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Morning
Yawn, another great awakening day. 6:45am, not too hard to get up at, and just enough time to eat and get to school. This morning I had to speak with Mrs. Gregg, the debate teacher, about whether or not Whitney would be okey participating in the BYU Model United Nations project. She said yes, but wouldn’t be working with me. After Whitney complained to me, and I gave her sympathy, we hugged and departed.

School classes, B-schedule
I went my basketball condition class, 5th period. Our school had a game today and we were not weight lifting but instead shooting hoops. It has been so long, three weeks, since I picked up a ball. I was the last person to be cut from the team, after discussing with the coach how I preferred to achieve my academic future before b-ball and finding out I wouldn’t get too much playing time. I got my shot back up and squared, and actually got a sweat.

Honors Biology 6th period class with Mr. Orme, that guy is such a fruit. Bill Nye the science guy could compare to how weird he is. The things he does in class... He one day, when we briefly went up over the sexual anatomy of humans, gave us his live representation of sex with his hands in the air. Enough said there... The guy is a fruit.

Pre. Calc mathematics 7th period with Mrs. Ratz, I always learn something here. She is probably the grouchiest teacher I have, this was a challenge that I began to break on day one. By the end of first term, we were on friendly and inviting smiles. After learning about her family and sharing myself to her, she wasn’t such a bad teacher after all, a lesson I guess is good to learn about every teacher. We finished the section of Trig today, and the test is in two days.

. Cafeteria Lunch
Lunch today we had a senate meeting, Liz Jessop, the SBO who runs it, is really good friends with me. I’m the only sophomore on the senate, representing the chess club. I can’t believe that my companions, (aka other sophomores), didn’t get involved in any clubs. The meeting went by quick, we discussed the Sub For Santa thing for the homeless. We did two hundred and five kids, the clubs I had totaled together twenty or so of those. I had to pull out the wallet to help out, something note worthy that I will do occasionally.

Last class
Seminary 8th period, I got my religious high, and got a good laugh because my teacher is funny.

After school club
Chess club meets after school every Tuesday in our cafeteria. We had a blast, and only seven people came. We played some of the wild variants such as Bughouse, Loser’s, and Atomic. My group only knew Bughouse so I had to teach them the other two, which they picked up quickly and by the end of the two hours could beat me every so often. I went to the booster club a month ago to get money for our chess club, to buy boards and clocks, 250$ in total, and they don’t even like using the clocks. Oh-well I guess, at least we got really nice roll up boards with algebraic notation now.

Grandma-hopsital
My grandma is in the hospital today, she got a hernia and some other medical surgery done today. She is leaving a month or two to leave with my grandpa to go to Samoa, a hot humid country I’m sure everyone knows about. They’ll stay there for 2-3 years, and I’ll miss them. They will serve an LDS mission. She was on the morphine and drugs, and it was obvious. She said hello, asked me how I was doing, and I had a good conversation with her. I love my grandma, and grandpa.

Unfortunately while at the hospital my glasses lost its screw and the glass fell, we went to the eye doctor’s and got it fixed and replaced. I also noticed they switched the lenses, I had put them on the wrong sides!!! Lol...

Home at last
I got home, and quickly went to the bathroom to relieve myself. Then got some ham and yogurt, which was very yummy and I ate up. Then I went down stairs to my room, got on my computer, and wrote on this diary. I can now relax and do my AP Euro/Math homework and play the old N64. What a great day.

I feel like I'm living in a frat house. My housemates are Korean staff members of the Yu Shim Cheon building where I work, and I've given them all English nicknames. There's Go Pro, because his family name is "Go" and he's a golf semi-pro. There's Ranger, because his name, Park Jun Ho is the same as a guy who plays for the Texas Rangers. He's a swimming instructor and used to swim for the Korean national swim team. And there's Tiger, because his name, Jae Ho, means "tiger" in Chinese. He's a swimming instructor, too. He hasn't moved in yet, but he probably will over Christmas break. Go Pro moved in unexpectedly last night. I didn't even know he was moving in until he just showed up last night and announced he was moving in. All three of these guys will be sleeping in the same room, while I get a bedroom to myself. Foreign teachers are treated much better than the Korean staff here.

As well as having nicknames that sound like like frat boys', they drink like frat boys as well. Despite it being a Tuesday night, they dragged me out last night to drink a bottle of Bacardi 151 with them at a "jazz club" (in quotation marks, because it's a Korean jazz club, not a real jazz club; there is very little actual jazz played there) to celebrate Go Pro moving in. They then proceeded to try to set me up with a Filipino singer named Garnet who works there. She was nice enough, but not really my type.

Seems like everyone's trying to set me up. We have a new Korean teacher at our school named Mi Hi (I think that name sounds cute, like someone laughing: mee hee hee hee hee). So Jackie, our secretary/councillor calls me over to introduce me. "Mi Hi! This is Alex, our head foreign teacher. He's single. He's very handsome and a genius. Alex, this is Mi Hi, the new Korean teacher. She is very young and beautiful. She is also single. Here. Shake hands. Sit down beside her. Talk to her!"

"Mi Hi," I say, "This is Jackie. She's very subtle." Or that's what I should have said, but clever lines only spring to mind after it's too late.

I suddenly realized today that I haven't yet bought a present for our hagwon's secret Santa. I'll have to go to Carrefour after I finish teaching and get one. Fortunately, the person whose name I drew is easy to shop for. I'll just get her some makeup.

This is an incredibly busy week. I've already filled out student reports, made lesson plans, held a meeting, found teachers to substitute for me while I'm back in Canada for Christmas and laid out a new curriculum for the new year... I still have to make tests for tomorrow and plan for the school's Christmas party on Friday. And pack. I still haven't started packing, despite the fact that I'm travelling halfway around the world on Saturday.

It's going to be good to get back to Canada. Aside from the fact that I desperately need a vacation, it's also been nearly a year and a half since I've seen my friends and family back home. Two weeks doesn't seem like nearly long enough, but it'll have to do. I can nearly taste the Alexander Keith's India Pale Ale and Decarie Hot Dog poutine that I've been craving since coming to Korea.

I played a very frustrating game of Go this morning. Playing against a supposedly stronger opponent, I captured a small group of stones in the middle game, and got to be probably about 20 points ahead. After two endgame mistakes of about 10 points each, I ended up losing by a half point, due to komi. Those close games never seem to go my way. In my 4 months of playing on IGS, I've lost 5 or 6 games by a half point, and only won one by that margin.

For those of you who know me, what follows is yet another “Anna” story…of sorts…For those of you who don’t , sorry to take up your time.

For all you single parents out there, maybe this node should be titled “Splitting Time Over the Holidays.” For me though, (yes, a single parent and spiteful as it might sound) I’d like to call it “ The Day Borgo Beat (or at least held his own with) the Lawyer.”

Ah yes, the holiday season is upon us.(I can tell because I finally saw the ads for the perennial favorites such as Chia Pets and The Clapper) For the vast majority of us they are stressful enough already. What, with everything from gift getting, gift-wrapping, decorating, cooking, travel arrangements, family considerations, etc, etc, etc, its no wonder people tend to get a little edgy. For those us who are single parents of little ones, the matter is often compounded by the simple fact that “junior” or “juniorette” will be spending significantly more time with one of you than the other. Yes, I know all of those gory details should have been spelled out precisely in your divorce/dissolution decree but the simple fact of the matter is that things change. People do strange things such as re-marry, take new jobs, and/or move away. There might be additional births to be celebrated and deaths to be mourned. All of these events (and many more) might have an effect on any prior arrangements the two of you might have made. A little advice. Put any matters of personal pride and/or ego aside and try to stay flexible. More importantly, try to do what’s best for your kid.

Case in point. I got home from work yesterday and was fortunate enough to get a Christmas card in the mail from my eight year old. I decided to give her a call and offer up my thanks along with any other conversation that might arise such as school, friends, holiday parties, etc. My ex-wife, (the lawyer in this story) picked up the phone and told me she wanted to speak with me after I got through with my daughter.

Uh-ohBorgo’s radar goes up

Now, we normally have what can best be described as a cordial relationship. Personal matters such as love life, finances and other affairs of the heart are strictly taboo. Our conversations usually revolve around our joint responsibilities with our daughter and how to best raise her. Given the circumstances, I think we’ve done a pretty good job so far. But I digress…

After speaking with my kid my ex got on the phone in order to discuss this years holiday “arrangements”. They were decidedly one-sided. Normally I take my kid on a week on/week off basis and Christmas week happened to fall during my time frame. Naturally I wasn’t going to keep to this. (Try explaining to an eight year old that she can’t see her mommy/daddy on Christmas Day because of some legalities in your divorce agreement, good luck!) I wanted to work something out along the lines that we had followed in years past, a pretty even amount of time of time split between the two of us.. My ex had other ideas…

Since she had subsequently re-married and had family coming to town she wanted to take her sometime early on Christmas Eve and spend the day with them. She would drop her off at my place at around 10:00 PM or so after Christmas Eve services. She would then pick her up around noon on Christmas Day in order to go to her husbands family and celebrate the day with them. Now, maybe I’m an idiot but I do know how to tell time and that meant I’d get to see my kid for all of a couple of hours or so. I cried foul!

Me:“Since when do you go to Christmas services, you’re an atheist for crying out loud!”

Ex “Well, (insert new husbands name here) thought it might be nice if the two families got together and went to mass.”

Don’t get me wrong, I like (insert new husbands name here), my kid likes (insert new husbands name here), he’s been nothing but a good stepfather to her but he was now treading on some pretty sacred ground.

Me: “Put him on the phone.”

Its at this point where I got an explanation about how he wasn’t home. My ex then went on about how much work her side of the family, namely her mother, was doing in preparation for the holidays and how disappointed she would be if my daughter didn’t spend the day with them. I like my ex’s mom, she’s a good grandmother and I tried not to seem selfish but….

I explained to my ex that while I certainly sympathized with her position, these arrangements just wouldn’t do. I felt I was being left out of the equation. More importantly, my daughter was being left of the equation too. (For those of you who don’t know me by now, we are very close.).

Well, after much haggling (remember, she’s a lawyer) a far more equitable solution was arrived at. The time is now divided up pretty evenly and while it doesn’t represent the ideal situation for either of us, we managed to work something out that kept the best interests of our child in mind.

Just a few random thoughts….

I really don’t know what my ex was expecting when we divorced many years ago.. Maybe she figured that I’d be content to be the typical every other weekend kinda single father and give up the week on/week off arrangement that has worked so well (for me at least) over the years. Just keep paying the child support so I that I don’t have a guilty conscience. Maybe she figured I’d get tired of it, ya know, move on to bigger and better things. Well, there are no bigger and better things. The time spent with my kid is time I’ll never be able to replace. Over the years I’ve learned more about myself from her than I could ever imagine and for that I’m grateful, Maybe that’s her Christmas gift to me. I sure hope so because it just keeps on giving.

With that in mind, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah, Happy Kwanzaa, or just plain ol’ seasons greetings to all you noders out there, past, present and future.

September: a blue plywood wall, the kind that usually encloses a construction site, put up around the vacant lot on York Street, between two nondescript buildings.

On the wall: seven white posters, each with a single capital letter on it, red and bold: C U L T U R E writ large, put up, no doubt, by some university student who was enamored of the recent discovery that he had a voice, that he had the power to make noises that the world, or some microcosm of it, would hear. Enamored of that, and unencumbered by the need to say anything important or meaningful. Hence: C U L T U R E on a blue wall, for no apparent reason, signifying nothing.

Three months later, walking by on a bright, cold morning: the red letters have faded to a dingy orange now. Little bits and pieces and some larger chunks of the posters have been ripped off, so that C U L T U R E is barely discernable. On the L poster, someone has torn off bits in the shape of letters, so that the exposed blue of the wood underneath spells out FUCK YALE. On the R poster someone has scribbled with a ballpoint pen, and then scrawled a single word: "yes?" On another part of the wall, beyond the posters, someone else has added his own commentary: VOTE TODAY in white paint.

C U L T U R E, changed and shaped by anonymous human hands.

Now that's saying something. A bit obvious, perhaps, and maybe a little trite, but it's a start. I hope whoever put the posters up in the first place gets to see it. It's kind of beautiful.

Returning home today, at about four o’clock, from the library I saw a wonderful, marvellous sight.

The moon. It was full, huge, and chalky white. Framed on either side by thin, black tree branches, and below by the top of a tall grey flint wall. Behind it the sky shaded from blue into yellow tinged with pink. It was, literally, stunning. I was stopped in my tracks for minutes, transfixed.

In enjoying summer vacations, waterhouse writes that the memory of certain moments will take you a long way in the world. I think this is one of them.

I love the world, and I love you.

I need a banana chocolate chip muffin and I hate that I can't get one.

What fiend is keeping the muffins from me, you ask? What fiend would make it so that anyone anywhere would not be able to have a banana chocolate chip muffin? I have been muffin-free for days and here is why:

I have been working in the same building for nearly 10 years now. The first floor of my office building is actually a Vie de France bakery. So, I've been getting breakfast there for as long as I can remember. My usual breakfast has changed over the years. I used to love the chocolate almond croissants until they stopped putting chocolate inside the croissant. Then I went to chocolate croissants, then blueberry muffins, then cranberry muffins and chocolate chip muffins. Yum. Somehow I finally found the utterly perfect banana chocolate chip muffin. Yum plus fiber = breakfast.

Well, a week or so ago, something happened at the Vie de France that made it so that I can no longer go there and it sucks and I’m pissed and I miss my muffins. One of the managers of the Vie de France is a very tall, well-dressed and happy African man. He has a cool accent, so I think he is from one of the African countries where they speak French. He was always very nice to me. Smiles and hellos and knew what I wanted before I told him. Well, the niceness turned into a handshake whenever I went in. Ok, fine. I didn’t think much of it. He is nice. He is happy. He must be like this with everyone. Then one day, he was not behind the register, he was cleaning up a table out on the floor. He came up to me and put out his hand like usual. This time, though, the handshake turned into a hug. He pulled me in for a big hug. A bear hug. He held me there, in that hug for what seemed like forever. I was stunned. I am married. I am happily married. I don’t even hug my male friends. I certainly do not hug strange men who sell me muffins.

I tried to shrug it off. I tried to think, oh, he is like this with everyone. But what kept coming back to my mind was that during this hug when I felt like it would be rude to recoil, he could feel my body against his and this was completely inappropriate. I immediately told my husband and he gave me the male point of view. I sometimes forget that yes, I am a girl. I have always been a plump girl, so it has always been easy to sort of de-sexualize myself when it comes to men other than my husband. Since I started losing weight, I have found myself in these situations more and more. Situations where men are interested in me and I have to react. My hubby said that I need to think of it from this guy's perspective. He is hugging an attractive girl. He is touching someone who he is attracted to, someone with large breasts. "Maybe he is just a nice guy," I tell my hubby. "You shouldn't chance it, he tells me. It is better to make sure you do not lead him on," he says. In other words, don't be a muffin-whore.

Anyway. I am sick that my attempts to not think of myself as female first have made me so naive. I thought it would free me from these situations. If I don't go looking for attention from strange men, I won't get it.

I was wrong. And now I have no banana chocolate chip muffins.

Just wanted to mark this day, in what I think is the day when I can finally look at my life and say that I am a happy person. I'm 22 now (making 23 in a couple of days), and my last 6 years have been the darkest years of my life. That's because that's the year I left high-school, but most importantly, the year my twin brother switched to a different University.

That was a very big blow for me.For the first time in my life I was alone. This, together with the fact that the people that were in that college didn't have anything to do with me, and also with the fact that I am shy, led to an infernal spiral, where sadness drew me away from people, which in turn only heightened the sadness.

Things finally started to change, when this summer I met a beautiful woman called Marisa, who has helped me immensely, and also to my switching to yet another university where I am now making some friends.

Well, now I have someone who loves me, and whom I also love, friends, a great university which I love, a better relationship with my twin brother (and improving), and some great parents who didn't mind that I missed 6 years of my life for nothing, and allowed me to start all over again without forcing me to earn my money, or anything.

After the worst 6 years of my life, god damnit, I deserve happiness, and I'll make the best of it.

Last night, Braunbeck and I joined the hordes of Tolkien fans who converged on the AMC Lennox Cinema here in Columbus, Ohio for just-past-midnight showings of The Two Towers. The crowd was fun, and some fans dressed up. The outfits ranged from a guy wearing a plastic Viking helmet to a pretty girl who looked so much like Cate Blanchett's Galadriel that people were doing double-takes.

The Lennox has 24 separate screens. All were sold out. If my calculations are correct, there were something over 7,000 people at that one theater complex seeing LoTR. A TV news crew was at the theater; there's some buzz that this may have been the largest single-theater audience for a single showing of any film, ever. We'll know for sure in the next couple of days.

The movie? It rocked. It was ... amazing. Jackson's direction and effects are phenomenal (Braunbeck pointed out that the movie's shot almost entirely in deep focus, something most directors don't have the balls to do). Like Walter, Braunbeck and I spent most of the movie with our mouths hanging open, marveling at it. It's beautiful. There are things missing from the book, yes, but Jackson's improved on more things. Gollum, for instance, is a much better and more sympathetic character than in the book, IMO. And in some scenes, his CGI looks absofuckinglutely real.

And the acting was excellent. The scenes with King Theoden (played wonderfully by Bernard Hill), look and sound like something Shakespeare wrote in an alternate dimension.

The movie is violent, more so than The Fellowship of the Ring, but it's about a war, folks. I'm not sure that showing sanitized versions of war is any more suitable for kids than showing them the gory, axe-to-the-head stuff. You certainly don't see any of the kind of gore that Jackson dished out in Dead Alive, of course. There are epic battle scenes here to rival anything in Zulu or Braveheart. Anyhow, the take-home message is that you should probably leave the little ones at home.

This movie is the real thing, folks. This is the kind of thing George Lucas and Steven Spielberg should be doing right now.

But those guys got caught up in their own hype. Lucas has totally dropped the ball with the Star Wars movies. The old ones were pulpy, yes, but at their heart was something wonderful. The new batch are pretty and exciting, but they're also cartoony and hollow.

Thank God for Peter Jackson. I think his heart's in the right place, and he's got the skills to bring us the goods. Let's just hope he doesn't get a swelled head and lose touch like Lucas and Spielberg.

Lucas has been annoying me for a while, and not just for his acts of hubris, such as failing to hire a decent (i.e., better than he is) writer to pen Attack of the Clones (which resulted in some truly cringeworthy dialog). He's tried to rewrite history in his interviews and such. To hear him tell it, he completely made Harrison Ford's career, "discovering" him for Star Wars when he was little more than a carpenter on a Hollywood back lot. That's a load of horse hockey; Ford had speaking roles in a dozen movies before he appeared in Star Wars. The success of Star Wars made him a star, for certain, but twelve movies ain't just carpentry.

But I realize I might be sounding overly harsh in the case of Spielberg. He's done some truly great and timeless work, far more and varied than Lucas. There's E.T. and Schindler's List and Saving Private Ryan, just to name a few. I shouldn't bash the guy just because AI and Minority Report had a touch of hollow coldness at their core, should I?

But then you have to consider what recently happened to Forrest J. Ackerman. Lucas and Spielberg have both claimed Ackerman as an influence and have paid lip service to the wonderful legacy he'd created. But when Ackerman was going bankrupt and was being forced to sell off his wonderful, priceless 300,000-piece science fiction and horror memorabilia collection and the Ackermansion, where were they when Ackerman's friends asked them to help the old man?

They could have bailed him out; buying off the Ackerman collection and setting it up as a public museum would have cost them maybe a quarter of a standard movie budget. They could have written it off, and saved a wonderful public treasure. It would have been a great addition to the Skywalker Ranch.

But they didn't come forward, didn't help. And Ackerman had to sell his treasures off at a fucking yard sale, and I've heard rumors that Lucas and Spielberg sent their people undercover to buy up choice pieces at low, low prices.

I have totally lost respect for Lucas and Spielberg as a result of what happened to Ackerman. Either one of them could have easily saved his collection so that fans could enjoy it for years to come. They could have given something priceless back to the fans. But they didn't.

It makes me want to cry that the Ackermansion is no more.

See http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/features/20020920-9999_1c20vine.html for further details on why Lucas and Spielberg, if they were the fans they've claimed to be, should have never let this happen.

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