Busy day today. Two job interviews, and both look promising. I am looking forward to getting back out there.

My doctor's appointment today was excellent. My blue-eyed shrink sat me down and looked at me appraisingly while I chattered about getting a job, moving to Portland, going back to school. I like that he doesn't write stuff down while I talk. He listened, rubbed his beard stubble, blinked his sleepy blue eyes. Leaned back in his chair. Ashley he said, I'm always cautious about saying this sort of thing, but I'll say it anyway. You look....really healthy.

I grinned.

We talked about the importance of keeping to a relatively solid schedule. How sleep and routine (and of course the right medicinal cocktail) combine to create good mental health. He mentioned a study done on the campus of West Point that showed military cadets to be significantly more mentally fit than typical college students. "Mentally scrubbed", the study concluded.

I remembered that I had a lot of friends who went to The Citadel in Charleston, and I concurred that every single one of the guys I knew who went to that military academy seemed to benefit from the discipline, the scheduling, the high expectations. That's when he asked me about Charleston.

I hear it's beautiful there, said my blue-eyed shrink. I nodded. You have no idea, I said. He gave me a questioning look.

Well, it's strange. I lived there for the majority of my adult life, so I sometimes forgot. Forgot how charming it is. But every single person I ever knew who visited me in Charleston - friends, boyfriends, internet acquaintances who were just passing through - really fell hard for that city. It's almost as though she's a woman, not a city.

He nodded. Yeah. It has to do with plasticity, he said. I didn't quite follow him, but I was intrigued. Que? I said, and he laughed at me.

Well, what I mean is that when you live in one place long enough, you lose sight of what made it so beautiful to you in the beginning. It's as though the brain has only so much plasticity - elasticity. As though you can comprehend beauty for finite periods of time until you sort of become numb to it.

I got it. Ah, you mean like Ethan Hawke, I said, and it was his turn to look puzzled. I explained: Yeah. So, here's Ethan Hawke. He's married to Uma Thurman. I mean, Uma Thurman.

My doc nods. He's following.

So here he is, married to this insanely gorgeous creature. She's his by choice. She's had his babies. He gets to wake up to that face every single morning.

My shrink interrupts. She always reminded me of a Modigliani he says swoonily.

I know, right? Anyway, so he has this perfect woman, she's freakishly beautiful, devoted to him, how could you ask for more. But then he goes to Canada to make a movie and winds up in bed with some Foley artist or script girl or whatever. Some random chick.

He nods again. Yep. Plasticity. Something in him forgot the most important stuff.

I think about this for a minute. Because these days when I remember Charleston, I don't tend to dwell on the fact that I was miserable there, that the traffic and population have swelled to Brobdingnagian proportions, that she's polluted by an air of snobbery and pretention that's as thick as the stink of pluff mud. I (almost) forget that she's home to my personal Judas.

All I can remember is her haughty elegance, how bridal she is in the Springtime when her frothy azaleas are blooming, how she's surrounded and embraced and celebrated by rivers. The way she's dressed in iron filigree, draped in metallic lace. How she's heavy with oaks and dripping with tendrils of spanish moss. Her spires. Her coyness. Her flirty charm. How she's perched on the mouth of the Atlantic like a droplet of honey on cupid's bow lips.

Yeah I agree. It's easy to lose sight of something when it fills your eyes all the time.

My shrink smiled. You're gonna love Portland he said, and I knew he was right.

Near sunset I bought a turkey bacon guacamole sub and it was an inspired choice, because bacon is good and guacamole is good but together they are a juggernaut of yummy. And then I went to the cemetery to sit and watch the mountains.

From where I like to sit you can see the first rise of the Blue Mountains, which compared to the Rockies are puny. To me, though - Lowcountry bred and raised - they are exotic, ravishing as a sloe-eyed dancer drenched in sandalwood perfume. They are fascinating all day long, but at sunset they pull out the stops. Their snowcaps gather the light, fling it upward and outward, scatter it into a million exuberant shades of rose and purple and (of course) blue.

I thought about what my blue-eyed shrink said about plasticity, about that peculiar form of amnesia. I thought about Charleston, and I held her up to the light like a pink sapphire. She is still beautiful. (You are still beautiful, I tell her, and I know she hears me. But you aren't mine anymore, and I know she understands. I set her down gently and turn back toward my mountains.)

I thought about other things that don't belong to me anymore. My marriage, for instance. And I tried to remember exactly when I knew that was over.

It was April 1, 2005 - April Fools! - when I packed up everything I owned and walked out of my old apartment. I knew that Oregon was my new home, that was a given. My insurance and health care and family were all there. I needed my things, but I didn't pack up with the intention of leaving Sam. The last thing he said to me was I will talk to you in a couple of days. I will see you soon. That was the last time I heard his voice.

And I wonder, was he lying? Or was he trying to be kind?

I was stubborn. I held on for months after that. I left a hundred voice messages, sent dozens of emails trying to get a response from Sam. Something. Anything. And what I got was silence.

It wasn't until August that I finally believed his silence. I badgered one of our mutual friends for information until finally he felt sorry enough for me to tell me the truth: Sam was seeing someone else. No, I don't know how serious it is. No, I don't know for how long. Yes, she is pretty. And for days I was numb. I did all the expected things: I pictured the two of them in bed together. I re-read old letters. I cried some.

But then I began to thaw. The sure knowledge that Sam Had Officially Moved On acted like a blade. It cut through the tangle of emotions and anger and pain. It severed the terrible noose of hope. And suddenly I could breathe again.

And so I faced the holidays with steel in my spine. I began to recognize that abandonment - grim and cold though it is - carries an offering of freedom in its frozen fist. I began to walk in that freedom. I started to toss tentative glances toward my future, and what I glimpsed there was warm, inviting. And after Christmas I received an even greater gift: a firm reminder that I had a past before Sam and that I will have a life after him.

I am not looking backward.

Do not ask of a vision in a dream more than a vision in a dream can give. C.S. Lewis said that, and he was right. But sometimes a vision in a dream can give you exactly what you need.

And William Blake, sweet William, knew this:

He who binds to himself a joy
Does the winged life destroy:
But he who kisses the joy as it flies
Lives in eternity's sun rise.

I am not binding myself to anything, to anyone. But I will not live a kissless life. I will always kiss my joys, because they are rare and they are lovely and they deserve no less.

I thought about William Blake, that grizzled old bard of the apocalypse. How he understood this: death always dovetails with beginnings. That all change - every shade of change - involves loss. I thought of Emily: First Chill - then Stupor - then the Letting Go. And I thought about my week with an old friend, an old love, and I released that joy with a bright kiss.

I watched the exhausted sun sink behind the Blues. I finished my sandwich. I drove home, smiling.

Yesterday I posted a daylog where I likened the current situation over in the Middle East and a possible World War III to a big game of Risk, or even better, Axis and Allies. Recapping quickly if you don't want to go back and read that daylog, I basically said that if something were to happen that would spark that powder keg, like, say, Iran attempting to blow Israel off the map which their President has suggested he'd like to do, or Israel staging a preemptive strike against Iran to prevent it, a bunch of the countries of the world would start aligning themselves to prepare for war. I had suggested it would be mostly pro-West, pro-Israel countries vs. pro-Arab/Muslim and anti-West/Israel countries. I had mentioned that it was a strategic advantage for the U.S. to have Iraq and Afganistan and questioned the neutrality of Russia and China.

The purpose of this daylog is to post the interesting and educational responses I got from several other users. I had thought about just adding them to the bottom of the daylog like I would corrections or additional information to any other node, like I did with this one, but I was afraid that nobody would ever read them. (Who goes back and reads daylogs from the previous day??) So here are the great responses I got (thanks, guys!) below, preceeded by direct quotes from my daylog whenever necessary to provide context.

"The real questions for the game manufacturer to solve would be, where does Russia and China fall into all this? Or North Korea? There's probably just be another mini-war along side the main one. The Nutterbutter in North Korea will probably just go ahead and attack China while everybody else is attacking everybody else. Why not?"

izubachi says : "A minor geopolitical correction ot your prospective World War III: Best case scenario, Russia and China would remain neutral but probably fund Iran. They have distinct economic interest in preserving the current regime and they would both be extremely uncomfortable with the US and the EU winning the fight and having sway over the Middle East. Worst case scenario, they'd enter in on the side of Iran. Russia's really not so hot on its relations with Europe right now and might be seeing glories of empires past. China is just itching for a chance to throw its weight around. North Korea would, under no conceivable circumstance, attack China. China's what's keeping North Korea from descending into all chaos right now. North Korea would, however, be overeager to chip in on the Iranian side with a rapidly developed nuke or three. Best case scenario, China would restrain NK as part of its grudging neutrality policy by, say, shutting off ALL of their gas and electricity shipments if they get too fratchety, or worse case scenario let NK do its psycho thing. Japan might also get very, very nervous about this whole situation and remilitarize, which would drive China up the fucking wall."

Very good points, izu, you're a very smart lad, wise beyond your years! And now, moving on...

"But...with the head of Iran calling for Israel to be blown off the map, and Iran developing a nuclear missile, and Israel already having them (/msg and correct me if I'm wrong, please)..."

Well, there was kind of a correction there...

BrooksMarlin says : "Isreal is not a member of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and refuses to confirm or deny that they have nukes. But given their level of technological advancement and their experience in warfare, it's a pretty good bet that they do have nukes."

Thanks for that very interesting bit of information there, Brooks. I did not know that Israel never confirmed nor denied having nukes.

And here's one more interesting tidbit that I had not known of before...

futilelord says : "risk 2010 had little nuclear tiles that could be laid down on land masses making them usesless and unpassable."

Sounds like a fun game! I'll have to purchase that at some point.

DejaMorgana says : "Hiya. Wanted to let you know that some people do read daylogs from at least the last few days (it's the first thing i usually check out when i have reading time on E2). Also that Israel has a working nuclear reactor that does not supply power to anyone, and there are several nuclear units in the IDF that no outsider is exactly sure what they do aside from the fact that it's something nuclear. Also, common knowledge in the Israeli street is that there are nukes. Either there are, or it's the biggest and best bluff in military history."

I apologize to anybody who feels this might be superfluous, given that a good portion of it is rehashing, but again the comments I received I thought were very enlightening and I wanted to share them with you all in case your level of knowledge of the situation was at or less than mine was before today. Thank you for reading, and thanks for you comments izu, Brooks, and futile.

We’re on the fucking bus again because we’re seventeen. Thom’s mad at me again because I said something wrong or looked at him funny or happened to exist in his line of vision. My bad. I can’t remember why I bother to try. I’m not supposed to feel this tired.

Somebody’s talking to me. It might be Thom or it might be anybody else on this bus. I’ve got my headphones on and my eyes shut and it’s no problem to ignore. I’m listening to Stevie Wonder so fuck you. And it’s beautiful and I’m gone.

After a while I open my eyes and it doesn’t bother me that the first thing I see is Thom in his seat across the aisle. He’s set in stone and the world is blurring past. I think there’s a good chance this might not be an illusion after all. You tell me.

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