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I should never have started smoking these things. I should never have thought that it would be all right. I should never have turned to them in times of stress. I should never have given them up for the wrong reasons. I should never have ignored the right reasons.

But damn a jade lighting up the night, watching the smoke rise against the clouds but before the light, feeling the worries pass away...

Because if I am smoking, then I suddenly have a bigger problems. Yeah, confronting people's insecurities is a good thing, watching as someone realizes that not all smokers are evil, spreading a little bit of tolerence is a good thing.

But it isn't why you smoke. It is a side effect. I was doing well, not smoking over the summer, ignoring the qualms I felt, when one of the last concerts we were helping at started. The group had a a friend who came for the open mike. Twenty-five minutes of bad celtic song. All of my worries came crashing in, and I couldn't escape into the music. COULDN"T ESCAPE...

So Kim tells me to just get out for a while. I go, and find myself walking to the corner store. Five bucks isn't that big of a price to pay for peace. Waiting in line, I suddenly wanted to just walk out. Avoid the purchase and my worries, go for a walk, watch something on the net, JUST GET OUT...

And I realized why I wasn't going to buy the cigarettes was for Kim. Not because I wanted to quit, but so that she wouldn't be mad at me.

That first drag felt great. So did the second. And that cigarette helped a lot. Now I have to walk back inside, walk into the music, and just deal with it all.

Fuck that, but what else can I do?

Buckle your trendy shoes, folks, it's time for another quarterlife crisis. I've tried to keep my FUD directed and specific, though. This should be relatively painless. Are you a giver? Then help me out:

Mini CV: I entered engineering school in the fall of 1999 with the highest hopes and the greatest of confidence. Five years later I limped away barely managing to scrape together the last C's and D's necessary to graduate with a degree in Engineering Physics. My GPA was above 2, but below 3. It sucked.

During those five years, there were highlights. Editing the editorial pages of the campus newspaper was one. A minor in economics was another. A course in political science so rigorous and time-consuming as to be used as a guage for law school by aspiring young pre-laws was the only course that I never skipped. Yet I persevered masochistically through course after course of physics, convinced that I really did like it, I was just poor at time managmenet, and that work was supposed to hurt.

But lets connect the dots. What are my academic interests? Political science, but only in terms of a rigorous application of the workings of constitutional government. Economics, specifically rational decision making. And persuasive writing, for which I generally employ complete sentences, but this is a restriction I find unnecessary when writing colloquially in the first person, so hush.

Back to connecting the dots. For a year or so (after most of my grades were already determined) I've expressed a desire to go to law school, even taking the LSAT last June. I did very very well. Recently I've also been investigating graduate school, settling on the study of public policy as my ideal choice.

The question is simple. Do I get back to school and this time study my ass off (for all my classes)? Can I even get in to school again? If so, what kind of school? Or am I too afraid to fail again? Contrariwise, can I look for jobs in these fields with this degree without additional schooling? Should I just try anyway?

Most importantly, does anyone know anything about public policy?

"You know it's kind of funny. The only thing that survived the storm were the family tombstones. They're all we have left." - Ned Flanders, The Simpsons

Hurricane Charley has been here and gone and now it's time for the clean-up and recovery to begin. Yesterday the storm was on track to strike Tampa as a category 2 storm and I had planned to ride out the weather at my apartment, but when the news came at 2pm that the storm was a category 4 storm and would pass right over my home in Orlando, I grabbed what I could and evacuated before the roads were closed. I was one of the last people out of the city before the rain began and there were a few times I didn't think I would be able to make it all the way to Titusville over on the east coast. The 40-minute trip took almost two hours in that horrible weather. I packed up some clothes, some food, my computer (just the tower itself), and some of the expensive and irreplacable things like autographs, video games, and my MST3K library. I arrived at my grandparents' house and am staying here for the immediate future. I have not been back to Orlando to see if I still have a place to live, but the pictures on the news do not look encouraging. A shopping mall just 10 minutes from my apartment appears to have been flattened when the 100mph+ winds picked up the airplanes at the nearby executive airport and tossed them into the nearby buildings. The university has a lot of blown windows, flooding, and trees down. Almost every sign outdoors is blown over. Traffic lights are out or just plain gone. Power is out in Orlando, as is the clean water. I will try and get back over there tomorrow to assess the damage. I called my apartment complex and talked to the emergency switchboard and was told that nobody called in any problems, although this could mean that everyone else evacuated too and there's nobody there to call. They're asking people not to be out on the roads today at all and nothing is open (except Disney World; what are they thinking?!)

Here in Titusville things aren't so bad. We only had 50mph+ winds here. Lots of branches down and there's a hole in the roof here. Not too bad, considering. The power and water are on here, as is cable TV and phones. There's going to be a long clean-up ahead statewide as we try to get our lives back to normal. Everything for the near future is up in the air; no word on going back to work, classes, etc. The important thing for today though is that I'm fine, my family is fine, and we're starting to rebuild. My next concern is hoping that I have a home to go home to tomorrow.

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