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I get my mail before anyone else does. I live three or four blocks away from a huge Canada Post outlet. Today, in the mail, I got an envelope from a teacher I had, in twelfth grade.

In it was a page cut out of the 1997-98 yearbook, attached by paperclip to a note. The note said, "Remember this guy?" It was a picture of me.

I remember him. I remember he did way too much drugs, and didn't go to a whole lot of class. I remember he had oily skin, a huge mop of long, black hair, and a love of metal. When he did go to school, he usually skipped class and hung around in the cafeteria.

I have grown up a lot since that guy, but I remember him well. Sometimes I see him. I see his mark on me, and it's a good thing.

His skin was young, too, and now I have smile lines. The gray hair is starting already, but this is no surprise. My mother started graying at eighteen. But it's startling, when you wake up on morning and dark circles that never existed stand sentinel below each eye. It's startling when you start to realize that your time here is finite.

I've changed, grown up. I'm smarter. I might even be wiser. I am still able to laugh and climb on things. The smile lines hide under my beard. The gray hair's been bleached clean. I'm still young, I know that, but goddammit, I never wanted to be a grown-up; but it's been worth it. And I still love metal.

Besides--maybe, just maybe, my time's not finite here at all.

Today is my third E2 anniversary. Thanks for coming.

The estimated time of arrival corset holiday-homes. Those are the concepts passing through my mind as I think of the news. Tuna seems to feature heavily in the news reports. Tuna and metal. I think of Robert Shaw in 'The Taking of Pelham One Two Three', because that took place on a train. I should be weepy-sad about the people in Madrid but I am not, because I am numbed to this kind of thing. It was in the news all the time when I was young. When I was young I wondered why the IRA were bombing the UK; did they want us to move to Norway? I am more sophisticated now, smarter. Of course the IRA didn't want us to move to Norway. No. They actually wanted to stop the people of Norway from moving to Ireland. The UK just happened to be in the middle, that's all.

When I think of the word 'basque' I think of an attractive lady wearing a basque, an item of underwear rather like a corset. You think the same thing as well, it's just that you're not likely to admit it. When I think of Milan I think of elegant people wearing fashionable clothes. Notwithstanding that the ETA have actually bombed Madrid, I nonetheless think of Milan. The two names are similar. In that respect the ETA are winning the battle for my mind, because they have made me think of something compelling, in this case a lady in her underwear presiding over disaster. The word 'basque' when used to describe underwear derives from that of the Basque people, who apparently wore these things in antiquity. I do not know if we get the word 'pantaloon' from the people of Pantalonia, or whether we have derived the word 'corset' from the people of Corsica.

However, the point I am trying to make, the point, is that although the ETA have attracted and managed to continue to attract my attention with their mental images of women in corsetry and also injured people, they have not enlightened me of their message. They have won my mental election, but failed to inform me of their policies; indeed they may have made a conscious decision to avoid mentioning their policies for fear of alienating my mental constituents. I suppose a balance must be reached between winning the battle on the one hand, and winning the subsequent peace on the other. It's not enough to pass a driving test; in order to get from A to B one needs to drive a car thereafter.

And this is where the ETA have failed. I am aware of them. Right now, I think of them. I think of Spanish women in their underwear, with frills. I do not think of Basque independence. Rather than plant bombs of my own, I instead visit HeavenlyBodice.com, a website where one can purchase basques and look at photographs of women wearing basques. It would appear that a basque costs £37 pounds. I do not know how much it would cost to hire the model who appears in Heavenly Bodice's photographs, probably much more.

She seems to be smiling a lot, this woman. In those photographs where her face is visible, she is almost always smiling. She is smiling because she has been told to smile, and if she does not smile the company will hire another model who does smile. The latest death toll is 192, which makes me think of Blink 192, a pop band. Again, the ETA have failed. They have failed because their assault is a monomedia assault. They made use of only one media, that of explosives. And explosives are not enough. They are impactful, but they impart very little information other than that the bombers wish to kill the bombees from a temporal and physical distance. The subtleties of policy are wiped out by explosives.

Of course the bombs might have been planted by some other group. We will probably never know for sure. Even when we know, there will be people who say we are wrong.

How do you grieve for someone who you didn't really like? I'm struggling with that issue right now, and strangely enough, I'm truly grieving. I'm finding out that agreeing with and always liking someone are entirely different things than valuing and respecting that person.

Jack was hit by a car about a month ago. Jack died a week ago. I can't believe I'm even thinking this, but the world is a lesser place with Jack gone.

I knew Jack through Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings. Jack was known as one of the AA Nazis, a term we used for those who were very zealous about interpreting AA principles in their narrowest sense. In real life, that meant that Jack didn't like to talk about anything in AA meetings except drinking alcohol or the AA program. Jack didn't like people in the meetings talking about addictions other than alcohol, life problems that only tangentally related to alcoholism, or and beliefs that weren't specifically addressed in the AA program.

Jack was rough spoken, rude at times, not very clean, and uneducated. He was everything I didn't like. We disagreed on almost everything we ever talked about. Jack had lived a tough life, with few advantages and many hardships. Jack had worked as a commercial fisherman for many years, only lately retiring and living off odd jobs. He wasn't very lovable, but I'm surprised to be saying that I loved Jack.

Jack appealed to those who came into the AA rooms for help, but couldn't see themselves hugging anyone. Jack's appearance, manner, and words were those of a man who'd fought life every step of the way, and found a way to surrender to the AA program while keeping his rough edges intact. Jack was proud of those rough edges, and they were what made him Jack. Jack helped alot of people find sobriety who might not have stayed in the program if he hadn't been there.

I remember a meeting where I was extremely upset about something. I remember crying (as many people do) as I spoke during the meeting, and my feeling of being helpless, different, and hopeless. After the meeting Jack came up and enfolded me in his huge, rather smelly embrace. That hug, from the man who didn't hug people, made all the difference in the world to me that day. That day I needed Jack and he was there.

Goodbye Jack. I didn't like you very often, and I agreed with you even less, but I loved you and I'm glad I knew you.

at the bottom of a deep pit under a thick layer of piss and shit most of it of its own making, a heart faintly beats in a final denial of fate. suspended in jellied excrement blinding eyes blunting touch plugging ears filling the mouth with pus deleting memory from scent the heart searches. the last strands of tissue grasp for attachment to something realizes there is blood close by. capillaries next. viens arteries lungs diaphram nerves bone spine. spine. heart plugs in to the grid time is running out.

bone found tendon found muscle found skin found

the heart sends a signal.

signal sent signal received success musculoskeletal sensors begin activation sequence

a grunt breaks the crust. chunks slide off the rising back. a mind regaining mindfulness. a body regaining control. expelling the effluvia eyes blinking and seeing darkness but knowing they can see. breathing in the stench in huge sucking gulps but knowing it can now breathe. it is not done. hearing its echoed breath it knows where it is and what it must do. the naked body stands upright peeled froom a barbed-wire womb. far above it a speck of light invades the pit. the heart sends a signal.

climb climb now

the body gropes for a wall and finds purchase. slowly up a fetid wall of broken hopes it climbs slips climbs again heading for a light it can't see. it is climbing blind. but it is climbing nonetheless.

Another birthday has come, and according to server time, has already gone. But I've got a few minutes left of it to record what I did today for posterity. Normally, I wouldn't do this since I did very little. However I made dinner tonight with a few E2 recipes and thought I should record the menu and how everything came out.

We had:
Beer battered fish and shrimp
Sticky toffee pudding with vanilla ice cream
and drank prosecco, although one person chose to go with beer.

The salad was simple. I was going to do something with avocado, but a ripe avocado was not to be found. So instead: Red leaf lettuce, vine-ripened cherry tomatoes, scallions, sectioned blood oranges. The dressing was blood orange juice, lime juice, scallions, parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, and olive oil. I had a hard boiled egg taking up space in the fridge, so I cut it into wedges and added it.

The fish was great. The batter was just enough for 2lbs. of dover sole and just over a pound of large shrimp. WAAAAAY too much food for 3 people, but just think of the fish sandwiches tomorrow! Lometa's recipe leads to an unbelievably light, crisp batter. Nothing glutenous or dense about it. So very yummy. I let the oil get too hot at one point, but otherwise, it was easy enough. Oooh, I do love beer battered fish! Must do this again.

Lometa's tartar sauce is delicious as well. I didn't really measure the ingredients. 1 tbsp. of chopped gherkin pickle is, after all, about 1 pickle! I eyeballed everything, and it was perfect. I do love a recipe where you can do that!

Nothing much to say about the bread. I bought a loaf of freshly baked multigrain from the supermarket and stuck it in the oven while I was frying the fish. Warm bread is a necessity, not a luxury.

Mmmm, sneff's sticky toffee pudding is really really good. Absolutely massive bang for cooking effort buck. I baked it in a 10'' round cake pan because I don't have a 10''x8'' pan and even with my poor math ability, I figured out that the volume was within an acceptible range.

The 'pudding' is a moist cake, with sweet, chewy dates adding little bursts of Sweet! Sticky!. It isn't, however, that sticky or that toffee, until one adds that egregious toffee sauce. I can imagine eating the 'pudding' straight, as a nice snack. We had it tonight with a side of vanilla ice cream. Mmmm....

The sauce. Oh, my the sauce. There is so much of it! A whole quart left! My family tends to go easy on the sweets, so we've only used a few tablespoons of it. I imagine it is just killer all by itself over ice cream and will store it in the fridge for just that purpose. I used dark brown sugar, and it's absolutely lovely.

Bought myself a new betta today. $3. White body, frosty blue fins, and intelligent black eyes. Also, received a check from the parental units. Presents are nice, and cash presents are even nicer since they and I both know what I want, and they and I both know I can get it cheaper and more easily than they. Amazon.com here I come!

yclept sings softly to herself: ''Happy birthday to meeeee, happy birthday to meeeee, happy birthday dear mee-eee, happy birthday tooo meeeeee....''

Hokkaido, Japan
from the foreign female perspective
Day : 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

We got up quite early to catch breakfast at the hotel, which, much to my everlasting delight, included 焼きそば and omelet, two of my favorite Japanese foods. Even the yaki soba commercial where the spokesman is wearing a Michigan State T-shirt can’t dampen my love for the stuff, and I have been a fan of tamago sushi for as long as I’ve known of its existence. Of course Aaron unearthed more ketchup, which meant he stuck to fried potatoes, scrambled eggs, and other home favorites.

We went back to the room so Aaron could sleep, and I think I read for a bit. We were interrupted when the cleaning lady knocked a little before 10, and I bundled Aaron out of bed before opening the door. I asked her to come back later, but after five minutes the futon man stopped by, asking if he could change our linens and put the futons back in the storage area. I gave up defending our turf at that point, telling Aaron it was time to get out and about anyways, so I let the futon man in and he went about his business. He then said the cleaning lady wanted to come in soon, and I told him it was fine. Aaron and I were busy packing up stuff to take on a little hike through 大雪山国立公園 to see the lovely snow and mountains, and were on our way out soon enough.

It was really cold outside. Really cold. But it was snowing big fluffy flakes that stuck to my eyelashes as I turned my face up to the sky, laughing, thinking of home. I hate to think that I might waste my time missing Michigan, but it was good to feel snow on my face and under my feet again.

We walked towards the ropeway that would supposedly take us up through the park, but the wind had picked up and visibility was sucking, so it was closed. Aaron and I decided to follow the highway towards 河の滝 (Ginga no Taki) and 流星の (Ryuusei no Taki), two of the most beautiful waterfalls anywhere. The sidewalks were inadequately paved, but according to our map the falls were practically right behind the hotel. After walking for only a few minutes, we found an old metal bridge that led into the woods.

Unfortunately, the bridge led to a path which led to some random hotel. No waterfalls. So we continued walking.

And walking.

And walking.

Pretty soon the stupids hit. I really had to use the bathroom, it was really cold, but there was no way I was turning back. Aaron discovered that the snow was exactly perfect for making snowballs, so we started scooping up handfuls of clean snow from the guardrail along the way and beaning road signs, trees, and each other. We found an awesome rock that had its own trees growing on it, and the whole sight entranced Aaron to the point that he exposed his camera to the increasingly heavy snow to get a picture.

I think we ended up walking about 2km in at least calf-deep snow (sometimes knee-deep) before reaching a sign that announced we were now in the Park. After nearly turning back several times out of hopelessness, we had made it! A few steps farther, and we found a sign displaying the names of the waterfalls. I peered eagerly past the sign, but couldn’t see more than twenty feet in front of me due to the formidable snowstorm that had sprung up around us. All that walking, and we couldn’t see a thing.

However, I’m glad we went. Even though the walk back consisted of being pelted by miniscule needles of pain digging into my cheeks and eyes, I still had a good time. But I was glad to see the hotel again, and visit the warm potty seat.

That long hike definitely called for a nap afterwards, and we barely woke up in time for dinner. It was delicious yet again, and again, I couldn’t eat everything. This time we were presented with a bowl of crab legs still in their shells, causing much frustration and quite a mess. I’ve never been in the habit of eating seafood at home, so I don’t have much experience prying things apart in any sort of dignified manner. We also had more なべ of slightly different ingredients, different 刺身 served on a platter with a cute little goblet containing a fancy dollop of わさび, and several other mysterious dishes. One was actually quite tasty, though I have no clue what it was. The only way to describe it is a crunchy, chewy tan-colored glob that crunched and cracked with unpleasant sounds when I took a spoon to it, and it had a tiny square of cucumber stuck in the top. The whole concoction was served in a little lidded cup and covered in some sort of clear, thick sauce, vaguely resembling an egg white. It had some sort of filling, though I can’t even begin to guess what it was.

We went to the gift shop afterwards, where I selfishly bought stuff for myself, and a little black and red maneki neko stuffed animal for Aaron. I couldn’t work up the courage to face the stares at the onsen again, so we spent the evening playing with a remote control Mario from N64’s Super Mario Kart that Aaron had bought.

And that concludes Day 5 of kaytay’s Hokkaido travels.

Day : 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

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