I'm fasting today. I think I might fast for a few days, see how it goes. I think it might help with my mood, and if nothing else, cleanse me a little before I move to a new city and start classes (on Monday.) I think I'll start using this to keep track of what I consume, as I used it a while ago to keep track of my exercising. Perhaps this will also cause me to start exercising again, who knows.

Today, I consumed:
1 cup green tea (high in antioxidants, or so it said)
1 banana (I was feeling woozy, and bananas are fructose and potassium.)
1 cup blueberry tea. (I was beginning to feel hungry, thought the flavor and water might help.)

I've never been on a fast before. It's amazing how quickly I noticed that I was hungry and a bit light-headed. I'm going to consume small quantities of carbohydrates to keep my glucose levels up so that my central nervous system won't consume the protein in my muscles.

"Everyone gets everything he wants. I wanted a mission, and for my sins they gave me one. Brought it up to me like room service. It was a real choice mission, and when it was over, I'd never want another."

Captain Willard, Apocalypse Now

I've arrived at a big decision, a decision which could be the entire point of UnemploymentQuest!, the secret move that allows you to beat the level boss and win. A number of factors came into play to make it possible, but I have decided I am not going to pursue employment. Instead, I'm going to write full time. I'm going hardcore, stop my complaining about entrapment by the system of Late Capitalism and split from the program. I'll be able to look folks in the eye and say, "I'm a writer". The worst that can happen is a year from now I have to go get another damn job. After the place I worked in North Carolina, they don't make time hard enough to break me...

My buddy Ch came over to show me some sketches for the comic we're working on, and then we drove to get a coffee down at Cafe Tropical, down on Sunset in Silverlake. If you are ever in the neighborhood and want to treat yourself to the best cuban pastry and cafe con leche ever, stop in. In fact, /msg me and I'll join you... In any case, Ch's honda features a randomly actuated, intermittent beeper that, at one time, was intended to warn an absent minded motorist of an unbuckled seatbelt or open door. This beeper, having sufficiently devolved from its mission parameters, now simply beeped in an effort to drive me to the point of psychosis. It took this as a cry for help, really, the beeper wanted to be put out of its misery. I asked Ch if he would mind if I disconnected the beeper, as this had been the state of affairs in his car for more than a year. After 4 seasons of beeping, Ch decided that he'd had enough. I was authorized to terminate the beeper's command with extreme prejudice.

Now my father, systems thinker to the core and mechanical engineer, he would have located the short and mended the wiring harness to eliminate the ground. What I did was find the beeper's home near the rear view mirror and disconnect its power supply. I told Ch that if his car started cranking sluggishly, we'd find the bad ground then. To celebrate our victory making the world safe for silence, we drove down into Elysian Valley for a soda at this market I've been meaning to check out, the "Lovely Service Food Mart"

Inside, we were treated to a tiny Thai run neighborhood market, loaded with beer, canned coconut milk, and long stringers of hot Thai peppers that made my eyes water when I walked past. The cash register was armored behind no less than 4 inches of polycarbonate paneling, and yet the door to the register station was wide open as the shopkeeper dusted the small buddist shrine in the front of the store.

Ch wanted to see more of the neighborhood, so we walked down to St. Ann's Catholic Church. I haven't been in a church in more than a year, being a non-believer. But I was raised catholic, and I caught myself dipping my fingers into the holy water cistern and crossing myself before I even knew what was happening. We knelt down in one of the rear pews, while I quietly showed Ch the tabernacle, the confessionals, the stations of the cross. It was dark and cool inside - the ceiling was vaulted with exposed wooden beamwork, the adobe/concrete walls were over three feet thick. From the front of the church, a group of old asian folks began to sing a hymn, in a language I coudn't recognize. I guess it was Thai, based on the nearby store. It was beautiful, if incomprehensible. Not wanting to be more of an interloper than I already was, it was back outside into white glare of the afternoon.

The neighborhood fascinated Ch. Locked between the Los Angeles River and The 5, Elysian Valley is about 1.5 miles long and 250 yards wide. It's like a tiny walled village, safe inside the 50 foot high noise wall that protects it from the freeway. It's so quiet you can hear the concrete river babbling over the arroyo rocks. We walk down to the river to discover an amazing stealth encampment, hidden among a giant stand of bamboo. The stalks have been woven into a roof over a sandbar floor - internet scam fliers are stacked nearby as tinder for a neat stone fire ring. It's a good camp, comfortable. You'd be screwed if it rained, but otherwise it's safe and soft.

Back over the embankment, a guy in a wheelchair and a pickup truck are stopped in the street. The driver and the wheelchair driver are talking. The wheelchair guy is burly, with a broad chest and a shaved head. His leashed dog sits patiently next to him while he talks. He and the pickup driver are obviously old friends. The driver hands Wheelchair a cigarette and he lights up. Ch. and I walk on.

Moments later, I hear the sound of wheels speeding over cement - almost like a bike, but it's not a bike. It's the wheelchair guy! He's rocketing up the open, carless street, pulled along by his dog! The dog is leashed with a harness, and Wheelman's massively muscled arm is stretched in front of him, holding the leash. The dog is running full tilt, tongue wagging in a wide dog smile. Wheelman mushes the dog on in wild spanish, cigarette clenched between his lips. They have to be going at least 25 miles an hour! On and on they roll...

I take it as a sign. I've made the right the decision. On Wheelman, on! Mush, mush to the pole!


It's done.

The birth of an album: a cautionary tale?

The result of several years of writing, a year of planning, and nearly ten months recording. Finally the Tugboat album is finished and pressed and sitting in my hands (figuratively speaking) and looking utterly gorgeous (me being one of its proud parents).

When we started planning our follow-up release to our 7" single in June last year, we had no idea what the next year-and-a-bit was going to be like, and what the result would be. Originally we had planned to release a 7" single, which then became a plan to release an EP. Originally we were going to record the whole thing on (the bass player) Jeremy's 8-track home studio, which was shelved in favour of working with the esteemed local music legend Richard Andrew, formerly of Underground Lovers and Crow, and currently doing his thing in Registered Nurse. Richard's studio is an 1" analogue 8-track housed in a fairly decrepit and massive house in North Fitzroy.

We started recording with Richard in October (or was it September?), on the same weekend that Paula Yates was found dead. At this stage, our plan was to record seven songs for an EP, which was meant to be finished by January. We recorded the main tracks for the first six songs at a public hall in South Melbourne on one sunny spring Sunday, and then spent the next three months painstakingly recording overdubs for the tracks we'd started.

The number of times I wanted to throw the whole process in over the next few months steadily became countless. I'd be unhappy with a guitar part, a vocal, I'd want to scrap an entire song.. At this stage the record had little shape and was not much more than a random collection of half-finished songs that to me sounded a bit on the crap side.

Around January, Richard made the audacious suggestion that maybe we should record a whole album, mainly because he thought that albums get better recognition and attention than EPs, plus he enjoyed working with us sufficiently to make him want to go the distance. Also, we were nowhere near finishing the tracks we'd started anyway.

In March, I was between jobs for a month, so I spent most of March commencing the recording of the next batch of songs. With Richard, I recorded five songs that didn't require the whole band, mainly those that didn't require drums, or used loops and electronic percussion. Three of these songs didn't reach the completion stage and never made it to the final cut. Come April, we repaired again to South Melbourne for an entire weekend to record the live tracks for a further seven songs to round out our total of 18 songs from which we would choose the final track listing for the album.

By this stage the record was starting to cost me (as its sole financier) quite a deal of money. I had no idea it would cost me a darn sight more than it had so far. Over the course of the next few weeks I worked quite steadily at overdubs, and it was during this time Richard's talent as a producer was shown. Lots of little ideas, sounds, percussion, samples.. It was at this point the record really started to take its shape. Also, during this time Bek (the drummer/co-vocalist) was away, so Richard and I commenced mixing down some of the completed songs (about 4 or 5 songs were complete at this stage). For me, the mixdown is one of the most enjoyable parts of the recording process, because it's where all the bits and bobs and glorious mess of the raw tracks are brought together to form the final version of the song. A few of the initial mixes weren't up to par, but we had the luxury of time to go back and re-do anything (and indeed, most things) that weren't quite there.

By now it was June, and we were probably 90% finished. So to make sure we got off our asses and finished the damn thing, I booked a mastering session at Studios 301 in Sydney for mid-July. During June we feverishly worked to try and get all the songs finished. In fact, three of the songs didn't even have lyrics or a finished melody until the last week of June. Ironically, these three songs ended up being among the best we recorded, which to me bodes well for our future (since we don't really have any songs written for our next record).

The last week of June was spent completing overdubs, re-recording vocals and some guitar parts, and mixing down the final versions of all the finished songs. It was our intention to have all 18 songs finished so we could pick and choose the best, but in the end we only completed 15 songs, and 1 of these was not considered good enough for the final cut. This was a mixed blessing, as it was one of our strongest and most popular songs, but we felt it was probably better to save it for a future release anyway.

The waiting was the hardest part in the lead-up to the mastering. Studios 301 is considered the most "prestigious" mastering suite in Australia, and most of the Australian chart releases are mastered here. Needless to say the mastering was a very expensive process. It was probably an unnecessary extravagance to master our vaguely lo-fi album at the best studio in the country but by this stage I was hell-bent on the getting the best for this record I'd laboured so long over.

The weekend Richard, Bek and I spent in Sydney for the mastering was an absolute blast. We were staying with a friend and ex-bandmate of Richard's, Peter Fenton (ex of Crow and also star of the film Praise and ABC television series Love Is A Four Letter Word) who was a warm and gracious host. The mastering was a lengthy, arduous and quite stressful process, but the satisfying feeling of listening back to the finished and sequenced album at the end of the session was so tangible I felt I could touch it.

Richard, Bek and I celebrated the completion of the record by trailing the streets of Sydney, hopping from bar to bar and getting utterly trashed. We also caught a drag show on Oxford Street, did cocksucking cowboy shooters until we were licking the spilt Baileys off the tables, and smoked our weight in Benson & Hedges. We flew back to Melbourne the next day hungover and triumphant.

Yesterday I got back the finished compact disc from the record label, complete with its beautiful sleeve part-designed by my friend Kate. It was worth every cent, it looks so beautiful.

We decided to call the album "All Day" in tribute to our friend Paddy, a Melbourne songwriter in a band called Grand Salvo, who has a habit of using said phrase in almost all of his songs.

What happens from hereon in I don't know, it might make us popstars or it might disappear into obscurity. I'm still unbelievably proud of what Tugboat have achieved.

What does it sound like? It's hard to be objective about that sort of thing, but I'd like to think those years spent listening to R.E.M.'s Murmur, those wacky Brisbanites the Go Betweens and My Bloody Valentine's Isn't Anything had some effect on what I write..

Well, I'm off to Bonn. This is going to be one of the most emotionaly difficult days of my life. I am up to the challenge, or am I?

Have I lost my perspective? Have I lost my mind? Can I actually succeede and make peace with this, make amends, improve the situation somehow? Or am I just fooling myself and tilting at windmills?

I don't know. My heart and stomach are tied in knots. I don't know, but I know that there's no turning back. I have a flight a 5pm to catch and a destiny to meet.

Most likely this is simple going to cause more pain and suffering, most likely this is not going to go well. Most likely you will never speak to me again.

The email crushed me. Talking to you gave me hope that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

But that light is just the lack of the dark.

"won't you try just a little bit harder, wouldn't you try just a little bit more
the wheel is spinning and you can't slow it down, can't let go and you can't hold on, can't go back and you can't stand still...
if the THUNDER don't get you the LIGHTNING will

"I woke and thought, everythings gonna be alright, everythings gonna be okay..then it hit me, like a wave." Morphine

Morning again finds me groggy and greasy, sitting here sucking cancerous smoke and reheated coffee, listening to a dead singer croon on the stereo, his voice floating along the opiate stream of a tuned down bassline and haunting jazz meandering streamlets of woeful accidental perfections...

A conclusion to the job issue..I went in last night from six till nine, it was over before it began, and everything was cool. Looks like I at least will have twenty hours a week there part time, evenings. That's a far cry from the fifty I was working before, but at least I have all this time now to get things in order for the winter. I'm taking this week off from searching for a day gig. I'll save that adventure for next week. I don't mind working in the evenings, I actually prefer it, and since I have no social life to speak of yet here on Long Island, it's not like I'll be missing anything. I get Friday nights off anyways, and the option of working saturday 10-4 if I wish. So, enough on the human slavery topic, it seems settled for now.

I finially talked to my evil twin yesterday. I must have sounded frantic to her (I did to myself). There is so much to talk about, and a few minutes across the digital void were not enough. In the past, it was usually her losing her shit and being all crazy, I guess the roles are reversed a bit now. I tried to get across the concept that I'm not the same person I was in Florida; since my removal from all those social influences..I realized the person I was down there was just a reactionary reflection of everyone I encountered, with the real me locked inside a windowless prison, just waiting. Well, I left that bubble laying in the sand, and here I stand, on a northern island of stress and frenzy, where the only walls around me are the ones I pay rent for. I kinda like it, too, in a weird way. This chaos, which I have no ties to. It's been a great time to analyze myself, and my deeds down south. Thank goddess for daylogs, I never would have logged half the stuff I did if it wasn't for this.

"I got out the car, got a little air, felt better" Morphine

ps to all the vile votedumpers...lick me!

Today I got an email from a former coworker, who was arrested for child pornography (he had the pictures downloaded from the internet, took his computer in to be fixed, got busted).

I am a social worker. I work with children who are "at risk". People expect me to be horrified by what he has done and dimiss him as one of society's sick outcasts. Okay, so perhaps what he was doing was horrible. He was looking at sexual pictures of young children. To me that's disgusting. But here's the kicker...he was...is... my good friend, not just a coworker. We did lunch on a regular basis, we went to the movies together, he even went lingerie shopping with me for goodness sake (I made him sit in the middle of Lane Bryant, holding the bras and underwear that I wanted while I continued to try things on...what a guy)!

I guess my point is...I guess I don't really have a point. It's been a month since he was arrested and is not technically supposed to be in contact with us. It was really good to hear from him...outcast or not.

Good god! I haven't noded a damn thing since April. No school this summer and no convenient access to an internet connected box left me outside of the loop for too long. This summer was crazy to say the very least. Not in the social sense - like "We mad partied every night, bro" - but in the "oh dear, this turn of events is very alarming sort.

A couple of months back my upstairs neighbor was murdered in his sleep while the remainder of the tenant blissfully snored through the whole thing. He was a drug dealer. That should blunt the shock of homicide detectives banging on my door at an ungodly hour of the morning but it really didn't. As much as I wanted to hate the guy for being the token thug of the building, he was actually a pretty cool guy. So, to make what could easily be an overly long and melodramatic story somewhat short, I was a murder suspect for a couple of weeks this summer. Maybe I'll do a separate wu for the detailed story since parts of it (that came out later, of course) are disturbing and gave me a little bit of insight into the regard that the Denver police department has for people who are associated with drug culture.

I started skateboarding again after a ten year retirement into the relative obscurity of multiple injuries and chronic pain. After attending a bachelor party at the Vans Skatepark in D.C. I was hooked all over again. It's a completely different animal without the pressure of contests and sponsors and little kids screaming about stickers. Coincidentally, Denver just opened the largest public skatepark in the United States this summer. It is amazing but still very crowded with junior high school kids and their overprotective parents (meaning when I yell because some little anklebiter loses his skateboard into the pool I'm skating his dad comes over and starts threatening litigation.) It is free, though, so it's difficult to complain about such minor things.

This is the part where I swear that I'm going to node more and actually follow through. My new work study position is in a computer lab on the very furthest side of campus in the aerospace building. I've been here for three hours and only one student has come in. There is time, lots of time.

Thank you to everyone from up in here that dropped me some mail over the summer. I appreciate it.

Today began fast and furious, but got vastly better at the end! I worked, then I came home and stayed on the computer most of the afternon and evening. Tomorrow I go back to school, and it's to a school I transferred to by choice last year. Now, I hate it. My beautiful cat, Pepper, has been looking a bit sickly today, and has been acting very unusual, though he seems to be doing better now. I feed him a piece of ham and spend some time petting him and scratching his chin. Truly, we never know which day may be our last one with an old friend.

At around 9:20 tonight, SHE signed in to MSN. The girl I had such fun with yesterday, who I'm really starting to like over the past few months. We talk a bit, and she asked what I did today. I said I just worked, and then drove around town for a while. She said she would have loved to do that with me! We talk some more, and I begin speaking about her in the third person, saying that I "got together with a really awesome girl on a totally spur of the moment thing last night, and we ended up making out and having fun in a park late at night, and I wondered if she really likes me, and if she thought it was something special." We go on in the third person for a while, talking about "this girl" that I was with last night, and she was telling me how this girl really liked me, but this girl was afraid to tell me because she was afraid that I didn't like her too. Speaking about each other in the third person (initially, anyhow) is a great, great, great way to get all these feelings out if you don't want to come out and say it directly. It's unique and fun! We talk some more, and pour out our feelings for each other. They're the same!! She says that she needs just a bit of time to get over her ex-boyfriend, but not a lot of time at all. I tell her to take all the time she needs. We're getting together again this Saturday, and we are going to have SO much fun!

And I will have a girlfriend. A fun, exciting, open-minded, sweet, sensitive, and caring girlfriend. I am happy beyond comprehension. =)

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