At the first opportunity I will get drunk
And like Old Buke I will stagger out into the night
Shout my rage against the moon
Like it was some new thing, some child
With insolence staring down at me
I shall tell it off

I woke up at 2:45 am to yelling and screaming from outside of my house. I went downstairs and onto the front porch. A girl with dark curly hair was ranting and crying about her boyfriend cheating on her. A young man was trying to calm her down, with little success. He said, "I'll be right back," running off toward the church parking lot where there was more noise, cars starting up, merriment. She shouted, "Don't leave me alone. I can't be left alone!"

That's when I opened the screen door and walked toward her, asking if I could help. She said she was fine, swaying and reeking of vodka. I said you were just screaming, you're drunk, and you're obviously not fine. She started apologizing for waking me and I interrupted her, "I wake up every few hours anyway, I'm more concerned at the moment about your safety. Was that guy your boyfriend?"

"No," she answered, then started back on the ranting and crying, "He's in the parking lot, flirting with her."

The young man returned and put his hands on her shoulders, gently, "Come on, I just want to get you home."

"Are you the boyfriend?" I asked. He shook his head no, "Just a friend. She got too high and she just needs to be home."

"She told me she lives 45 minutes from here," I said. "Are you okay to drive her?"

He said, "She lives on the next block. She must be thinking of her dorm room at college. I'm just walking her home."

I tell her, "You probably won't remember most of this, but as a mother I have to say it: Drinking or doing drugs until you're not in control isn't safe. And ditch the boyfriend, he's not worth it either."

I watch them walk all the way down the street and turn left. Twenty minutes of my life, and I feel as if I did nothing.

Last Sunday I took the girls to church by myself. We sit in the balcony for assorted reasons, one of them is because I've lost the ability or the desire to sit in the pews with the rest of the conversation. I went through a period where my blood pressure was unstable. I wore layers of clothes because my body temperature was messed up. I was thin and pale and afraid which was really stupid at the time. When my daughter pointed out that a group of women from church were walking around the lake she suggested that I join them. I am not a coffee drinker, it's repellent and abhorrent to me. I didn't know anyone who was going to be there and I rejected the idea that I would have anything in common with women who trotted around the lake and then sat around talking in a coffee shop. But I put the event in my calendar because I realized that it was important to my daughter.

The YMCA where I volunteer runs a lazy man triathlon every March. Participants, who are normally teams, have thirty-one days to run a marathon, bike 115 miles and swim a quarter of a mile. Back in August of 2010 I messed up something on the lateral side of my left ankle. I haven't run since then, my podiatrist said that I could find out what exactly was wrong if I wanted to pay for an MRI, at the time I didn't think I could afford it, now I don't need to know. Friday night there were some kids who wanted to race each other on the rock wall. An athletic looking black kid heard his time announced and he was determined to beat his own time. I had a good time talking to him, his friend, and another younger kid who thought he could beat someone who had a higher skill level than he did.

After the older kids left, this younger boy stayed around. I offered to race him when he said he was still looking for competition. I had the easier route, when I asked if he wanted it, he said I could have it and he was okay with any advantage it might have given me. That kid did not expect me to beat him. Regardless of which route he had chosen, I know I'm a better climber than he is simply because I have more experience and climbing time than he does. At work, I tell people that the only difference between route number 5, the easiest, and route number 9, the most difficult, is time. And I believe that's true. When I first started climbing, it took me longer to do easier routes. Now I can go up most routes fairly quickly, I've done number 10, most people think that's the hardest, actually number 9 is much more technical, 10 just looks harder.

Saturday morning, I did not want to get up and walk with anyone. I thought about going for a bike ride, instead I made myself throw some clothes on and drive down to the gazebo. There were two women talking when I arrived, I don't know either of them well, and I was regretting coming because the one woman is very tall, in great shape, and I'm always intimidated by her. Another older woman arrived, the four of us started around the lake, I started talking to a woman I didn't know and before I knew it the conversation had taken an unexpected turn. By the time we made it back to the coffee shop, I was in a much better mood. I had to revisit my former misconceptions about the women I had walked with and I really felt like I had made several important strides when I walked out.

My good mood lasted until I arrived at home. We had planned a laser tag party for my youngest, my husband had put it together and I didn't know pizza was part of the agenda until he said he was going to drive to a fast food restaurant to get a burger for my daughter who couldn't have pizza. I am done with people feeding my kids crap. No kid needs a twenty ounce soda with unlimited refills, a ketchup drenched burger, treat bags full of candy, and cake. We had brought fruit salad and baby carrots. When we left, the two pizzas were gone. We ended up taking the fruit and the carrots home. The girls continued to eat garbage and I tried to get them to eat something healthy, however neither child had an appetite for anything I offered.

Yesterday I ate crap, not long after, I didn't feel well. I started feeling better after some chicken and fruit, but that cake on the counter was there and I told myself that I couldn't resist it because being a victim is a comfortable role for me and it was easier to blame someone else for bringing cake into the house than it was for me to tell myself that I am stronger than any of my unhealthy cravings. Yesterday, at the coffee place, I spotted a flier for a writing workshop. I snapped a picture of the contact info and looked up the website when I got home. I've been thinking a lot about my life, what's important to me, where I want to go with it, and what kind of a message I have to send to others. This morning I took the girls to a new church. It was very contemporary, the pastor wore jeans, the singer had an electric guitar, and for someone who was raised in the cold embrace of traditional Wisconsin Lutheran wooden pews and reserved demeanors, it was a bit of an adjustment at first.

The pastor, whose wife I know, did an exceptional job at two things: relating to the audience and driving his message home. The message was: rebellion leads to pain. Rebels know it all, it isn't that they don't know, it's that they don't care. So you can't reason with them. I can't tell my sister to stop smoking because it's bad for her health, she already knows. My husband does not eat vegetables. Several people in his family have dealt with colon cancer. He doesn't like the texture of certain foods so he doesn't eat them. He knows they are better options than what he's eating, he knows, he doesn't care. The pastor used King Zedekiah's reign as a focal point. He did not listen to the prophet Jeremiah's words. I kept expecting that story book ending and this is what really drove the sermon home for me.

Zedekiah's last site before he was blinded was watching his sons being put to death by the Babylonian army. Whether you believe the Bible is factually accurate or not, we can find similar examples in modern day life. A guy driving a get away car while a helicopter flies above him thinks that he is getting away from the police. In reality, they've been watching him the entire time. Poor decisions catch up to you. Often there are warning signs and what I thought was interesting was how many chances Zedekiah had. The Babylonian army left to meet up with another force, Zedekiah thought they were gone for good until one morning he woke up and there were soldiers for as far as the eye could see. Guns are nice because they kill quickly. Sieges are designed to drain life and resistiance from people slowly. Jeremiah told Zedekiah that he would live if he surrended to the Babylonians. He chose an alternate path and was led away blind, wearing bronze shackles.

Every person has challenges and opportunities. We can't know what others are going through, we can only know that they struggle. Talking about your struggle is not whining. Being negative and telling yourself that you can't do anything is your self defeating message to yourself and if you're a rebel, you already know that. You know some things that you could be doing. Maybe you can hide under the label of disease or depression, no one can take those things from you, you have to find a way to deal with them or your life is going to be less than what it could be. Last year at this time, I was a weaker person than I am now. So far we've gone to church for three weeks in a row. Today, my children ate salads for lunch without complaining. The other day they were fighting in the car. I stopped the car in the middle of the road and told them that they could keep fighting and walk home or they could stop fighting and remain in my car.

My youngest told me that she didn't know how to get home. We weren't far from home, probably about a mile and a half out, but we were on the edge of farm country where twin cornfields border both sides of the road. When she said that she didn't know how to get home, I told her that would really suck if she had to figure it out by herself. Then I asked the girls if they wanted to walk or ride. They both chose to ride home. After salads for lunch, I put both girls down for a nap and I took one myself. In my family there is a battle between me who wants to give my children whole organic foods and almost everyone else who wants to give them candy, soda, and processed food type items. They say that they're concerned about the mental health of my children. I think there is a good time to be a rebel and that comes when you are standing alone against however many people for something you believe and know to be true.

Right now, I am one of the healthiest people I know because I have made the decision to be optimistic and to stand for my principles. When we were down in Florida, I saw vitality and vibrance come back to my children. Since we've returned to Wisconsin, they have lost some of that. I know what to do and how to do it. I don't care how extreme, fanatical, or radical I may seem to be. Two of my sisters need to lose weight. I've kept thirty pounds off, but they aren't interested in hearing what I have to say. They haven't learned that they can embrace what their body needs, feed it right, and not want the pseudo food being passed out and around. I'm not about excuses or compromise because in most cases, they don't work. I can't have one piece of cake or a package of fruit snacks. I can, but I don't. Once I start, I can't stop. Compromise foods deprive your body of nutrition and healing, why undermine the system that has been working? Because it takes time and you don't see results right away.

My avatar on Twitter is really me even though I jokingly told a guy who called me a diamond doll that it wasn't. The way I look is one part of me. It's easy to get a shout out from a guy who thinks you're hot. It's much more difficult for a 37 year old woman to get a high school teen to tweet about a woman being smart and reliable. That was a heartfelt tweet and I felt good about reading it because I earned his trust. A twenty year old kid sent me a message about arriving home safely. I think that I have an ability to reach out to young people, gain their confidence, and send them encouragement and tough messages that they need to hear. That's probably why the quote from corvus hit me so hard. I believe in the power of connectedness and networking. From the Pakistani physician who told me that drinking hot water was good for digestion to the 52 year old man who has turned me on to the healing power of whole raw foos. I am in love with the interactions and the ability to share eletronic space with people I would never meet in real life.

You don't know what you can do until you try it. Stop being afraid of failure or looking foolish. Today I can ride eleven miles on my bike. I am going to finish that triathlon in March because I've broken down what I need to do each day. Swimming lessons have been going exceptionally well. We all feel stupid, we're all self conscious, but we're all there and we've all improved. Practice makes perfect. Today's heartache is tomorrow's perfection. It's not about the destination, it's about the journey. Challenge yourself, dream big, but don't stop at the dream. Take small steps so you can turn that dream into an achievement. Inspiration and support is out there, but you have to be willing to seek it out.

You can be a light to others, what you do with your life is up to you. Your gifts are your own, no one can take them from you or force you to do things you don't want to be doing. There is value in your struggle. It has something to teach you. Mistakes are there, you have to learn from them or you will end up repeating the same mistakes until you internalize the fact that rebellion against yourself leads to pain. I wish I had a better way to put this, however I need some time outside right now. Make today, and every day, your best day. The Colorado shootings are a reminder: any day can be your last. Take your life and love it, because everything is impossible, until it isn't.

Peace, out.


P.S. This daylog was brought to you by writing workshop advice, along with the support and encouragement of people I've met online to whom I am grateful to have as strangers, enemies, and friends.

Not much to report today.

I may be tripping too far into the gun world...reading the inevitable outraged handwringing following the Colorado shootings about the fact that wait, miscreants can order AMMUNITION on the INTERNET???! my first thought was "Hmmm maybe I better place another order for Garand ammo before they outlaw that too..."

Went to the range on Wednesday with Gun Mentor. We took a pair of Smith & Wesson 5906s and I worked on my (not very impressive) pistol shooting. I still have problems with figuring out where the shots went on misses, but I think it's becoming clear that my problem is all about the trigger squeeze - I think I'm pulling the muzzle down as I shoot. That would explain why I'm better on double action shots - the gun has more time to steady out. I can hit the metal drop targets (8 inch) 14 of 15 shots at around 30 feet, but when I try to shoot at paper and then group consistently, the rounds just don't go where I'm expecting. I have trouble finding that first shot to repeat, sometimes! Sigh. Well, this is a skill, and you only get better by practicing. And my eyes aren't what they used to be. I took the time to join the club that owns the range, too - although I may not get there very often over the next year, I've certainly been there several times this summer, so all is fair.

I was going to fly today - went to the airport and found that the Skyhawk was available, and had the thrill of saying "Great, I'll take it." Got to the plane and preflighted it - and as I did so, the wind picked up noticeably. Thought about it, decided this was an excellent opportunity to Exercise Smart Judgement. I had only planned to stay local - practice area, in the pattern - but my CFI had cleared me to fly 'if it's not too windy.' So I went back inside and called up weather reports from some local airports with with FSBs. Barnes Municipal (around 15 miles southwest) was reporting wind at 190 degrees, 13 knots, gusting to 18. Thought about it, decided that yeah, there was no good reason to push - and 15 miles wasn't that far away. Reluctantly handed the keys back. I'd say I'm hoping to get Good Judgement points, but really - I'm sitting here comfortable and unfrazzled and alive, and that's the real win, right? 99% sure I would have had no problems with the wind, but...1% is too high a risk factor, by far. And I'm not experienced enough to have a high confidence in that number.

So, chalk it up as judgement exercised, and hope the predicted thunderstorms for Tuesday (next time I have the plane) don't materialize.

Jet-Poop, to me, is not a 'person' so much as a 'collection of superheroes.' Dannye is simply as solid as a bed of nails. My belief in both of them, my confidence in their unplumbed depths of courage and resolve, is equally solid.


In news of the world....

Yesterday I grieved for the Aurora, Colorado shooting victims. Today I am annoyed by the blame game instantly, if inevitably, sprung up over it. Rick Warren, who pastors one of the nation's leading mega-churches, tweeted on the shooting: "When students are taught they are no different from animals, they act like it." He fairly quickly deleted that tweet, once controversy sprouted. In the same vein, US Congressman Louis Gohmert commented that people have asked where God was on that day, and concluded that God didn't intervene to prevent these killings because secularists have banned God from high school graduation ceremonies and the like. At the other end of the theological spectrum, Atheists have reacted with equally broad pronouncements, pointing to the Christian upbringing of the shooter (and that faith being shared by most of the victims) and contending that it is the violence of theistic scriptures which leads to such acts. Across the spectrum of politics as well blame has been aimed, against lax gun laws, movie and video game violence, lax policies allowing someone like this gunman to be admitted to a graduate program, and most everything else one can think of.

And the bottom line, the truth of the matter, is this. Some people are off-balance. It's not because of religion or politics or policies. It's simply the occasionally hampered workings of nature. If it were a product of religion or lack thereof, there'd be more of it, or it would correlate with the religiosity of nations. And sometimes, no matter what rigor is put into checking the mental health of people in whatever situation, whatever restrictions are put on access to weaponry, some tiny portion of people are born with an ingrained snapping point, whereupon they will find a way to wreak some degree of havoc. Such people are like a force of nature, like a tornado. And blaming religion or politics for people tipping past the fold is no sounder a thing to do than to point fingers of blame for the happening of the weather.


In auditing news:

Jack -- on page 6 of 12
Prole -- picked at random, on page 3 of 6
artman2003 -- just because -- on 3 of 10

Next up after these guys will be Jet-Poop and Dannye.

Blessings, all!!


So it finally happened.

Way back in 2007 I wrote a post called Scammer Code. It wasn't anything spectacular, just a collection of fun words that guys use with each other when covertly checking out hot people. But the post was a milestone, since it earned me just enough points to get me to level 4 "Wordsmith" in the e2 XP system. As of that time I had been writing for e2 for four years, covering niche topics from the Polynesian stink flower Rafflesia arnoldii to beautiful atmospheric phenomena. To make it to this threshold, I had been writing a lot, really pushing myself to dig deep for new topics and committing the time to get it out there, so I felt a swell of accomplishment beholding my new status. But as quickly, I also realized that I'd have to push even harder to get the 3,300 points I needed to get to "Crafter," and that felt deeply daunting. How, I wondered, will I manage to stick to non-fiction writing and climb that 3,300 point high crest? It's too much for right now, I thought. I'll just put it down and come back to it soon enough.

It was around that time that my old grad school thesis advisor took me to dinner and asked me to co-author a book with him. The topic was nifty, and he had been published a number of times, so I thought it would be a good experience. I realized it would probably take away all the time I had for e2. So, I decided that the best thing for me to do was to put e2 on hold until the book was done. We dove into writing that book together.

e2 was a comfortable place to return to, and as I came back to lurk and read new writeups, I realized my old writeups were continuing to get a trickle of upvotes, and I had an idea. I would continue checking in, and see how long it would take my existing writeups to earn me the 3,300 points to get me through level 5 Crafter. No writing at all, just momentum. How long would that take?

Well, I came to the site today, and I now have my answer. Five years. That's how long it took for people to randomly come across old writeups, give 'em a read, and decide it was worth a little click-reward. I even managed to get a few C!s in that time. So now I'm level 6, Artificer, and I realize it's been a busy five years. What's happened since then? Lots.

  • My brother and his wife had two new boys, putting my "niblings" up to five.
  • I've traveled the world with work, doing the research that begins every project of ours. This included Japan, China, Russia (twice), France, the UK, Ireland, Germany, and India.
  • I've traveled to New Zealand twice on some fantastic personal vacations. (Seriously, I know there are other places in the world, but I'm really eager to head back there.)
  • I've spoken at dozens of conferences around the world, including being a keynote for MacWorld.
  • At work I've climbed up the ladder until I'm now one of the Directors of the small company.
  • I've had two major surgeries, both to repair torn labrums: One on my left shoulder, the other on my right hip.
  • I broke up with my boyfriend of eight years. I spent two years single, getting good and confident at dating again. I found an amazing new boyfriend, we moved in together, and we're coming upon a two year anniversary together.
  • Perhaps most shocking to me and my circumstances, one of my best friends asked me to co-parent a kid with her, and after some harrowing and expensive procedures, we did it. She's just passed her first trimester. So I'm expecting a kid around February 5th. Five years ago I had lost hope of this ever happening, and now it's coming true.
Most relevantly to e2, I've continued writing.
  • I've published over 40 meaty blog entries to my company's website. Our founder is quite popular and the blog has a worldwide readership. One of my posts made it kind of viral, and I ended up getting interviewed for a Canadian radio program about it. That was cool.
  • I've penned a children's book, but still looking for an illustrator or time/courage to try to illustrate it myself.
  • I've kept a personal (and anonymous) blog with my baby-mama and boyfriend about the experience of sperm banks and fertility clinics that have gotten us this far in the pregnancy.
  • I've been published a handful of times in an awesome zine out of NYC called FAQNP.
  • Most importantly, we're actually about to publish that first book. It's co-authored, but I can honestly say that 80% of the structure, content, and thinking in there is mine. We got a semi-famous author to write our foreword and I was deeply honored/humbled/proud by how complimentary he was.
  • I already have 50% of a next book underway that's frankly awesomer than the one I'm about to publish.

As you can see, I've certainly kept on writing, just not here.

Back in 07 I told myself I'd get back to writing for e2 once I'd gained the level and completed the experiment. But in all honesty, I don't think I can. Between looming parenthood, the publication of the new book, maintaining the post-launch blog (until we can build enough trust with fans to take it over) and more books on their way, I don't know that I'll have time.

But I did want to come back and post this entry. Yes, it's for the sense of personal closure that comes with having seen it through. But moreso to say thanks. To thank you for making this site, maintaining it, and letting a guy like me get tough and honest feedback that got me back into the habit of writing, the habit of iteration, the development of a personal voice, and the habit of seeing writing as an act of communication and not just expression. In short, I think e2 made me a pretty good writer, and keep your fingers crossed, hopefully a soon-to-be-successful writer, too.

Thanks, guys. You're fucking awesome. Keep up the good work.

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