Today I bought the CD single of New Order's Crystal. When I hear it I remember seeing the videoclip on MTV in Stockholm about 2 months ago. Before that I'd only heard a rather stark & boring remix on a dance-orientated radio station. But the videoclip was somehow mindblowing. I remember standing in front of the TV that evening, watching. I remember everything about that hotel room. It was only a videoclip, but I didn't want it to end--it was as if it was the most profound thing that had ever happened to me. The song changed Stockholm for me. In a way it also changed my life. Mysterious, idiotic, laughable, but true. Now I'm in Sydney listening to Lee Coombs' remix.

So you think you got past it all, back when you were a kid, dealing with hormones, social ladders, getting good grades in school, watching your parents rip themselves to pieces (either together or separately). Well, guess what?

It doesn't end. It doesn't always get worse, but it definitely doesn't end.

This is not fatalism or bad news. It's just a fact of life. If the life you live is really like school (you learn something new each day), then everyone else's lives are your tests. Each test is handed to you with the foregone conclusion that you have the potential to pass it. Certainly, anyone can fail a test, but passing takes effort.

Back in school, when faced with a particularly difficult math test or pop quiz, what was your reaction upon finding out that you passed? That fucker was tough, but you did it, you passed. Perhaps you didn't whoop for joy or dance in the halls with elation, but you had to feel at least a little good about passing.

The surest way to fail a test is not to face it. To quote Wayne Gretzky, "You miss one hundred percent of the shots you don't take."

Every day and every experience we have can be and often is a test. If, at the close of your day, you don't feel like you've done anything worthwhile, like you've passed, then take a review and figure out how/why. Keep mindful of that and don't let it happen again. You'll be tested again and again until you get it right.

Continually saying that you're a failure is setting yourself up to fail.

As long as you say you aren't capable of doing anything, your unconscious mind is listening and it listens closely to what you say. It will regard what you say, even to others, as an order. Keep saying negative things about yourself and your unconscious mind will take that as an order to perform negatively.

"I'll never be happy."
"I'll never fall in love."
"I'll never be as good as X-person."
"I'll never feel content with myself."

Sound familiar? Do you really want to tell yourself these things? Would you want to hear them from someone you care about? When you talk, listen to the things you say, as though someone else is saying them. When you do something, reflect upon it as though it was done by someone else. Is what you say and do something you'd like to share with others? Would you rather spread the wealth or spread a disease?

Depression is not the new, hip drug. It's been around for centuries and its history is fraught with horrible outcomes.

You have a choice: you can either carry on with spreading negativity or you can effect something positive in this world. Your actions speak louder than words and the world is watching.

Cajon Summit, Arco station, approximately 12:30 AM

The gas gauge informed me that my car has less than a quarter of a tank of the substance that powers its internal combustion engine. I didn't know the area, so I figured the first gas station I saw would be the one I fueled up at. Normally, I try to avoid Arco stations as they're (in)famous for providing cheap gas; a persistent story is that the gas has been known to eat more than its share of engines. But hey, it's 12:30 in the morning; the last thing I want to happen is for my car to sputter and die without a fuel station around. So I pulled into the station, and get ready to refill my thirsty beast.

I get out, walked around to the passenger side, get ready to gas up the car. I glanced up at the pump number so I can tell the automated payment box which pump to let have gas, then at the car next to me. Late model sedan, mid-size, metallic grey, fairly good condition. I stopped for a second, go into my car, pull out my blue sweatshirt when the owner of the sedan comes up to me.

"'Scuse me," he said as I turned around. He's a black man, about six foot two, pretty average build. His beard is starting to show serious greying, his face showing the lines of a few decades on this planet, "can you tell me how to get to Portland?"

Thought process came to a grinding halt. He didn't just say Portland, as in Oregon, did he? Of course not. Probably just misheard it. "Where?"

"Portland. You know, Seattle, Portland."

He did say Portland. Not exactly the usual kinda thing you ask for directions at a desert gas station at midnight, but oh well. Stranger things have definitely happened. I figure the best thing to do is to tell him; it's not every day you give driving directions for a thousand mile journey.

"Your best bet is to take 15 up to Highway 58. Make a left on 58, take it down all the way to Highway 99. Make a right on the 99, take it all the way up to the 5, take the 5 up to Portland."

"Thanks. Lemme tell my wife I found someone who knows how to get to Portland," He said as he walks towards the mini mart.

"Now you kids be good," he warned the two occupants sitting in the back seat of the sedan. They're young kids, one was probably about 4 or 5, the other about 7 or 8, dark skinned, full of that mysterious joy only kids seem to have, that joy we all lose as we get older. I didn't really think anything of them at the time; my mental circuits didn't really handle this part of the puzzle until farther down the road. I followed him into the gas station.

"Honey, this man knows how to get to Portland," he said to his wife. She was a shorter woman, about five foot three or so, mid twenties, heavyset. Over a half decade of raising kids and trying to start a family had obviously not done any wonders for her appearance; under the heaviness of a stressful life were the slight hints that at one time, she was probably one of the beautiful people until life got in the way of her complexion.

She was discussing a laminated roadmap with that gas station clerk, probably talking about reaching the destination of Portland. She disagreed with the route he gave her, in her mind it was wrong. It would only cause trouble. She and the clerk both looked at her husband and me, and they quieted for a second, before the clerk began to speak.

"Like I was telling your wife," he said to her husband. The clerk was a light skinned man with a cleanly shaven head. He was heavyset, probably at least mid thirties, possibly a decade over. When he spoke, one's attention was drawn to the fact that he was missing at least a couple teeth in the upper left part of his mouth, "Your best bet is to take Highway 395 up to 58 into Bakersfield. Going though LA would only slow you down."

"But those are just regular roads," the wife said. She was obviously much more comfortable on freeways.

"Those roads are very fast," I said, "I was just on them, and was doing 70 pretty much the whole time."

"Trust me, you don't want to go through LA," the attendant said, "LA's always bad, plus the grade is worse. Cajon is six point seven percent for twelve miles, I-5 is seven percent and its over thirty miles long. Its only an hour and a half to Bakersfield from here. You go through LA, it'll be three."

"He's right," I concurred, "I live in LA and even I hate driving LA's freeways, plus the grade is pretty bad. In spots, I was down to 55."

The couple looks at eachother for a few seconds. It was one of those obvious "we'll discuss this in the car" looks. They then proceed to walk back to the car. I wandered around to the drink section, pulled out one of those carbonated energy drinks, asked the clerk to put ten on one, and left the station. As I walked back over to the car, I noticed that the family had moved their car out of the fuel pump area, probably to discuss it further. I proceeded to gas up my own car, and head off back home. As I left, I noticed that the couple is still in the parking lot, probably continuing their discussion on how best to get to Portland.

To be honest, I don't know why, almost twelve hours later, I can't get this family out of my head. Who were they? What was in Portland for them? Why were they driving through the middle of nowhere at some god-forsaken hour of the night? Why weren't the kids in school? I want to track them down, find them. Have they decided to live a nomadic lifestyle, or is this just a traditional family vacation at a non-traditional time. I want to know their story, what makes them tick. I feel this family will haunt me in some way for a long time to come.

Quote of the Day:

The one function TV news performs very well is that when there is no news we give it to you with the same emphasis as if there were.
- David Brinkley

News and Views:

  • The remaining Taliban and Al-Qaeda forces appear to have been trapped in a pocket in eastern Afghanistan.
    The key question appears to be how long it will take to root them out. The Afghanis will have a hard enough time building a nation and an economy without an ongoing guerilla war within their borders.
  • President Bush has formally notified the Russians that the US is withdrawing from the ABM Treaty. This allows the US to proceed with the development, testing and deployment of it's missile shield.
    Some critics claim that the shield is useless because it would not have stopped the attacks of Sept 11, 2001. Of course it wouldn't, it *was not designed to*! The current generation of ABM defenses are designed to defeat the existing and growing threat of rogue nations gaining nuclear arms and ICBM's.
  • A brief article in the New York Times describes how birdwatchers and the Audubon Society have created an 'interactive online database' to share sighting information with scientists and ecologists.
    Astronomers have been using/cooperating with amateurs for decades. It's nice to see that the Internet is making this cooperation easier for other disciplines as well. Many eyes make light work?

Nodes of Note:

Where did the love go?

These weekends are getting more dangerous for me as nostalgia overwhelmes me while I skim over the pictures. There are pictures of her and me at Starbucks in Ottawa. It was a time when we had not known what was to come. All we knew was that we could finally be together. We packed her things up in just one trip in a big, green Chevy Astro Van. We spent our final days there taking pictures of everything that reminded us of the good times. The places we'd miss, the people we'd leave behind.

Glen Ave. was where we met over five years ago. Perhaps there was something about that street that held us together through the worst times. It was a quiet neighbourhood that gave a sense of comfort and security with every child playing in the streets. Trees filled the sky when we took our morning walks. People actually greeted each other with great consideration and friendliness.

She seemed happy most of the time, but her eyes told me she was tired through the whole ordeal of moving. If it took so much effort and energy in such an activity, then it would definitely be easier to fix what was going on in the past five months, right?

This is what continues to baffle me. It's not about the reasons - they actually tell me very little about our broken relationship. It's about the intent - or the lack thereof that troubles me.

For the six years we've been together, one would think that fixing our troubles along the way would be easier than to go through the entire process of finding another person to be with, learn their idiosyncracies and deal with them, and then build up enough courage to dedicate themselves to a new partner. It takes so much more effort to have someone new.

I sometimes (but presently do) still wish for things to be the way they were. Fixing our problems wouldn't have been all that hard. And no, I'm not naive, and yes, I am an optimist. I know there's a small part of me that wishes for things to be better between us. Seeing the pictures reminds me of how good it was and how good it still can be.

Perhaps we should have stayed in Ottawa. Things would have definitely been different. But alas, the economic situation there is dire, and making a living would have been next to non-existent. Maybe we would of at least had a life together.

I know in my heart, that I still love her, despite all the craziness between us. I feel like a fool to momentarily push them aside, to forget all the complications we've caused each other.

Right now, I'm crying. I'm sorry. I simply don't care about any of these stupid things. And quite frankly, I don't care about how hard it is.

All I know now, is whom I love. And I must release it.

It's been two full months now. I'm not complaining. Don't call it complaining. Don't call it whining. You are so callous to think of it in those ways - so inhumane. I'm letting my thoughts flow - the more it comes out, the more sane I will be. It's not getting any easier. The book seems to do little for me. I've reverted back to a state of Elizabethan discord. In my mind, my clothes are tattered and in disarray. I've walked through the moors of England for a thousand years in my bare feet. I've finally emerged from the thick, lingering fog and into a territory unknown to me. And it's all just white, empty space.

Now, where do I go?

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