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Remembering Memory

When I was nine and in my last year of primary school, my class was asked by Mr. Shadbolt to write an autobiography, containing all our memories of our life. At least thats what I heard. It was actually meant to be a story about our life at school, but I twisted his words a bit.

I wrote mine on my family's (that is, mine and my mothers - my father and brother had a much more powerful 386) IBM XT in FirstWord. I printed it out and using the skills I developed in a bookmaking class bound it into a nice little book. It had about twenty or so pages. The original document was saved on a 5'1/2" floppy, labeled 'Tommy 2'.

The day after I handed it in it came back to me with a Principals Sticker on it and a summons to talk to her about it in her office. This wasnt made clear to me until I was actually sitting on a couch in her office, her sitting behind her desk.

She said she was astonished that I could remember such specific details from my childhood, as early as 2-3 years old. I included memories from even earlier but these I had stated were probably from my imagination, created from photographs I looked at after I had devoured every book available to me as a young child.

I immediately responded with, "Come on, surely you must remember what you did when you were that age?"

She sent me back to my home room.

Later on, I revised that to include my Form 1 (Year 7) year that I had spent at a boarding school. I updated it one rainy weekend using Q. It had so many klugy formatting codes embedded in it from the original FirstWord document that I stripped them out using the handy MID$ function from Qbasic.
That edition was never printed. It will be somewhere on the hard disks that sit neatly on a shelf in my mum's downstairs study, which she keeps in case I ever remember my childhood 14 letter PGP passphrase.

In an alternate universe, the following appears on The Guardian's webpage on June 25, 2004:

Beckham Lynched

LISBON - David Beckham, English football star and former national icon, had the ever-loving crap beat out of him upon arriving at Heathrow Airport this morning, following a missed penalty kick that cost England their quarter-final Euro 2004 match against Portugal.

"Shit!" remarked Beckham, prior to receiving the first in a prolonged series of repeated blows to the head, torso, and groin area. The beating lasted approximately 20 minutes, after which Beckham was dragged by his mangled limbs around the terminal and finally deposited on a nearby baggage carousel.

Added Beckham, "Aaaaaaaarrgh!"

With the score locked at 2-2 after extra time, England and Portugal went to penalty kicks to break the tie. Beckham shot first for England, sending his kick over the crossbar and dooming himself to what one observer described as "one hell of an arse-kicking." Portugal went on to win the penalty round 6-5, thereby eliminating the English squad from the tournament and leaving British fans with no source of entertainment for the remainder of the summer other than reruns of Coronation Street.

Doctors estimate that Beckham will require at least six months of recovery time before he is able to play again; meanwhile, investigators have placed the property damage figures at somewhere around £8,000, approximately £5,000 of which will go towards replacing Beckham's manicure.


(Actually I have nothing against David Beckham (and I quite like the BBC), but I don't think he's terribly popular in England at the moment. On a related note, an audio recording of one Portuguese commentator's reaction to the final goal of the match can be found here - I personally like the little song he sings).

If you're reading this, Amy, I'm very, very sorry.

I gave in to temptation tonight.

I miss my ex. You know how they say that getting over someone takes at a minimum half the length of your relationship, and that the heartbreak you feel gets better with time? Lemme tell ya something - the more time goes by where you don't feel any better, at all, the more you feel like you missed out on something truly unique and that, no matter whose fault the whole disintegration was, you feel like you blew it.

It's been...10 months. That's coming up on a third of what it was.

So tonight, I hacked into her email account. I'm not going to make up any stupid justifications for WHY - I'm out of her life and I don't want to be, so I was living vicariously through my computer. Mea Culpa.

It wasn't really 'hacking' in any real sense - I know the password and she hasn't changed it. I haven't looked since we broke up - I thought that was courtesy (and it was, to a degree) but in reality it was mostly out of fear of what I'd find.

And oh dear. What I found made me cry.

She's living with an old best friend of mine, a friend I introduced her to after we broke up. That sucks, but what sucks more is that...she loves him. A lot. He's a childish asshole with a drug problem that he sees her as the solution to...and she loves him. I don't understand it, but...there it is.

In my head, I had this vision. I envisioned her, at some point, realizing what she'd left behind and coming back here. That's what happens in the movies, right? I'm like Rob Gordon...except I don't get the girl back in the end and am working a job I've sunk my all into because I've...got...nothing...else.

- - -

There's this line from a movie I can't get out of my head and I can't quite place it. One guy laments his girl problems to the other, and the other says "Well, you know, it's better to have loved and lost..." and the first guy looks him straight in the eye and says "Oh yeah? TRY IT."

Ignorance truly is bliss, at least temporarily, and curling up in bed has never sounded quite so good.

Memories. They come back to me sometimes for no apparent reason. No free-associative thought behind them, they just bubble up.

I remember the first time I drove a vehicle. It was my dad's Chevy Blazer, the one I'm still driving today, back in 1988 when it was new and unblemished. I was 15 and didn't have a learner's permit yet, but he allowed me to get the feel for driving in the parking lot of our local GE plant. The parking lot was huge, it was a Sunday and there weren't any other cars around. My little sister was with us, as I recall. Mostly I drove around in circles within that parking lot, but never got out onto the open road. So, while it was technically my first time to drive, I never really considered it a real driving experience. But it was fun, nonetheless.

The first real driving experience I had was a year later, at the age of 16, when I was living with my mother in Dallas. My older brother was going to college in Lubbock and Mom and I took a road trip across the state of Texas to visit him for Spring break. The entire way there she drove. It was the trip back, though, where she decided that she was too tired to drive the whole way. I still didn't have a driver's license nor a learner's permit, but she felt confident that I would do okay behind the wheel of her car, a 1986 Toyota Carolla station wagon, on the open stretch of road.

I was nervous, I found much to my surprise, to finally be out on the open road. I had dreamed of actually driving a vehicle, getting from point-A to point-B by means of automotive locomotion. I guess it's something that all young teens want to do at some point. And even though I definitely wanted to drive, even though Dad had expressed full confidence years earlier while watching my prowess on car-driving arcade games, I was still nervous as hell. And it showed.

The first few minutes behind the wheel, my driving was kind of... not exactly erratic, but jerky. I gripped the steering wheel tightly, my knuckles gone white with the tension I felt as I held onto the wheel for dear life, and I couldn't seem to get a feel for travelling at speeds in excess of 60 MPH. The whole time, for those first few minutes, Mom just silently watched me with a bemused expression on her face. I couldn't tear my eyes away from the road to really see this smile that she wore at my expense, but I could see it in my peripheral vision.

"It's not funny!" I protested as a Mack truck zoomed past us, which made me tense up even more. "I've never done this before!"

"Relax, Jeremy. Just relax."

"I can't," I groused. "I keep getting mental images of one of those Mack trucks ploughing us into the asphalt and I am reminded of those twisted driver's ed movies they show to people who get a ticket. You know: 'Red Asphalt' and 'Blood on the Highway.' I can't concentrate!" I felt a shiver run down my spine as my imagination kept churning out visions of horror and gore in my head.

"What do you like to do most?" Mom asked me conversationally.

"Your son, who doesn't have a driver's license, is driving a car, your car, with visions of automotive catastrophe dancing in his head and you're asking him what he likes to do most?" I chanced a quick glance at my mother to show my incredulity. "Are you nuts?"

"No. I'm serious. Nuts was me, back in the 70's, when you were living with your dad and I was trying to put my life back together. Just answer the question: what do you feel most comfortable doing?" She pointed to the side of the road. "Here. Pull over a minute."

"Gladly!" I sighed. I was under the impression that she had taken mercy on me and decided to drive the rest of the way. I was silently thanking my lucky stars. When I finally pulled over to the side of the road, I turned off the engine and started to unstrap the seatbelt.

"Where are you going?" Mom asked me.

"Uhm... I thought you wanted to drive instead," I answered lamely. This would prove to be a pattern with me that would, later in life, be very difficult to break: I hadn't taken a cue from the woman beside me before making a move myself. I should have remained strapped in the seatbelt to find out what she had in mind first.

"Don't be silly," Mom said blandly. "We're having a conversation. And you still haven't answered my question."

I stared at her stupidly for a moment and then finally decided to just get this over with, prove that I was unfit for driving her car and get back into the safety of the passenger seat. "Right. The thing I love to do most. I guess that would be my music. I love playing piano. You know that."

She nodded and then closed her eyes in deep thought for a moment. Finally, she opened them and said, "All right, then. When you're driving, imagine you're playing the piano."

Again, I stared stupidly at her. "I beg your pardon? Driving and playing piano are about as related as fucking and washing dishes." I had only been under my mother's roof for eight months at that point, but already she'd taught me how to cuss admirably. My language had gotten looser under her peculiar household rules, but I had gained a certain sort of confidence at being able to express myself without worry of remonstration.

Mom laughed at that. "All right. You have a point there, but at the same time, you're dead wrong. When I say you should drive like you're playing piano, I don't mean the physical act of playing piano, per se. I'm talking about how you feel when you play piano. I've seen you do it: you relax completely and all the worries of the world disappear. It's like you're somewhere else and you're fully focused on that piano. It's your entire world. So... try to recall those same feelings when you're driving. Put your mind into the same zone you're in when you're playing piano."

I looked back out the windshield as I thought it over for a moment. Cars continued to zoom on by briskly, not a single one of their inhabitants aware of the fact that my mother had just taught me a very valuable lesson in concentration that I would carry with me even to this day. As I turned her advice over and over in my mind, as I envisioned myself fondling those ivory keys at that moment, something extraordinary happened: I relaxed. Just the thought of playing my music caused me to release some of the fear and tension which had ruled me just a moment before. I closed my eyes as I imagined my fingers dancing across the board of a baby grand, the action smooth and quick to my touch. I began to imagine notes and melodies in my head and I think I actually felt the wisp of a smile play across my lips.

I didn't see her do it, but my mother reached over and twisted the ignition key. As soon as the engine revved to life, I opened my eyes and felt a renewed sense of calm flow over me. Where I was fearful just a moment before, I now felt confident. Where I felt distracted, I now had focus.

I grabbed the wheel of the car, checked the mirrors, put my foot to the gas and, a few seconds later, the car seemed to drive itself out onto the highway. Less than a minute later, we were trucking along at 75 MPH and the wheel seemed to obey my every thought and command. I was driving. And, more importantly, I was no longer afraid.

"Next year," mother mused quietly a short time later after she awoke from a nap, still alive while I ate up many miles of road and hummed to myself softly. "Next year we'll get you enrolled in a driver's ed course and get you a driver's license." In truth, that happened two years later, but her suggestion had been a hell of an ego boost.

My mother has done only a few things in my life which I am very grateful for. That, hands down, rates in the Top Ten of the best things my mother ever taught me.

I am going to do my best to put into words a feeling that I experience sometimes - a feeling I have experienced recently. The problem is the words are hard to find, as it is a most unusual feeling and one I've never heard anybody else talk about.

Sometimes while sitting around - at the computer, if you will - I'll get the odd sensation that I am no longer completely part of the world. I'll feel like I'm somehow above it and I'll experience what I can only describe as a vibration. It's not exactly a vibration, but that's the best word that I can use to describe this feeling of my relationship with my body and the rest of the world. Anyway, also accompanying this is a notion that I am suddenly seeing, hearing, feeling the word partially objectively, seeing it, at least somewhat, for what it really is - seeing it in a way that nobody else - and I, most of the time - cannot.

This creates a little light-headedness - again this is the best term I can come up with for it is not exactly what you would think of as feeling light-headed. I continue to function normally while this is going on - I just keep typing along or whatever I'm doing. But, as I described earlier, for several moments I'll feel partially detached from my body and the world. My body becomes more of a thing that just responds to my commands and it is not actually me. For that brief moment it is just part of the world I am somewhat seeing objectively.

An obvious comparison to this is that it is like I am having an out of body experience as some individuals claim to experience sometimes. But no, it's not like that - well, I don't think it is, as I have never had that particular experience. I don't feel like I am floating above and out of my body and up to the ceiling or sky. It's more of just a feeling of viewing reality differently. I hesitate to say it is enlightenment, as I don't fear very enlightened afterward.

I just feel...strange.

If anybody else has experienced this, please /msg me. I have only talked to one other person who has.

"Fantasy movies are for people who can't handle reality," my father said scornfully when Braunbeck asked him why he flatly refused to watch any of the Lord of the Rings movies.

Set aside for a moment that this was a phenomenally rude thing to say; Braunbeck makes a significant part of his living writing fantasy and horror, and I seek to do the same. My father bloody well knows this. That little comment was on par with saying "I'd never send my kid to a public school -- you can't get a good education at a place like that!" in front of someone you know is a public schoolteacher.

But the rudeness is irrelevant, so we'll set it aside and focus on the hypocrisy of his statement.

I could have accepted it a little better if my father were someone like my past housemate who didn't like reading fiction at all and stuck with nonfiction on the grounds that she only wanted to read about "real" things. It's a fair enough sentiment, and she didn't go around scorning other people's reading tastes.

But my father reads fiction. Furthermore, he has a huge collection of opera and Shakespeare DVDs.

And, gosh, opera is so realistic. Shakespeare, too. I mean, "The Magic Flute" is all about, uh, the gritty realism of trying to be a flute player! And Wagner's "The Ring of the Nibelung" is about a ring that grants the power to rule the world, and it's totally real and non-magical! And Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" contains absolutely no portrayals of fairies or anything imaginary. All the characters are real! Honest.

Yeah. Sure.

So I can only conclude he said what he said in an effort to belittle our chosen professions. Or he's got a really wacky idea of what constitutes reality, and being able to deal with it.

And to think I got him a Father's Day card anyway ....

So, I've been thinking about porking a chick lately. That would be pretty cool, although I'm not sure if I want to pork her the old-fashioned way or in the new fangled edgy modern way.

I guess you can just get into a car with a chick and pork her right there, in a parking lot or maybe on a hill or at some well known "make out spot." I'm not sure how cool that is, though, really. Seems like you don't have much room to spread out and experiment with each other's hot bodies. You could get a charlie horse or get an ankle caught under the dash. You can pork a chick in a bed, but that has been done to death. Beds are for sleeping, mostly, although you can do some comfortable porking there and be able to spread out a bit and try some different combinations. Porking in cheap motels rocks.

Sometimes you can work up a sweat when you are porking a chick. There was that fellow that once sang about bodies slapping from doing the wild thing. Once bodies start slapping, you could start sweating or might emit noises of some kind. Some of these noises can be a turn-on while others can be a turn-off depending on tastes and whatnot.

Usually you don't go straight into porking right off the bat. There are fun things you can do first involving touching and putting your mouth into nooks and crannies and so forth. That's always tops with me, that part of the porking, because you can be creative and experimental, especially if this is a chick you haven't porked before or have had limited porking sessions with. If the chick is married to some other guy, that makes it more fun because married couples have boring porking sessions. They usually plan them out and then ask each other dumb questions like, "So, do you want to pork now?" And the response is usually, "Right after I finish watching Three Men and a Baby." Also, the film Ghost with Patrick Swayze is a favorite of bored married chicks. Married dudes only watch action movies and slapstick comedy.

I'd like to pork a chick with a really cute butt, or at least I think I would like to. A nice round, curvy butt would be great to hold onto during porking. Sometimes I like it when the chick wears special outfits, but naked is pretty cool also, especially if she looks good naked. Then the porking gets kind of intense and the sweating begins again. Noise and sweat are often the sign of a good porking session. When the chick falls asleep during the porking it is a bad sign. Chicks often fall asleep during old-fashioned porking because it doesn't have the variety or the edginess of modern porking. There is a lot to be said for technique.

Old-fashioned porking can be decent, especially if you are rushed for time or both parties are into being animalistic about it. Just throw down and pork away. At other times you want the experience to be memorable, so you have to dangle some carrots and make them dance. When you get edgy, like porking parties do in the modern era, you don't want to get too fancy. You want to save some for later. Test the waters and see what flavors your friend in porking likes. Also, remember that what works for one chick isn't always true with others. You might have porked this chick last week that liked you to call her nasty names like "slut" and "bitch" last week, but this week's chick might be insulted and slap you for calling her these kinds of names. Also, not every chick likes being slapped on the buttocks, although it is fun to do so.

So, go forth and pork someone if you have a chance. Some dudes like to pork other dudes and some chicks like to pork other chicks, and that's cool as well as long as you are getting your groove on. Show your genitals some other genitals tonight and mix and mingle, but please protect yourself. Don't get anyone pregnant you don't want to have a baby with and don't get any diseases because that wrecks porking on you for a long time.

Sex, drugs, and Rock & Roll
Speed, weed, and birth control
Life sucks and then you die
Screw the world, and let's get high...

because I can't make you love me if you don't, I can't make your heart feel something it won't...

Groaning, I roll out of bed and fumble with the buttons to shut the radio off. I am so sick of that goddamn Bonnie Rait song. The only station my alarm radio will get plays that song at 9:00am every day which is exactly when I wake up most days. I need some pills to combat this killer headache I've woken up with. Popping two excedrin, I catch my reflection in the mirror. My hair is tangled and messy, my eyes smudged and dirty with last nights makeup, and I've got hickeys on my neck and shoulders.

In the shower I always feel good, no matter how bad things are. I wash away the smells of stale booze and sex this morning, smiling a little at my memories. Leaning against the wall with the water beating down on me I ask myself why this is all happening. The past few weeks have been insane. I have been living with one man, screwing two, and I think I am in love with both. John left our bed for work this morning at 5:30, Brad left the couch for his work and hometown shortly after. I dry off, and walk out to the living room to smoke a cigarette. One of Brad's shirts is still on the floor with my pants, underwear, and bra. Ashing in various empty bottles or cans around the living room, I pick up my clothes and put the bong away. I'll have to remind Brad to take his clothes and extra shoes with him when he comes back to see me next Friday night. Four and a half days till I see him again.

Bored, I take the bong out and do a couple hits before putting it back away under the sink. I turn the radio on 104.7 The Wolf. I Feel Like Making Love by Bad Company is on. I laugh. Brad made me a CD with that song on it as well as some other favorites. Sweet Leaf, Hello I Love You, All of My Love, are some of the songs. Its a good CD. I think I will clean up the house some, it will make John happy to come home to our house clean. I turn up the radio, and wash the pile of dishes in the sink. Moving on to the living room, I count the emptys as I throw them away. Thirteen are Brads beer cans, ten are my Smirnoff Twisteds. I throw away empty blunt wrap tubes, empty prescription bottles, empty pizza boxes.

The living room is clean now, so I sit down at the computer. E2 or DAOC? I kill time, smoking, waiting for John to come home. I hear the front door to our apartment building open. John walks in to see me sitting still naked at the computer. "Hey babe, you have anyone here with you? We can go to bed right now if you want." I say to him. He has Luke from work waiting outside, so I have to get dressed. Luke is cute. I had a sex dream with him in it the other night, but he was very annoying in it. Before Luke can come up, I go outside to join him in smoking a cigarette. We talk of his problems with my sister, and how all she cares about is having a good time. Personally, I agree with her. Thats all I am out for right now and I tell him so. That's why I get fucked up every weekend and carry on with Brad on the couch while John sleeps. John doesn't care. Maybe "have a good time, fuck everything else" isn't the best philosophy to live by.

The Opening Night of Farenheit 9/11

We parked on the street and marched toward the Chase Park Plaza,

"White House"

(no "W" in White House) splashed across our chests. We passed a restaurant with finely dressed patrons dining. Central West End in St. Louis, Missouri contains a funny mix of old money with young urban professionals with students.

Spirit ran high in the theater, where we all felt finally united behind the cause of ridding our administration of the Bush group in November, a cause in which we have found ourselves in the minority for so long. People of a variety of ages, races and backgrounds had come to see the movie. Some people were dressed up; some wore their hippie attire; a few had shirts with slogans as we did.

One woman had voter registration cards and was going down the line giving them to unregistered voters to fill out. Some men from the Human Rights Campaign, www.hrc.org, gave out stickers that read, "George W. Bush: You're Fired!"

We had done well to buy tickets online earlier, as both 10 p.m. shows, as well as all the other shows for the evening, had already sold out. The theater had added a midnight show since viewing demand ran so high, and that sold out as well.

We all talked and giggled and enjoyed the camraderie of the others waiting to see the show. A feeling of unification behind a good cause prevailed. We sat in the theater and the movie began.

The movie was presented in chronological order. It started with the 2000 presidential elections. Apparently, all the news stations projected Al Gore as the winner of Florida, but then Fox News decided George W. Bush would be the victorious one. The other stations followed suit. But wait until you find out who was behind the ruling of Fox News's winner projection. Whoa!

Michael Moore then presents the links between the Bush and bin Laden family, then the events of September 11 and how the Bush family reacted. He discusses how some Bush administration members have benefitted financially from the war in Iraq.

Like previous films, such as "Roger and Me," Moore relies on contrast to lead the viewer to draw conclusions. He intertwines clips concerning the financial benefit of those associated with the Bush administration with stories of American soldiers who have suffered and died in the war with the grief of these families with the hardships of the Iraqi people with just enough comic relief.

I learned surprisingly little from the movie. Knowing the director's obvious bias, I had tried to go in with a somewhat skeptical attitude of what I would be presented in an attempt to fill my brain with a balanced view of whatever new facts I learned. I was shocked when I realized that this highly controversial movie, boycotted by some groups, simply presented mostly what I'd already learned just by reading a variety of media sources from news.google.com for several years. These facts have already been presented to the American people. Why is this pieced-together story such a shock now?

Additionally, I was surprised at how much Moore did not have time to cover in the movie. What about our failing relationship with longtime United States allies, and the huge debt our country will incur as a result of this war, and the ignoring of the war protests all over our nation and all over the world? What about the fact that prisoners have been held in horrific conditions at Guantanamo Bay for over two years, and as of a couple of weeks ago, only three have even been charged with a crime? I felt that another whole movie could be created with entirely different information that would equally explain the case against the war.

The audience reacted surprisingly little to the movie, as we were all mesmerized by hearing the bits and pieces of all the horrors of these past 4 years, finally put together in a chronological order. Laughter ensued more than once at Bush's, uh, eloquent grasp of use of the English language. The mention of the Carnahan vs. Ashcroft election of November 2002 brought applause to this theater of Missourians.

I was armed with Diet Coke, as I usually go to bed by the time the movie started, as well as a nice thick stack of Kleenexes. Boy, did I need them! I could not cry for the most tragic of cases, the Iraqi people desparately scraping at post-bomb building rubble with bare hands in an attempt to unbury their families and neighbors, or the babies with body parts blown off. These scenes left me numb; they showed tragedy on degrees of order beyond what I have ever felt, beyond what we normally see in this country. It was the American mother in her living room, reading the last letter from her son who was killed two weeks after reading it, that sent me over the edge, and I could not stop weeping.

Why did it take this movie, and the coverage of the prison scandal at Abu Ghraib, to start getting people angry?

Where was the concern

- when we previously heard about Dick Cheney's link with Halliburton,
- when the war casualty count continually rose,
- when the administration tried to block the media from showing pictures of American soldiers' coffins,
- when we all saw someone we knew sent to Iraq,
- when CIA operative Valerie Plame's name was leaked in response to the criticism of her husband Joseph Wilson of the administration,
- when Bush made the false claim that Iraq had attempted to obtain uranium from Niger,
- when no Weapons of Mass Destruction were found,
- when the Iraqi people went week after week without water supplies or electricity restored after our attacks,

and in so many other recent situations?

We left the movie not with a feeling of victory, not with an increased hatred of Bush, but with a sense of urgency that something needed to be done, with a longing for a country with a reasonable foreign policy. We recognized the parts of the film where some conclusions of Moore's seemed unfair; the past couple of years have honed our skills at seeing through bias as we have viewed the American media. All in all, no matter on which side of the political situation you stand, you will want to see this film.

This upcoming election is important.

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