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I really didn’t think I’d be at work today. Crap!

But here I am, and doing not a half-bad job of it, if I do say, given the unrelenting sinking feeling in my gut and the fact that I don’t give a shit about anything here: never really have and certainly don’t at the moment, given that at the moment my wife is at the doctor’s finding out why the hell our baby won’t come out.

She just called. She’s still at only 2 centimeters. We were supposed to have lunch together, but she’s going to be another half hour because the doc wants to do something called a “Non-Stress Test”.

I think I need one of those. Contrary to what I maintained in an earlier daylog filibuster entry about not really feeling nervous in advance of things due to my years in the theatre, I’m really starting to go a bit buggy.

In my other life as a playwright, the news is, as per usual, a subtle blend of absurd and depressing. For about half a year now a local actor/producer and myself have been making every effort to bring a production of my play Louis Slotin Sonata to Seattle in 2006, the 60th anniversary of the events detailed in the play. We’ve been dancing with three different theatres here, ranging from one of the city’s premier regional houses, to the next tier down, to a company that only started a couple years ago and really wants to make a splash. All three are “really really interested”; all three “really really love the play” and think it “really really needs to be done”; but none of them have been able to make a firm commitment. And then today I found out that a major King County grant I was up for, one that would have definitely helped tempt one of these companies to jump in the sack with us, did not come through. It’s only a minor set back. But it’s a setback I would’ve rather heard about as a blissful father of a baby ___?___ rather than a stressed out expectant headcase.

Update from OB/GYN land: the Non-Stress Test (if that’s not an Orwellian euphemism, I’ll eat my own underpants) showed that the baby is perfectly normal and happy, though the head is way far down and, as my wife says, enormous. (Hey, it’s a family trait. What can I say?) She goes in for another of these NST’s on Friday, unless something happens before then. On Friday we’ll decide when to schedule an inducement, should that be necessary.

So the filibuster rolls merrily along. This is the eleventh installment. Please trust me when I say that I never meant to go on this long. (Hell, yesterday I boosted up a level, completely against my will!) I can say this much for this moronic quest I’ve sent myself on: I’ve gotten to know a bunch more people here, all of whom have been quite delightfully encouraging, and I’ll be sad-sorry indeed to let it all go when the new order finally drives me inexorably away.

There is a stage in life you reach where the mind has developed and for the first time the gauze of childhood is lifted and you begin to see the world as your parents see it. This is a time simultaneously of great terror and of wonderment. The magic your parents use to put food on the table and a roof over your head gives way to the reality of a barely affordable mortgage and the impact of coupon cutting.

You begin to appreciate it took some patience to deal with you as an oblivious member of society. You wonder if you could do what your parents did, and in many cases you find yourself lacking.

On the other hand, as a youthful adult with no track record of major adult-style failure, you tend to bring down your hammer of judgement upon your parents with great temerity. After all, their mistakes are now legend, and your record is clean.

So, I remember quite clearly the day I cognised the life my old man had been living, and I registered with amusement some of his questionable child-rearing techniques. With newfound adulthood I confronted him at the dinner table when everyone else had left, and said with the pure livid righteousness of my youth:

"Dad, have you ever in your life told me one thing you hadn't made up?"

Like DeForest Kelley, my father could raise one eyebrow and smirk, which he did at that point.

I felt I had to add data to fuel my argument.

"Like, when I asked you how they milked soy beans to get soy milk, and you told me it really didn't come from beans, but from turtles."

My father's expression did not change. I felt like I was in a poorly directed episode of Star Trek. But I continued.

"Turtles aren't mammals, Dad. And then, that time I asked you why those iron meteors at the Museum of Natural History were all full of holes, and you told me it was because they were cast offs from alien space ships that had been 'mined' of all their gold."

"And your point would be?" my father said.

"Dad, they were lies. Lies. Tapioca pudding is not made from tadpole eyes. Gravity is not caused by the spinning of the earth. You can't burn a house down with a jar full of fireflies. Do you realize how many times I was laughed at for bringing up these so-called facts in the middle of class? I thought you were the encyclopedia."

At that point my mother came over carrying a pie or whatever was for dessert, and having overheard the discussion, scolded my dad saying, "Joe, see, I told you one day it would cause trouble."

My Dad said, looking right at me but speaking as if I wasn't there, "He hasn't figured out anything. He only thinks he has."



*

Years later, when he had cancer pretty uncurably, the old man and I were sitting alone in the living room of my new monster house in North Carolina, watching televised golf on a set I had bought that was as close to the size of a drive-in movie screen as I could find. The action broke and they went to commercial for Intel processors. My Dad asked me how those damned things work. He never got it, the whole integrated circuit thing. How can it be an electronic brain? It looks like a city on a postage stamp.

"Well, it is a city, Dad. An electronic city. All the city people are atoms. You know, you got little atom highways with little atom cars, they go to work in the morning and work on their little atom jobs, toiling away till dinner time when they go home and have atom dinner and watch atom TVs, which are made of quarks. You've heard of quarks, right?"

My father looked at me and raised an eyebrow, Star Trek style. In a fraction of a second, I realized he wasn't going to be around much longer, the emotion hit me like a shotgun blast, and I had to swallow really fast to stop the groan that would have come out of me. I think he realized how I felt. It scared him, too, but of the two of us, only one knew when he was going to die, and fortified by percocet, he accepted that role at that moment.

"I'm sorry I made you become an engineer," he said.

"It's okay, Dad. I like engineering. Really. You couldn't have made me go to engineering school if I didn't want to do it. You know I was always taking things apart and putting them together when I was a kid. Now I make money at it. Look this house. Pretty good, eh?"

"Your mother told you--I wanted to be a writer. But my father made me become an office manager. Everybody knows. No money in writing." He sighed. "I should have become a writer."

"Seems you did pretty well," I said, noting I never went hungry or lived under a tarp. "Always got what I wanted at Christmas..."

My father sighed again, and this time I knew he was keeping himself from crying. The pills he was on and his condition made him extremely emotional in the final months. So I was used to him bursting into tears at things I thought were trivial.

"Nice house you have. Yes. Anyway, you should have been a writer. I was wrong. Sorry."

So then, what they don't tell you about life is that when one veil of gauze is lifted from your eyes, there's another in its place that can also be lifted. There are a lot of them, and now, at 46 years old, I realize I will never stop learning things I'd always taken for granted, and that at every age, I will wonder how I stumbled along till then in such blindness.

I think I probably said, "That Davis Love III is pretty good," or something like that to keep from crying right there in my huge palacial living room that I bought with my engineering money.

And then after a silence, I added, "I think you did the right thing."

He smirked. Said, "Quark TVs, eh?"

"Smaller than atoms."

"I'd imagine."



*

My father died on November 17th, 1998, while I was in the air on a plane flying from Newark to San Francisco, coming back from having visited him for what would be my last time. He died lying on a rented hospital bed in what had been my bedroom as a boy, over the spot where my stereo used to be.

So Dad, if you read these things, and I think you probably do, I'm still trying to be a writer. I sort of am, kind of. Sort of always was like you were. But hey, let me tell you about this guy I know. You'll like this one.



*

The first time I met AudieMcCall was in San Francisco at a reading of his play, "The Sequence". He introduced me to a Pulitzer winning author who is a friend of his, and then paced around the room like a caged bengal tiger, alternately making trips to the rest room and the water fountain. He introduced me to the guy who had produced/directed his indie movie, which he wrote and played in, and which I discovered one can buy in DVD form from Amazon.com.

He was as nervous as I would probably be in that position. Famous people were about to experience his work, which in itself is somewhat controversial in its portrayal of the events that led to the first full sequencing of the human genome. NPR had set up microphones to record the event, and later, Audie was interviewed for an NPR radio show.

It was a very big deal, and not the first time for me someone with whom I was marginally acquainted was on the verge of hitting something big. I have before mentioned Diana Gabaldon, who is now doing book tours for her latest NYT bestseller. I figured at that point Audie was going to be another one who would say something nice about my work, meet me in person, and then advance on to fortune leaving me in the dust.

I still have Diana's home phone number programmed in my cell phone. She probably doesn't live there any more. I haven't tried the number in over 15 years.

Audie still lives where my cell phone says he lives. I talk to him more than Diana.

Audie is a playwright and I generally don't write plays or go to them. It's an art form with which I have had minimal contact. I have generally disliked all the professional $100/seat plays I have seen either on Broadway, in London, or in San Francisco over the past 20 years, and I did not expect to like The Sequence. The fact I found thoroughly engrossing the mere "reading" of his script by professional actors probably scared me a bit. Or a whole lot.

Audie and I were supposed to go out for beers with his Pulitzer-prize winning friend, but he wound up apologizing and taking off without me as I suspected he would seeing the caliber of the audience. Some random guy you met on the internet does not scale against a potential financier or a producer. Etc.

We shook hands, and that was it. I felt like I had just met another famous person before they were famous. Thank you, God, for my weird life.



*

Ok, let me tell you something about Audie. Audie is a big Irish guy the way I am a big Sicilian/Slovak guy. As I suspect I spend more time lifting weights than Audie, I'm a bit larger in bicep girth than he is, but he has the scar that trumps all visual toughness. Nobody is going to fuck with Audie in a bar unless they are armed and there are five of them and one of them already has him in a headlock. Yet he maintains a demeanor of disarming boyish innocence, which is the real Audie, and I suspect that were he not married, he would find himself surrounded by women most of his waking hours, and all of the others.

Audie sounds exactly like a radio disk jockey. In fact, he sounds exactly like Matt Pinfield, who DJed in the NJ/NYC area back in the 80's, and he was a regular on MTV in the 90's, and I don't know where the hell he is now, nor do I care except for the fact that every time I hear Audie's voice I expect him to be putting on the latest Ramones.

Audie is sharp. Direct. He's a man with a plan. One is never uncertain where they stand when around him. His vocal inflections are straight out of New York, though his mannerisms are, at times, pure Hollywood. His mind encompasses all known theories. One has the distinct impression that at any time he's got three or four literary/theatrical balls in the air and he's always working the angles.

He talks louder when he drinks. He is a superb judge of humanity. He sees through walls. He knows how to get what he wants from people.

One day he said to me, "Hey, I got this thing..." and it turned out to be some sort of contest and would I help him write a screenplay, by the way we only have eight days and we don't even have page one.

Of course, this is my kind of challenge as Audie well divined. So I sequestered myself, all my waking, non-money-making hours, for ten days. Audie and I traded the script back and forth, and when it was clear we weren't going to hit the deadline, Audie negotiated an extension. He got it for us. We submitted. We did pretty damned well, but we didn't win.

I had taken part in writing a 110 page script in two weeks, and for me, that was consolation prize.

Though Audie, like riverrun, assures me I should not write if I'm not being paid, and I do worry the lack of success might have soured the experience for him, the way my writing a screenplay with riverrun to the same negative effect yielded the same end game. People tend to believe in the writer in me, and then, in the end, they realize they're working with an engineer.

I think I understand the business logic in this not writing without money, thing. I have plenty of business skill in high-tech, but little intuition in the money making world of the arts. And I do not follow the precept, which is probably why, as Audie points out, he's much more successful in his endeavours than I am. Despite however good I may be at this, I'm really sort of nowhere. Writing is still a kind of socially acceptable masturbation for me. I love doing it but I have no plan for global domination. So, there are no Pulitzer prize winning authors mentoring me. No grant money. I don't even have an agent anymore after mine dropped Diana Gabaldon, picked up me, and then died regretting having done that.

Poor little iceowl baby. Boo hoo.

Yeah, fuck that.

Audie is totally right, like riverrun is right. These guys are pros and they know what it takes.

This is why my father was crying that day. He knew the way I divide my time. It goes 99.99% to my engineering job, and 0.01% to everything else. My bank account affirms, I can make a shitload of money engineering, and that's what's motivated me over the years. The lie my father told me. He thought he was doing the right thing. "Make money FIRST. THEN be a writer."

The lie was: there is no making money FIRST. It becomes your life. You NEVER become a writer. You slave for money, and then, when you get enough to stop working, it has you enslaved and your motivation to write goes to ZERO. I have been there. I know. Lucky for me, I'm broke now before I died rich and never wrote another word (can't believe I said that. Oh well. It's a fucking daylog.).

I totally get it now, Dad. This is why people like Audie and riverrun are in my life. These are good men. Zen men. Guys who honestly care about the well being of other people and know how to work for an ideal that does not involve instant financial gratification.

Real writers.

I imagine my father saying to me: "If you put as much effort into your writing as you put into engineering...just imagine where you'd be."

You were right, Dad.

I met Audie in Seattle, then. It's his berg. We ate and drank and went to his favorite bar. We ate his favorite oysters by the pier near the place he works. He told me how he'd moved his family cross country, twice, to settle in Seattle because it would be the best place for his play writing.

I'd done the same thing, though for my engineering job. It takes a certain commitment to do that, and Audie's committment to his writing is paramount. My commitment to my writing is secondary to the cash I need to drum up to keep my ego fed. I don't write for money because I make more money as a techie. And until I can have the guts to give up the gravy train, it ain't going nowhere for me.

Audie and I drank the drinks of his favorite bartender. We saluted random things and then Audie burst into song at one point. He has a very good voice. It couldn't possibly be any other way.

Because I'm built this way, I do believe my Dad helps me meet people like Audie to keep prodding me. To enrich my life in ways it cannot be enriched following the path I'm on. High cholesterol. High BP. Grinding my teeth in my sleep so badly I now need another crown, my dentist says.

Dad knows I really like writing.

I do, Dad.

So upon returning to my hometown for just over a week now, I've realized that I desperately miss the college life. Don't get me wrong, summer is awesome in that I can once again relax and stay up late and eat crappy food... but upon further inspection I've found that I never really stopped doing those things when I left for school, I just had to balance them with those pesky classes. Either way I'm back here now, and bored as hell.

My friends haven't really changed much, except maybe in their quest for harder and more mind-altering drugs. I just found out that my friend Harry is building a closet setup in which he will be growing multiple strands of Cannabis, Salvia, Psychodelic Mushrooms, and Opiates. But of course he's only going to sell them to "personal friends". I've also found that of everyone's music collections, mine's the only one that's changed from being a whole mess of Metallica and Tool. I tried playing The Arcade Fire's Funeral and Neutral Milk Hotel's In The Aeroplane Over the Sea but they all just stared at me as though I'd just played static. Oh well.

I'm currently planning a trip to Argentina to do a little skiing and a little backpacking, anything to get away from this comatose of a town. And with the Argentinian economy actually managing to be worse than ours its looking to be a rather cheap endeavor as well. My friends from school all want postcards, and so I've collected the addresses of the following:

  • Hilary
  • Ottie
  • Tasha
  • Caroline
  • Laura
  • Kate
  • Kelley
  • Shalea

Hopefully you can now start to understand why I so desperately long for summer to end.

oh, and Jake and Peter wanted me to pick up some pure Colombian cocaine, should be a breeze.

February 14, 2005. God, it feels like just yesterday I was in the trunk of a Subaru Wagon chatting up Mie and Marika. Nine months of my life is done with, nine months that is to be demarcated as spectacular from my point of view. I'm finishing up my first year at Western Washington University next Thursday and I am scared. I am homesick already. Though technically I originate from the place I am headed, I have almost no connection with it anymore except family and a few select friends there. I already feel like the social fire has burned out, leaving us all with what we have. I've got big plans for next year. I'm already a little depressed I have to leave all this behind for three months. But when I come back, I'm seizing the reigns and taking hold of my life. I've got a lot of stuff planned out, surprisingly forward-thinking compared to normal. Most normal of them all, I switched majors again, twice since I last posted. First I went to vehicle design, then to plastics engineering. PE will let me stay in the Pacific Northwest and work with composites, which is a nice set of skills as far as I am concerned.

Summer is set aside almost exclusively to work, bicycling and cooking. I applied for a job as a 'helper' at the parks dept in Kitsap, which entails good pay, 40 hours of work a week and random hours. I'm crossing my fingers for night-shifts. Why? I'm picking up a road bike around the middle of this month and a better mountain bike near the middle of summer. My grandma bought me a Giant Rincon for dirt earlier, but it won't be capable of trail-riding without me eventually breaking it. I'm looking at a Trek 1000 or the Specialized Allez for the road and a dirtjump bike of some sort for the trails (hucking looks fun), probably a Kona of some sort. Cool by me. There's plenty of trails around my hometown, too, ones that I can run for hours and have fun. The Rincon's going to have to suffice for the first month and a half, though it will need new tires. That thing's a good concrete bomber, though, so I may reserve it for campus riding. As far as cooking goes, I am picking up a Weber charcoal grill sometime early-on. Why charcoal? Can't use gas where I will be living next school year.

Fall quarter entails living in an on-campus apartment. My roomie's a friend, a geek as well. The two other people living in the apartment, while, one wants to be Batman and the other's a noder (though I can't point fingers, as I don't know his signin...). We're going to geek it the hell up, you can bet your pennies on that one. My room will have three or four computers (a laptop and a desktop per each of us), two other computers in the apartment, two PS2s, two Gamecubes, and an Xbox. Wow. Amazing. We'll end up with four bikes on the balcony, minimum, as well as my grill. Just amazingly fun sounding.

Spring Quarter and yes I skipped Winter Quarter. Not eventful for me. Spring Quarter is make it or break it for me. I'm signing up for a sprint-length triathalon that our school puts on each year and am going to attempt to place in the 1:30 range or so. Then, I will hopefully have a team organized for the annual Ski-to-Sea, a seven sport relay. Starts with a cross-country skiing portion, then a downhill skiing or snowboarding portion, then a run, then a road bike race, then a canoeing portion, then mountain biking portion and finally a sea kayaking portion. I've got someone willing to do cross-country skiing, someone possibly for downhill skiing, someone for road cycling, someone possibly for kayaking and I will do the mountain biking portion. Why? Why not! That's my opinion on it. I've specifically stated that if I organize the team, it will only be for fun. While individuals on the team might be competitive at their particular sport, we're not vying to place on the podium when it comes down to it.

Since my last entry, I followed through on my resolutions. She hasn't a feeling for me, so I dropped that quicker than you could blink. There's not been a word between us since, as we don't live in the same building. But, being the fool I am, I fell again. This time, I don't have any time to act on it, so I have to hold off. But I have a chance this fall, so it works for me. It will give me a chance to get my mind of classes once they start again.

How I profited from playing The Michigan Lottery

It's really an interesting story. It all started with a $50.00 winning Wild Time instant lottery ticket. I was just going to go to my weed man's house and get a bag, but my girlfriend Chris had an interesting idea: What if we just buy 25 more instant tickets with the fifty bucks? I thought about it for a minute and decided right there, in the gas station parking lot, that it was my destiny. To test the limits of unbeatable odds, and just go for it.

I walked back into the store, and turned in my winner. When the clerk handed me my fifty bucks I simpley said "Just give me 25 more tickets instead of the money." (Wild Time tickets are $2.00 a piece) After purchasing nearly all of the wild time tickets I went out to the car. Once me and Chris began we could not stop, it was so much fun scratching all of those tickets off. In the end, the total cash amount that we won was $250.00, not bad for a single $2.00 investment in the beginning.

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