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So here I am about smack-dab in the middle of winter break. My school gets off at Thanksgiving, and doesn't start up again until the second of January. I've been sitting on my butt and watching a lot of TV, which disgusts me. I think I'm better than that. I make excuses like, "It was a long hard term, and the next one will be a long hard term, so I should relax while I have the leisure." But I can work now to make my future better.

My under-grad honors' thesis

I'm writing a pencil-paper roleplaying game. It's a post-apocalyptic steampunk thing. The working title is, The Worst of Times. I really like the concept, but I have very little on paper yet. The idea came to me over the summer in a flash of inspiration, and I quickly wrote this story to try and preserve as much of my original idea as possible.

I've also been researching roleplaying games, especially other post-apocalyptic games, like The End, to get a feel for die-mechanics, you know the randomizing engine that makes the game more than just playing pretend in your friend's basement.

This reminds me: If you are a role-player, and would be interested in helping to play-test my game /msg me. I should have something to give you before February. If not, I'm in trouble.

There is slightly more information available at my homenode.

Helping grandma move

Last weekend I helped my grandma move out of her house and into her new apartment at an apartment complex for independent seniors, or something along those lines.

I helped my grandmother leave the only place she's lived in since I was born.

It was a little strange. I would look around her house and her yard and I would see places where photographs of me were taken when I was very small. I cleaned out her garage, and found an old pair of goggles with real glass lenses. She gave me her old Underwood typewriter, which needs cleaning, because the w and a keys stick a little. The tragedy of helping an old person move for the last time struck me when I sat for too long. I felt much too old for my age doing this.

I decorated her little artificial tree at her new apartment. It looks rather pretty.

Applying to graduate school

Today I filled out a nice ink copy of my application to Carnegie Mellon's Entertainment Technology program. This is the program I want more than any other. I'm hoping that my Mad Generalist Skillz will look appealing enough that they'll grace me with an acceptance letter. I want to have this in the mail by the end of the week.

Loving my girlfriend

I love my girlfriend. She'll be off and away for most of winter break, and I'm not sure how often I'll see her on-line. It's a long distance relationship, so it's not like distance is anything... we've held together for over nine months now, and I'm still happy with how things are going.

She mentioned that she wasn't sure I was going to be able to visit her for her birthday. I couldn't remember ever saying I was planning on it, and told her so. I don't think I'd have the cash. It was a non-issue with her. Still, I felt kind of lousy, not being able to fly down to see my girl on her birthday. Someday, when I have a real, steady income, I will do these things.

One of my friends turned down a Marshall Scholarship (200,000 pounds at any school in the UK) because his girlfriend didn't want him to cross the pond for so long. I'm glad my girlfriend isn't so emotionally unstable.

Christmas shopping

I still need to go out and pick up the thing my sister and I are getting my dad. One of my big Christmas shopping problems this year seems to be buying stuff for myself. I've been trying to get into the zen art of Living Below Your Means. I think that in reality, I'm quite good at not spending money compared to most Americans, but I've been trying to avoid the trinket-buying lately.

Also, my girlfriend told me that she bought me something, so I'm keeping an eye out for a suitable gift for her, whatever that might be.

Blah, Blah, Blah.

It's my Birthday Today

Am TWENTY-THREE. This is old. Well it feels like it. I need a job.


Today's edition is kind of redolent of E2: http://www.dieselsweeties.com/archive.php?s=309

I don't like this time of year.

December is a tricky one for me. I have my anniversary, my girlfriend's birthday, two cousin's birthdays, Christmas, all my electrity, gas and water bills and my lease expires next month. Add to this the fact that it's not too busy at work and my shifts have been cut down, I'm a little tight at the moment.

But that doesn't stop me buying things.

HINT: N64 Rumble Packs aren't that impressive. They make your controller jiggle a bit. Maybe they'd be good for people who can't see very well. I wish I'd bought an extra controller instead.

I'm having problems with mobile phone chargers. My dog chewed through the cord on my mobile charger. Consequently, it no longer works. I replaced that charger. The dog chewed through it again. The same thing happened to my girlfriend's charger. Same dog too. I just bought her a new charger. It doesn't work. I took it out of the box, plugged it in, turned it on and waited futilely1 for something to happen. I'll take it back tomorrow.

Just got my roster for the next three weeks of work. A total of nine shifts over twenty-one days. Usually I'd work 14-16 shifts over this period. I sure hope I get the security deposit back from this house, otherwise paying it for the next one could be a little hairy.

On and on and on.

1. Is this even a word?
The first time I met him I knew he was trouble. He was charming, brilliant, talented, and flagged with a big invisible danger sign over his head. There are some people that just smack of no good if you get too close to them, like touching hot metal they will burn your skin and leave you with hurt and a scar to remind you much later on of the short shared moment. We started dating a short while later.

And of course, he cheated on me. I knew he had well before he decided to tell me by how he began to move a little sheepishly under direct eye contact, and also hard as you might try, when it is two people who share a secret, word is going to get around. And so he finally sat me down one day to unburden himself of his tortured secret. Squirming in his seat trying to spare me, trying to find the most gentle and least incriminating words he let it drip out bit by bit into a little lump of shame on the floor between us. I sat there staring at him, shrugged.

"you don't seem angry"

"i'm not"

"what? why aren't you mad?"

"i never expected any better of you"

"you.... bitch!"

So there I was ten in the evening being yelled at by the wounded confused boy who had just cheated on me, staring at him vacantly while he yells into my face trying to salvage his bruised broken pride. It is easier to close your eyes and let the words run together into a current that carries you away but somehow tonight I could not tear myself from his flushed face dripping little tear rivers down his shirt onto his lap. Is this what we expect to grow up and find when we are seven years old daydreaming about the future?

The yearly review. It's a time, just before the New Year, the chronological changing of the guard, that some people reflect on where they've been and what they've done over the preceding 12 months. Every night before I go to sleep, I review my day, thinking about what I did, how I feel about it, what was said, what tomorrow might bring, what I missed and whether I feel good about the day or not. My Year End Review is much the same.

This last year I almost became a millionaire, worked as the Senior Graphics and Web Designer for a company, delivered pizzas, had a girlfriend a decade younger than me, started a new novel, bid my girlfriend goodbye as she went on to move forward in life, worked as a host at a resturant, watched the birth of a war, went to a wedding, moved, shaved my head, regrew my hair, threatened a few bums, wasted lots of time, won a pool tournament, went on vacation, struggled with gastritis some more, defended my religion, read a shitload of books, grew as a graphic artist, closed a business, got fired, gained weight, lost weight, made new friends and learned how to let go of other people's problems.

I also survived.

I graduated from high school in the Class of '92, on May 29th. At the time I was living in Dallas, but had chosen to spend my graduation in Chicago. I had gone to Wilmette, IL, where the Baha'i House of Worship was located, to take part in a once-in-a-lifetime event: the 100th Anniversary of the Ascension of Baha'u'llah, the founder of the Baha'i Faith. Graduating from high school happens only once in a lifetime, too, but I decided that paying homage to God was more important than reveling in my success as a student (and it turned out that my success as a student wasn't 100%- I still had to go to summer school to qualify for my diploma and complete my math credits). The kicker was that May 29th is also my birthday, it was my 19-year celebration, and I couldn't think of a better way to spend it than with other Baha'is.

When I'd gotten to Chicago, I was offered an incredible opportunity. The sound engineer for the night's activities had fallen ill and no one knew enough about sound engineering to cover for him. My dad is a country music star, or was at the time, and everyone there knew it because celebrity Baha'is are hard to come by. I had spent hundreds of hours in the studio, even helping mix a few of his songs on some albums. I knew how to master a sound board. The director for the night's activities knew this also, since he lived in the same town as my dad just outside of Nashville, so he asked me if I would like to be the sound engineer that night. I humbly accepted, astonished to realize that I was not only going to witness this singular event, but I was going to contribute to it from behind the scenes. What a birthday present, eh? I think that was my first real understanding of how karma works. I'd made a personal sacrifice, to forego my graduation ceremony, only to be given the wonderous gift of being a part of something greater than myself.

I focused all of my attention on the sound board that night and didn't make a single mistake, didn't allow myself to be distracted by anything. No feedback squeals, no sound-outs, no high-level peaks- nothing went wrong at all. That night the American Baha'is had the chance to see the only photograph of Baha'u'llah known to exist, sent over from Haifa, Israel. I had been so centered on making sure that the sound was perfect that I almost didn't get to see the picture of my religion's founder. Some 20,000 people saw that picture before me, over a period of 8 hours. I was the very last person to see it and actually closed the clasp of the lock-box it was sent in, before it was put away and sent back to Haifa.

My high school reunion will be coming up soon, sometime in 2002. Ten years have gone by. I haven't written the Great American Novel. I haven't gotten married or had kids. I've merely grown up a bit. Where do I go from here? What are my life's accomplishments?

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