or coffee. Or if I lived closer to the concert, I'd offer a place to crash. I'm not about to insist that my SO and I do everything together. I do one-person stuff, like compose music and write. Schedule independence can be a good thing. 12. What are your theories on cheating in a relationship? Define cheating in a relationship: Cheating is when you look to a person other than your SO for your sexual or romantic needs. My theories on it? Some people have relationships where they don't mind the other person cheating sexually, but I feel that if people have a relationship where they tolerate romantic cheating, then they don't really have a relationship. They're "seeing each other" or some shit. I'm a one-woman-man, sexually and romantically, and am not really happy unless both spots are filled by the same person. My ex² was unsure of her sexual orientation, and wasn't very lusty. Ultimately that broke us apart, despite a very very deep affection we'd nurtured. We had other problems too, but the sexuality thing was probably the worst. By contrast, my ex¹ was a sex maniac -- but had problems with trust and intimacy. I was getting all the physical affection I'd ever wanted, but I found myself missing the romantic moments, the hand-holding, the sitting silently together, the cooperation, the casual soul searching. The money thing, and her half-crazy mother, sealed our fate. Her mother was certain that every man on earth was a cheating, lying, thieving manipulative bastard. She never said these things to my face, oh no; she said them to my ex¹. Constantly. Sometimes while I was out of the room for only a minute. Did she expect her vicious words to remain a secret between her and her daughter? Did she really believe that my ex¹ wouldn't tell me what she was saying? It was really inane. One day I realized I was just sick of trying to get on her good side. I was taking crap from her that I didn't deserve, and didn't need. Every time I went on a road-trip to see my friends in Sacramento, Davis, or Santa Cruz, my ex¹ would get a load of whispered crap from her mother, saying that I was actually sneaking off to go have sex with other women. She was a jealous lover to begin with, and her mother's remarks magnified her insecurity. She would call me on the mobile phone at odd hours of the day, just to ask what I was doing and who I was with. I was hanging out with my friends! And it was not my fault that she didn't have any, or like any of mine! Perversely, when my exes have confessed attraction for my good friends, I've given them the go ahead to seduce them for an evening, if they wanted. I've never been a jealous lover in that sense, because I feel that our intimacy is a stronger bond. Then again, none of them actually did it, so I can't really be sure how I'd react. Maybe I was endorsing an action that would have fucked us up. Of course, if she slept with someone and didn't tell me, I would be devastated. Especially if it was someone I didn't know or like. 13. Do you give good back massages? Everyone tells me so. Ñ might remember, too. Yesterday I was in Santa Cruz wasting time with Zog, Alex, and Alex's friend Morgan. We went to this 'pajama party'. I was leaning back against the wall listening to Download on the stereo, getting a shoulder massage from Zog, when the captain of the party walked up in front of me and turned around, presenting me his back. This was his wordless way of getting in on the action. So I started to work his shoulders. Then he said, "would you feel more, or less, scared to know that I do this sort of thing for a living?" I don't know why he said that. It was kind of rude. So I said, "It wouldn't affect me either way, actually. I give massages because I like to give massages, not because I'm good at it." That seemed to satisfy him, and he wandered away. Weird. 14. Have you ever stalked someone? No. Man, what a total waste of time that all is. 15. Have you ever been/wanted to be commited to a hospital for psychiatric reasons? No, but my ex² did. We talked through it, here and there. Gradually her confidence increased. She also read a cool book called Girl Interrupted. It was made into a movie with Winona Ryder in it. 16. Does anyone describe you as misanthropic? I'm not sure what that word means. Okay, I just looked it up online. It means "hating mankind". I don't hate mankind ... I hate people one at a time, as I meet them. >:) 17. Do you rpg? a: yes b: no A. 18. Ñ is feeling ugly and bloated. What do you tell her to make her feel like she is the most beautiful creature in the world? It depends, really. I think that sometimes a girl will need to hear good words, or get a kiss or a hug, to restore confidence. But other times, she will actually not want to be touched, will in fact not even want to leave the house. My exes reacted to the same thing different ways, too. When my ex² said she was feeling ugly, I could hug her and tell her how I saw her, and she would see the look in my eyes and that would be enough. With my ex¹, when I told her how attracted to her I was, she would actually argue with me about it, and then say that how I felt was irrelevant anyway, because she didn't look good to herself, and so there was nothing I could say. It made me feel kind of crappy when she said that. The things I say are usally more cutesy than explicit. I wonder sometimes if they're too cutesy. "Are you kidding? You're the cat's pajamas! You ring my chimes! Look, look in this mirror, just look at your bad self! Look at that form, that shape. Behold that foxy reflection. You're a walking man-magnet, and there's nothing you can do to stop it. I mean, just look at ... oh hell, kiss me!" 19. Ñ tends to become catty and elitist. How would you react to this? Sometimes I do the same thing. So? What about it? Huh? ;) 20. Ñ tends to become insecure in her relationships. How do you help keep her feeling secure? I find that, what keeps me secure in a relationship, is talking and communication. The more the better, especially when I feel like I'm not hurried to complete a thought. Sometimes it's hard for me to find the right word. Eventually you reach a point where you can just know. If you let yourself know it. If you allow yourself to know it. You know that you and the other person are solid. The way I like to put it is: Having to depend on someone is bad. Being able to rely on someone is good. So there's kind of a self-confidence that has to come into play. I probably sound like I have this all figured out. I don't feel like it's much, really. Understanding how something should go, at the beginning, is one thing. Actually making that journey with someone, is another. It always gets complex and interesting. Some people say "everyone is basically the same". I think that's total bullshit. Living with someone who has a short temper feels totally different than living with someone who is more calm and assured. Totally. 21. Are you an outdoors-ey kind of person? I was spoiled at the house I grew up in. When I wanted a break from homework or computer, I could get up, walk out the door, and head straight into the forest. I sometimes feel more at ease in a forest at night than in a city. I love camping and hiking, though I don't get to do it as often as I wanna. If I'm gonna sleep in a tent, I need a pad tho. Oh, and ultimate frisbee and soccer rocks my clock. 22. Ñ has lipstick on her teeth. What do you do? a: laugh and point b: make funny but discreet gestures to get her attention c: lick your own teeth and make her wonder what's wrong with you d. Kiss it off. Duh. 23. Are you religious or spiritual? What religion? How often do you practice? I do not have any religious practices, and I have serious issues with some Christian and Islamic views. But I also find the local pastors to be kind and friendly, and I respect their job a lot. I don't mind church in small doses, but it's not part of my life. Mostly my views are a combination of buddhism and humanism. People who talk to me briefly, and who like to jump to conclusions, usually call me an atheist and try and dismiss me because of it. I'm NOT an atheist - I don't think the modern concept of atheism makes any more sense than the concept of an all-knowing, all-powerful, perversely benevolent creator. 24. Are you offended easily? Do you have a sailor mouth? Do you care if Ñ does? (because she does, yo) No, Fuckin' A Yeah, and No. My ex²'s favorite catchphrase was "I mean, what the fuck!?" 25. What is your best attribute? My empathy, I think. I'm almost disturbingly good at figuring out what other people are feeling, and then feeling that myself. That's why I have to be careful who I date. 26. Are you violent? When is violence necessary? No, I am not violent. I used to have a violent temper. I got in fistfights in elementary school. An incident in High School convinced me I needed to learn to control and channel it. However, violence is sometimes necessary in physical defense. I'm not afraid of it. 27. Have you ever had an std? Never. 28. Are you pro choice or pro life? Are you preachy either way? I'm pro-choice but not preachy. (Why would I be justified in being preachy: After all, I'm pro-choice. Right?) 29. Ñ painted a picture. This picture has no artistic merit. In fact, it's ugly. What do you say about it? I say it's a nice painting. How could it be ugly -- it was painted by a friend of mine. If someone asks me for artistic critique, that's when I provide a critical opinion; but that's secondary to me. A friend of mine painted something! Painting is cool! It is for to discuss! For to interpret! Art-ness! nyarrrr 30. What do you think makes you the best candidate for this position? Hahahahah! Well, I'm not going to cast myself in the role of an applicant. Fuck that shit. I just wanted to use these questions to reaffirm my own priorities, and rant a little. Anything else is left to chance. I do, however, really miss the talking. 31. Ñ is obviously bothered by something. How do you approach this? a: ignore her, she'll snap out of her shit soon b: pester her till she spills c: come up with a romantic and sweet idea to soothe her and open the doors of communication gently Well, C is the ideal. A and B both suck, and are what I got too much of with my ex¹. 32. What would your latest ex say about you? Positive? Negative? She'd say that I was the nicest guy she'd ever dated (she told me this), but probably in the same breath, she'd say that I had problems talking about my feelings. Which isn't true, in the general sense. I've thought hard about this, to make sure. Closer to the truth is, I had problems talking about my feelings with her. I sometimes need the back-and-forth of a conversation to figure out how I feel. She was always suggesting pat solutions to my complex problems, and talking from a place of authority, instead of just relating to me. She was not the authority. There were times when she would just literally say the wrong thing in response to my sharing. A couple times I tried to explain why her response was so callous, or disrespectful, or inflammatory - but every time, she would get indignant and defensive. No matter how delicately I tried to put things. It just wasn't worth it after a while. I felt like I was too old to have to train an SO in proper conversation. Things broke down. I stopped telling her how I felt because she only used the information to set her schedule. I made a bunch of journal entries about my time with her, while we were dating and hanging out, and some of it is very beautiful writing. I asked her one day if she was interested in reading them. She said no. That should have been my big red relationship-ending flag. Then there's my ex². She would probably have a completely different set of things to say about me - our relationship was really different from my last one. She once told me that I'd changed her life - that because of me, she started to think more positively and carefully. Her attitude about the future changed, and she learned a different way to think about herself. She started to unwind her depression, and she knit a lot of her family relationships closer together. After we'd broken up, she told me that I had been the most positive force in her entire life. I was flattered, and happy for her, but I was also terribly sad and bitter, because a lack of sexual chemistry had forced us apart. Sometimes I felt like my life was forfeit because I had lost the only shoulder I could ever cry on. The way I put it was, "I feel like there's no place I can be any more. I feel like I've lost my home." She told me that, when anyone ever asks about me, about what I'm like, she has said I'm one of the best people she ever met. Half a year ago we ceased all communication, so that we could get on with our lives. That hurt like hell, but it was necessary. It was either that, or get drawn back together and get married -- Which would have been a bad idea, since she was already dating someone else. Heh. 33. Do you have any fetishes? What are they? Do you think any of them would frighten Ñ? No fetishes unless you count the biting and sometimes the talking dirty. I hope they wouldn't frighten Ñ, or anyone else. 34. If you were in a relationship with Ñ, what do you feel you would bring to the relationship? I tend to throw everything into a relationship. I act in every relationship as though it is permanent - nothing in me is geared for giving up or holding back, which is why I have to be very careful who I get attached to. I've found it hard to detach. 35. How idiosyncratic are you? What are your idiosyncracies? Is this like, my contradictions? How contradictory am I? Hmmm, this is a tough one. Oh, wait, I just looked it up. "Of peculiar temper or disposition; belonging to one's peculiar and individual character." I dunno. I took that Kiersey Temperment Sorter test thingie and it put me in some rare 2% area. I took it again last year, and it called me an I??P. One thing I have realized about myself is that I can feel a very wide spectrum of emotions deeply. Apparently a lot of people are just good at one or two emotions, and rarely venture into the rest. I can go anywhere. 36. If you felt that you may have pissed Ñ off, how do you approach the situation? The same way I would expect her to approach me, if she had pissed me off. Optimally, if she was angry with me, she would say so. If I had to ask, "Are you angry with me?", that's the beginning of the guessing-game tactic, which I don't like. I try, I honestly try, to keep myself approachable, so that people can actually come to me with an issue, knowing that I'll be gentle with it. That's the flipside of the "tell me when you're angry" coin that most people don't get. Some people, who demand that others always tell them these things, act like total jerks when they get the information. That is just not a renewable tactic. If you yell and flail and throw a hissy-fit when someone tells you they're angry with you, they're gonna be discouraged from telling you in the future. My ex¹ was like this. My ex² was a somewhat better variation of this. Whenever I told her about something she did, that I didn't like, she felt it was necessary to flog herself with a mental bullwhip, to punish herself and feel terrible about it, and make it apparent that she felt really bad, above and beyond anything I'd intended her to feel. After about a year, and discussing this on and off, she stopped doing it. She felt better after that, and so did I. It was easier to approach her. So I like to be told when I piss someone off, and to that end, I try and be approachable. 37. You don't like Ñ's friends. What do you do? a: demand she ditch them b: keep tabs on her at all times c: shrug and hang out with your own friends when she's out with hers C, of course, unless I feel like staying at home and messing with music and/or reading. If I'm with a good person, they will usually feel like talking about their day, so I'll find out whatever's relevant anyway. No need to keep tabs, unless we're planning to meet somewhere and have to coordinate something. I want to be with someone I can trust. Someone who will tell 100% of the truth 100% of the time, or will at least try to. You can't assume the worst and then work forwards from there. You have to assume that truth is being told, and assume that nothing is being hidden, or you've already lost what you're after. The trouble is, it leaves you open to be manipulated and lied to by the assholes of the world. And that's where the caution and the patience comes in. 38. What are your goals in life? Allow me to rant a bit about the nature of goals. I think we first believe that life is goal-oriented. That we should struggle to attain something, and then, once that is found, we should set out for something else, and continue the chase. We see life as a series of destinations that one must toil to reach, and then leave behind or risk stagnation. Then we get some time out on the road, and if we're smart, we notice that our lives are spent traveling, keeping ourselves occupied, thinking about the future. We reverse our attitude and declare that happiness is found in making a pleasant journey, regardless of where we eventually end up. The day-to-day processes of our life regain importance. We stop to smell the roses, and appreciate the moment, and generally become more rounded. But I think there's a step beyond that. I think that goal-oriented thinking is not some alien slavery imposed by a work-ethic society to promote our suffering. I think that goal-oriented thinking is merely the extreme end of a spectrum upon which all our actions can be placed, a spectrum that is equally important at both ends as well as in the middle. Sure, it draws you away from the present to be focused on a goal, but when you attain that goal, your day-to-day life is often improved because of it. You can theorize that life is better at the top of a mountain, and suffer through the task of climbing it to attain your goal, but even if the mountaintop turns out to be inhospitable, I don't think you've wasted your time. You now have the experience and skill of mountaineering, something that the people who live day-to-day smelling the flowers in the valley will never obtain. The willingness to suffer or sacrifice for potential change is sometimes a massively beneficial trait, and if you learn along the way, you have merged the best of both goal-oriented thinking AND living in-the-moment. That said, my goals in life include being in a fun music band with my friends, finding someone I really get along with, totally kicking ass at my computer job, getting in a lot of camping, writing a selective autobiography, teaching middle or high-school students, owning property instead of just renting it, personally redefining the "punk" movement, driving to Alaska, and the patter of little feet. 39. If you were in a relationship with Ñ, how often do you talk to her? Is e-mail acceptable? E-mail is very acceptable. I really like writing little electronic letters to get my thoughts in order and figure things out. I probably write several emails a day, on average. Ideally, I would want to talk with my significant other every day. 40. When was the last time you cried? Are you comfortable with being male and crying? Last month. It was not a good scene. My ex¹ was browbeating me about why I thought she was being manipulative. She was drawing up old conversations we had, trying to catch me in a contradiction over something I said, and it was confusing and distressing me. Finally I just burst into tears and told her that I couldn't speak to her any more. I drove to Santa Cruz and walked out behind UCSC, and climbed to the top of a 60-foot tree. It was drizzling, and I had a poncho on top of me, and the tree was rocking back and forth. Up there I came to a realization: The longer I was away from her, the more like me I felt. 41. Ñ has done something to make you mad. What would you want her to do to rectify the situation? Apologize, and mean it. If it's something really bad that would take a lot of explaining, it may be best for her to write me a letter, and then read the letter to me in person. I will let her know when I'm angry, and why. Not by yelling. Not by the silent treatment. ... Though sometimes when something, or someone else, makes me angry, I'll have an obvious look of pensive angst on my face. I'm not into that whole "You have to guess what I'm angry about, because it would be letting you off the hook for me to tell you" crap. I got that from my ex¹. It was garbage. 42. How high are your expectations of Ñ? Do you have any doubts or misgivings at this point? I have no expectations of Ñ. I don't even assume that she'll take kindly to such a long-winded and personal reply to this survey. If she finds this worth replying to, that's great. If she does not, then I expect nothing more. ... I just liked the person I met at the Davis noisefest. I asked my friend Zog about her too. Zog said he knew her, and that she was great. Zog is one of my very best friends. 43. How do you feel about body modification (tattoos)? Colored hair? All black clothes? a: positive b: negative Dated a semi-goth for two years. Colored hair is da bomb. All black clothes? Wear 'em myself now and then. Tattoos? Would never get one myself, but don't mind them on other people. Piercings? They tend to get in the way during sex. heehee (what with the biting and all) 44. Ñ is a touch oriented person and has been described as "clingy". How do you react to this? Very positively, actually: 45. Refer to the previous question: How would you describe yourself? I prefer a lot of touching, cuddling, and hand-holding. My ex¹ was short and athletic, and one of her favorite things to do was make a running jump into my arms, and that was just fine. I would carry her around for a while. Sometimes when we did this in public, I got a glance of other man eyeing me jealously, and that sometimes gave me a twinge of guilt. I remember what it was like to hang around lovey-dovey strangers when I had nobody. Sometimes my sense of humor comes in and I amplify the feeling of being bowled over and happily surprised, as much for the benefit of the people around me as for myself. I want them to realize that I don't take it for granted, that I know I've got something valuable in a S.O. who shows her affection so openly. On the other hand, I guess I don't care for their plight TOO much, because I never try and tone it down. Internally, I have a desire to touch my significant other every time we meet. I like automatic cars. Because we can hold hands while we drive sometimes. 46. Ñ is athletic, specifically regarding hockey. Do you have issues with girls playing hockey? Yeah. My issue is, there aren't enough of them. I don't know what you'll think of this whole thing. I read your latest journal, and so I know you're up around Reno somewhere, and it's snowing. I just came from Santa Cruz - I've visited there, like, four times in the past month. Now I'm down in Carlsbad. A 450 mile drive. Next weekend I'm going to Sacramento to see my pal Andy, and hopefully to Susanville to deliver the last load of stuff to my ex¹'s mother's apartment. I've been carrying the last of my ex¹'s luggage in my trunk for almost a month now. She couldn't get it out of the apartment in time. I really don't want it there any more, but it's snowing on the route to Susanville, and I've never driven in snow before. I have to go on a day when the roads will be plowed. Um. Pardon my rant.
10/22/2001 5:18am I felt the same way when I first moved down here. I brought with me every scrap of my nightmare vision of Los Angeles, as I'd imagined it, and scoured the landscape for places that fit the mold. I found many. I drove through the valley and saw desperate squalor and barbed-wire lawns, and my funhouse memory of cinema filled the details in behind every locked door. This is where people languish in traffic, sell crack, nurse screenplays in closets, and buy plastic surgery. With no way to differentiate the regions in the valley, every place invoked the worst from my cynical imagination. This is American artifice whipped up in a frenzy, where everyone wants to be famous. You walk the streets in a perpetual shadow, with the fat wallet of the studios looming over your head. How can you, one struggling artist, compete with this institution? What good is a candle at the bottom of a lake? And blah blah blah. But most of that was in my head. I still feel that way to a degree, but now my opinion has evolved. Most of the poor assholes around here aren't concerned with the artifice of L.A. They work their manufacturing jobs and spend the weekend flailing, and with luck they slosh over the rim of the valley and escape. The manufacturing base of L.A. is more populous than all of San Francisco, and it is paid well. ¤'s own father drives a forklift, and has done so for thirty years. He's made enough money to pay for a house, buy two cars and a trailer, upgrade his computer and stereo, and raise three children from start to finish. Single-income home. And he drives. A forklift. ¤'s sister works at Ralph's. A supermarket chain. How much money per hour does she make, working at WRRAAALLHF's? Twenty-five dollars per hour! This is why, down here, I make fifty dollars an hour. ¤'s Dad's job, ¤'s sister's job, ¤'s own job, my own job ... none of these have anything to do with the entertainment industry. Yet they are well paid. I hear that ¢ has a career as a stereo salesman in Santa Cruz, and I scoff. Then I catch myself, because if he were living down here, he'd be making 30 dollars an hour or more at it, with full benefits and a 401k plan.
10/21/2001 7:12am Ugh. Don't get me started. I don't even like the models. They have only bad associations for me, now. See, down here I came to a realization: The models in those magazines are picked from an incestuous network of rich people's coiffed young children, living in places like Beverly Hills. Some bigwig's got a daughter in a private school who has never played a contact sport, and for a bit on the side, she comes on the set pre-starved and ready to grin vacuously in some incomprehensively expensive tank-top. ... Or to pout with faked sophistication and crossed arms in the latest of an endless and infinitely aggravating parade of black-themed garbage. You think these people are picked at random? Or even semi-randomly? You open that magazine and you are staring right at the top 1-percent, and their children, and their trappings. Every page is a testament to their glory, made all the more ironic by the price tags in the corner, to stick you with the dream of being elite. As if the clothes make the man. That only applies to mascots, clowns, and skiiers. That, in a nutshell, is the dialogue that fashion magazines inspire in me now. I know, it's probably not all like that. I know, some people look at them for ideas, or to imagine certain scenarios. Some people even read the occasional article, or look for gossip on a celebrity they have faith in. But I don't do any of this, unless I'm bored and I pick one up by accident. And soon this devolves into the above dialogue anyway... People waste their time hitting bushes with a stick, and people waste their time reading thick glossy magazines full of pop turd. I don't mind that time is "wasted" now and then. What I do mind is the waste of resources, human and natural, that culminates in a weekly-issued pop turd magazine. The entire organization began as a means of making money, and now it's become an integrated part of our culture. Of course, humans will be humans. The combined yearly income of the entire software industry is still less than a tenth of what this country spends on CAT FOOD. Boy am I full of vitriol* tonight! * 1. A highly corrosive acid made from sulfur dioxide 2. The expression of bitter deep-seated ill will; rancor AAAAAAAAGH IT BURRRRRRNNNSS!!
10/21/2001 3:23am I have been nervous about letting people use my computer since © zapped my entire hard-drive while I was asleep, about ten years ago. He felt really, really bad about it too, even after I forgave him. A while ago I accidentally fucked up some of his shit, making us even. I can't remember what it was I fucked up, but I'm sure he does. Anyway, ever since then, I've been quite the knee-jerk control-freak when it comes to my system. I'm trying to get over that though. Hmm, that needs to be capitalized. My System. There is only one System. The Apple IIgs is not my System anymore. When ® came over last week I set it up and tossed the keyboard to him without a second thought. He could have smeared cat shit on the power supply and played tetherball with the disk drive, and I would have just laughed. The times they do change! I explained this all to § back in early September. She kept lapsing back into the previous territory where she didn't understand, because it was more comfortable to think that I wasn't justified and she was. She had the overriding desire to go off on some totally frivolous self-righteous rant, and not understanding me made that much easier. She must have liked one self-righteous rant in particular, because she went back to it TWICE. It contained the phrase "I mean, where do you get off?" Fuck the straw-man. I kept pulling her out of it by restating my case and justifying myself. Even so, I never was able to get her to apologize for saying so many mean things to me in anger. Truly, it was like she would much rather be right than cooperate, even if it meant the difference between a pointless two-hour screaming fit and a simple, two-minute reconciliation. I may also just drop this apartment and move in with my Mom - or with ¤ in Sacramento. Either of these moves would probably put § out of the picture. Being in Los Angeles is more important to her than being with me is. Though such comparisons are often treacherous, the comparison in this case is entirely true. She told me so last Thursday.
10/21/2001 2:10am I think it happens when people who aren't fit to accurately judge others are determined to judge them anyway. They leap along a string of conclusions to some predefined idea of who you are and what you want, and pound at the straw man so avidly that you just accept the role in order to lessen the confusion. Not a good deal for you, of course.
10/20/2001 11:45pm Man; flying in a plane, looking out that window, is fascinating to me. These casual afternoon-long hops over the atmosphere are a phenomenon new with our generation: Only a few lucky souls before us have known the experience, and now it is so common that airlines show their passengers in-flight movies to keep their interest. My first commercial flight was from Los Angeles to New York, two years ago. For almost the entire eight-hour journey, I smashed my face up against the window, looking down on absurdly flat mountains, checkerboard squares of yellow grass, and clouds as inconsequential as froth on a pond. The cities were the most interesting. In the space of a minute, as I passed over a narrow band of Middle America, I was seeing the entire domain of some poor farmer's life. His parents had bought that square of land, his wife came from the school nearby, and his children now worked the crops. Aside from a few curious road-trips, his only proof of regions beyond came from the newspaper and television, and what the president said when his train came by for an hour last year. Amazing how such wide-open spaces can be such effective prisons. Of course, I am painting a picture from a series of stereotypes, and I don't really believe that every stereotype contains a grain of truth. Something about this picture is compelling. When I dropped down to Seattle from regions beyond, I saw a glittering carpet of metal packed around the fingers of a cold, meandering bay. The trees had petered out, along with the determined Oregon snow, almost a half-hour before. I had no expectations about Seattle; I was too fascinated by the process of travel itself to be concerned with my destination. This was fitting, because once I'd landed, everything just resembled Oakland on a cloudy day. I'm starting to form a hard-nosed attitude about the places of the world. I believe that all the advantages of a place can be clearly divided into two groups: The natural and the human. All land can be beautiful in it's own way, but not all land is easy to live on. Some land is dry, hard, and sharp. Some land is pummeled by hail and frozen in snow, and some land is poisoned with smog. Some land is crushed under excessive freeways and roads, and some land lacks roads entirely, and is impossible to escape. There's some beautiful land out there, and I wouldn't hesitate to own a house on most of it ... but the place where I make my true home has to score well on the human side of the equation as well. Oh yeah, there are vast temples and stunning works of architecture. I can find awesome bridges and inspiring skylines and fine dining. But that's not the human factor, to me. That's still more of the land. To me, the human factor is what's in the souls of the living, and the abstract value in what is being accomplished and explored there. I want to live in a place where something is happening. And not just activity for it's own sake, either. That's why I feel more at home living next to a university, and why I get a good feeling from the community there. It's why I like Telegraph Avenue, the Silicon Valley, or even Venice Beach where a lot of movies are filmed*. It's why I'd probably love life in Cambridge and why I'd hate life in Las Vegas. I chose Pasadena because it has CelTech, Pasadena Community College, and NASA's JPL labs (where the space shuttle is designed). My plan worked in that I am around a higher ratio of students and inspired professionals. Too bad about the damned weather. Sure, the water may be sparkling blue in Rio, but it wouldn't take me very long to get tired of sipping fruit juice and wandering down the beach, scoping out the weekly shipment of excited tourists. That's all it takes for some people to get along, but I've known since I was old enough to walk that I wouldn't be satisfied with basic self-indulgence. Holy shit, what was I talking about, and how did I get here?! (* I turned the tube on last night to browse for good cinema, and found the cult film "Falling Down", directed by Joel Schumaker, starring Michael Douglas. I was quite surprised to see Michael Douglas running out onto the Venice Beach pier in order to confront his wife in the climactic scene. I had been standing there just two months ago.)
10/9/2001 5:11am Greh. Fuh. Plblbht. Errk. It's a shame people don't travel more often -- they'd realize just how good - or BAD - their current place of residence is. To me, one of the most frightening things about this world is that, five miles apart from each other, people can lead bizzarely different lives based on subtle economic pressures. Some people can grow up in squalor, uneducated, ignored, convinced that the entire world is strife and mayhem and desperation. A short ways away, often over a brick wall, a family will eat over a tablecloth and drive to a supermarket that is always brimming with goods. It horrifies me to know that these two groups of people sometimes don't even know what life is like on the other side of the wall. Almost an entire country of people, bred and raised in warfare, bathed in radical Muslim ethics (Afghanistan), thinks that eveyone in the United States is a soulless demon bent on taking their land and corrupting their religion. Afghanistan has, what, half the population of Florida? Imagine what would happen if you shipped everyone in Florida to Afghanistan. People would be clamoring for suntain oil, scaling hills looking for the beach, and wondering why their cel-phones are dead. Where are the roads? Where are the toilets? Where is water? The last fucking thing they'd be worried about is the Muslim religion, and the last thing they'd want to do is stay in Afghanistan. They've been to Florida! There is water there, and buffet lunches! They want to go BACK! And what if you scooped up the population of Afghanistan and sprinkled them across the United States? I wonder if the terrorists among them would realize the scope, and the economic power, of what they're up against then. Even if they didn't come to their senses, how many generations would they last, before their children's children started buying Britney Spears records and playing with the neighbors? Wow, this turned into a political rant, dinnit. Sorry. I suppose the thing in my own life that brought this up is the air around here. It's better now that the weather's cooled, but in those late summer months - maan. A clarinet player would fail a smog test.
10/6/2001 2:23am Feh. Religious zealots. How can you stand here in this man-made world of cars, computers, and propaganda, and insist that God is the true shaper of your destiny? Other people wrote your holy books. Other people made the clothes you wear. They created you and they will destroy you. Worry about them, not God. For if there is a God, it's plans will proceed whether or not you, in your conceit, are privy to them.
10/2/2001 7:03am It costs eighteen dollars to ride the train from ©'s house to Lantronix and back. Between Pasadena and Lantronix, I drive 120 miles a day. Six gallons of gas costs ten dollars. So the question I need to ask myself is, is two hours of wasted time driving on the freeway a fair trade for eight dollars? I don't think so. On the other hand, I can listen to a book-on-mp3 while I drive, and this is almost equivalent to reading. I can't sleep while I drive, of course, but I don't enjoy it on the train either. With an earpiece, I can even talk on the phone in both locations. The only thing I can't do while I drive is writing. I guess this dialogue is pointless anyway, though. The train doesn't extend to Pasadena, and won't for another two years. Last night I was standing in my bathroom in Pasadena, rinsing my face off, and I realized that the reason I felt so uncomfortable was because I had a thin coating of muck all over my skin. It stung. I hadn't noticed such a thing in Chatsworth or Marina Del Rey, on the west side of the basin. The air was better there too. How could I get this slime off my body? If I took a shower, I would just apply another coat of slime. I can't towel it off, all the towels are washed in the same water. They're contaminated too. My clothing as well. Whenever I boil spaghetti or make soup, I'm ingesting the silty garbage. I'm absorbing the filth, making it a part of myself, taking it into my lungs with every breath. I sleep next to the open window at night, so the cool air can blow over my face, but the relief is false. The evening mist is brown, and when it evaporates in the morning my windshield gains a coat of mud that I have to scrape away by hand. Fuck this place. Fuck everything in it. I'm passing south of Union Station on this train now, through a labyrinth of industrialization. I just saw a mountain of broken glass tumbling out of a quonset hut, glittering and brown like wet seaweed. Now I'm bumping past a yard piled with plumbing fixtures and radiators. Now an ocean of steel pipe. A cement processing tower. A field trashed with shopping carts. A fenced-in park, savagely cut and swept, overwatered with slow poison. Los Angeles is entertaining and pretty in an apocalyptic way, but if you live here you need to realize that every single thing here will contribute to your corruption, physically and mentally. Nothing will reverse or stop it. The people here don't know this, of course. They're too poor to escape anyway. It's amazing what humans will put up with when they think they don't have a choice. So where do I go from here? I'm slowly saving up money, buying the industrial goods I crave. A great eye-saving monitor. A host of car and equipment repairs. Working experience and a gold star on my resume. I am not staying here, though. Not for any longer than I decide I have to. Thinking back to the last week, I have been hard on Ø at times. I've probably picked on her out of general discontent with our situation. Considering the larger picture, it makes no sense that we would have such a great time in Marina Del Rey and then such a bad time in Pasadena. If she decides to stay in Susanville and prop her mother up, I won't be angry. However. Even though I'd said I didn't mind giving her a break, I am still not going to believe that I had 'no right' to feel resentment at her laziness. People are allowed to make mistakes and change their minds, and whatever feelings they feel that trigger this process are always legitimate. ... Logic should never be a trap for feelings, only a tool in supporting and explaining them. I wonder how many years of how many people's lives are spent in agony and deceit, without understanding this simple idea?
10/1/2001 2:23am One of her favorite things to do is tell me what I know. I've never encountered this particular conversational tactic before, and I already know I don't like it. I'll say I'm distressed because there's an awful lot of her unsorted luggage sitting around the living room. She'll reply with "well you knew it was going to be a lot of stuff.", so therefore I have no right to feel the way I do. I'll tell her I feel afraid that she's going to mess up my computer if she uses it while I'm not around, since I've never, ever let anyone use my computer since the early 90's. She'll reply with "But you know I'm good with computers, so it's unfair to think I'd mess it up!" So I have no right to feel afraid. She yelled at me for turning down the television and then setting down the remote control elsewhere in the room, so she had to look for it to find it. She told me that was an awful thing to do because, of course, "you knew I was watching television!" So in all three cases the misunderstanding, and the bad feelings, are my own fault. Another revelation I received from her was that I was attacking her all the time. I was attacking her about her preference of television shows, I was attacking her about her cooking procedures, I was attacking her political views, I was attacking her definitions of music, of sexism, of art, of terrorism. She commented one day about how Xena the Warrior Princess was brutalizing women, and I replied by noting that 99% of the people that Xena stabs in battle are men, and their violent deaths are unnoticed, a plot additive as commonplace as salt on a meal. What's she gonna say? "I hadn't noticed that?" "Interesting observation?" "Yeah, it sucks for both sexes I guess?" No. She floundered for a while in silence, and then observed that Xena still brutalizes women by making them the perpetrators of the violence, since in society at large, "everyone knows" that men are the perpetrators of violence. Once she left, and I started talking with people other than her, I realized something - the way I talk with everyone in the entire world is essentially the same, and I talk to her this way too. For some reason, what I know sounds like a neutral statement to everyone else in the world, sounds like an attack to her. And thus, she accuses me of attacking her all the time. She's beyond suspecting it, or suggesting it. She's STATING it. Hell, it couldn't be her misconception, oh no way, not a chance. I'm just the brutal fucking aggressor all day long. The yelling puts me off balance, right from the beginning. It shows me she is not interested in exploring an idea. Instead, her interest is in remaining right. She interprets every discussion we have in terms of an aggressor and a defender, and it's totally unnecessary and I'm convinced it's also totally subconscious. The only way I can get her to agree to anything is to either make it sound completely inconsequential, or to phrase it just exactly right so that she would sound like a total fool if she didn't agree. Dig under her wall, or vault over it. Otherwise, she'll seek out, and find, a way to make herself right, and me wrong. I'm sick of it. And so, these past three or four days have been very pleasant. I'd forgotten about all the stuff that other people discuss, all the personal things, all the general things. I'm ambivalent about television in general, but yesterday I noticed how much nicer it was to come home to a living room/dining room/kitchen that wasn't choked with whiny commercial voices and canned laughter. I hate to break it down to such a simple thing, but honestly, how can I, how can I, possibly enjoy a relationship with someone who wastes this much time watching the fucking television? What am I gonna do, ask her to shut it off when I come home, and leave it off until sometime after dinner when I go to the bedroom to work on the computer? That's an unreasonable request and I know it. Maybe we could break it down to "no television four days out of seven" or something, but I probably couldn't even live with that.
7/11/2001 12:15am I get a call from ¥ saying we need to have a talk. I get very nervous. I call her asking if I can have some reassurance of what it's about, so I don't worry. She stutters. I tell her it will just have to wait. She calls me back and tells me not to worry. "I don't hate you, I'm not mad at you, it's nothing like that. We just need to chat." I shave my head and get to her place at about 8:45. She shows up late with £. £ goes off to work and we walk the dog. While we're walking she tells me that her life has been so hectic and unmanageable these days that she has decided she doesn't have enough time to be with me. "So I've got to cut you out of my life. I just don't have time for anyone right now. I don't even have time for myself. I can't think of anything else to do." We sit down on a row of wooden posts, facing each other cross-legged while the dog waits nearby. I am shocked and frightened, but I take her hand. "I know you're busy. I've been very busy too what with moving, looking for an apartment, working at this job, and driving all over the place. Any time I can spend with you at all is time I'm glad for." "Yeah, but I don't have any time. I don't have time to sleep, and I barely have time to eat. I've cut out all of my friends already. Friends besides you, that is. I just don't even have time for you now." "I know it's not really my position to say, but I think you're making a mistake." "It's the only thing I can do! I need to survive! I have to work, and I have to go to school, and I have to eat ... you're the only thing I can cut out!" "... Look, I know I haven't been much help in getting you free time and making things efficient yet, even though I said I was going to help, but that's because I haven't had a chance to begin. I haven't gotten my apartment, I haven't gotten another car ... but please understand that there are things we can do, as a team, that will make things easier for you. For both of us." "No, there's nothing you can do. I just don't have the time." "I'm not saying this because I'm trying to earn myself a position in your schedule or anything like that, I'm saying this because I like you and I'm interested in helping you, and I really think that if we do things together, we'll get more done." "I don't see how. It's impossible. I started a night class today, and with this class I'm going to be working all day, then going to class, then going home to sleep. I will have no time. There's nothing you can do about it. ... I just don't have time for you. Feel free to date other people if you want..." "Hey, now, if I barely have time to see you, I certainly don't have time to date someone else. I'm not interested in doing that." "Well, you can if you want..." We walk glumly back to her apartment, and tie the dog to the handle of the sliding-door. ¥ pulls out a stack of bills and begins to sort through them. "You can come by any time and get the stuff you've left here. Don't forget the rollerblades in the corner." I lean back against the wall, on the futon. "I don't understand. ... When did you make this decision?" "Well, it's been kind of a recurring thing. Every time we do something, I think 'sure, I have time for this, no problem', but every time afterwards I realize that no, I didn't have time, I should have been doing something else, like working, or paying these bills..." "No, I mean, when did you actually decide that the only solution was to stop seeing me? When did you make that decision?" "Well ... I guess I really made the decision this morning. Then I called you this afternoon." ¥ rips a bill open and reads it, then starts arranging some magazines. From my stunned position on the futon, I watch her without really seeing anything. "...There's something I still just don't understand. You made the decision just this morning, and you called me, and now you're telling me... It all seems so quickly made. I mean, I didn't know I was so ... I must not be very ... valuable to you." ¥ is on the verge of crying. "I guess not!" She slaps a pile of magazines onto the stack. "Even though I really like being with you, and I think you're great... I just don't have the time for you. So I guess not." She snuffles and rips open a phone bill. "Look, there are things we really can do that would help you. I'm certain of it." "Yeah, well, I'm open to suggestions. I just really don't think there's anything you can do to help." I sit and think for a while, trying to balance between three thoughts. The first is the lingering surprise at how quickly ¥'s decision had been made, and what it might say about how much ¥ really values me. Am I really so disposable? The second thought is of what dynamic I might be getting into, if I establish a pattern between us that compels me to justify my relationship with her in terms of how much time she saves. Am I devaluing myself? Providing help to someone who doesn't ask for it is a thankless job. The third thought is simply: 'What is this really about? Can I really believe her when she says it's nothing I've done, and nothing about me, that is making her want to cut me out? Is this just an excuse, pulled over the real reason? How can I ever know?' I ponder for a while, and then ask her: "If I was to get an apartment in Pasadena, would it help you?" "I don't know..." "Since your job is in Pasadena, and your night class is at Pasadena Community College, it would certainly cut down your commute time. It would give you access to a real kitchen, and more space to keep your things. It would also save you gas money." ¥ sits, crosslegged with a fan of bills stacked before her, and thinks for a hard while. "Yes. I guess it would help." "Okay. Well, I'm going to work all the rest of this week, and then I'm going to a wedding in Sacramento. After that I'm going back to Watsonville, to get my computer and some clothes and stuff, and then I'll come back here. I plan to devote a lot of time next week to finding an apartment. With my sister helping, it should go pretty quickly." "... Okay." she says. We take the dog for a walk. I hug ¥ occasionally, but mostly I keep my hands in my pockets as the three thoughts roll around in my mind. She compliments me on my bald head. We get to McDonalds and walk around to the drive-thru for a snack. ¥ wipes a bus bench off with a napkin. The dog gets a bite from his 39-cent hamburger. He gives us the universal cute-dog twitchy-ear act, and we toss him French fries, unable to resist. We chat for a while, and then at a silence, ¥ says "You know, I'm going to get snappy, and short-tempered, because I'm not going to have any time. It's probably not going to be fun hanging out with me. So I think you'd be better off if you just stopped seeing me." "That should be my decision." "Well..." she points a French fry at me. "Okay, but you've been warned. This is fair warning." "Got it." We tear the Monopoly pieces off our drink cups, and compare them. Then we croon over the dog, who is still putting on a show in hopes of beef. I relinquish a scrap of my burger, and he nibbles it very skillfully from between my fingers. My phone rings, and it is £. ¥ asks her to pick us up at the restaurant, and she agrees. I put the phone back in my bag and sit down next to ¥. She rotates in her seat, puts both legs over mine, ducks her head under my chin, and curls her arms in on my chest. I grip her and talk quietly about my plans for the next week. In a few minutes, her head goes limp and she has fallen asleep. I continue to croon at her for a while longer, encouraging her rest. Inwardly, I am amazed. She was talking a few hours ago about never seeing me again, period. Now here she is curled up under my chin. Are her gestures being overrated ... or are my attentions being undervalued ... or neither? One of the McDonald's patrons drives to the curb, waiting for a left turn. His female passenger leans out and watches me. A skinhead on a bus bench at 2:00am in Los Angeles, hugging a sleeping young woman tightly in his lap. £ rolls up in the Camaro. I shout to get her attention, and ¥ wakes up. She gathers her things while I clear the trash. When I turn back to her, she says, "I'm going to jump on you!" She does, and I catch her. We sway back and forth, heads on shoulders. £ lets us stand a minute, then yells for us to climb into the car. Back at her apartment, ¥ touches me happily, and falls asleep again on her futon. I pet her head and tell £ goodnight.
4/20/2001 5:20pm I drive the truck, with Lindsey as copilot. We stop for gas and pull up next to a big-rig. A small man leaps out, smoking a cigarette, and heads into the office alongside me to authorize his pump. His clothing is almost completely stained in grease and road-soot, accented with zany streaks of crusted blood. Keep on truckin', man. Keep on truckin' even if you shit your pants. Even if you have to crawl inside the engine to change the oil. No time for fresh clothes. Gotta keep on truckin'. I splash water on myself to stay awake and we back out into the street. I'm glad to be away, since the little crust-man is smoking his cigarette right next to the pump, as he fuels his 18-wheeler. Keep the fuck on truckin'.
10/26/2000 6:44 pm The sun fades the world out, a distant ember encased in quartz clouds, pushed far back in the corner of the sky. On the edge, watercolor stains of rain wrinkle the yellow light. Filling the plate of the world, the ocean churns, grinding itself back to formless unity. The hissing permeates my skull and drowns every thought, burying each one in a thousand unpopulated seasons. I walked down to the beach today. The chilled evening air is brushing my neck from an open window of the van. The sun is almost gone. Earlier today, when the sun was still making the white sky glow, I found a dead sea-lion on the beach. It's face had been weathered down to skull, and half it's coat was gone. When I tapped it with a boot, fat ripples echoed over the sluggish carcass. I felt like it might wake up any moment and bray the offense, but the stench over the salt air reassured me that I was alone. That smell has anchored onto some part of my mouth, and the fumes invade my nose now and then. I had kicked the corpse a few times, fascinated by the rippling, but gently so that I wasn't tempting a rupture and bile on my shoes. Around me, the birds had formed a cautious half-moon. Pelicans, seagulls, and sandpipers cast an oppressive silence. The birds were just waiting out a cold day. They said nothing. The hiss of the surf was unchallenged, but it would have won anyway. Unknown forces had planted a huge, naked tree branch in the sand, barely within reach of the water. Some behemoth's discarded slingshot. I slapped it with a gloved hand - solid foundation. Nearby was the eroded stump of another tree branch. The surf had already beaten this one. A dozen yards away I could turn around and see the looking-glass world reflected in receding waves, and the opposing fork of the slingshot wavering above an endless chasm of grey mist. Birds coasted just above the mirror, staring down their twins, waiting for the right moment to stand on them again. I had completely forgotten how primitive the northern coast is. It's not like some exotic beaches, with a new species nesting in every crack, and flowers arguing for space on cliffsides. Millions of years have crushed all but the finest organisms, unbeatable specialists whose territory ran straight up into the ice, with no dispute.
10/23/2000 10:45 pm I drive up to campus. At the guard gate, I roll down the window and the gatekeeper, an officer with a flashlight and a bored expression, asks me where I'm headed. "Crown-Merrill apartments," I say. "Kurt called for me." Usually he asks my name, and shouts it to his compadre, another bored officer stuffed into a booth. He is familiar with me and my van by now, though, and he just says "Go ahead," and jerks his flashlight up the road. His prompt affirmative surprises me, but I recover and start the van rolling again. This involves pressing the gas pedal down very slowly, so the driveshaft can ease into it's "forked up" position, instead of the "forked down" position it assumes when coasting. If I were to slam the pedal down from a parked position, at any time, I would probably break something. This is why I never, ever, let anyone else drive my car! About halfway up the foggy road to the apartments, I've reached my cruising speed of 55mph. I spend the rest of the time slowing down. At about 35mph, a student on the sidewalk jerks as if to jump out in front of me, and my finger goes up before I even think about it. A few seconds later I realize he may not have been playing a prank, but by that time everyone who's seen my finger is far behind on the roadside. I probably shouldn't be so liberal with my hexes. I slide into the ten-minute zone and tromp over to the farthest building in the complex. This particular set of rooms is the second-most remote apartment on the whole campus. Only the trailer park is more distant from the classrooms. However, no other dwelling is as far from a shuttle stop as this one is. My friends live in the boonies, but they've called their apartment "Party Central", because for some reason a great number of gatherings take place there. This evening's gathering is a role-playing game, the old-school kind involving character sheets and dice. "Legend of the Five Rings" is the name. It's over by now, and the participants are itching to get off campus and ingest greasy food. At the top of three flights of steps I catch my breath for a few seconds and knock. I hear some yelling and a thud, and Kurt yanks open the door, six feet of long-haired flannel-clad mathematics genius, with a grin so wide you'd swear you could fit a coffee saucer in his mouth. In a Monty-Python "Mr. Gumby" voice he hoots "HEY ga-RAAAAAAAAT!", and I respond with "HEYYY KuUUUUUUUUURT!" and plow into him. Beyond Kurt there is a woman lying on the floor, making very erotic noises. She's wearing levis and a black t-shirt. It's Danielle, and the dungeon-master Rob is digging his fingers into her back. She sounds like she's on the verge of an orgasm. Ken sits on the couch, reading a fantasy novel. He's got his trademark black dress-coat on, and one ankle up on the other knee. These role-playing meets are a welcome source of social life for Ken. He gets to campus by taking the bus up, after a hellish eight hour marathon behind the counter at a candy shop downtown. When he lived on campus it was much easier to find amusement, but nowadays he has to stretch a little to find a good time, and see his friends. He pulls it off though. He looks up from his book at me. "Hey, chummer! Ready to eat?" "Yep. Is everyone gathered here?" I'd sent an ICQ message to him before I drove up, telling him to make some calls and see who else in our gang was up for a midnight snack. "Don't know. Check with Kurt." Kurt has gone to his room, so I aim for the hallway. Before I get there, Danielle looks up at me from the carpet and says "hi" in an uncharacteristically shy voice. We've been having conversations over ICQ, and I think she's come to like me a lot more than before. Her smile, sideways on the rug under straight black hair, next to smooth brown eyes, is nice to see. I wave and enter the hallway. Brian is here, wearing a trenchcoat. Brian is huge. Brian is grinning. "Ah hah, there you are, you evil little man!" Brian starts drifting towards me. His arms remain at his sides. "Hey, ya big lout. What's up?" I say. "Bwahahahaa!" says Brian. He bumps into me. Brian is attempting to crush me through the wall. "Uh, I'm heading for Kurt's room. This is the wrong way, Brian." "NONE SHALL PASS!" he bellows into my face. Brian may smoosh me. I think fast. "Damn, you're horny today, eh, Brian?" "Eeergh!" says Brian, and recoils. "Trying to hump me in the hallway, eh Brian?" He hisses and pulls back. I make my break for it, and zip around him. Kurt's room is relatively secure, but before I enter it I spot Neil leaning in the door to Cassi's room. Neil remains mostly unchanged in his two years at UCSC. He still wears the same blue jacket, has the same bowl-haircut, and has the same personality. Polite, respectful, and well-researched, he's one of those rare people that acts under a strong set of principles but never tries to impose those principles on anyone else. I ask him if he wants to come to Denny's but he says he has to catch a bus home. I offer to give him a ride there, since I need to pick up his sister from the same apartment. He says that would be fine if I'm willing to wait a few minutes while he visits a friend. I agree, and he accepts. He's leaning in the door to Cassi's room because there's no floorspace inside. Cassi has boxes open on every available surface, and is trying to organize her possessions while talking with Neil. I wave hello to her and make a left-turn, and pass into Kurt's domain. It consists of a well-organized desk with a computer on it, an unmade bed, a leaning bookshelf, and half a dozen packed boxes crammed against a wall. Kurt is standing near the desk, talking on the phone. His hair frames his huge cranium. If you concentrate, you can see a hundred thousand yin-yangs twirling around his skull. He's trying to convince Milo to come with us to Denny's. I sit down at the computer and send a message to Liz, telling her to come over in 15 minutes if she wants to go out. Just as I finish, Kurt shoves the phone into my hand and walks out of the room. In a fragmented electronic blast, Milo asks me if he should walk to the apartment from the Applied Sciences building, or wait there for us to pick him up. Since I've got some time to wait for Neil, I tell him to come over here, and hang up. Liz has responded to my ICQ, but in the negative - she has to study. My business in Kurt's room concluded, I pass around Neil and into Cassi's room. Neil excuses himself from the doorway, headed for the living room. I say hello to Cassi and she shows me several old books of Chinese fables, with painted illustrations. Her belongings are quite diverse, I suspect she has everything she owns in this room, not just a supply of college necessities. She's wearing ripped bluejeans and a white t-shirt. Her tangly brown hair falls to her elbows, and she brushes it aside with freckled, muscular forearms as she shows me other books of French bedtime stories, and Russian fairy tales. "Ooo, and I just unpacked my scanner, but it's covered in stuff already!" she grins. There are papers scattered all over her bed. Both windows are covered in heavy curtains - her irregular sleep patterns demand protection from the sun. A floorlamp provides a steady stream of warm light. A huge poster of a white wolf is tacked up behind her computer desk. Her room is a den. I give her a hug. She asks if she can come to Denny's with us and I nod. She squats back on her heels, pulling scraps of paper from a box. I decide to head back to the living room, and step into the hallway. Brian is here. He looks wacky. Brian jabs me with a finger. "Poke!" says Brian. "Poke poke poke poke poke!" he says. He jabs me repeatedly, nearly driving me into a wall. "Alright, that's enough, Brian." "Never enough, silly man!" cackles Brian. "Prepare for poking!" I think fast. "First you wanna hump me, now you wanna give me a poke. You've got to control your hormones, man." Brian scowls and leans away. I shoot by him and enter the living room. He follows me. Danielle is still on the carpet. Rob is taking a break and massaging his fingers. Kurt is sprawled on the bed, a queen-size with messy sheets, next to the couch. I'm not sure why they have a bed in their living room. I jump onto it and tickle Kurt. Danielle, her head turned the other way to face me, gives me another wave and says "hi." Then Rob sets back into her, and she resumes her erotic groans. Funny - she seems intent on making a good impression with me, but she clearly has the attentions of a fine man already. Rob is a healthy looking fellow, with a trim physique and nice forearms and hands, and intimate enough to give a back massage. Why am I so interesting all of a sudden? All I did was chat with her on ICQ. Perhaps she's just trying to stake more territory in the tribe of nerds. I know four others who are after her already. Her tactics generally work, I imagine. She certainly knows the right noises. She closes her eyes and says " ... urrnhh ..." Brian's ears turn red from the sound. He really is feeling hormonal this evening. Rob moves a hand under Danielle's shirt, tracing on her lower back, and notices several knots he hadn't felt before. He announces this to her. "So just take the shirt off!" she says. "I'm sure everyone in this room has seen me naked at some point anyway." "I don't know if I really need to," says Rob. "I can probably get these knots right now." "For god's sake, man!" yells Brian. "If she wants to take her shirt off then by all means, let her!!" "Good to know the sentiment of the peewee gallery." I say, cryptically. Linda dances into the room and strikes a pose. "So then! Off we go!" she shouts. She's decked out in an airy aquamarine dress and a dense cotton wrap of some kind, over a dancers' leotard, accessorized with a handbag and sneakers. "Oh, hey, Linda!" says Ken. "Coming with?" "You bet!" She sticks her elbows out in a proud conquistador stance. "Alright, enough waiting around." I say. "Let's get going." Brian spreads his arms and says "Moooooo!", and begins jostling everyone towards the front door. Someone thinks fast, and actually opens the door, so we aren't all crushed. Outside we split into two groups, and Neil walks alongside Cassi, who follows me. I put one arm around Cassi and the other around Neil and say "Aaaaaah, friends!" All part of my plan. When they're walking in sync, and away from others, I release them both and run ahead to meet Kurt. In effect, I have arranged for Neil to be alone with Cassi. I suspect it's something he's been wanting because the "friend" he talked about visiting was her. I think he's got a bit of a crush. So Kurt and I hop on one leg for awhile, and try to find Milo. We give up and cram into the van, and just as I'm about to pull out of the ten-minute space (which I've been in for an hour now), Milo comes screaming up the walk. We slide open the door and the van eats him, and crawls off at 25 miles per hour for Denny's. I won't drive it any faster out of consideration for the brakes. I queue up Wierd Al. Kurt, Ken, Brian, and Milo all start singing "Dare To Be Stupid". Neil, Linda, and Cassi don't know the words. Kurt is sitting on the cooler, facing the back. All they need is a campfire. We get through a large portion of "Weird Al in 3-D", drop off Neil in exchange for Colleen, and pick up Chris. At Denny's we sit around three small tables pushed together in the middle of the restaurant. Brian has a very enlightened conversation with the waitress about forensics and sociopaths. I order a chicken salad. Ken and I order vanilla cokes, and when he finishes his I pass mine down the table to him, so we both get fresh ones when the waitress returns. Hijinks ensue. Linda sings a song about the lowly hedgehog, which is safe onboard navy vessels, because it "cannot be buggered at all". She passes around a miniature hedgehog named John Thomas, and Colleen fondles it while she waits for her food. Ken discusses the best way to adapt a musical to resemble a Hitchcock mystery, with all the lagging scenes and idiosyncracies of the worst in the legacy. Cassi and Kurt wrestle. Chris points out that they're cute together, because their long hair sticks, and mingles when they pull their heads apart. I ask Brian, "What do you think of the humanist philosophy?", and without any sort of pause, he responds with "It's alright but I think it's big problem is that anyone can endorse an absolute moral code which cannot be refuted by anything under the jurisdiction of humanism, so you end up with arbitrary chaos." I sit and digest that for a bit. Kurt tells everyone about his puppet project. He's going to make a video for the song "Doctor Worm", using sock puppets. The title character will be a worm behind a miniature drumset. Milo makes a stack of jam packages. I scan Brian with my "gay-dar" on my PalmPilot, and he comes up as "Free parking ... In Rear". Cassi consumes her third cup of coffee. Eventually we run out of things to laugh at, and start passing around the receipt so everyone can initial their food. A big pile of money appears on the table, and I scoop it all up except for 10 dollars, and bill the food to my credit card. Better than an ATM! On the way back up to campus I deposit Colleen, Ken, and Chris. We get through four more Weird Al songs, and I am impressed by the high percentage of lyrics that the folks in the back have memorized. Someone announces that today is actually Weird Al's birthday, and that he's 41 years old. I park in the ten-minute zone. Eventually everyone is out of the van. I walk the remaining folks to the apartment, chat a bit, shake some hands, and call it an evening. Time to get back to work!!
3/3/1999 6:28am Once upon a time, a stout young man named Chonson was walking in the forest all by himself. He was deep in thought and his hands were deep in the pockets of his thick black jacket with the fuzzy lining that he liked. He was trying to figure out something about relationships, which is always a chore, especially when one is involved in one at the time. Why was Chonson always attracted to people who were slightly insane? Lost in the forest of his mind, he forgot to track his feet. He crunched the dry leaves down one hill, and over another, only avoiding collision with the trees through peripheral vision. It's a good thing people have peripheral brain functions, or we'd always be slamming into one object or another, or dipping our donuts in ranch dressing, or causing hit-and-run accidents. Chonson was equally blessed. More so, perhaps, for this time peripheral vision failed him and he walked head-on into the huge burned out stump of a redwood tree. The presence didn't register until he had a black charcoal stain up the front of his shirt and spotting his nose. Angry that his thoughts had been broken, rubbing his nose in pained surprise, he looked down. Buried in the loose plant mulch in the stump's inner circle was a lamp. Not a battery powered lamp, or one of those stand-up lamps either, this was a squat brassy one made for holding oil. Looked like an elongated teakettle. Chonson, wiping his soot-stained hand on his pants, was standing ass-over-teakettle. Sorry about that humor there. Chonson wasn't any more eloquent. He sniffed his nose, squinted, said: "What the fuck?" He reached down for the handle of the lamp, which was pointing upmost. Yanked it forcefully out of the damp ground. The dirt slid off easily - the lamp was polished. Chonson inspected it, rotating it in his hands. On the bottom, in loopy gold script, was written: rub me, stupid Chonson was familiar with all those fairy stories, so, holding the lamp in one hand, he hooked the sleeve of his jacket back with a finger. Grinning like a maniac, well hell, grinning as a maniac, he commenced rubbing the side of the lamp vigorously with the meat of his exposed forearm. Nothing poofed, which he had expected anyway, but just the same he gave another eloquent cry: "Ah, fuck you!" He wound back and hurled the lamp against the inner face of the burned stump. Soot chipped off the wall and peppered his eyes, a consequence Chonson hadn't considered. "Arrrgh!" he screamed, rubbing his eyes and blinking. As he opened his eyes, though, he chanced to look down again. The lid of the lamp had popped off, and a neatly folded note of college-rule paper was leaning out the top of the lamp onto the soil. More eloquence from Chonson: "Huh?" He slid the note from its brass safehouse and unfolded it curiously - one fold, two, three, four. Birds chirped somewhere above him. He wedged the creases with his fingers and peered. Written in the center of the page, with a thick black pen, was: other arm, stupid Now Chonson was unsettled. Someone knew a bit about psychology and was playing a strange foresty joke on him. He rolled his eyes. He lifted the paper up to one side of his face, over his shoulder, and let it go. It drifted down somewhere behind him, he supposed. He didn't care, the action was mostly symbolic. Chonson was always the actor, expressing feelings to his own internal audience, which for the proper viewing angle was apparently buried in the back wall of the burned stump just now. Just the same, he picked up the lamp and the lid. Might as well indulge the joke - and not leave anything to chance. He snapped the curvy sides of the lid back on the lamp. A pretty well assembled trinket, this was. Maybe Chonson would take it home and use it as a gravy boat. No wait, Chonson hated gravy. Then again, perhaps he would just hurl it farther into the woods. Best to be safe though. Cover all the angles. In a quick greedy flash he yanked his other jacket sleeve back and sanded down the starboard face of his shiny bauble. The metal was cold but the friction soon eliminated that. About a half-dozen rubs later, the lid popped off the lamp with an audible 'ping' noise and hit the dirt. Chonson halted, raised an eyebrow. Maybe it wasn't so well designed after all. He reached down to reclaim the lid, and as he hurled forward and collided with the side of the stump again, he registered that someone had just kicked him hard in the ass. "Ooof!" said Chonson, a little belatedly. "Hey!" Now he would see the face of his practical joker, and boy would he give them a tongue lashing, involving much waving of fists and all that. He straightened up and razzed the soot from his hair with a free hand, and spun around for a confrontation. Standing there was a beautiful woman, about his age. She was about his height, too, but had lighter hair - a short brown cut that matched the hue of the Autumn forest. It was definitely her natural color, observed Chonson, for she was naked. Except for a pair of hiking boots, and thick wool socks. Just enough to kick him in the ass. Her arms were at her sides, and her head and mouth were tilted in an expression of mixed amusement and impatience. Oh, fine, since Chonson would have obviously looked as well, I might as well inform you that yes, she did have nice breasts. Satisfied? Good. Now forget about it. This apparition is obviously a genie. Chonson was too completely surprised to come to this conclusion though. His hand had stopped in his hair mid-razz, which was a pretty good compliment to the rest of his dumbfounded, monkey-like expression. His eyebrows did a schizophrenic dance. "Er...?" said his mouth. Her voice was elvish, and oddly amplified. She hit each syllable very hard, as though some effects mixer had turned the treble up way too high on her microphone. "I figured this would get your attention." she said. "I'm the Julie of the lamp. If you want a wish granted, say it. I'm usually on a schedule, but appointments are sparse just now. So you can take your time thinking, if you want." Chonson was unable to decide. He supposed that playing along with the joke wouldn't be too bad. Since he was apparently given time to think, he could easily justify his current action of simply standing with his hand in his hair. Well, no, he looked rather silly. So he finished brushing soot away and let his hand fall to his front, where it helped the other grip the lamp. He leaned slowly back against the wall of the stump, totally unaware of the black stain it would make on his jacket. If you can't see it, peripheral vision can't help you. She could have just walked around the side of the stump. But why hadn't Chonson heard leaves crunching? For that matter, how had she known when to appear? Chonson looked down for the note he had discarded, but didn't see it. Maybe he should just take things at face value. Yes, that's it. He looked back at Julie, pausing at her breasts on the way up to her face. This situation isn't bad at all, he supposed. Visually, Chonson shrugged. Julie arced an eyebrow. "Any ideas?" she intoned. Chonson thought. Yes, thinking, that's familiar. What had he been thinking about all day? Oh yeah. Relationships. Perhaps he could use Julie as a psychotherapist. "Well," he said, looking off to the side, "I'm having ... relationship problems. And ..." Julie actually grimaced. "This is going to be a tough one." she said. Somewhat encouraged, Chonson continued, clutching the lamp and the wall for support. "I can't figure out ... something about myself. I don't know why I'm always attracted to ... crazy people. I mean, not completely crazy. Just ... slightly crazy, I guess." Julie sighed and looked down, then up again. "Can't you just wish for something like a million dollars or a really good sandwich? Those might be better. Wishing for knowledge always has problems. Especially self-knowledge." Chonson didn't really believe she was a genie, not fully, anyway. He was very attached to his highly refined ideas about how the universe worked, and genies didn't sit well with any of them. But maybe Julies did. Maybe Julies were just ordinary people playing strange elaborate pranks in the woods. Knowledge was something he felt that even a Julie could provide. So, "Yeah," he said. "I really would like to know what's going on with me. Why I ... Why I can't just fall for regular people. What's wrong with regular people?" Julie adjusted her stance, appeared to consider. "Maybe you just haven't met the right regular person." Now it was Chonson's turn to sigh and look down. "Maybe nobody's 'regular'. Maybe everyone is slightly insane, and I'm just focusing on the insanity in everyone." There was a pause, which the birds filled. Eventually Chonson looked up. Julie tried another tack. "So what is it you like about insanity?" she asked. Chonson wished the effects-mixer would cut it out with the treble. He fancied it should be hurting his ears, though he couldn't really tell where the sound was coming from. Julie did appear to speak, though. Maybe he was having an acid flashback. Oh wait, he'd never taken acid. Maybe it was something he'd eaten for breakfast. Oh wait, he hadn't eaten breakfast. Er. Vitamin deficiency? Hold it, we're off track here. Chonson yanked his thoughts together again. What was so great about insanity? Chonson knit his eyebrows. "Insane people are ... intense. They do strange things. They're different. They're interesting. Yeah, I guess that's it, really ... they're always interesting." That was solid. He looked up for Julie's answer. "Those are good qualities, but not any that I would base a relationship on. What do you seek in a relationship, Chonson?" Chonson was too busy thinking to notice that she knew his name. Unconsciously, he let go of the lamp with one hand and rubbed his cheek, where stubble was threatening to look like a beard in a few more days. "I look for ... hmmm. Sharing. Someone I can share support with. Someone who can be warm and comforting and romantic, but also ... active. Strong. Self-assured. Someone who can be as tough as I am, so that they can be an equal, instead of always a burden or always a support. Someone who cares about people more than stuff. Someone who cares about comfort more than fashion. Health more than looks. Someone-" "Whoah, hold it, hold it, stop." Julie held a palm up to Chonson's outpouring of desires. "Let's focus on what you said first: Someone you can share support with. That's not very well related to why you seek insane people: Because they're always interesting." "But ... I don't want support from someone that bores me or doesn't understand me!" shouted Chonson. "How could they provide support?" He shook his hands in consternation, fanning the air with the lamp. Julie turned slightly to cock an ear. "Say what? So emotional support from boring people doesn't count?" Chonson sought better words. "It doesn't ... help." he finished, unhappily. "And the interesting people, the insane people, ... they just don't provide it." "You know," began Julie, "I think you're making a big mistake here. I think you're making a division between people where a division doesn't really exist." She gestured expansively at the forest with her hand. "Look at your dating history. Some of the people you've been with were quite boring. Two in particular were almost lethargic. Just the same, you offered and received support from them. But you left them because they weren't 'interesting'. And the 'interesting' people you've dated - perhaps you've spent too much time being interested in them, and not enough time engaging the support that they could provide. So you got burned out and separated. Maybe ... " said Julie, in a slow voice, "Maybe you've just got to find a balance." Chonson looked down. "A balance." he said, doubtfully. "Open up to those interesting people. Depend on their support like they can depend on yours." Chonson was exasperated. "And set myself up to be hurt every time they deny it?" "Yes." confirmed Julie, tenderly. Chonson sighed, looked up at the forest canopy. "What a crapshoot." he said, depressed. "I'll probably never meet someone I'm that ... comfortable with, and interested in too." Julie shrugged. "There's got to be someone out there, right?" she said, encouragingly. Chonson signed again, still scanning the sky. "I wish I knew." "Fair enough. There is." A poof is an interesting sound. It's not at all what you expect from watching Looney Tunes, with that big puff of smoke and the wheeze like a grandfather on a treadmill. It's more like a huge object being dropped from a great height onto a damp haystack. Not an easy sound to imagine. But try it sometime, when you have a damp haystack and, say, a Mercury Tracer handy. The sound itself was so disturbing that Chonson had been staring forward in surprise for a good four or five seconds before he even noticed that Julie was gone. He looked down at his empty hands. Hadn't he found a lamp with them just a while ago? No lamp. No Julie. What an odd afternoon. Unsure how much to believe of what he remembered, Chonson stepped from the sheltering black walls of the burned stump. Peripheral vision bore most of the task navigating him back to the edge of the forest, as he was more deeply in thought than ever. What should he do now? Place an ad in the paper? Post signs at the bus stops? Wait on street corners hoping to recognize the person he was after? All these ideas seemed ridiculous. Maybe he was better off not knowing. Perhaps he should have asked for a really good sandwich instead. Anyone who could afford a pair of hiking boots like those could at least afford to buy him a sandwich. But then again, she apparently couldn't afford any other clothing. Chonson shrugged in his soot-striped jacket. These forest walks were funny sometimes.
2/20/1999 2:04am £ sits down in a living room chair next to ¥, and they begin talking. I observe § collapsed on the floor, with his bed halfway assembled. I take his glasses from his hand and set them on the table, then pack them in his coat and jacket, which I lay on a chair. I unfold the pad and he steps onto it, dazed. A few blankets from the closet make a snug cover for him. He asks me to take him back to his place if I leave for Watsonville, but I decide to let him sleep the night undisturbed. I notice how loud the music is, and dig my Hans Christian Surrender CD out of the other room. The subdued melodies of the cello permeate the ceiling. Tenderly I pack the covers in around §'s exhausted form. £ and ¥ are still sitting in their chairs discussing the success of the party. I look around for things to do; a jittery desire to do cleanup chores has gripped me. I want a sense of completion to buffer the impending relaxation I seek. I walk into the kitchen and put away the milk left out. I clear some trash off the table. I rub my eyes with my hand, wandering back to the living room. Okay, now I can relax. I approach £ and fall gently to my knees, grasping her right leg. I place my forehead on it briefly. One of her hands reaches automatically down and I take it in mine. Leaning sideways against the edge of the chair, upright between £'s spread legs, I face ¥ and listen to the discussion with heavy-lidded eyes. I enjoy £'s touch, but the feelings are diluted by the rapidly growing soreness of my ribs against the hard wooden lip of the chair. I lift one hand and pull it over £'s body, so it grasps her other leg. In doing so I turn to face her, and from my kneeling position I lean forward, collapsing gently onto her stomach. I tilt my head to the side and wedge my right ear against her right side, in the hollow between her leg and the underside of one breast. I move my hands up and slide them behind her. She is scooted forward slightly, and I pull my hands into fists to fill in the space between her back and the chair. I am essentially embracing her in a big, low, bear hug, my body posed as if in prayer. £ accepts my movements, and lays one arm over my back, and scratches the hair at the top of my neck with the other hand. I hear and feel the warmth of her body and the pleasant attention of her touch. I am happy. I cannot help but breathe in a succession of deep, contented sighs. I stay like this for a good while, drinking in the time, knowing that this has made the dangerous trip back from Davis worthwhile. I purr. I emit little noises over my breath, unaware I am doing it at first, then accepting of it. ¥ and £ continue to discuss the evening, and ¥ makes a list of all the people who attended. The total was around 30. The subject switches to a particular guest that ¥ knows is interested in her, and then to relationships and boyfriends in general. I haul my head up to add a comment or two, then nestle myself back in £'s arms. The CD ends, and the conversation moves on over silence. ¥ mentions that, though she feels annoyed at not having a relationship right now, she is still glad to be hanging out with the two of us, as we are both very good friends of hers. I realize that ¥ is seeing £ and I through our current actions, and they are the actions of two compassionate, comfortable, and affectionate people. For the moment, to my mind, this is exactly right. Distantly I regret § not being awake to observe this so he could finally understand that £ and I do more than philosophise and angst. Eventually I pull myself out of my happy position, because my lower back is getting sore. I get a drink of water and sit down near £'s feet again, one hand casually in hers. ¥ and I talk for a while. £ gets up to go to the bathroom, and I sit in her chair. When she returns she complains of being cold. She picks up her blue sweater but it is by the window and is very chilly. Instead I pass her my grey one, which she and I have been resting against since it was draped over the back of the chair. She puts it on and sits on the floor in front of me, then I pull her up and she sits on the edge of the chair instead, wrapped between my knees and in my arms. I hug her and we continue the discussion with ¥. Eventually £ and ¥ grow tired. £ slides down from my arms and rests against my legs, and I lean forward and run my hands affectionately over her tired face and through her hair. In the end I simply sit, with my head turned to the side and resting on top of hers, and my hands cradling the sides of her face. My eyes are shut but I am aware that my expression is not blank. My mouth is set and eyebrows knit in a cast of vital affection and contentedness. I don't know if it's normal for one to keep suddenly noticing one's own expressions or feelings, like they have to be realized and acknowledged instead of just felt. But it's what I've always done. And here and now, I realize, I am feeling quite happy. I am enclosing a precious piece of my existance in my arms, with my attention, my care, the heat from my body. Do I live for others? Part of me does. Is living for others living danerously? Yes. ¥ decides to turn in, and she gets up and moves to us for a hug. As one unit, £ and I hug her, our hands moving to her back and petting her hair. She comes into our little glowing circle, and we bathe her unabashedly in it, sharing it with her. I can almost see the warmth. ¥ stays with us overlong, which we don't mind. I remember being in ¥'s position a few years ago with Skot and Torrey. I visited their apartment to watch movies and stayed with them for most of the night. Between the two of them I perceived a safe glow, and it was an oasis to me. I laid next to Skot with my head in Torrey's warm lap, her hands massaging my temples, and listened to the two of them talk. I understood that warmth and took it in as much as I felt allowed, using it to sustain me while I tried to establish it elsewhere, for myself. I never felt jealous of them. They were both far too good to me as friends for that kind of resentment. I do remember feeling a twinge of discontent with myself though. I hung out with them as often as I could, trying to learn that glow better. Trying to see more clearly how it was generated and why. And now here I am sharing that glow with someone, and here is someone in need of our warmth. Take all you need, ¥, there is always more.
1/23/1999 12:04am I pack up my things in order to be gone just as she arrives. I am Backed Off. Just before I leave, she asks him to stay around for a while, and they retreat to her room and begin a heated discussion - he is giving her his opinion about something as I close the door behind me and begin a long walk through the fog to the east remote lot. I feel - backed off. I feel disconnected. I feel as if things are, or are about to be, settled. I suspect that the outcome is going to be mundane. I lament to myself that the two-edged sword of psychology has cut both ways. She feared me because she thought I was inexperienced. Perhaps this shows that she feared me because she was inexperienced. I feared that, when I backed off, the memory of being connected would fade from her mind and I would be just another friend in many. And this has happened to me. I did the backing off. And I did the forgetting. And the very worst part of this cool separation I feel, like the fog wetting my face and clothing as I walk, is void where interest was. I could still reach out to her and dig my way into her mind again, like I did starting the whole thing. I could pull her from her home, startle her and myself out of the comfortable course of our days. I could still do it, after a quiet mustering of effort. But I don't feel like it. I'm detatched. I didn't pay attention to my own feelings. I stumbled over them in my concern for doctoring hers. I've planted some ideas in her head, I've thrown a host of new outlooks at her that she may try on. Perhaps I was right the very second I saw her. My first cursory evaluation. She meets it with silence. She gives nothing back. She doesn't know how. I hate being right. But that's not right. She does give back. She has listened. She has heard, and understood me, many times as we've talked. On the heels of all this, as I stand in the mist eating a banana I'd swiped from the dining hall (the guitar is stowed safely in the van now), I have another silly realization. In the past, a hundred thousand young men just like me have stood outside in the dark and tried to figure out why they can't make some relationship with some young woman work. I'm just another on the pile, and these feelings aren't new to this very old world. I really thought for a while that something was going to be different here. That I had something original. Maybe it's false sophistication. What I thought was carefully chosen simplicity was just undeveloped simplicity. What I thought were purposefully avoided ideas were just unexplored ones. I did it again - I expected too much complexity from someone. From everyone. Or am I wrong? Have I forgotten everything we have in common in favor of what justifies my sensibilities? I feel that things are settled, and settled so that she will push me out and close me off. Maybe they're settled some other way. Maybe something else entirely has been settled, and this is still as open and complex and pregnant a question as ever. Maybe I'm just bullheaded, and wrong, and should throw up my hands and walk away from it.
1/9/1999 4:56pm We gather in the sunshine a few yards from the van. Someone has been left behind, and it behooves us to wait. Making little insect noises, flapping my arms in the depths of my fuzzy blue sweater, I walk away in twisty, mincing little steps. My mind is a complete blank, though the smooth surface is hazed in the vapor of fermenting confusion. In the distance I notice a little cat, sitting under an oak tree. I begin a slow, winding ascent in the yellowed grass, towards the animal, clicking and occasionally flapping my arms. My brain, if it is anywhere at all, is obviously on break. About ten yards away, the cat realizes I am approaching and bolts for the woods. My hopeful destination of "kitty" has been cancelled, so now I wander in complete chaos, until I finally sit down hard in a bed of leaves and put my head in my hands. Distantly I notice my friends again. They are talking amongst themselves, no longer waiting for the straggler. A decision is reached. In a few moments I hear the crunching footsteps of a single person. That would have to be ß. He walks up and slowly sits crosslegged next to me. He says nothing, and remains silent for a good while. In the meantime I am completely lost. The most intense feeling of confusion I've ever known has washed over me. I don't know who I am, I don't know what I want to do, I don't know where I should go next. My eyes wet themselves and my throat aches. There is no problem "out there" in the general world, but it is a defect, a break, in my own soul, bleeding fear and obscuring my rationality with an eraser. In broken; tones I finally speak to ß. "I don't know ... what the fuck's going on." ß has never seen me like this, or even close to this. I have actualy not been like this for a long time. I am not only unable to understand my own feelings, but unable to understand their cause. The only element that has really changed recently is ... §. Somehow I have submerged myself in the same confusion that is eating away at §. An acidic frame of mind that erodes structure. Nihilism, on a leash, is a very useful attitude - you can endure any hardship with only a vague sense of amusement as an aftereffect. She and I are both at our best when there is a life-threatening disaster in the offing. Nihilism without a leash is a different situation. All your procedures for finding meaning in the world suddenly turn up an endless procession of cardboard props that pitch over when you reach for them. The only method of coping I have experienced is to simply let nihilism loose, and stand back. Eventually, if you're lucky, the horrible critter will fall asleep. And if you're luckier still, you can tie it to some piece of furniture. Trouble is, sometimes it starts whining and you gotta toss it a bone now and then. And that's as far as I'm willing to stretch that analogy. Anyway, the critter is loose in my brain, gnawing with acid teeth on some part of it's anatomy. I can't bear to look at ß so I notice the leaves again. "Nothing makes any sense at all." I add. ß tries to comfort me, and suggests we go out to eat and talk. Eventually I sigh, hauling myself up out of my head with a disused but well-remembered pain: the sting like a dozen needles injecting morphine into some part of me that will now be silent, but will come back throbbing later. My adolescense was peppered with that suppressing act, for reasons I was never able to adequately justify with my upbringing - which was well provided and relatively safe. I didn't learn of the term "clinically depressed" until I was in my late teens, and even then the proffered solutions - drugs and therapy - both seemed ridiculous in my sight. So I refused to accept the label. I was going to eat my inner pain for breakfast, and I'll be damned if I'll ever use it like the excuse it's often declared in others. When life gives you lemons,... eat them. They're loaded with vitamin C. If all your life is lemons, you better damn well develop a taste for lemons! Nyeah!! But anyway, I rant.
1/1/1999 4:56pm I snap my mood over one knee resolutely when I spot Alex and Linda tromping out across the bridge from the dorms. I catch up with them in a sneak-attack hug, and fall in marching on a roundabout route to the theatre-arts building. We gather Phaedra at her room on the way. Alex raves to me about his search for the perfect new-year calendar, then raves to me about how dumb he sounds for raving about calendars, then says that it's my turn. So I rave about Maria. Alex nods and adjusts his glasses and says he knows what I'm saying. He doesn't like Maria either. Linda and Alex and I arrive at a picnic table. Ken and Kurt wander up to it, and we have a reunion of sorts in the dusty sunbeams bisecting the cold air under the redwoods. Linda produces some chocolate from her backpack and passes it around. She waggles her eyebrows at me and asks when I'm ready to do the photo shoot in the woods with her and her friends. I nudge Phaedra and tell her, "See? We've started a trend!" She smiles. Linda is insistent though, so I decide to have a bit of fun and pull the old camera out of my backpack. I pose her on a nearby chunk of sculpture, and have a few more friends crowd around for good measure. Ken and Kurt yipe some busy alarmed noises and herd us all into a classroom. It is a theatre class. People are trying out for parts in plays written and directed by fellow classmates. In the hubbub of milling students before the proper start of the lecture, I spy someone I'd never expected to see again in my life. She has tousled brown hair, straighter and much longer than I remember it. She's also somewhat taller than I remember. Clear, very red-toned skin covers a high, traingular face. Lips slightly parted, showing a small stripe of large, even upper teeth. She is wearing a loose t-shirt and a light jacket, and skin-tight black pants displaying her muscular ass in close-cropped relief. Yup. It's Yvonne from Cabrillo. Well, that's not actually her name. I stride up to her, completely unashamed of my interest, and shake her hand. We discuss the teacher in the math class we'd last seen each other in. He looked like Scrooge McDuck, I tell her. She laughs. It's the same laugh as ever. I say: "I really only remember two things about that class. The first was how much the teacher reminded me of Scrooge McDuck. The second was ..." and here I stop in my tracks, quickly thinking better of what I was going to say, which was this: "The second was your legs under that stretchy purple sweater you wore. You'd sit with the sweater pulled over your knees and those extremely short jogging shorts; I liked to imagine that you had nothing on at all under that sweater. It was much more interesting than what was on the board." Instead I say: "... uuhh ... and I can't even remember what the second thing was!" and hastily change the subject. Smart man! Class starts and I sit in the semi-circle. The kindly teacher gives a patient, but matter-of-fact lecture about how tryouts work and how directors should select, and then calls for a first volunteer. The ball is set rolling, and in turn each actor walks up beyond the semi-circle to stand under the canopy of heavy black curtains and recite a monologue, announcing their name and phone number as well. Those without prepared monologues are asked to tell an amusing story. Phaedra leaves during this process, complaining of hunger. Ken sits studiously with a pad of paper, scrutinizing each actor through his thick glasses and making little notes. He is directing Kurt's play, and must seek actors. He goads me to get up and strut my stuff, and I sit thinking until the very last possible moment, trying to come up with a story to tell. I settle on Andy's Auto Experience, and roll through it with a narrative force that I am surprised by. As I sit down one of the directors asks if I can dance. I tell him I don't have any professional experience, but I like to boogie to music. Ken leans to my ear conspiratorially, and whispers: "That was good. You're going to get offers." I shoo him away, embarassed. The next minute he shoves his pad of paper in my face, with a pen pressed to it under his thumb. The header reads: Soul's signed away here: And there is a list of parts under it. The pen points to the character of B0b, which we'd agreed I was to act for long before today. Ken is eager to sign me away before someone else puts stars in my eyes. I take the pen, vehemently scribble out the erroneous apostrophe in the header, and then sign in the right place.
1/1/1999 4:56pm This went on for about a minute and the dream slowly hazed out. I was lying by the wood-burning stove in the downstairs living room of the Scotts Valley house, warm and toasty, staring into the coals of the fire. The oranges and yellows were the most vibrant colors I'd ever known, shimmering beyond gold in a wavelength that was almost audible, the angelic song of fire. The heat drew the moisture from the skin of my face like sap. My eyes should have surely dried out but for some reason I didn't have to blink. I could stare continuously at the wood as it bloomed into tissue-thin sheets, oozing flames, blue fringes licking over the cooler spots like lightning, the ink in the paper occasionally birthing a geyser of deepest emerald green, flashing for an instant. I felt pure rapture from such beauty, boring in directly through my eyes. Deeper at the core of the coals my vision was overloaded, and everything bled to white in the heat, wavering on a longer bandwidth, an irregular heart. I felt like a cat curled on an exquisite fur rug. My body was ticking around me like a clock (or a bomb, as some see it), as always, but on top of this harried blood I was somehow residing in an infinite stretch of peace and warmth. The mystery of life. I woke up abruptly, as a garbage truck set down a dumpster across the street.
12/29/1998 1:12am After feasting, Ken and I walked to Kate and Lisa's apartment in Crown/Merrill. Carolyn and Kate were gone (it was lab night for Carolyn), but John and Kurt and Lisa and Neil were in. Kurt was running Christmas lights all around the room by standing on top of the chairs and tables and cussing loudly. Every four feet along the wire he'd apply a patch of masking tape and staple the tape to the wall by bashing his unfolded stapler repeatedly with one fist, swearing each time the tape ripped. This is not to say that he didn't swear when the tape didn't rip. He was swearing constantly, in fact. It was amusing to hear Kurt spew such foul words, as he is usually a man of unshakable Good Humour. The way he cast aspersions on the Christmas decorations led me to suspect that he had just discovered the cathartic pleasures of a good curse. More power to him, I felt, though I was compelled to help him tape up the lights for the sake of his stapler.
12/08/1998 12:56am That's the way Microsoft works. Essentially what it does is, when a company invents some great new product, they loom over the company and attempt to buy it outright, and if that doesn't work, they steal the idea, create their own (shitty) version of it, and then use shifty-ass advertising to try and make their version more ubiquitous than the company's. That's been the pattern with MS-DOS (bought), Windows 3.1 (stolen from Xerox/Apple), MS-Office (stolen from Claris), Internet Explorer (stolen from Netscape), Microsoft Visual C (structure liberally swiped from Borland, then co-evolved to fuck Borland over), Java (licensed, then hacked into something else to undermine the source company)... That pretty much covers every product they make. They don't have a SINGLE original product!! I mean, it's really incredible, once you think of it, this company is a perfect example of repulsive business tactics. They're out to fuck up everybody, customers and competitors alike and they really deserve to be crushed and gutted.
11/19/1998 1:55am Familiarity. That, to me, is what kills everything. People don't stop looking because they've found what they were looking for. They stop looking when they get sick of looking. When they're sick of being in unfamiliar territory. Keeping what they've got, when they've got it, is a better alternative to going back to a search that, up until now, has never ended. Circumstances and time. That, and a reassuring sense of control. I can understand it being in the nature of some people, or many people, but it's the innate nature of everyone! I don't like this role. I don't know how long I can continue to give this concern, this care, this attention, these emotions... Without getting anything back for them. I feel like a dry stick on the forest floor. I'm shocked, really. How long does this go on for? Does the dry spell end? I didn't expect to have to keep going like this without getting anything back! I am sick, sick, sick of giving to people. I should just stop all this. Stop all this asking helpful questions, this hugging people, this driving people around and ranking their concerns with mine and giving back massages and petting people to sleep at night and counseling people on the phone and respecting everyone's emotions and opinions. Screw all these people, they can get on by themselves, and my life will be less complicated without them.
11/18/1998 5:09pm Did you see the meteor shower last night or the night before? Sources say that it was the only chance to see such a shower in the next 35 yeas. Must have been an excellent view where you were. The Crown-Merrill house made plans to hike up to the meadow and watch it on Monday, but it was cloudy and soon it started to rain. I decided to drive back to Watsonville instead of sleeping there (because I would have had to get up at 8am), but I kept driving past Watsonville and down the coast, then into the hills along a windy road towards 101. Saw a couple stars above me, but only the brightest ones. It was still cloudy. When I had made the circle around from 101 back to Watsonville it was 3:00am -- and by then it had stopped raining! By Bob, astronomy waits for no one. I was going to make every effort possible to see that shower. I drove to the edge of Watsonville and alongside a strawberry field, and tromped out of the car in my hiking boots. Laid down on top of the roof and looked up. Had the doors open with some music playing softly. The clouds had broken up and were oozing between me and outer space like a hypnotic patchwork, and for all my troubles that evening I was rewarded. I saw dozens of burning objects etch scars into the blackness behind the clouds. It was pretty awesome, especially knowing that those things came from another part of the galaxy, and were going upwards of a hundred and fifty thousand miles per hour.
9/29/1998 11:09pm I met Ken on the street outside Hunter's house. He had organized the things in his car and changed into a full period costume, including a thick blue cape and an overlong leather belt. A few more inches and he would have been stepping on it. Long belts were the style of the time, according to Ken. So were the turkish leather shoes with the pointy toes that he was wearing, and the doublet, and the legwear that I kept wanting to call 'pantaloons' for some reason. He was decked out in order to man a table for the Students for Creative Anachronism at the OPERS picnic that we were going to attend later in the day. But first, lunchtime. We reveiwed our options and chose fast food at a Carl's Jr in the mall, which Ken paid for. Over slabs of charred beef and ranch dressing we had another philosophical discussion, this time about the motives behind Goth culture. Rebellion to and expression of religion? Social commentary about nihilistic consumerism? Or pure boredom? As usual, we considered the idea from a rapidly expanding set of angles and had to conclude that it could be motivated by practically anything at all. --Though we did agree that, in the majority, it was a rather silly practice. We cruised across town and dropped the film off at CostCo. To our dismay, the sign said it wouldn't be done until Thursday, the day after Phaedra was scheduled to leave. Oh well, we'd just have to mail the pictures to her. Onward to UCSC, and the OPERS picnic. Ken gave me a big blue hat to make me look more in-character, but I saw myself in the reflection of a window and had to decline. So he wore it himself. I grabbed my backpack and locked the van and we huffed up the hill toward OPERS. To my right I saw a little league soccer team and remembered that I still didn't have soccer shoes, which was probably just as well since Rocky Horror was going to devour my free time most readily this quarter. We came up the rise and gazed upon the east field and about a thousand students, buzzing around rows of tables representing various student organizations. The weather was clouded and chilly, and the misty ocean faded into the sky by degrees along the horizon. A haggard looking band was set up on an artificial black riser, playing jazz with a latin flavor on a range of well maintained instruments hooked to expensive amplifiers. Later on in the show a fire-engine would come screaming around the fieldhouse and a humanoid banana slug wearing a football jersey would jump down and start harrassing the picnicers, all on camera. The next day I would see a shot of this character on the front page of the paper. Whatever. Ken and I penetrated the human mass and saw very few people we knew. We searched far and wide but couldn't locate the table Ken was supposed to be recruiting with. We did find Scott in his cocky felt hat, shouting from the top of his chair behind the Swingin' Slugs table. He was gathering recruits left and right with his loud charm-- At a loss for catch-phrases, he simply shouted "Come drop acid with the Swinging Slugs! Join the Swinging Slugs and get all the sex you can handle! Free cocaine at the Swinging Slugs!" The other half of his table belonged to an ultimate-frisbee club whose captains were long gone. It's not inconceivable that Scott frightened them off. I sat down and read from a handy book of student poetry while Ken stood on a chair next to Scott and made some prefunctory shouts for his SCA group. He did get a few people interested, though most recruits were for Scotts' swing-dancing. Ken talked for a while with a goth-seeming girl wearing a long black dress, blocky buckled shoes, and a multitude of nice freckles. I was very shocked to observe that her hair was red at the roots. This girl had fine, thick, red hair - and had dyed it BLACK! I couldn't understand why anyone blessed with red hair in this fashion-obsessed culture would dye it black. Part of her goth costumery I suppose. I would have admired her for rebelling enough to sacrifice an attractive hair-color, except that I find most goth culture covertly ridiculous. The day got colder and colder, and I complained to Ken and borrowed his cape. I really didn't want to be at this OPERS thing. I went wandering through the crowds and found a drum-circle, and when that was over Ken and I began a trek up to Merrill, assuming that we could find something to do there.
9/28/1998 11:30pm I woke up earlier than the others and fussed around in the kitchen, praparing hashbrowns and eggs with bell peppers. It turned out to be just enough to feed the three of us. I wanted my star to have a good meal before her appearance. We packed all the accessories we could think of into bags and Phaedra's suitcase, and she dressed in jeans and hiking boots, and a green blouse knotted neatly into a shape like a bikini top. I commented to Ken that while the weather looked good so far, it would be annoying if we got all the way up there and the second we set up for the first picture, the clouds rolled in. Ken scolded me vehemently for saying such a thing out loud. "That's just the sort of thing you don't say. Actors know it, directors know it, the crew knows it. It's like, 'Well at least I didn't fall off stage!' SMACK! 'Oh. Well at least we didn't knock over the props!' WHACK! 'Hey, well, at least the props didn't break!' CRACK! You just don't say it. It's like MacBeth." We were on the road in a relatively short time, and our first stop was the fallen oak tree that I'd spied off the road near the graveyard in Soquel. I collected some leaves and we walked around the site, admiring it with an eye for potential photographs. One good setup involved Phaedra standing at or sitting on the main fork of the fallen oak tree, in the brown sweater. There was a lot of poison oak around, which she didn't like. We decided to keep it in mind, and oak leaves in hand, we drove off. Next we drove to Camera Club on Mission Street and picked up a fully manual camera on the cheap side. Ken, bless his heart, was ready to front the $200 deposit required to rent, but they never asked us for the money. Well darn. Heh. Charge for one day was about 20 bucks, which cleaned out my pockets nicely. I already had some film, but it was 200 speed. 36 exposures. It would have to do. We drove onto UCSC and parked at the turnout. Everyone had a full load of ill-packed baggage to cart down to the forest, including a leather welding glove, a tupperware container of banana bread, a single can of coke, and a horrendously ugly blanket. I marvelled at how perfect the weather was, silently so as not to trigger any hexes. We set up on the bench near the muted spring. Phaedra opened the suitcase and we reveiwed our props. A brown sweater, a dark-blue sweater, a polka-dotted tank top, a white tank top, a pair of shorts, a t-shirt, and a gossamer green serpent outfit (halloween costume). I instructed Phaedra to change into the white tank top. Ken held up the blanket he'd brought from the car and Phaedra changed facing it. "Little does Phaedra know, Ken has special X-ray vision: He can see through TACKY LIME GREEN!" Trying to fill my role as director, I declared randomly that our first shots were the field shots. Phaedra and I went to the little hollow in the grass straightaway, but poor Ken got lost in the bushes and had to plunge his way through the thickest part of the foliage in order to follow our voices directly. We stood picking plants from him for a minute, then Phaedra took off her shoes and sat down between the bushes. We fussed over angles and I gave her expicit instructions on hand positioning and poked at individual spokes of grass, like a prissy director is expected to do. Then I laid down on the ground for the shot. Three pictures and we were done. After that we decided to go straight for what we called the 'moneymaker' shots, the setting I'd seen in the dream. We cleared out a patch of earth at the foot of a huge redwood tree, keeping only a scattering of the light-brown spines and as much of the compressed dark mulch as possible. Ken fetched the oak leaves in the bag while I fussed with the drooping redwood branches to get them out of the shot. As per Ken's suggestion, I formed a little pillow out of spines that Phaedra could rest her head on to elevate it for a better angle. That done, I heaved myself a ways up the side of the tree and out along the horizontal trunk of a smaller tree that had bent in the process of seeking the sun from behind it's parent's thick skirt of branches. Looking down, this provided a view from almost directly above our cleared area. It was only about eleven feet in the air, but when Ken passed me the camera I could fit more than enough of the ground into the shot. It's a good thing it worked, because there was really no better option anywhere in our scouted area. Anyway, Phaedra discretely shed her tank-top and laid down where I instructed her to. I fussed a little more about the exact positioning of her knees and the angle of her back, and Ken carefully placed oak leaves in and around her hair. Phaedra suggested that she smile enigmatically for the shot, which was OK by me. I took four shots, two without leaves in her hair, two on the 30th-of-a-second setting instead of the 60th-of-a-second. I didn't trust the light readings of the camera. When we finished with that shot we went back to the benches and went through an overlong cleanup process. I cracked open the coke and we all took a swig.
9/27/1998 11:25pm Our group decided to perform some osmosis, and we went off in search of fresh individuals. So far we consisted of Kurt, Kate, Lisa, Linda, Ken, Phaedra, Alex, and myself. Since Ken and I knew where Colleen lived, we aimed for her first. Outside the Crown dorm, someone suggested that we scream. Ken took the idea and ran with it, literally. First he threw open the door. Then he stuck out his right arm, pointing up and ahead of him, and went: "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!" Needless to say, when he took off, coattails flying, we all followed suit. Eight screams ascended four floors and stampeded down a hallway, stopping in a pile in front of Colleen's door. One polite knock later, a face peeked out and meekly informed us that Colleen was taking a shower one floor down. "Thank you" I replied, and shut the door. About a half second of silence. Then: "AAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!" One Frankenstein mob roared back down the hall, one flight of stairs, and straight into the bathroom. The eight of us stood there flailing catcalls at the shower curtains until one of them parted and Colleen stepped out in a fuzzy blue robe. We greeted her with deafening applause. Her lips were pursed in consternation, but an expression of charmed resignation vibrated in her eyes. She implored of us to be quiet-- she was an RA on this floor, after all. We exchanged some hugs and told her of our plans to congregate at Lisa's house and watch movies. Of course, she couldn't leave immediately. She was also busy for the rest of the evening, though, news that elicited a hangdog smattering of "aaawwws" in the bathroom. At Colleen's request, we shuffled out of the dorm in a much quieter fashion than the way we entered. Standing around outside, we polled for suggestions. Lisa wanted to go visit Neil, but we had to wait for Linda and Ken, who were visiting someone else in the building briefly. Lisa wasted no time when they came back, immediately shouting, "Get Neil! AAAAAAAAAAA!!" So we shot to the other side of the Crown dorms and up one floor. Down a hallway, to Neil's room. Was he there? No, he was helping someone down the hall with a network problem. We all turned around and tromped back up the hall and down the other one. Four doors down, we pooled outside an open one. Half a dozen people were already lounging around in the room. Lisa and I quickly threaded through the crowd and attached ourselves to Neil, who was sitting in a wooden chair in front of a mid-grade Windows PC fussing with the network control panel. Lisa and I interrogated him and he agreed to come with us. During this, Ken barged into the room with a garbage sack full of funny hats and started trying them out on the various people sitting around. He got through the blue flatcap, the tall red-and-white striped hat, the beanie, and the hat with fake dreds sewn into the back. Neil agreed to join us at Lisa's soon, and we let him go. Ken collected his hats and various people in our group tried them on. Kurt got the fake dreds, and looked ab-so-lutely ridiculous in them. After a pitstop at Brian's place down the hall, we struck out at a much more leisurely pace than before, for the Merrill parking lots. Lisa and Linda led a singalong of "Oh, Lord Chester" and "The Pirate Song" on the way, while Ken and I had a brief discussion about his recruitment tactics. I listened with a more sympathetic ear than I had before, partly because I realized I hadn't given him a fair hearing in the past. We stuffed ourselves into Lisa's shiny new car, called "The G-Shuttle" for a reason I can't remember. She drove it like a lunatic, down the hill, around Merrill, and up past the fire station to the Crown-Merrill apartments. The doors opened and we all exploded out into the parking lot, jabbering wildly, and followed Lisa and Kate to their apartment.
8/30/1998 1:25am Gauntlet thinking. Your life will be totally different on the other side of this short, intense incident. Your paradigm will be changed from the center out, like wildfire, if you can just hang on to the fleeting burning of an emotional surge. The slow, creeping, fundamental change that adds layers to your spirit can somehow be nullified by the sheer ferocity of your temporary will, and you can reverse age and time itself. From here on out things will be different. From now on, you grasp life firmly with both hands. Until you go to sleep. Next morning, your runes of power have been coated over with the digestive slime of your inner momentum. The slow change has swallowed your incentive. Maybe you can still feel it in the pit of your stomach. Maybe not. What was so great about that thought anyway? Has it ever occured to you that each emotional surge, and it's requisite constitutional re-drafting, is just your soul clawing at the walls of structures that slow, subtle change has built? Of course it has. So when will you acknowledge that these intense emotions are for riding and feeling, and not interpreting or implementing? They never stand to it. You claim to seek someone who is "low-maintenance". You yourself are clearly about as "high-maintenance" as can be. You see yourself as easy-going, yet you worry, obsess, fret, distill, rehash. You fall prey to classifying certain associations as "relationships", loading them up with all manner of hidden agendas and expectations, then fail to see why they don't comform to standards. The horse keeps trying to push the cart. Will this crisis mindset ever dissolve? Will you ever relax? Not permanently. Not forever. It's not in your nature. It won't happen. Enjoy this. Relish it. I sense the confusion in your mind and am compelled to react. I take your head in my lap and smooth the hair, press the facial muscles, slow the breathing. No one can touch the hurricane howling at the structures inside this head. Knowing that someone is concerned is a salve for the superficial, physical wounds. A wiser you would feel happy that the problems in your life are inside yourself. As such, you can change them!! But I don't know where you are. I don't know what particular mood you're in. I don't know what good it would do. Shout as loud as you can in somebody's face and they shout right back. Damned if they ever take that step forward.
8/03/1998 1:02am Comments I like about est: "I don't see the sense in undergoing group treatment to learn that I alone am the master of my fate." "The Landmark Forum is essentially a big machine that converts losers into assholes."
8/01/1998 2:40am Y'ever been all by yourself at home, and done something really stupid, something that would usually piss you off because it made a mess or meant more work or was just generally unwise, but then after it's happened you stand there and your soul jumps out of your body and stands on the other side of the room and looks at you, and smirks and says, "you know, that looked pretty damn funny from over here", and then your soul leaps back in and you look at the spot where it was standing just a second ago and imagine yourself there, watching somebody else do what you just did, except you're them right now, and you think, "yeah, that is pretty funny, I should roll with it and stretch the laugh a little", so say if you've just dropped a couple of papers, you shrug and throw the whole stack down in a big pile on top of the two you dropped, and then gather them all back up again, or if you go to the kitchen and get a glass of water but then realise you've already brought four glasses to the desk, and they're all sitting there half full, so you say "Oh well," and set the glass down next to the other four without drinking any water at all, or you make a typo in your run-on sentence and spring up and start kicking the space heater, "stupid space heater, screwing up my typing, taste my boot you stupid space heater", and the only reason you're doing it is because if there were someone else in the room it would look funny to them, and that secretly makes you feel better?
7/19/1998 2:13am IN other news, my cooking skill is about the same as it was in Davis. I made garlic-onion soup, or more accurately, ONION ONION ONION ONION ONION garlic (cheese) Potato 'chicken' soup. Have you ever made a dish with so much onion in it, that about 15 minutes after eating it, it starts to bleed out your eyes? It's like I'm watching bad daytime drama TV or something.
6/20/1998 5:37am I've begin parting my hair on the opposite side because I think it looks better that way. Just a random impulse I began following a few days ago. A few days ago: That was about the time I found Dad's old wind-up watch in my toolbox. I had just exchanged the tracer for the van in Sacramento. Moving things out of the tracer, I opened my old red toolbox and found the watch. Something had leaked inside the toolbox a long time ago, a cigarette lighter I think, and reacted with the paint, coating everything with red latex sludge. Back in Watsonville, I searched the garage and found some paint thinner, and scrubbed the watch for a while. Then I carefully bent the clasp straight and removed a single link from the band with a screwdriver, wound it up, and put it on my wrist. I used the watch when I was staying up in the library studying for my 8:00am Math 27 final. I was up for 33 hours total, and when the hours got long I held the watch up to my ear to steady myself on the tick-ping-tick noise. It beats five times every two seconds. 150 pings a minute, and 300 ticks. I set the watch on my dresser and on quiet nights I can hear it ping from halfway across the room. I fancy it's a mechanical heartbeat, and in years when I'm sitting somewhere hugging someone I love, it's vibrant, steady music will seem a part of me, and will sound reassuring. A reminder, that though my body is in repose, my mind is still flying along inside my skull, ... keeping watch. It needs winding at least every two days or so, which sounds about right for maintenance on my sense of concern.
4/07/1998 6:25pm PROGRAMMING FUN! What I want is a window that displays the blockset, and two squares surrounded by arrows to get specific in choosing a block. Windows can't do that in an actual window, it has to be a dialog box. Modeless, so we can do other stuff while it's open. So I write code for two hours. I test it. Nothing happens. Wrong window handle? Wrong resource I.D.? I ferret out some tiny bugs. Compile and run. Nothing. See, these bugs are the worst, because it doesn't crash. It's like they're not even bugs. I just wrote 700 lines of dead code, that's all. Hey, the 'about' box already in the code is a dialog box, though it's not modeless. Maybe if I tested my box as a modal type, to see if it works. Nope. Okay, I know what I'll do, I'll substitute the 'about' box resource script for the 'blockset' modeless one. So it'll call up my modeless dialog when I click on 'about'. Does it? No! Aaaah, well, we've isolated the problem to the resource script. Half an hour vanishes. Turns out the little arrows in the dialog box cause an error when the box is created. Windows 95 can't draw them because Borland's resource editor didn't set the #defines in my header file right. Sound annoying? It is. Took me about 40 minutes to figure out what that problem was. So I run the program and poof, my modeless dialog box shows up. Except it's about 40% larger than it should be, and there's 'about' dialog plastered all over it. And the arrows are missing. You can hear the sound effects now: "code code code. code code. code code crash. code code. run ... crash. freeze. code code code code."
3/18/1998 5:45am Hee hee! I was considering the possibility of studying while sitting in the trailer park commons room, my book all set out before my like some holy scripture but unopened, like I was gonna use it as a talisman and call the knowledge from the surrounding air into my brain directly, when two folks came in and turned on MONDAY NIGHT WRESTLING. Now that was a trip. Big giant huge meaty massive titanic guys, who were also sort of large, and conspicuously missing body-hair in some cases, lumbered out into the middle of this arena ringed by billions of incoherent shouting post-teenage pre-reality college "students" wasting their spring break. Hollywood Hulk Hogan led the charge with a rant on the microphone, the most erudite discourse of the evening, made mostly of veiled threats and phrases threatening to resemble puns. Usually conversation was between the three sportscasters, who would aptly be named Factoid, Lowbrow, and Bored. Everywhere that wasn't paneled in fake plastic rivets was obscured by billboards advertising CinnaBurst chewing gum, just in case the frequent commercials didn't clue you in. Matches were obsequious and sudden, lasting half as long as their introductions, and every so often the big brute who won would shamble up to some cameraman trapped at the corner of the ring and deliver an acceptance speech. Here's a transcript: "GYAAH! GarbunGEEGLE on his behind, he BETTER WATCH OUT CAUSE NARGH GRONK SPLAH!! ARGH GROK NOW!! Who's the FRAAAAHH? RAAAHH?? whUH YEEEeeeaaAAAAAAAAAAaaahh!!" They couldn't use that camera for a while afterwards 'cause the lens always got spackled with whatever spouge flew off the Incredible Hulk, or Randy Savage, or the Big Green Potato, or Smooch Boots, or whoever the script called for as the victor. The two guys who turned this on knew all the lingo, and they followed the mock arguments and power struggles like it was any other daytime soap-opera. They practiced yelling "aauuh YEEEEEEEEEEEEahhh!!", and discussed which of the wrestlers was "payin' visits to the pharmacy." That is, on steroids or what have you. Every time an acceptance speech occured they would get up and yell along with the guy, mocking him, going "funGAZAAAH! ZOCK SKAGG mess with HAAAAHH!! You KNOW I'm OOGLEY-BOOG, whooOOOO!!" Thankfully, they didn't spit as much. They knew the names of all the moves, and were privy to who was supposed to loathe whom and for what reason. They took the drama and the flashiness of the moves much more seriously than the idea that competition was somehow happening. I suppose any veteran Wrestlemania fan has to accept the scripting of the matches, the way the games are doctored, and follow the 'sport' just for the spectacle of it. But sheeeeezz. Stand back from the whole thing and look at it for a good minute or two. What a pile! I was looking, I mean I was really looking, for some kind of redeeming element to the whole organization, somewhere. Nope. How can people live with themselves, getting so attached to it, getting caught up in it- don't any of them have anything BETTER TO DO for spring break?! Somewhere along the line they have to stop in their tracks and go, hold on, stop the presses, this is just bullshit here! Well, following basic tenets of psychology, any argument such as this one can be turned right around at it's maker and be used to gain other insights. I do this and discover that I mostly don't like wrestlemania for the same reasons I dislike all spectator sports. If you're a spectator you're wasting your time. You could be somewhere playing, doing something with your own will and your own body, instead of sitting there like a lump watching. Pull your attention back from the field, back into your own head, and look down at yourself! Whoah, hey, you have a body of your own! Hot damn, put that sucker to work! The rewards are always, with NO exception, better. Just got to take a while and find this out. I would add more but it would degenerate into a moralistic rant.
3/9/1998 2:11pm My dreams have been the usual out-of-whack. One scene: I'm sitting at a wooden table in a concentration camp. Soldiers are passing out little brown paper bags, the tops twisted closed instead of folded neatly, like schoolchildren do. Our lunch. I look at the prisoner sitting across from me. He's dressed in rags and is carving up a peeled watermelon with a sharp hunting knife. Other prisoners watch with me as he carves a big crease into the base of the vertically-standing melon. A neck. He then expertly chips a ring of tiny posts in a ring around the neck. A necklace of teeth. He is carving a bust of a headhunter. Time passes, and his bust is finished. It looks hideous, and is getting red juice all over his hands. He has separated the head from the neck, and broken his knife into parts and reassembled it into a spring-loaded shrapnel-firing device. I watch as he places the knife into the neck-base and fits the head over it, concealing the knife. All part of his master plan. When some soldier comes up to poke at his headhunter sculpture, they'll get fragments of metal shot into their face.
2/27/1998 12:35pm Maybe mass media is what you need to use if you want to convince a thousand people all at once that Fred's Ass-Pills for Men are what they need to buy, or that the smell coming out of their arms is disgusting and must be controlled with Ultra-Choad Plus, or that large breasts are somehow important to their emotional security... But for intimacy and complexity, nothing beats a one-to-one conversation. I propose that the influence supposedly wielded by the mass media is more a sort of overblown pompousness that really stems from a solid inferiority complex. Watch MTV with the sound off some time and it becomes nauseatingly apparent that television is just a big flashing box whining pathetically for your attentioin. And it has to whine pretty loud, 'cause everyone understands, on some level, that by simply going out of doors and striking up a face-to-face conversation with someone, you can potentially change the course of a person's entire life. It's probably why people are so afraid to go out these days. ;)
2/22/1998 8:20am I can't understand it. I'm so happy right now. It's like someone's putting cocaine on my corn flakes. This morning I had a really good conversation, and the previous day I had another really good conversation, and I got to meet new people and ride my bike and eat good food... Even if it is raining today, yesterday's activities definitely brought spring to my world. I got up at 6:00am on the dot today, after several mangled dreams involving my friends. Cut up some onion and bell peppers and now I'm making a pizza, responded to some good email, listened to some noisy music... I must be going crazy. It's been years since I've gotten up this early for anything, let alone for no reason at all. I rode around UCSC and picked up my mail, consulted with some counselors, got my academia under control. Fun activity of the week: I used the condenser mike on the video camera with my computer's sampler, and some headphones hooked to the CD player, and recorded my voice as I sang alone to Tori Amos. It was fascinating hearing my own a-capella rendition when I played the sample back without the CD, and another pleasant surprise when I played them both back and my harmonies actually didn't sound terrible. Learned a few pointers on how to improve my singing too. Mmm, time to put this pizza in the oven! Soon I will have munchies. I shall now end this journal in favor of the goodness of munchies. Munch on!
2/19/1998 6:02am Oh boy! It is definitely spring. The hibernation malaise feels distinctly broken. This is the day! Birdies! Squirrels! Innocuous fluffy clouds! And if there's any more rain I'm gonna crack some heads!! My ambitions for the week: Buy a new swimsuit and accost the UCSC swimming pool. Discover the ultimate bike route at UCSC. Take my buddy Zog out on a cathartic hell-raising mission. (Seeing as how he's currently going through hell. Heh. Makes sense, yeah!) Find Mike Davidson a nice birthday present. Hmmmm. That oughta keep me busy for a few days.
2/18/1998 12:54am My brightest memory is from my very first relationship. We were walking through a park at midnight, and just suddenly started chasing after each other, tackling on the wet grass and laughing, like two wild animals. I'll never forget that one image, pinned lightly to the ground, looking up and seeing her manic grinning face, eyes bright and alive, breathing hot air down on my mouth, with the moon shining from her hair.
2/17/1998 10:02am Ice-gripped mountain crags. A trumpet sound. Pure eclectic vibation, like iron. Filling the air, yet nowhere. Blue sky making crystal reflections. Resonance among the crisp peaks. You hold on to a plant to avoid the wind. Warm boots snug on sore feet, teeth in rocks. Just a little farther, yet where are you going? Top of a mountain, nothing there but snow. Cold everywhere, might as well go up. But why? Always questions. Inside my head, nothing but questioins. No matter how many edifices are explored, no matter how many peaks are mapped, the view is incomplete. And you can't take it with you. Bottom of a valley. Lush, verdant, overflowing. A mess of life. Moss growing over the peaks, spreading from one divot to another on this earth. I pick a peice of glass from the fur of my cat. She stretches on the floor as I rub her stomach. This is the back of my head. A single thought, no stops. Nothing coherent. A list of things I have to do today, lined up like bullets, spare change in my pocket. Waiting to be filed. Time has no meaning beyond my mind. We were never here. We were always here. The trumpets again, suffusing my world. Staring at the keys as I type, wondering at the order in my hands. So far away from the words that I form. They are not my own, flying over the keys. They press for demons. I don't look up to see what's written. Scarred face. Stay that way for life. Or most of it, I suppose. Pulling grit from her paws. The bones in my hands so much like hers. This green earth forming us both, what a paradox that I am speaking of it. A twinge in the depths of a brain, nothing more. It contains what contains me. There is nowhere to go. I would seek another, or several, but they are gone. And you can't really get that far into someone else's head anyway. You can only reach, in your greed, for the flesh of their face, following the contours with your hands, feeling the warmth emanating from living cells with your own, boiling mass of blood running behind your ears as you listen to words formed from twinges in someone else's brain. Pity that it is not your own, yet you can look in their eyes and see the effects. So human and frail is the communicaton, by neceesity, born of green earth. I climb to the top but I can't show others the view unless they have the will to climb their own valleys. Still we look at the corpse on the floor, or perhaps the warm body, as though it were a mirror and we could submerge ourselves in the blackness of another layer. How can we hope to understand? So far away. Constrained by time and flesh. We shout only to fabulous echoes. We formulate a reply through wires and speak in voices that are only partially our own. Beyond this prison, were I to crack it open, I would find nothing. There is no beyond when one forms one's own image of the outside. I look at the cat and she looks back. No words form between us. She walks and moves and eats as I do, but the form contains no sense. Were she to observe my words, they would pass as through wires. Nothing interesting. False impressions. Yet still, what are we looking for? Does our sense of incompleteness stem form within, or is it handed to us from outside? Did we grow to hate this society, or were we just grown to hate? Restricted by the saddle of progress. God doesn't care. We delude ourselves. We refrain from sliding back, as if we know where we're going in the first place. When you're lost, any direction seems fine. The trumpets fade and take me with them. A tiring haze pares away at my thinking. It will not be long before I age, and I will remember days before with brighter eyes than I have. Self-engineer, I tell myself. The cat calls to me. What form to take? And how to make this decision. Base it on what I find in the world around me. It barely penetrates. Arbitrary shadows from weak light. How many people forget, every day, that they are a body? That they can run and jump and move? This is a luxury. How many people deny the power of their sex, out of fear that their feeble mental indifference will crumble away and reveal an angry beast beneath? Thin blood made thinner by a desire to remain above it. The cat approaches. All she wants is a touch. I feel as I give it. Simple lessons that are never learned. How much time do I have, though? Funny, at this age I would be dead, a century ago. No wonder there is so much work to do. And there will be so many corpses to bury. Without means to escape, however, people become restless. Procreate and leave the responsibility to their children. Sort of a cop-out. Those that take responsibility anyway, they have to right idea. I think I'll teach. I'd like to touch other minds more. And what's the point of all these thoughts without someone to share them. When someone writes a journal entry, it is always for an audience. A lover they wish they had. A friend they can't trust enough. That people write the words at all shows their understanding of the potential for sharing. Maybe some fall by the delusion that their grandchildren will read their words and covet them, instead of writing words of their own. Or perhaps they will add to them. It's too bad that people write journals like VCR instructions. But this is a useless gripe. You can't force someone to think. You can't force someone to share. You can't force someone to reply to your questions. The thin worms of fatigue grasp up along my scalp again. I have been awake since 10pm yesterday. None of my thoughts are complete. Abstractions make them thick and pretentious. The mountain peaks are far away. Their coldness is in my feet, however. Their blinding peaks are making my eyes ache. The trumpets stream from my stereo. The cat has escaped. I wonder if she'll remember ever having been here.
1/11/1998 5:03pm I park a good ways up the west parking lot next to the trailer park entrance, since my Math 24 class is not meeting in the usual classroom but instead in the Applied Science building. I de-rack the bike, throw on me backpack, and coast down there. About 400 yards later I am very wet, and have a damp, spotty stripe spackled up one side of my body from the kick-up of the bike tires. If I hadn't leaned to one side the entire time I would have had grit in my face. I lock my bike at a rack, realizing bitterly that I haven't seen a single set of racks anywhere on campus that has been built under a roof or some eaves. Rain and biking just do not work together. I yank the seat off my bike so it might dry off inside the lab, and follow my teacher who has just walked by. Blooie, it's a computer lab! Who woulda guessed! Teacher distributes a sheet of paper meant to be a lab exercise, but it turns out to be an exercise in futility. Mathematica was supposed to have been installed on each and every computer in the lab, but half of them ask for a password. The teacher fumbles for a bit and yells at the lab attendant and they conjure a password that works for most of these computers. Those of us who managed to get Mathematica to actually launch the first time are now busily typing in the first program. The first line loads library `graphics`, but a good half of us type it in as 'graphics'. See the difference? Neither did we, at first. The second line executes perfectly. It defines a structure known as 'pt1', using a lot of the structures previously mentioned in the 'graphics' library. But the 'graphics' library wasn't loaded! Instead of using the structures, it DEFINES them. So we go back and fix our previous mistake. Now it tries to load 'graphics'. It can't! Its structures have already been defined! Since many of us are CS majors, we are used to compilers that execute whole sets of commands from a uniform starting point. Mathematica does not work this way. Mathematica is filth. We have to quit the program and re-launch it, says our teacher. Then we must retype the commands properly. We do. Same error. The teacher pores over a manual. Oh, I see, we must type the 'remove' command to destroy the labels we defined! We do. Worse errors. A whole host of things are now undefined, labels we've never seen before. Oh dear, says the teacher. I try to use the help files. Why did I get a window saying that I had this undefined struct? The help files provide an answer: Because you set the program options to tell you of such errors. I smash the monitor in. Well, no, not really. I poke around and discover that Mathematica consists of two programs, one is the front end and the other is the 'kernel', which executes all the commands. I select options and click buttons until I have killed and buried the 'kernel'. Then I create a new one, called 'barf' instead of the previous 'default'. Then I paste in the assignment from a notepad session I have open. Poofda. The )!*<&#^&!$-er finally works. Except now I'm out of class time. Isn't college a riot?
8/7/1997 7:24pm I look over at my bed, all made up, with sunlight stenciled on it, and imagine you there, in soft clothing, looking back at me sleepily and hungrily. I'm so tempted to get up and walk over there, close my eyes and lay down, hoping that somehow I'll encounter you in the space between the bedsheets.....
1/31/1997 11:36pm On my way home I was riding over the freeway and I stopped and climbed up to the hurricane fence on the edge and looked at the cars for a long time. The trucks passing under made the most awesome noise. When I heard one approaching I leaned back, face blank, mouth open, waiting. As each truck flew out beneath me I slammed myself forward onto the mesh. It was like giving birth to a hot mass of fury, and getting to watch it fly away into the distance, a separate thing on it's own. Inarticulate shout fading into the dark. It took years for each noise to fade. It took forever. Life is so incredibly long sometimes.