Today I'm listening to a song by P.O.D called Youth of the Nation. It's a story of a victim of a school shooting, but it has this tone that fills me with a bittersweet hope, with this message of youth and hope for a better future.

This morning I opened up USA Today, and I saw this picture from 1984. This young woman whose picture graced the cover of National Geographic, the Afghan lady with piercing eyes. It's their most famous picture. Eyes may be the windows to the soul, what could hers mean?

I unfolded the newspaper, and gazed intently. Her eyes were an amazing shade of blue. It was like a character from Dune. I saw traces of fear, some of sedate wonder. Her face was young, it had no wrinkles. She had part of a purdah, covering the rest of her body, leaving her face exposed for the camera, for perhaps a brief moment.

Alongside her picture was another, of an older woman. She also had piercing eyes, the same hue. The caption stated that both photos were of the same woman, as she was finally found. The original photo circulated around the globe, along with a story of, I think the Taliban's treatment of women. People wanted to interview her, but she was not found, disappeared into the crowd.

Days ago, she was rediscovered, and a newer photo of her was taken. Here she was in her twenties, but had wrinkles, and a weatherbeaten face. The haunted look in her eyes was still there. I felt like touching the page, here was someone young who has seen a lot of the problems of this world.

It's not often an image like that touches me, even though I know so little of her, or her life.

Later that night, I turned the TV on to the 10 o'clock news, settling down with a mug of milk and some cookies. Yes, crime against women is up in the city, and an elderly senile man has been missing for two days. I listened with a sense of detachment. If I pondered it for a moment, I would have muttered "That's bad" and noted it in my mind like a simple fact or statistic, no feeling needed.

What I saw next shook me deeply within. A videocamera of a young man, with his mother. He was wearing military fatigues, carrying a gun. The newscaster went on to describe the "shocking details" of a mother raising a suicide bomber. The translator dubbed over the woman, where she said "If I had 100 children, I would want them to all die for Allah." She gave the boy a kiss, while he looked into the camera with a stony-faced expression, perhaps an imperceptible smirk in the corner of his lips.

I sat up. Looked at him. I found myself inexplicably glued to his image. Dear God, I felt like shouting, he's a kid! He looks 17, my age. How can this be? He looked...normal, average, like I could see him in my school. Sorta tall and thin, with short, close-cropped hair. Here is someone my age, faced with making a life and death decision.

I would have given anything to talk to him. Get to know him, what motivates him. Maybe he had some hobby, perhaps he liked reading, or playing music. He could have a girlfriend, enjoy staying at his friend's house, hanging out and listening to a radio station together. Maybe he had plans once, to take a bus and see the city, go on a pilgrimmage, drive something.

This was a person my age. I've read about serial killers, soldiers in war who kill in cold blood. When you're young, everyone like that is older than you. You are the young innocent kid, who hasn't had the chance to make mistakes like that. Staring at the screen, i felt my own youth dissipate.

When I was seven, i used to watch the news on Somalia, and seeing children in poverty, but I was also a child watching, not fully feeling how lucky I was. This felt different, seeing something worse almost a decade later. While I would go on to college in the fall, he would be feverently praying, planning his death, and hesitating before taking that step onto the crowded street. Did he really want to do this, or would it be like The Red Badge of Courage?

For a brief instant, he and I were looking into each others eyes. I could see it better now, the look into his soul. Despondent.

I didn't even notice the tears until they dripped onto my napkin. All of a sudden I felt something deep inside welling up. I didn't cry when my aunt died, or my neighabor, but there was something in this kid's look. The thin piece of glass covering the television felt like the only thing apart from me and him. Continuing was the speech "...believes that he will go to a better place."

I haven't been religious lately, but at a nadir of emotions such as this, I ponder What would Jesus do? I humbly present the only verse of the Bible that I can memorize: "Jesus wept"

I'm still crying.

Now that I've had time to reflect on this, I realize it sounds very emo, though I didn't aim for it to be. It was just a number of events that became a theme for the day, like God was trying to tell me something. It's just when I get in a mood like that, I feel like my hero Vash the Stampede from the anime series "Trigun."

I had some serious self esteem issues back when I was younger, and a lot of them were related in some way to females. I realize now that all I really wanted was for someone to believe in me. The women in family tended to cut me down a lot, while my female peers were often cruel, and even when they weren't, there was still my own fears of rejection that kept my dealings with them from being too positive.

Dublin is wet. I have a cold. This second thing is a more-or-less inevitable consequence of travel.

I have done scenic Dublin as much as I care to, located all the statues except for the floozie in the jacuzzi, who has apparently been dug up to make way for a spire.

I am out of the hostel, spending the weekend on the couch of P- and housemates. They smoke, drink, Smoke, and play Gran Tourismo on the PS2. I suck badly at that game, having never played it before.

Still life is good.

Its raining at the moment, its also rather windy and cold, looking out of the window I can just see a kid nearly being splattard into a million squidgy bloody little pieces across the school drive, but alas he moves out of the way doesnt he!.

Its lunch, I also dont have a lot to do, which really isnt true, but I just dont have the info i need to do it with. Im not hungry, which is good because ive been putting on a little weight recently, nothing major, but the ol'belly is starting grow. I am also alone in the room and the office phone is ringing (annoying)

I absolulty buggered my knee up last night after rehersing with my band. It happend when i came home and was pushing the internet cable back into its port (the pc is on the floor), i stood up and walked a minute, then fell onto the sofa. But that was last night, when i woke up this morning it was fine, so ive got no idea what was happening there.

Over the past few weeks ive been on a purge of better class nodes, ive been doing my best to ake them more and more better, I even signed up for a mentor who is footprints and he has helped me loads.

I find myself wishing that I was a different person. Someone less sensitive, someone who could let things just roll off their back. Someone less weak, who could stand up for herself when she needed to, when she's needed to for months now. Someone less open, less honest, I've never understood why boundaries existed between people, why we have to hide things. Someone less prone to obsession, less prone to reflection.

I want to want less, think less, love less, cry less. Less of everything...

Tonight, secret of mine may come out. I don't want it to, I don't want to shatter an illusion of invulnerability I've tried to create in protection: I don't love, I don't hurt, nothing touches me.

There is no kevlar for the heart, there are no drugs that can mend a soul.

Pay day.

It's a rainy, 64.8 degree day outside.

I'm going home soon. Home to the place I was born. Home to the place where I feel my best. Home to the familiar walls of my grandparents house. The smells of my nearly blind grandmother cooking for me. The sounds of my rotund grandfather bitching at her about everything and nothing. The sounds of their spontaneous laughter when grandpa can't act anymore.

My 23rd birthday is on March 22. I'm not sure I'm ready for this. Never before has a birthday meant anything to me. But this year I'm going home to my friends. I'm going to celebrate with them. So many of them are getting married now. So many of them I had a heavy hand in bringing together. My friends make me the happiest I can be.

I dream so longingly of my home. I hope and pray it hasn't changed, but I know it has. But the best parts can't change. The sky is never so blue as it is in North Dakota. The grass is never so green. The people are never so warm, and the smiles are never so wide.

I'm four days and 1100 miles from my brothers and sisters. My friends, my companions, my family. I wish time would speed up just for me.

I think I am going to explode.

I work in an internet cafe in Dublin, although, some would call the location of this shop, a "suburb" of Dublin city. The shop I am at today is in Ranelagh. A quiet community, full of posh, impatient, ignorant, and rude people.

I swear, I just don't get people sometimes. We all have our bad days in terms of our mood and how we present ourselves to others. I know for a fact that I can be quite the testy individual depending on, well, depending on a lot of things I guess.

But, I try not to allow my mood to alter the way I treat people. On that note, everyone that has come in the shop today has apparently decided that I am the sole reason that their lives are shit.

Like it's my fault that the printers are out of toner and I don't have the key to the cupboard that has the replacement cartriges.

Like it is my fault that your computer crashed all of a sudden.

Like it is my fault that it is raining and shitty outside.

Hello, we are in Dublin folks, it is going to rain!

Like it is my fault the document you originally wrote on a Mac won't format properly in Windows.

Like it is my fault the server for MSN messenger must be down and so it is not letting you sign in.

Again, like it is my fault that it is now pouring rain outside.

Sorry, I can't do anything about the fact that the coffee tastes like peanut butter and relish mixed together and put in a nice big mug for you, go to Coffee Society if you want real espresso.

Oh, I put too much milk in your tea? Sorry, maybe you shouldn't have asked me to pour it for you if you are so anal about it.

Your coffee has gone cold has it? Well maybe you should have taken a sip of it before letting it sit there for twenty minutes.And I watched this customer too, so I know he just left it there to get cold.

I guess the lesson in all of this is, don't take your shit out on people that don't deserve it. I could write a book about all of the things that are bothering me and that do bother me, but I genereally keep those things to myself, and I always try and smile and be curtious to anyone that comes in the shop, regardless of my current mood.

When I am over-tired, over-worked, underpaid, and feeling like someone took my lungs and rung them completely dry, the last thing I need is people being rude for no reason at all.

Well last week I made the 13 hour journey down to Winston-Salem in North Carolina. While there I finally heard back from the bank regarding my mortgage and was able to waive the conditions on my new home. (see February 1, 2002 and March 1, 2002).

So I am in fact at the beginning of the long and joyous journey of building a new home once again. They haven't yet begun to dig the foundation as of yet, but once that is well underway will come the inevitable haggling, decision making, and near daily trips to the builder's trailer. Which is fortunately only a block or two from my current dwelling.

Oh and there is also the matter of picking colors. This time around however, I have my lovely fiance to help me. Of course most colours will end up being neutral so as not to impede future attempts at decoration. Though we will have a blue green kitchen and a navy and gold master bathroom.

Now I must call my vendor once again and see about acquiring a box of Cat 5e computer cable and a new patch panel so that I can wire my new house for ethernet once again. Though sometimes I think wireless may be the way to go. In any case hopefully I have learned my lesson and will install PVC conduit and plenty of wall plates. I think I will go for RJ11 and RJ45 combined wall plates to cut down on the clutter.

So this summer should be interesting to say the least, what with a wedding, week long honeymoon, and a new house to furnish. Acutally it works out quite well as wedding presents may just help us a long in our furnishing. I think it will be the best and busiest summer of my life :)

I was just informed by a sympathetic government agent that I was born two years before my birth. Apparently social security has my date of birth as 9/13/73. I now need to go prove to them that I was in fact born in 1975.

It all started two months ago when I lost my license. I went to the DMV to get a replacement. Three weeks later I got a notice in the mail informing me that my social security number does not match my social security number. Examining the document, I noticed that two numbers had been transposed. Grumbling at the carelessness of a DMV employee, I returned armed with my passport and social security card. The brilliant agent commented that it looked like the numbers just got transposed.

Today I received another notice, this time with the correct social security number, name and birth date. Again, it informed me that my application for a new driver’s license was being denied because the social security number did not match the name and/or date of birth. I called social security, and was informed that according to their records I was born in 1973.

My roommate said they could at least have made me younger, but her boyfriend countered with the advantages of being older.

“Maybe you should take the older date, then people will say how you look years younger.”

It was then that I realized just how easy it would be to claim an entirely different year of birth. All I needed to do was fill out this verification form and send it to the DMV. They’d contact social security and the records would match. From there it would be easy, I’d have a driver’s license stating that I was born in 1973, and that’s what everyone else goes by. Hmmm…maybe if I were nineteen, there’d be some motivation…I think I’ll settle for one blissful day of being older than my sister.

Ahhhhh yes. Friday. Here's the menu:
1st Period...6th grade... Working on cereal box design. Full class, nice kids. Silly ideas.

2nd Period...prep time. Write the inequalities quiz for 5th period's Math kids. Have lunch-Chicken Caeser Salad and goldfish crackers!

3rd & 4th Periods... 7th grade... Learning how to put pictures into a table for their web sites. A lot of fun, in the main.

5th Period ... 7th grade Math... afore-mentioned quiz on deck. Gave out grades yesterday. One silly kiddo acted out his Academy Awards speech when he got to the front of the class..."I would like to thank my mother, for reminding me to study..." I love my Math class. Probably the last one I'll have for a while, they're turning me over to Technology full time next year.

6th Period...8th grade... doing the cereal box project with these guys as well, They've reached the "write a business letter' part. Their cereal box designs are much more silly, edgy and creative than the 6th graders. Amazing how much they change in just a couple of years. From ten to fourteen is a huge jump in life. They're doing such things as Keyboard Krunch! Vowels in every byte!, Sugar Frosted Sugar Cubes. Guaranteed to keep your kids bouncing off the walls all day! andSprayToast, a can of sprayable crunch!. I think my favorite is Exoskeletons. She's done an amazing beetle picture, and has filled up a bowl with the beetles for the cover of her box.

After school, I get to price servers and spend the $3700 they found for my budget. Whoop! Be nice to do some real backups again. Shhhhhhh! We finally got our retroactive pay raise checks too, so I've paid all the bills and can go record shopping! Yip! Heading to Clear Music, on Valencia, the finest in house music. I like Solid Grooves in San Jose better, really, more deep house and tech house stuff, but it's too far for a friday afternoon.

Home again. Boyfriend will come over, kid is spending the night out. I'll have new records to play, some new leather to wear... could be a fun night. Wink wink, nudge nudge. Tomorrow, taking the kiddo and her boyfriend to the Surrealism and Dada exhibit at the California Legion of Honor museum. Over 200 pieces, stopping in only three cities in the US. I'm all excited!

Happy Friday!

Hey all, Long time no node. I really just dropped off the face of the earth for a while, my life has been so hellacious.

First it starts out with a good friend of mine that I've worked with on campus for about a year now and befriended long ago shot himself over the weekend. Totally unexpected... He had some surgery done (unknown specifics) and was in a lot of pain. But was about to make it, but the dark side got to him and at least now he's resting in peace.

Next, that same weekend, I total my car. And yes it was my fault. I had missed a turn and went on down the road. I did not see that the road split off and became a 2 lane/one way street. So I was moseying along in the right lane until I found a place to turn around. Stop, look, other standard things to do when turning... I start to make my turn... BAM, So now I have to head to Kingsport and get an estimate for insurance and if I have enough money, fix it.

So fast forward to last night. Your not really missing anything other than me being depressed and hassled all day by my parents and cops. At about 2 am a friend comes online about ready to kill herself. I try and try and try to help her and smack some sense into her. Eventually I calm her down enough to put the knife away, I just hope she doesn't do anything stupid before I can talk to her again.

So my last couple weeks in a nutshell... otherwise known as hell in a shell. I'm really going to try to put all my papers and stuff I learn on E2 again. I need something to consume my time so I don't stay depressed.

I’ve got a lot of work to do.

There’s this Polk competition for pianists and string players at Scripps College, and I want to enter – the requirement is four different pieces from each of four eras, Baroque, Classical, 19th century and 20th century. A total of about 30 minutes of music.

So I sat down and tried to play through my repertoire, all pieces that I performed last summer in a graduate recital for some of my friends. And… well… I’ve got a lot of work to do.

J. S. Bach – Prelude and Fugue III in C# major

A light and pretty prelude followed by an equally light fugue. The Prelude is pretty simple, but the fugue is incredibly difficult. It’s a three-voice fugue in C# major, with 7 sharps and tons of accidentals and double sharps throughout the score. There’s a lot of finger-gymnastics on the keys in trying to keep all three voices heard throughout, and it’s a challenge to keep the piece at a steady pace. I’ve been playing this piece from memory for a while and haven’t really polished it up, so there’s tons of little misarticulations and small fudging going on. All of that is going to take a lot of ironing out. Painful, nitpicky ironing out. Unpleasant ironing out. Beyond that, there’s a momentum that builds up with the Fugue, and I’ve found that if I misplay even one note, then the whole train just derails into disaster.

Beethoven – Sonata in C major, Op. 53, “Waldstein,” 1st Movement

The 1st movement starts with repeated chords that sound like horses hooves beating on the ground. These repeated chords give way to repeated broken chords that sound like the horses are getting closer and closer. Eventually, Beethoven grabs us, throws us on our own horse, and we’re along for the ride also, riding through the countryside at a gallop because we’re late… for church. Interspersed with the repeated chords is a softer, very choral motif that provides a good counterpoint to the grand chords and chordal movements in the rest of the piece. The difficulty comes from rememorizing the whole movement and getting the big picture. The expression in this piece comes from broad sweeps of harmony and shorter snippets of melodic lines. Herein lies the challenge that this difficult piece poses: finding a balance between the different sections to create a cohesive overall movement.

Rachmaninoff – Prelude in g minor, Op. 23, No. 5

My favorite piece of the four. A brooding march starts the piece, growing louder and closer to a climax, then descending into a lyrical middle section. Three different voices emerge in the middle section, and when they’re in balance, they sing with a powerful emotive force. Ending with three jazz 11th and 13th chords, the section ends quietly, only to crescendo and accelerando back to an aggressive and belligerent main theme. The problems here are huge chords flying in all directions. Played softly, the repeated chords are difficult to keep even in loudness, attack and rhythm. Played loudly, the chords are difficult to keep clean and clear. And, no matter how coldly the big chords are played, they can’t be sharp or painful to the ear. And, no matter how softly the chords are played, they still need to speak clearly, like a whispered shout. Of the four pieces, I’m most comfortable with this one memory-wise, and I’m also most comfortable with my interpretation of this piece.

Debussy – Reflets Dans L’eau

A quintessential impressionistic piece, a three note motif recurs within a broader harmony. It’s called Reflections in the Water, and that’s what it really sounds like – a three note reflection floating above ripples of water moving up and down the piano. And the key is making the sounds really ripple up, down and across different scales and build as the chord progress in an ebb and flow.

Now, there’s another person entering this competition who’s playing more difficult repertoire, like the Etude Op. 25 No. 3 by Chopin, but I’m not too worried. I’d be happy with second or third place, really. I never learned piano for the money or fame. It would also be nice to polish these pieces up again. They're really rusty.

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