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My cousin died this past week.

Her sister Carol said “It may comfort you to know that I told Lisa (while she was in a coma), that she's going to a peaceful and loving place, and that Uncle Manny would be there to guide her and they can reconnect while he tells her stories of Thule”.

This IS strangely comforting. Agnostics don’t know these things but we hope they are true. To picture my dad regaling Lisa with stories of Eskimos is the kind of heaven I hope for. LOL, it may not be Lisa’s idea of a good time though!

The family said “Flowers are gratefully accepted (any live plants will be re-used to plant garden in Lisa’s name), as are donations in Lisa’s name to: The Ovarian Cancer Research Fund”.

Plants work for me but not recycled houseplants sent by florists. I want to plant a witch hazel tree and surround it with snowdrop bulbs. They were in bloom when Lisa died and will bloom again, year after year, at about this time. There will be days when the petals are tightly coiled on the witch hazel and days when they unfurl. There will be warm days when one can smell the blossoms and cold days when the scent is missing. Early spring blooms last a nice long time. Eventually the snowdrops will be thick enough that to bring in small bouquets without missing the blooms outside.


Today is February 29, a day that only comes around every four years. Leap Day. This 366th day of the year only shows up in the same year as American Presidential elections and the Summer Olympics, and we have to suffer through those for months. I say that Leap Day is something we should enjoy; it's a gift to us from the Earth's rate of revolution around the sun, and that's why I'm calling on each and every one of you to take this day and take a leap.

Take today and do something that you ordinarily wouldn't do. If you're an active, always-on-the-go person, then take the day off and relax. If you're almost always indoors in front of a glowing screen, step outside and see how the resolution is in real life. If you're shy, step forward and talk to that special person you've had your eye on for a while. Do some activity today that is outside of your standard routine that you've always wanted to do. February 29 only comes around once every four years. Don't waste it.

Everything In 5 (3 sir), 3 Questions

Here’s the situation. I have possibly secured (go go gadget oxymoron) a job in public relations that would put me next to various celebrities from time to time mainly from the music industry. My thought, as I have ran it passed others in the Land of E2, is to create a standard set of 3 or 5 questions to ask these celebs. Then I would post their answers in their named nodes and hopefully start getting a nice collection of the Everything Questions as answered by…. Whomever.

So, what I need from you, the infinitely wise and ceaselessly opinionated, is a title for the question list and what questions I (being a representative of “we”) should ask. The deceptively easiest way to do this would be for the masses to simply drop me a message and I can sort through them and talk over some ideas with those who seem overly enthusiastic (or feign it well). I’ll give it a few days to amass because I may have to start asking these soon. Remember: The idea is a collection of questions that are generic enough to ask anyone but still personify creativity and uniqueness. I look forward to a shockingly full inbox (or the inverse, whichever I’ll be looking forward to it).

Yes, this is an odd place for this but after much conversation with the powers that be this was decided one of the better places to drop this odd piece of whatever the hell it is

Almost cut my hair.

Every once and a while we have to cross this path. It usually involves the whole employment concept. There have been times when I met with the boss and he offered me a promotion. "This is a much more visible position, however, so you'll need to cut your hair." The most fun is with interviewing for new jobs. I once interviewed and took a position with a company and a month later the woman I reported to, the same woman who interviewed me, walks up to me astounded. "I never noticed the ponytail before."

I am currently in a position where my present company operates on site for a client and our relationship is being dissolved. The client has since offered most of us the opportunity to continue our jobs working directly for them for a fairly substantial pay increase. Doesn't sound too bad, really, just a case of having a new boss and a larger paycheck. There is one problem. The client has this appearance guidelines document that all employees must sign stating that they will agree to follow these standards. One of the standards is a requirement that men keep their hair cut above the collar. Mine runs about six to eight inches below the collar. They just hired three of my female co-workers, two of which have longer hair than I do.

"All of our people say you are very easy to work with, know your stuff, and they don't want to lose you. One said he would try to chain you to your desk if you tried to leave. All of your co-workers say they enjoy working with you, that you never stress or get upset and that you are the one they go to when they have a problem."

So, it enters into negotiations. I told them I would accept less money than was offered to the others if they could get past the hair thing. It isn't about the money. I cannot cut my hair. I explained that it is because of deeply personal reasons and that it is not any kind of a statement or a "I just like it that way" deal.

Ten years ago I committed suicide. I had a very deeply moving experience with death that involved seeing myself, sitting on a chair in the middle of an empty desert. This version of myself told me to turn around and go back and convinced me that I had more to do here. I didn't realize he was me at that time, it took a while to put it together, because he had long hair and a goatee and in those days I kept my hair short and my face clean shaven. He was a teacher and I was a student, and I have since become the teacher. The hair has deeply symbolic meaning to me because of it. The only thing I can compare it to is a devout Christian who wears a cross around his neck every day being told he must stop wearing it in order to be employed.

About five years ago, I did cut my hair off. Because I was unemployed without a car, I felt I needed to reduce the negatives about hiring me and that was the quickest choice. It did something to me. I lost the road. I lost my vision. Instead of living, I was now just surviving. It took a year to grow it back, and that was one of the longest years in recent memory.

Friday night I went out for drinks with a number of people I work with and a few of their friends. This friend of a co-worker seemed compelled to tell me that he has had three death experiences, the first dating back to his service in Vietnam. He also said he somehow felt drawn to Orlando, and that is why he is here now, waiting for something to happen. Then a female co-worker, one who has been hired by the client, asked me to tell her why I cannot cut my hair. So I did.

Her story has always been a curious one to me, and I've never asked her about it before. She's from the Midwest, her daddy runs a corporation and she's on the board of directors and she has an open job there making at least four times what she makes working for our company here in Orlando. Three years ago she moved to Orlando and took the job with us. Nine months later she left. We figured she had played her little "living away from home on my own" fantasy and went back home. Last year she came back after two years, interviewed and got her old job back. "Why?" I asked her. "I've told you mine, now you tell me yours."

"For some reason I am drawn to this place. I've been trying to figure out why, but I think you have something to do with it."

I'm going to the salon today for a haircut. I'm not getting it cut off. I'm just cutting it down to minimal length, which means it will still be about four inches too long to meet the appearance guidelines for the job. It isn't really about the hair, it is about being who I am and who I have become. It is about making a basic choice between what I believe in and taking the easy road of continuity and financial reward. Having met this man who died in Vietnam and finally coming to understand the motivations of my co-worker have convinced me that I must stay on the road. My soul is not for sale.

"Don't cut your hair. You need to follow your path and if it means leaving this job, you'll be fine. I believe that and I know you believe it as well."

Nothing like spending a couple of years working with someone and not realizing they are one of your kind.

Before I start I’d just like to give you a quick warning!! If you don’t want to read about a teenage girl, and how her faith in who she believed to be a good person took a severe beating on Friday night, then I’d stop right here!

Alicia’s Party (Friday night)
I was looking forward to the party all week, Ryan was going to be there, and I was finally going to actually make some sort of move on him. I knew he liked me as a friend, he seemed like such a nice guy. Always thoughtful about how we were going to get home after going out in the evening and stuff like that. I know there is a saying that ‘nice guys finish last’ but I like nice guys, genuine guys who actually care and wouldn’t do anything to hurt a girl… That’s why I liked Ryan.
So we turn up to Alicia’s. It took me ages to decide what to wear. I finally went with a plain black hoilter-neck (Sorry If the spelling is wrong) top and my dark blue jeans… after all its only a house party I didn’t want to look overdressed. We arrived a little early to help Alicia move stuff out of the way and get some food ready, not much, just something to put on the table if people wanted it. I told Alicia that I was going to ask Ryan out this evening, she thought he’d say yes. Alicia is a good friend, always supportive! Some more people started to turn up and the party started! Everyone was having a good time; it was nice and relaxed. I was watching what I was drinking because I didn’t want Ryan to turn up and me make an absolute fool of myself. Anyway, after about an hour had gone by Ryan turned up. He just glided into the room as he always does on these sorts of occasions and smiles. There’s a big yell of ‘Hey Ryan’ from the room, at which he gives a quick wave, and disappears to the kitchen (presumably to get a drink). So I position myself strategically on the couch with a free seat next to me when he came back I called him over (The ‘classic’ “Hey there’s a space here!” line). He sits and we get talking, small stuff at first, but I’m not good at small talk and I realise that if I’m going to ask him out I should do it sooner rather than later otherwise I’ll back out. So I blurt out “Hey, would you like to go on a ummm… sort of date with me sometime?” back comes one of those famous smiles. “Sure, I’d love to, I always thought you were really sweet, but never thought you were interested”. Obviously I’m ecstatic, and for the next two hours all is well. Were just sat there on the couch chatting and chilling. At one point Alicia came in and smiled at me. If the night had finished there then everything would have been perfect!
But obviously it didn’t! He got up and said he had to go get a drink and I should wait there and “keep his seat warm”. So I was talking to the people around me, and hardly noticed until I looked at my watch that two hours had gone by since he’d left. I made my excuses to the group (we were having a discussion about if guys found stockings sexy or not) I goto the kitchen and he’s not there, I look in the front room, and he’s not there either. Some people had made their way up onto the upstairs landing so I start to push my way past people on the stairs. Just as I’m doing that I (almost literally) bump into Alicia. She looks at me, and I can see it in her eyes that something’s wrong. I asked her what it was, She starts to mumble something like “Its Ryan...umm… he’s upstairs… Lucy I wouldn’t go up there it’ll upset you, he’s not worth it…”. I pushed past her and into the bathroom (The only room that was unlocked), and there he was, ‘getting it on’ with some drunken bitch in the bathroom of all places. He turns round and just grins… but trust me this time it wasn’t a charming grim! Alicia was right, I shouldn’t have gone up there.

I spent the rest of the evening crying on the back step with people walking over me to get to and from the garden. Eventually everyone left. Alicia made me up a bed to stay the night, she’s a real good friend. We had the classic men are bastards conversation for a while then she went to bed. I didn’t really sleep at all. The next day I went home and sat in my room crying mostly. If he didn’t want to go out with me he could have just said! Why did he have to go through the act? Just to hurt me?… Sorry, I was trying to write this without getting emotional, but it hasn’t worked. Anyway that’s how my faith in nice guys was shattered.

Since the opportunity to do a day log for February 29th only comes around once every four years, I thought I would snatch it and do one this time around. And it was a beautiful Leap Day here in Missouri, with slightly warmer-than-normal temperatures, plenty of sunshine and a good breeze to boot.

The day began with breakfast at McDonald's. Say what you want about the place - its greasy, unhealthy food, its service - but its breakfast kicks ass if you're wallet's a little dry and you need something quick. Plus, I got to eat alone with my wife, something that doesn't happen very often anymore, as we have taken in my mother-in-law.

After breakfast we went to church...you know, church wouldn't be so bad if you didn't have to get up and sing all these dumb songs. I know a lot of people enjoy it but personally, I'm not much of a singer. In fact, I'm not that good. The only reason we're going to church now is because my wife's pregnant. She figures now that there's a kid on the way we should get into the habit. Great reason, huh?

After that we went to Wal-Mart, did some grocery shopping, got some KFC, went home, put the stuff away, and ate the KFC outside since it was so nice. Then later I finally took down the Christmas lights hanging on the house. I figured that if I just got them down before March, I wouldn't be a total loser- procrastinator. I barely beat the rain, as clouds did move in and dribbled a little on me. I got in before it really started.

The only other thing worth mentioning is that while at Wal-Mart, when checking out, I saw a boob. This thin, not-very-attractive woman, who apparently wasn't wearing a bra, bent over tending to her kid. She was wearing a shirt that didn't have sleeves. She was wearing a jacket, but still everything parted the right way and I just so happened to be looking over there are the right moment and PRESTO! - boob! Since she wasn't all that hot, I didn't think "Wow, a boob!" It was more like "Hey, that's a nipple there."

It seems fitting that something that happens to me only about once every four or five years should happen on a Leap Day.

This weekend I learned that I am loved.

Today I turned 20. Normally one wouldn't consider that a special event with respect to other birthdays (that one will come next year), but we leap-year babies only really get our day once every four years, so I was looking forward to it. Among the events that transpired over the past few days:

  • My mother had the dorms make me a birthday cake, a little round vanilla one with sprinkles and a serving knife. It got here on Thursday, and I carried it regally up to the dorm room. Cake rocks.

  • Wuukiee and mcc got in touch with me and asked me if I wanted to go see King Lear. I said yes, and so they went out of their way to get another ticket beforehand. Friday night, we met up, went to go see it, were awestruck by the acting in the second half of the play (or, at least, I was), and left the theater very satisfied. We swung by my place, picked up the cake, and ate a few slices in Wuukiee's apartment, then played some Double Dash and generally chilled.

  • So it's Saturday afternoon, and I get a call from CzarKhan if I want to come over and watch a movie. Having nothing better to do, I say cool, and he comes by and picks me up. I walk into his house, and people jump out and say "Surprise!" And now I feel kind of stupid for saying this, but it didn't really hit me right away that the "surprise!" thing was for me; I thought that people might have been just trying to get together and scare CzarKhan or something. But I looked up, and sure enough, there was a sign that says "Happy 5th Birthday, Chris!" above the archway, and this is when I realized that something strange and wonderful was happening. Those in attendance were CzarKhan, brainwave, evadyne, Ohler, and Lehmann. (Wuukiee and mcc were invited, apparently, but they had a prior engagement; no worries.)

    They had made potato soup and lime-ade and salad and stuff for sammiches, and we had a wonderful feast. This whole time I was still in shock from realizing that someone had thrown a birthday party for me, and I was just sitting there, munching on my sammich, taking it all in, and eventually it became less incredible and more enjoyable and my mind settled down. We played some righteous Kart, broke out with Settlers of Catan (playing with six players is really fun), had a pseudo-philosophical discussion about The Matrix (don't those always happen somehow?), and generally had fun. And Ohler brought a cake too! So there was a lot of cake in my life. But cake still rocks. And, somehow, I ended up walking home with a copy of Neal Stephenson's Quicksilver and a DVD of Y Tu Mamá También.

  • Today, my parents came up from Indianapolis and took myself, my two brothers, and my roommate out to lunch at Logan's Steakhouse; we ate lots of peanuts. I brought the cards that I had received in the mail, and among them was a surprisingly earnest letter in my grandmother's near-indecipherable handwriting. My parents gave me some money. We hugged and said our farewells.

  • Later this evening, my friends downstairs in the dorm, Paul and Ana (recently engaged), said out of the blue that they wanted to take me out to Pizza Hut, Paul's treat. We walked to the Pizza Hut at Purdue West and had some good pineapple pizza and mozzarella sticks.

  • The weather has been beautiful this entire weekend.

So this leaves me here, wondering what exactly I did to merit this outpouring of good will. Is a birthday really that special? Did I unwittingly commit some great deed of cosmic goodness? Are the stars aligned in my favor? Is the rarity of the leap year such that all the good fortune gets saved up over time and discharged every four years like some karmic capacitor? In any case, I want to thank everyone who made this weekend the best one I have ever had. I feel that this is more than I deserve, but I now know that there are people with whom I truly belong, and I can not give enough thanks for that.

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