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I am in pain.

I had both nipples pierced an hour ago. The piercer warned that it would be intense. It certainly was that. Also, for a brief moment it was very very painful. Now it just aches.

But I am elated. I Have been thinking, and talking about this for years, and now I have finally done it. In my mind, both piercings have names. Two names, both of women, women who have wounded my soul in the last year. I am a negative bastard.

There was surprisingly little blood. After the first one, when I could breath normally again and the shock was almost over, he asked if I wanted to go through with the second one. I agreed, as I wanted to stick to my plan and didn’t want to go through the wait and preparation a second time. I’m glad I ate breakfast otherwise I might have passed out from shock. Yes, I am a pain-adverse wimp.

A shirt against them is too tender, So I have taken my top off – this is Ok, as I am male, at home and it is summer. I will surprise my friends with them next weekend, if I can keep it quiet that long, and if they don’t look all nasty and infected then.

I may have another sinutab (a cold medication comprised of paracetamol and codeine) later. These pink and white pills are left over from my last ilness, and I have been saving them for this. Knowing that the tattoo parlour doesn't do anaesthetics, I swallowed one about an hour before the piercing. It didn't do much.

In the afternoon I got called in to fix a bug at work, so I lingered here and surfed the web, whist watching the logs to make sure that the problem does not recur.

Been a while since I wrote a daylog. It's a long one. Skip it if you like.

I finally got my first solid paycheck in more than a month's time. At the beginning of December I'd lost my job with TGI Friday's and jumped, immediately, into doing a freelance web design gig- just one site (www.photonorm.com). The client was paying only $500 (half up front and half on delivery), so it wasn't exactly a Fortune 500 task, ya know? December, financially, was ass... in spades. Went down to New Orleans on a rescue mission- successful.

Came back home for X-Mas and life turned, well... my rose colored glasses have turned shit-brown. It's one of my many dirty little secrets that I'm an optimist, deep down where no one can see it. But this last month has been, day after day, eating just one meal a day and wondering how in the hell I'm going to pay for gas or rent or smokes or whatever else I'm used to having in my life.

I knuckled down and got a job as a projectionist at a local movie theater. It's a big 20-plex owned by Carmike Cinemas (who, I might add, declared bankruptcy last year). I get paid a measely $6/hour, but it's steady income and I can use the time between movies to write on my laptop. Heck, it's a cakewalk job.

My new boss, a guy I barely know, heard about my ongoing financial difficulties last week and loaned me $40 until paychecks came through. It totally blew my mind. Most people there live in total fear of that guy, from what I can tell. Rumor has it that he's King Asshole. I dunno. I just go there, do my job and mind my own business. One of my co-workers mentioned to him that I had only $10 on me until I got paid and he up and loaned me the money without me even asking. He just said, "Here. This should tide you over till next Friday. I expect it back when you get paid. That's my money, not the company's."

So I got paid yesterday and I was all set to pay him back. No can do. The bank wouldn't let me cash it because I had a literal -0- balance and had nothing to draw the money off of. So I had to deposit all of it. It'll post Monday night at midnight. Until then, I have $6 in my pocket. I've managed to make $6 last four days more than once these last two months. This should be no sweat.

Sitting around with not much else to do but work and write has given me a fresh perspective on a lot of things. A person can live in relative happiness on virtually no money, I've come to find. I enjoy the companionship of my friends more, I get to read more, I get to learn more... I've grown, in my head and in my heart, in the last two months more than I have in the last two years- all because I've been broke as a joke. Providence has provided, when I needed it most.

But it'll be nice to eat more than once a day again. Rent is coming due again soon and even though I'll be a week late (it'll have to be paid with the next paycheck, not this one), I'm not worried about it. I've got a job now. I'm earning my keep in this world again. I feel like I'm worth something, like I'm being more productive.

I suppose next to come will be a major computer upgrade. I desperately need it. I went looking through Price Watch.Com half an hour ago. For roughly $340 I can get myself a new CPU, motherboard, CD-ROM drive, 40 GB harddrive, GeForce2 video card and a 17" monitor. I've already got a decent sound card, lotsa software, floppy drive, NIC card, case and 256 MB RAM. I can just transfer the old stuff out of my case and slap the new stuff in, no problemo. All I need is to amass the $340. With a modicum of luck, I could have my system rebuilt and modernized by next month. I might have to live with only 2 meals a day, but I could easily handle that in the face of getting my system upgraded.

Why the push for the system upgrade? Why all the sacrifice? Hrm. Well, it's simple: web and graphic design. I need a faster, stouter system to do the stuff I want to do on my computer. I still want to work as a freelance designer and I'm going to need a system that can handle the workload. Currently my desktop is running an AMD K6/2-350, which by today's standards, sucks ass. Rendering 3D graphics on my system takes forever. I'd like to get a copy of Maya and that certainly wouldn't work well on my system as it stands now. Plus, I have a copy of WinXP, which is perfectly useless to me right now. To really use the things that XP has to offer, I'm going to need a stronger system.

The only thing I don't look forward to is the change-over. New OS, new hard drive, transferring all my old data to the new drive. I'm probably going to have to back everything up to my laptop first, just my stories and important stuff. I've done change-overs before. They're not difficult, but one false move and you can kiss a good chunk of data goodbye. I've had it happen before and I live in terror of it happening again. I've done a lot of writing over the last few years. To lose all that work, all those stories, would be nothing short of traumatic.

But right now, it's all just a pipe dream. I have to put in the hours, do the work and earn the paychecks before I can even begin the process. I'm still writing, but Mystic Ghost has been shelved for the time being. I want to get back to it, but I just can't seem to psyche myself up for it. I've learned something recently about writing, for me at least. When I start a project and think of it as being "small", like a long short story or something, it has a greater chance of turning into a book. Mystic Ghost started out as being just a short project, an idle idea that seemed cool, but as soon as I began thinking of it as a "book", the going got tough on it and things slowed down. The writing became more difficult and I began to feel overwhelmed by the idea. Like, "Wow. I'm writing a book. A book. Alone." Writing a short story, or what is envisioned in my head as being a short story, is easier to focus on. I've recently started a new short story and in the last four days it went from 0 to 14,500 words- and it's just beginning, I think. But I won't let go of it being a short story in my head. I want to finish this one. I want to finish a story before the summer begins. I need to. I think I'll feel a hell of a lot better about myself if I do. Like I accomplished something.

Too many things hanging over my head. I need to tie some loose ends up, get them done, so I can move on the things I want to do. How can I pursue publication when all I have is incomplete stories? I can't.

Every life is an incomplete story until it ends.

So here's another story for the daylogs. My own tale is a post-layoff number called:

Time Has Come Today: A Changing Life in Four Movements

October 2001: Hearts Go Their Way

Early in the month, I was laid off from my old technical writing job. So I took the severance check and some extra health coverage. Next stop: some sad feelings and the resume game. At least that's what I thought at first.

In retrospect, I was headed for trouble. That ol' "crushing bout of introspection," which traditionally comes with a layoff, had hit me harder than I had thought. My inner defenses, weakened by inner turmoil and little to no self-confidence, were crumbling under a surging tide of sorrow. That tide was gaining momentum and it was getting ready to crest.

Surprisingly enough, I was pretty damn oblivious to all these changes going on inside me. Instead, I remember lots of resumes and cover letters. Perhaps the truth is a little more complex, though--in mid-October, I made an appointment with a psychiatrist to talk about Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD).

Additionally, I ordered DSL from Verizon in October. It was a good deal for unemployed folks: a month-by-month contract with the first month free and the next two months for $29.95.

November 2001: Tears Have Come

When the new month rolled around, I was definitely depressed. It was hard to ignore: I started crying all the time for no particular reason. I could barely manage to talk to anyone without breaking down in tears. I didn't go out. Everything I had ever done or been seemed worthless.

Despite these obvious signs, I pretended that nothing was seriously wrong. Why? Depression is very unnerving, a self-sustaining emotional chain reaction that overwhelms your internal damper rods. So I pretended that I was still coping with the layoff. If I wasn't, I'd have to admit I was depressed and I didn't want to deal with that. No thanks, not me.

So while I'm handling an emotional avalanche, I go and talk with a psychiatrist about ADD instead. Hey, life doesn't always make sense, right? Even--or especially--when it's your life. After a considerable amout of discussion about my past history (and warnings), he gave me a prescription for Adderall (aka "customized medicinal speed"). For what it's worth, my DSL was also installed around the same time.

December 2001: Things to Realize

As the end of 2001 began, I had been taking Adderall for two or three weeks. Frankly, I found that the drug was very helpful. While I absolutely and totally despise being a psychopharmacological poster boy, that's how my story goes. Turns out that I am an ADHD kinda guy--H is for Hyperactive, don't ya know--and the hyperactive component was driving a lot of the depression. When the Adderall was there, most of the depression went away and life was a lot better.

Even better yet, the drug also allowed me to think about my personal problems without overreacting and turning into an emotional basket-case. Suddenly, ancient & evil problems that seemed herculean (Q: "why do I always freak women out?") began to become manageable (A: "turn it down a bit, tune into their vibes, and don't gawk, ya idjit!")

So I began to figure everything out and it was getting better all the time. Then the new job opportunity popped up and everything changed yet again.

January 2002: The Tumbling Tide

Thanks to a friend of mine, I ended up accepting a new job in late December. Even though my friend warned me that I would be heading into a difficult situation, the job market for tech writers has been insanely tough so I had no choice. I accepted the position.

Now I work at a big government contractor. I knew that I was headed for a troubled contract, but even worse, the team's project manager and the lead technical writer are feuding with each other! To get my job done, I have to work with both of them. If either one ever thinks that I'm taking their side over the other, I'm sunk. So I'm trying to balance both sides and play high-powered corporate politics with little or no experience. Yikes!

So guess what--my new job is pretty stressful. Surprise! Well, the stress is affecting my Adderall dosage. Since I started the new job, the old dosage isn't working too well, so I am forced to take more. Now I am maxed out. If the current dosage doesn't work, I will have to talk with the psychiatrist and find some other drug. Or work without any medication--that could be very bad. I must make superb decisions at work or else.

And finally, I can feel hints of depression sometimes, so I must get some help with all my age-old problems (mostly social stuff). But these problems have shaped my life since high school (or even earlier). Once my old problems are dealt with, I'll probably be a different person--one way or another. Will I like that new person? Of course, I can't know and that's disturbing.

But at the end of the day, I have no choice in the matter. Backward isn't really a viable or useful option, so I have to take some chances and see what happens next.

"The only way out is the way through."

What have I been up to?

Well, not nodeing. BUT...I have been doing some research for a node or two. I have to be off the computer by 12 each night and I'm a night owl, so I print info I can use and write them out in a journal and I'll type them up when I'm done. (And yes I do spend alot of my computer time reading and researching on E2 so I know what I should node and what I shouldn't.)

The depression is pretty bad, but I have started taking the Paxil and the Geodon. I don't like the Paxil. It makes me feel really weird. When I was on it before my friend kermy told me that he thinks I'm hypomanic from it. I'm not sure though...but then again I'm never sure about anything.

I'm doing ok in school, I think. I'm a bit behind. I need to finish the week three assignment. The first two weeks had one five point, e-mail-it-to-the-teacher assignment each. I got five out of five on the first one and four out of five on the second one. I scheduled to take the test last tuesday (I think it was tuesday) but I wasn't myself. I knew I wouldn't pass it so I didn't even bother to go. I reshechuled the test but they haven't replied yet. That's because I sent in the form on Friday night. I should hear from them on Monday.

I'm so tired. Always tired now. More than usual. Probably the meds. It's hard to focus on anything.

My step dad has a timer on the plug. It shuts the power off to the computer and lights at 12am and they won't come back on until 6am. It's really depressing to be forced from a room for 6 hours a day.

Oh well, back to Psychology 101 now...

OK so this is my first day log.

I took a roll last night for the first time in a few months (closer to a year). Needless to say as many blackmarket drugs tend to be, my roll varied in its effects and time to kick in. The damned thing didn't kick in untill 1 A.M. (just over three hours from when I took it).

So here I sat in my big comfy chair chatting away with my good friends John and Jenn waiting for it to kick in. John, which i've known for about 12 years, and I play Quake 3 on this new rule we agreed upon last week called the "10:10 rule" it basically states that my sorry ass will attempt to be online and ready to login to our illicit Quake 3 server at work at approximately 10:10 PM CST (22:10 hrs) and play with him, a hardcore Quaker for ten frags and/or ten minutes whichever comes first. I had told him that I was keeping this pill for the longest time previously but tonight this Quakematch was an "experiment" and I told him we _needed_ to play to test out the effects of E on my gameplay (which sucks to begin with because I don't play much).

At that time the effects were quite mild and I didn't notice I had any to be truthful until I blind-sided him with a depleted uranium slug during a close confrontation, the kind where I get shot in the back with the "pea-shooter". Turns out I was experiencing tunnel vision so it enhanced my aim in the area directly in front of me. I still lost, but not by much and I gave him a run for his money. So I did what every guy would do I declared a rematch and also lost, again, not by much.

I then returned to Jenn which had to log off in an few hour and tried to explain why I had to leave her for a game. I then proceeded to have the usual Friday night chat I usually have while trying to detect when the serotonin was affecting my mood.

A few hours later It had kicked in and I started acting all typical, telling my friend John how we had to play and quick! He SSH'd into our server and launched the scripts for a quick game. I couldn't type well at that point and had killed the light long before to get better visuals from the built in iTunes visualizations that were transforming to the music John had remixed earlier that week with the game Frequency. The song was perfect, the time was right and I got my ass kicked RAW. But back to the game, as soon as I entered I pulled up the console and typed to him:


I'm working on it, i'm working on it! I had to SSH in and get the game logs, but I dunno how to retreive them since we're not running FTP on that server. I will finish! - OCD talking
Candle's father, the green wizard king appeared. We hit it off immediately and joked around before settling down to a game of chess. Kings Play Chess on Fine Green Sand, a mnemonic for species classification in Biology. We were about to play another round of merge chess, in which we would rediscover the secrets embedded in Biology by Candle. Her own father was like unto a King of Oz, the ruler of any forest he chose, as well as all beaches... espcially green beaches, where the forest runs right up to the sand, with waves from Teardrop's tribe crashing ashore. The green wizard was naturally in Eden's tribe, a wizened but respectful elder.

His wife was his natural mate, from the tribe of Teardrop. She could always make him cry, like a blue and touching wizard queen. I was putty in their hands, one might say. Like the gloves that fit their shared hands. Tools for the greater preservation of natural beauty, when mountains, oceans, forests, and storms meet. Swirling around a game of chess. The eye of the hurricane.

The green wizard king and I chuckled. Another private joke. Candle wanted to kick us both but felt comforted. It was a relief. We decided to make new rules together. The chaos of nature swirling like a galaxy around their shared vision. It would be cool, warm, hot, cold. The green wizard king's top advisor gave him a glass of water. "You misunderstand us, my dear," he said, "but no matter, we play on." Nature plus the order of the universe produced a beautiful symmetric chaos. More than a palindrome, it was multidimensionally spherical. A gift from Teardrop after all.

I made a gambit to marry the wrong person. The green wizard king countered with his most trusted princess. "Ha!" he said. Fate considered. The universe watched them, for once, the center of the green hurricane, the eye of tranquility. It was the immortal game of chess, the evergreen game. A game to make sure I was mated, with Candle's permission of course. Candle winked at the both of us. We needed a broader audience. We spoke of my father and granted him strength and long life. I winked at myself, and the rest of us. It was the immortal game after all. We managed to unify genetic engineering with nanotechnology.

We wished for the continued health of the gray wizard, a physics Ph.D., my father. He grinned at us, knowingly. The green king decided to merge with his opponents and become all the more natural, more powerful, greater in growth, like tendrils of life.


It's my personal tradition to only do daylogs for my birthdays (see January 26, 2000 and January 26, 2001 if you really care that much) and this one also will conveniently serve as an aftermath writeup for get your ass to Mars: an Atlanta E2 gathering (Whizbang the Second Coming). Living in Tampa and originally finding no local noders who wanted to go, I birthday-treated myself to plane tickets to Atlanta (so of course, after their non-refundable purchase Ben and Rob decided to go).

So, rather than trying to get Jon awake and functional on a weekend morning, I took the airport "limo" shuttle to Tampa International Airport, arriving about 2.5 hours before the flight would leave. I painted my fingernails blue and read about Peter the Great. The flight was uneventful, and gradually I found my way through the massive Atlanta airport to the MARTA station. The rail trip from airport to North Avenue station was uneventful, but first I got turned around coming out of the station and did most of a square around the block before finding the correct corner from which to set off for the University Village wherein Patrick lives. Then when I got there and phoned, I got voice mail. So I had lunch at the Quizno's by the gate, read more about Peter the Great, and called again, finally getting a human being.

Our host and those actually staying with at his place were out but arrived shortly after my second call. From then, more and more people arrived and filled the living room, conversing, eating those well-known mean cookies and waiting for the next phone ring to announce who else had arrived. Quotations noted during this part of the day:

"Even though I may seem like the gayest heterosexual male on the planet . . . except Chad . . ."
-- WonkoDSane

(On WonkoDSane's pronunciation of "italics") "Well, he's from Nashville, he says 'slanty letters'!"
-- Accipiter

"I wish I were powerful enough to be corrupt."
-- Iconoplast

"The sun never sets on the Wonkoalition."
-- Jethro Bodine
"That would be a good nodeshell title."
-- Accipiter
"Oh, no, 'cause then I'd fill it."
-- WonkoDSane
Around fiveish, even as more people arrived, the preparations for travel to R. Thomas started. Vilk described the outside of the place with the sentence "It looks like a flea market threw up." But the staff were very nice to the bunch of loonies gradually trickling in and adding more and more tables to the S-shape which pretty much filled one room of the restaurant. The food was good, cell phones were passed around so that lots of people could talk to noders elsewhere, and the conversation at the tables was equally fascinating. A single excerpt:
"Why didn't you kiss me in Florida?"
-- WonkoDSane to ccunning
"Are you trying to goad another man into loving you?"
-- jessicapierce to WonkoDSane
After stuffing ourselves and then figuring out all the money matters (and Ben embarrassing the hell out of me by getting everyone to sing "Happy Birthday"), most of us headed off to the massive arcade/pool hall/other, Dave & Buster's. It was too crowded, but I did play some Skee-Ball and try The Original Shocker, that thing where you sit in a chair and hold to metal bars while it is implied that electricity is run through them, but really they just vibrate really fast. Then I hung out and watched various noders play pool.

One car after another departed with its contingent for all the places people were staying, and the last few went back to Patrick's place for more talk and foosball ("Jesus, I'm sucking!" -- WonkoDSane again.) Gradually everyone drifted off. Chris kindly gave me a ride to the Econolodge where the rest of the Tampa contingent was staying, and while Ben and Rob snored in one room, Jodi, Allison, and I enjoyed girl talk for a while in another before finally going to sleep.

It was the most memorable birthday I've had since 1995 when I got to eat with Michael Moore sitting just far enough down the table to be out of conversation range.

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