I could not take my eyes off of her, this I recall with great clarity. Perhaps that is the only thing that I can truly know for certain. Her raven hair half shielded her eyes, mysterious. Her skin glistened white as the full moon. She danced with the ferocity and litheness of a tiger, hips undulating and muscles rippling to the rhythm of the drums. I was desirous of this wild creature. All others in the crowded room faded into the background once I caught sight of her. There was no one else but her.

Her movements drew her closer into my sphere. My senses tingled, the blood coursed through my veins. This woman was raw energy, electrifying me as no other had before. I meant to have her. She did not resist as I moved with her onto the dance floor. I let her hands flow over and around me, barely touching. She let my hands move along the curves of her spine and the turn of her hips. Pale blue eyes looked into my own. Beyond here, I am no longer certain of any truths. Dreamlike, mesmerized. I felt her hunger. I smelled her desire. I could scarely contain my elation, so sure I was of victory.

Later, with the sweat still clinging to our bodies, I led her into the night, destination; my place. She practically purred with delight. Taking her elbow, I sped up the pace.

When she pulled me into the darkened alley, away from prying street lights, I was surprised at her strength. It was unexpected. Her pupils had subtley changed, expanding. She was no longer looking at me with heat, but with something else. Power? She pushed me hard against the brick wall. My desire blended with the first inklings of doubt.

This time, as her eyes locked onto mine, I became paralyzed. My heart pounded harder. My veins matched accordingly, pulsing stronger and faster with each heartbeat. The skin throbbed where the blood tried to force itself quicker through its tightening space. It was a beacon. Her gaze shifted slightly as her long pale fingers crept up my chest, easily pulling aside my shirt. I was both excited and apprehensive.

Her nostrils flared slightly as she drew closer. Her cool tongue darting out to trace the path of her determined fingers along my skin. I could not breathe. I could not move. She traced her nails across my neck, slightly etching a line. That stripe proved to be too much for her. I could only watch in fascinated horror as her ruby lips parted in that predatory smile. I had been fooled into thinking I was in charge. In fact, I was lost.

It was both ecstasy and agony. Then there was nothing, as it all faded to black.

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Perhaps it's just the stress of the past few days, or perhaps the foreignness is catching up with me, but I've been vicious homesick recently. It's coming out in my conversation with friends from HIF, I know. I'm sounding more bitter when I talk about Japan, less amazing discoveries and more irritated gripes. I've only been here three weeks -- I wouldn't think the honeymoon would be over quite so soon.

I find myself thinking a lot about people I've been in love with. Hell, even just crushed on. Music, which I've been using to remove myself from my environment when the need arises, tends to remind me of them.

Ani DiFranco comes on and I have a flashback to Noah bringing me a big bottle of Belgian beer on Valentine's day, us cuddling on the bed while we took swigs.

The Flaming Lips comes on and I'm dragged back to kissing Josh on the floor of his apartment, snow falling out the window, ceiling tinted orange from an overcast Chicago night sky.

A bass solo in the middle of a jazz album comes on and I get a vivid image of Aiden bent over his instrument in wife beater, intense and coiled in a world of his own making. What the fuck, brain. I never even slept with Aiden. He was straight.

These are good memories. I'm glad I had the opportunity to make them. Not everyone gets a chance like that, much less several in the span of only a few years. But I want to hold them -- I don't want them holding me.

There's more. Even people I've never been in love with romantically, close friends, acquaintances, are called forward by the stuff I've been listening to. Gabriel, Ribqua, Ophelia, Kit, Qeling, Sibyl, other friends I haven't made up fake names for on the internet... people I really want to talk to. People I miss terribly, that I don't see enough of, that I've forgotten too many things about.

I have a telephone, but using that would be the appropriate solution. Following through on appropriate solutions is not one of my strong suits. In any case, they're asleep when I'm not and vice versa.

I'm lonely here. I don't feel I have any right to say so, given the friends I've made and the intimacy of my host family, not even to mention the fact that I'm only going to be here for as short a time as two months, but emotions are inconveniently impervious to reason that way. I'm lonely, I miss my friends and family, and things happening in Japan right now are fading into the background behind a glaze of memories tinted blue.

I don't understand why the love demonstrated by those close to me, those who barely know me, and even those who I don't know at all isn't enough to satiate me. I'm addicted to the feeling of being liked, I think. And a relationship seems like the ultimate hit.

That's not healthy. I shouldn't 'need' romantic love to 'be whole.' Bullshit. If I'm not a whole person already, then I won't have much to offer someone who might fall in love with me, will I? I'm frustrated by this loneliness when I'm not in a relationship and senseless dissatisfaction when I'm in one. It's not as though no one's up for trying. But, of course, why not, I have to combine relationship-dependency with extreme selectivity and conflicting standards.

I guess I've improved somewhat. Previously, I'd thought I had set impassable barriers to falling in love. Now I've made a step forward. People can get through, but only if they're not particularly interested in me.

Every day in every way I'm just getting better and fucking better, eh?

But to step back from the "wah wah emo woe is me I don't have a boyfriend" wangst and maybe for a second return to the GIGANTIC FUCKING FOREIGN COUNTRY I'm supposed to be here to experience, I've been kind of pathetic lately. I just go to school, try not to get too many withering looks from my teacher, use the internet till I figure out it's not going to make me feel any better, then go home and sleep or do homework. My Japanese has hit a plateau, I don't really have the time or energy to explore, and as for those judo lessons I was excited about--maybe if I wasn't taking two or three times longer than everyone else finishing my homework. I guess I must be drifting in and out of daydreams too often to get anything done. No one else in the class seems particularly concerned with the work load.

I spend more time writing these damn posts than I do talking to my host family. It might help if my vocabulary extended a little beyond the words "delicious," "interesting," "good," and "difficult," but I could still talk more than I have. It's just sometimes I get so tired of saying the exact same things, incorrectly, over and over and over a-fucking-gain because I lack the works to express the ten billion or so thoughts lining up to be said all at once. If I ever get fluent in this language, I swear I'm going to use the words 'oishii,' 'omoshiroi,' 'ii,' and 'muzukashii,' as seldom as possible. They're tasting real fucking stale.

But all the new words I'm learning just never happen to be the ones I need right now.

If I ever need to express the concept of 'to liquidate' though, for example, I guarentee you I'll have forgotten it.

My friend Jono, who spent two and a half years here in Japan, was right. Highs and lows are amplified when you're abroad, especially if you only catch 30% of what's going on around you. But right now, I'm riding one hell of a low.

I miss you. I wish I could talk with you. Even if I've never met you before. Even if you just stumbled here from wherever. I miss you, and I'm really sorry that's eclipsing the opportunities I have here.

Something positive? Well, I'm getting very good at apologizing.

Author's note, this post was written about two months ago. Things got better ^_^

First thing's first: my name is Becquer Bradley. Rebecca to my mother who named me, Becca to my father who raised me, and Becquer to My Uncle Randy who never did quite shake his Brooklyn accent, the kind where "Soda" inexplicably rhymes with "Boater." Everybody else in the world Calls me Beaker which, at the moment, isn't exactly a whole lot of people.

- - -

I guess some explanations are in order.

I spent two months alone in a bomb shelter when I was six years old; two months scooping peanut butter out of jars with my fingers. Two months trying to learn how to work a can opener. Two months in the dark because I couldn't reach the light switch. I wish I didn't remember any of it, but it was a hard thing to forget.

The scariest part of all that was, the shelter had a skylight built into the roof, six inches thick and scratched to hell. There wasn't much to see, but the light that I got when I got any at all was maddening. I would've preferred the dark - dark's a blanket; the kind of redness that pulsed on the other side of that window felt like something not found anywhere in nature, at least not in anything alive.

Have you seen pictures of the firebombing of Dresden? I hadn't, but I went digging through what was left of the library when I was a teenager. I guess I was looking for a sense of community, a holocaust survivor in a very real sense. The first thing that struck me was, the colors were all wrong. I wanted to take a crayon to the books to show people that black and white photographs are funny, desperately so, when compared to the redness of the real thing.

I wasn't rescued so much as I was stumbled upon - scavengers eventually broke down the door looking for supplies. They found them, and with a sigh and a "well, shit. What d'you reckon we do with her?" I was reintroduced to society; what was left of it anyway.

My new friends were a sorry bunch. Daddy would've called them 'characters;' my Uncle Randy would've called them 'fucking lowlifes.' I'll tell you about them later; all you need to know for now is that, lowlifes or not, these people are my family. My real family was incinerated fifteen years ago by a series of explosions that killed twenty-five thousand people in three-and-a-half seconds. I don't know how it happened, nobody does, but I'm going to try to find out because I've the time, and because I think I'm the smartest person here who's still breathing.

Wordmongers' Masque: 1 2

The quest for a passport

I am going to the US of A, yes I am. I have the plane ticket in my hand (well, I haven't, since it was purchased via Travelocity, but you get the general idea). I cannot remember the last time I was this excited - if ever (um, I probably ought to mention something about becoming a mother and stuff like that, but that was so many years ago, and anyway I was so young, and... never mind).

But, before I will be able to go anywhere I need a passport. I have never travelled much; being a single parent means that just about every penny you make gets stuffed into those greedy little brats who call you Mom. So I haven't needed a passport for years and years.

Normally, in Denmark you just grab your different IDs and head for one of the passport-issuing police stations. Badabing badaboom, and you have your passport. Well... I couldn't do that. I am not a Danish citizen. I am Finnish.

"Ah", you think, "she'll need to go to the Finnish Embassy." Yes, my friend, that is exactly what I need to do. Only... I needed to bring with me my old passport, which I can't find.

Not so good
I emailed the Finnish embassy to ask what I should do, now that I didn't have my old passport. They said to bring my orginal birth certificate, and a police report on one missing passport. "Great", I thought. "I can do that". And this is where it gets really annoying and stressful: because I could not find my birth certificate.

I know what you are thinking now. "Well, if she's that careless with her important personal papers, she bleedin' well doesn't deserve to go anywhere!" That may be so, but on the other hand I am rather fond of me, and I can always make up excuses for my deplorable lack of tidyness, and I have been moving around quite a bit these last few years, and most of my stuff is still stored in boxes since I haven't really needed to get it out, and... some more excuses that I will undoubtedly fabricate should need arise.

Once again I approached the embassy to check for loopholes. Once again I was told that I did indeed need a birth certificate, and, in addition to that, my Finnish ID. That really freaked me out. I don't have, have never had, and will in all probability never have a Finnish ID apart from the passport - which is what I am trying to obtain. If my apartment had not been so small I would have been running through the rooms screaming. But as it is a bit on the small side, I just sat in my chair and rocked frantically to and fro (no, it's not a rocking chair, and yes, all the screws will most likely need to be tightened now, lest it falls apart), whining about how unfair and unreasonable the whole thing was.

After a few minutes of this I decided I was getting nowhere, and got proactive.

Now to get a birth certificate - or a copy thereof - I needed to contact the Swedish authorities in Stockholm, where I was born so long ago. Well... that was not easy. My call was being tossed around between offices where uninterested employees did their best to do nothing helpful at all - except press the button on their phone that would send the call along to the next office. In the end I just hung up on a pretty irritated clerk who kept trying to explain that he really needed my cpr number (the Swedish one) if I wanted to get a birth certificate. I had told him a number of times I did not infact have a Swedish number since I moved to Denmark 39 years ago. In the end I just slammed the receiver down before my temper made me say things my mom hadn't taught me to say. Well... actively taught me, anyway.

Some investigation on the internet made me realize that I should contact the Tax Department (Skatteverket) in Stockholm. So I wrote them an email , explaining the whole conundrum. They wrote back and asked if I could tell them my cpr number, and could I please provide them with an adress to which they could send a copy of whatever information they had on me. Not a birth certificate, just a couple of lines to say that I had indeed been born, and had moved away, many, many moons ago. Oh, dear. I told them: "No, I don't know my number, but hey, here's my adress anyway". I was coming to a point where I didn't really care if they sent me my own papers, or just the papers on some other person by the same name.

My SO was quite unsympathetic. "Go down to the basement and look through your boxes", he said. "Your passport has got to be down there, somewhere".

Well, duh!

Ah, yes... The basement. Where we have a small storage space (10' by 6.5' or less), absolutely crammed full of my boxes containing stuff I haven't set eyes on in at least a year, and probably will never need again. There are boxes with papers, kitchen gear, odds and ends, memorabilia, clothes... All stacked on top of each other, wobbling threateningly as soon as the door is opened.

What I was after was, of course, the boxes with papers. I kinda, sorta knew that I stood the best chance with the three boxes in the back of the storage space (I didn't actually know there were three boxes; I thought there were only two. The third box contained clothes that I was certain had been lost along the way. Yay...).

Climbing over the boxes would be idiotic, but I am not neccessarily known for my rational and sensible approach to solving problems. And the boxes were sturdy enough, most of them, so I made it to the back of the room with only minor mishaps. The box I was after was almost accessible, so I tried to just like shift it around a little. I got the flaps open and peered inside. Papers, and lots of them.

Lying more or less on my stomach across one box while balancing on my left big toe on the corner of another box, I rifled through the contents of the box. There were a lot of interesting papers in there... but, no, not the passport (or the birth certificate, which by all accounts ought to be down there too). To add insult to injury my toe slipped, and the movement caused the neighbouring pile of boxes to wobble, tipping a small coffee table down onto my head. Nothing serious, and nothing a wipe down with a cloth won't take care of (the table, that is).


In the end I collected all my different Danish IDs, like driver's license, social security card, and whatever plastic cards I have - plus the slip of paper I got from Skatteverket in Stockholm - and ventured forth to the Finnish Embassy. Police report and ugly passport snapshot pictures would have to wait until I knew for sure whether or not what I had would be enough.

The nice lady behind the bullet proof glass took one look at my slip of paper. It said that I had been born on April 1, 1959, and that I did no longer live in Sweden. That was it! Nothing more. I was so certain that she would shake her head and kindly inform me that I would be stuck in Denmark to my dying day.

"That's fine", she said, smiling. "They changed the rules four days ago, so this will do fine".

Yay, hooray. I am totally in the clear. Today I'm going back to the embassy with all the papers I need, and I'll get my passport in time for my trip. I hope to be attending some after-hike fun on October 14 and I will be in Adams Morgan. And I am looking so much forward to it!

Oh, and I eventually got the forgotten box of clothes out of storage, and none of the clothes fit any longer. I think they may have shrunk because of the damp cellar.

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