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Today was a very good day. I was rejected from the law school at my own university (UF).

But hold up... I'm really not complaining. See, I only had one real reason to go to UF: money. Since I live in Florida, it would be cheap for me to go there: only $6,000 a year in tuition, as opposed to upwards of $20,000 if I go elsewhere.

Aesthetically, I can't stand the place. It was built during the 1960's, and the inside looks like an underground nuclear survival bunker. The hallways are red brick in the classroom areas and refrigerator white in the faculty office floors, and the furniture comes from the same prehistoric school of architecture that furnished the United Nations. The lecture halls are cream-colored, ancient green chalkboards turning white as the walls turn green, and I swear that before long the place will just be a giant pile of moss growing in the swampy Floridian air.

I got a scholarship to Temple University, the sort of campus I can actually imagine attending. It's in a bigass Northeastern city, there's an entire campus in Tokyo, I can take public transportation to class and back, and (best of all) one of the first girls I fell for is going to be there as well. But although I have a scholarship, I still have to finance my way through it.

This got me worrying. My parents talked me out of escaping Florida three years ago, when I was choosing an undergrad college. I was accepted at USC and I had good feelings about the place, but my family wouldn't let me take out student loans just to get a bachelor's degree. And looking at a possible choice between Temple and UF (plus whatever top-tier schools, if any, I slip into in the future), I feared that the same thing would happen again.

So anyway, tonight, I feel good. There's a future out there. It's a future that doesn't suck. Frankly, I find a non-shitty future to be quite appealing. Now, all I have to do is trudge through a few more weeks of bullshit... here's hoping my luck stays up!

This is a Red Letter Day for me. Yesterday my cabin was given the full work-up for electrical, LAN, Internet and Cable-TV wiring- which was a stupendous occasion, I might say. But today tops it: I got a coffee machine. A gallon jug of water, some Maxwell House, some non-dairy creamer and some sugar... these things, when used with my new coffee maker, conspire to make this a happy home.

My Inner Sanctorum is finally complete. I have 'net, TV, electricity and coffee at ready access whenever I want it, no muss no fuss. The only thing lacking is running water (still have to go into my landlord's house to do my "business"), but I now no longer have to leave home just to check my email or enjoy some friendly caffeine.

I can concentrate. I can relax. I can live in peace and quiet. I can feed my antisocial tendencies without offending others. I can go for days at a time without someone prodding me for advice on how to fix their problems. Now, when I want to go out, I can do so for the sole purpose of wanting to be around other human beings.

More time spent at home in my off hours means less money spent while out.

This, I am certain, is A Good Thing (tm).

All hail a trouble-free lifestyle.

This marks my second attempt in what might become a series of collaborative nodes.

Today also marks my forty sixth anniversary on the planet. Forty six on 4/6, any of you who are numerologists out there, feel free to /msg me with your interpretations.

I had my daughter this weekend and over the course of our conversations she asked me if I ever collected anything. I gave it some thought and told her about my hobbies as a kid. It ran the usual gamut of baseball cards, coins, and as I got older, beer cans from around the world. Since all of those hobbies have long since died, she asked me whether I collected anything these days. I thought about it for a couple of moments and all I could come up with was one thing.


Sunday afternoon was rather chilly for this time of year here in the heartland.. The day started off blustery and there was even a couple of snow flurries early in the morning. As the day progressed and warmed up a bit, borgette went outside to play with some of her friends. There’s nothing unusual about that, they usually wind up making their way from house to house until the local parents either tell them to go outside or send them on their way to another house. It works out well.

Anyway, it was getting around dinner time and I glanced outside to see the kids playing in front of my house and told borgette that she had about 15 minutes or so before she had to come back in. I usually like to give her an advance warning since I don’t want to interrupt any matters of great importance and it seems to make things easier.

And so it was, about 15 minutes later, I went outside and uttered the words “It’s time.” I went back in and watched for a couple of seconds as the kids said their goodbyes. I set the table, went to the kitchen, dished out plates and was surprised that there was no borgette in sight. I went outside and looked and to my surprise, saw her and her friend running around the corner with a handful of spring flowers that they had picked from a neighbors garden. Since some folks in the neighborhood look upon gardening as a form of competition, I was somewhat dismayed that the kids had gotten their hands on some of the early bloomers.

Maybe it’s partly because of my German upbringing or maybe it’s the leftover over discipline brought on by my stint in the Marine Corps but in my eyes, there are a couple of things that qualify as cardinal sins.

One, being late. Unless some pretty drastic circumstances arise, it’s pretty damn inconsiderate to those around you, especially armed with an advanced warning and with dinner on the table.

Two, taking another’s property. In this case, flowers from somebody else’s garden. They worked hard to get them to grow and to make their yard look nice. I’m sure they don’t want their efforts spoiled and their work to go unrewarded.

She wandered back into the house about 15 minutes later. Dinner, by that time, had gotten cold but I on the other hand, had gotten hot. I proceeded to let her know how disappointed I was and the tears were welling up in her eyes. I asked her for an explanation.

After she had told me her reason, my eyes were the ones welling up. I told her to go upstairs, wash her hands and not to worry about it anymore. Later, I asked her to write the events down. I didn’t do it with the purpose of a story in mind; I did more to serve as a reminder to myself about the danger of casting judgments too quickly. After all, things aren’t always what they seem.

”Gracie, Cameron and I were walking home on Findlay Avenue. Gracie was in the middle of sentence when we saw a dead bird laying in front of us. We figured the bird had died just as we turned onto Findlay Avenue. It didn’t have a cut so we figured it died of a disease. Without a sound, we dug a hole in the dirt. We buried him and decided to name him “Findlay”. After we got home we saw the flowers and asked (insert name here) if we could pick some. She said “yes” and we put the flowers next to the hole. That’s why I was late for dinner.”

Today might be my birthday but if you ask me, I got my present a couple of days earlier.(And people wonder why I’m so damn happy most of the time!)

Happy Birthday Borgo!!!

Dateline: Pai, Mae Hong Song, Thailand April 6th 11 pm.

What a day. Full moon here in Pai (prounounced bye. Went to the caynon and the hot springs (two times once in the day and once in the night. Had massaman curry for and smoked 3 joints. I bought 8 hammocks (4 cotton hand woven and 4 made out of waterproof parachute material). I paid a total of 5200 Bhat or in euro approx. 107 Euro and in dollars 130$. They are styly but heavy. The other day I shipped 15 kilograms to the USA (stuff I bought in Laos that eventually I'll sell at Phish and Greatful Dead shows next summer. It cost almost as much to ship it as it did to buy the stuff in the first place.

I bought raw silk scarves, handmade pu\ouches and bags of bpoth rayon and cotton some with embroidery and a bunch of handmade books most featuring hand made paper. In Chaing Mai I bought fisherman pants, Tin Tin t-shirts, an orange monk's robe, and wool hand knit hats with ear flaps. Sitting in Bangkok I have another 20 kg worth of stuff. The idea is to sell the stuff and earn back through that the 2100 euros I've invested in this (so far) 36 day walk about and trip (it's going to be somethign like 50 days altogether after I delay my return to Germany till the 21st of April four days after my birthday.

Then it's off to Budapest in May and then to Portugal and Luxembourg. Then in June my son, Quinn flys to Frankfurt anmd we go to Italy amd Greece. Then who knows...

This woman is dying before she is ever born.

I agree to meet my friend Jim for drinks, conversation and watching a little college basketball championship game. Of course, the University of Connecticut won. They had to because that's the school my best friend and the love of my life went to. It just happens that way.

The game isn't important and it isn't even close. The mind wanders. Jim had been there for a half hour before I arrived and the waitress had lavished attention upon him. When I arrive, she avoids the table like the plague has taken hold of it. I see her running back and forth, stopping to have empty conversations with the regulars, some of which seem to know her intimately. When she does return to our table, it seems like I do not exist. She asks Jim if he needs another beer. I have to clear my throat and tell her "Hey, how about me?" What the hell. Do I smell bad or something?

I grew up amongst the cutters, a name we borrowed from the movie Breaking Away. Cutters in that movie were townies descended from the men who worked the quarries. We grew up in a college town where half the people our age were people from out of town attending one of our colleges. You could always spot them and pretty much know what school they were going to. Holy Cross College. Clark University. Worcester Polytechnic Institute. And so forth. The one thing Worcester had aside from hordes of college students were cutters.

Orlando isn't really a college town. It is more like a demented, broken down circus town. It is a town without a lot of soul. There are the people who are part of the machine, and then there are the cutters. The cutters here live on the soft underbelly of the city. They live hard, they work hard and they play hard. Like the cutters I used to know, they all just seem to be drinking and drugging and fucking while waiting to die. It is the old Jim Morrison line in action. "I want to get my kicks before the whole shithouse goes up in flames."

The waitress comes by again. She is very pretty, except that her face is too small for her head. It is as if someone shrunk her face to half its normal size. Tiny little eyes, nose and mouth framed by a head of tinted blonde hair. She's collected too much weight in the hips and thighs, but she insists on wearing tight little shorts to work. Its all for the tips, baby, and she likes when men fantasize about her... quietly to themselves. She doesn't look bad. She just looks like she's about to burn out and fade away. She is scared to death of what is going to happen to her when she gets older.

Her name is Christina, an almost sacred name in history of my personal journey. She's the kind of girl who hung out with the popular girls in high school, but they would make fun of her. The kind of girl who gets the "dumb slut" label. She likely got knocked up in high school and likely again after graduation. She barely graduated. She was drunk at the ceremony.

Cutters don't have insurance. There is usually no rich daddy and no one to bail them out when things go sour. There is no special skill to fall back on. Cutters stay alive working on cars, doing manual labor, wearing themselves down until they can get to the bar at the end of the rainbow. A few drinks, a couple games of pool, a party where you might get lucky... there is nothing else. Eventually they break down and live angry lives. They get the wrong girl pregnant and have to do the right thing. Or, if they don't, they live with it on their head.

Christina read us her laundry list of alcohol she had consumed in the last three nights. She has no real concern about mixing and matching her booze. "Doesn't matter. I do it all the time." Eight different shots, three different cocktails, and plenty of beer to wash it down with... and that was just her Sunday. She tells me I am drinking too slowly and gives me three minutes to finish my beer. I take the bet, not because I intend to finish the beer in three minutes, but because I'm quite sure she will not be back to the table in three minutes.

Exactly three minutes later she returns and stares at my beer. I look at the time on my cell phone and tell her I still have four seconds and then drain the last of my beer. She brings another and says, "Do it again." These are the kind of women who destroy me. All but sitting on my lap in a pair of shorts smaller than your average bikini bottom daring me to finish a beer in three minutes. I can do it, but I don't really want to. Instead I offer to drink a shot in her honor. I was planning on it anyway, but now I can be cute about it. "Bring us two shots of whatever you would order right now." She offers to join us, but complains that she'll have to go in the bathroom to drink her shot because the place has cameras. "It isn't a problem," she says, "I do it all the time. I just sit in the stall and chug it down. No problem."

You're lost... little girl...

Most of the cutters I knew never cared about tomorrow. Live every day like you're going to be hit by a bus in the morning. Some of them went too far, and most of those were female. It is almost like her little girl dreams of the prince on the white horse have been replaced by a mullet in a '69 GTO. Cutter males know that no one is ever going to save them, so eventually they either die or figure out how to save themselves. Cutter females go over the edge and wait for someone to show up and pull them back. Not openly, but in the back of their mind, they are always hoping that the prince is still out there somewhere and maybe he'll notice how tasty her ass looks in these tight shorts. She's forgotten most of her old dreams, but she still feels their shadows.

It is a cycle. You start not liking who you are and what you've done, so you find ways to block it out or make it go away. Drinking yourself into a stupor works well, and provides a convenient excuse for further errors in judgement that will require more forgetting. You can't get out of the cycle unless you stop cold and start over, but that isn't always easy. Actually, it never is easy. That's why people look for a savior.

Why would anyone care about a binge drinking, used up, empty shell of a woman whose biggest concern is whether or not she can sneak a shot of liquor in the bathroom at work?

Yes, Anastasia, the lessons are getting harder.

You see, I lost my wallet last night. Got to the bar, didn't have it. Checked my car, looked in between the seats, under the seats, the floor mats, even the glove box. Wasn't there, so I assumed I left it at home. Couldn't find it at home, so this morning I checked my car again. No sign of it anywhere. I was about to give up and start retracing my steps since I last used my wallet when I looked down and it was sitting dead center in the middle of the driver's seat. It wasn't there before, but it was. Three complete searches of the car missed the wallet being in the most obvious place possible. That's the answer to the question I just asked.

Johnny Cash makes me miss my grandparents.

Johnny Cash makes me wish they had never a-moved to Washington, DC. Makes me yearn for the experience of growing up in the south. Well, Virginia at least. I remember that Virginia. It was sun-spotted and honeysuckle flavored and I grass-stained my white dress. The guitar was always within reach and the parrot knew my dad’s name. They took pictures, but forgot the flash. Shadowy children in a dirty kitchen with an ancient old ma. Like day for night in the movies. Too dark, but still visible.

Johnny Cash makes me want to travel to an old place. A place that was more simple. Maybe I will be more simple. Johnny Cash makes me hate complicated people. Even me. So silly. So complicated. Too many parties, not enough real joy.

Johnny Cash makes me want to call my grandmother on the phone. Too bad she is there in body, but not in mind anymore. Do you know how many years I wasted not calling my grandmother on the phone? And now I can’t. Some people say I like old people too much. Johnny Cash makes me realize it is just guilt for not liking them enough.

Johnny Cash makes me miss an alternate me.

Today I witnessed a very despairing event. I saw one man strike another.

I happened upon the scene rather late. I didn't see what started the incident nor could I hear the words that were being exchanged. Although I'm quite sure that they were not words of love.

I had seen the antagonist earlier. Just minutes before he sped past me in his shiny red Mercedes at about 100 miles an hour. "Whoa he must be in a hurry" I had thought.

As I neared the intersection I could tell something was not right. All of the other drivers' attentions were focused on the two cars in front. Instead of the usual bored-to-death glazed look commuters get. At the intersection sat a white car and the red Mercedes. I saw a man exit the Mercedes and approach the other car. He looked angry. I couldn't see the other driver and I don't know what was said but suddenly the man reared back and punched the driver in the other car. He turned and jumped back into the passenger side of the Mercedes. The man in the other car got out and had a serious "what the fuck?" look on his face. Both men were well dressed in business attire. He got back into his car and drove off. Then the light changed and the world resumed normal operation.

I was stunned. A passing semi honked his horn repeatedly in praise or disdain I do not know. The other drivers simply drove off. None of their concern I suppose. Unfortunately I came onto the scene too late. If only I had been speeding, I could have witnessed the entire incident and having been a victim of a similar assault I would have contacted the authorities as had been done for me.

The incident made me feel sick. What the hell is wrong with us? Can we no longer determine what is right or wrong? Are we in such a hurry that if someone slows us down we feel justified in punching their lights out? The driver of the Mercedes was driving very recklessly. I imagine the driver of the other car made a comment about this behavior and earned himself a black eye. Can we no longer point out the wrongs of others without fear of physical violence? Or is it by pointing out another's faults that we become the bad guy? This is civilized Americans at their finest my friends.

I am too damn honest sometimes.

This happened a long time ago, but I thought about it today. I think about it almost every time somebody talks about being on vacation. You'll see why that is in a bit.

In the second grade, I was seven years old, there was a spelling bee. Every kid in the second grade at that elementary school who wanted to participate was in it. I don't recall exactly how the contest went, but basically it came down to me and one other person, a girl named Kim, who was by far the smartest girl in school and quite possibly the smartest student, period. You see, not to toot my own horn or anything, but I have always have been good at spelling and if one ever catches a misspelling in anything I write it is most likely a careless typo.

So, like I've said, it was down to me and Kim. We each went back and forth, correctly spelling several words, heating up the competition. As it went on, I looked around the classroom at the bulletin boards and such wondering how funny it would be if one of the words we had to spell were on that board. Probably the grandest displayed word was " VACATION." It might have been a display of "What I did on my summer vacation" writings or something like that, I don't exactly remember. But I do recall clearly that "VACATION" was up there, across the room, as big as you please.

Sure enough, and I could hardly believe it, guess what the next word was?

"OK, spell 'vacation.'" the teacher said.

I looked at the board again. There it was! All I had to do was look right at it and spell with confidence! But you know what I did? I thought to myself "Well, now, that wouldn't be very fair. I'm going to spell it without looking at it. I know how to spell 'vacation' anyway!"

Then I looked at the teacher, smiled, and...

"Vacation: V-A-C-T-I-O-N! Vacation!"



Yes, that's right folks, I was a dumbass. Not only did I spell the word incorrectly, it was proudly displayed right across the room just for my cheating little eyes. And smarty-pants Kim won the damn spelling bee.

That was the closest I had ever come to winning one, and the closest I've come to winning one since. What a bunch of crap, huh?

My friend Ashley is pregnant, again. I don't know who the father is.

A few months ago she went through the same ordeal, with a different guy. She got drunk and high, and had unprotected sex with her then-boyfriend, James. Three weeks later, she had sobbingly asked me to pick up a pregnancy test for her, because she couldn't afford it. I did. I got her two. Sure enough, there was life blooming inside her.

She was, and still is, too young to take responsibility for the life of another. Her family disapproved of it, but grudgingly agreed to try and help. This hurt her. Her boyfriend left her, and denied it was his. This hurt her more.

She didn't want it, initially. She knew she wasn't up to it. We all knew she wasn't up to it.

She changed her mind about a month into it. She decided she could love it and give it all she could. We all knew she wasn't up to it.

Eventually, she had a miscarriage. That hurt her more than anything. She cried and cried, and I did my best to comfort. But she didn't learn the first time.

Is it cool to smoke? According to some, it's almost as uncool as licking the under side of a frenchman's shoes. Smoking actually kicked me up a notch on the grade-of-coolness chart during my early days in high school. I would say that the coolness of it is an age dependant thing. At this time in life, I don't feel as hot as i did back then, when I instinctively reach for my pack of cigarettes. I feel afraid. How many times have i tried to quit? Too many. Well, tomorrow I'm going at it again, as of the time I wake up in the morning I will never have a smoke again. The sad thing is that I already have prepared myself for the feeling of disappointment , the feeling that comes sneaking up on you after that disastrous I-can't-drink-this-beer-without-a-cigarette cigarette next saturday.

I need to summon some more courage to manage to quit. But I'm still going to quit tomorrow. Again.

"Head-on collision kills Ottawa man, 40"   http://ottawa.cbc.ca/regional/servlet/View?filename=ot_fatal20040406

It's just unfair when people you know die of a sensless death.


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