In Utah, Seminary is the educational system of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The entire purpose of the system is to educate Mormon youth about the scriptures, and inform them of the evil ways of the world. It takes place during school - hence, it appears as RELEASE TIME on my schedule - but to keep the liberals happy, the building is off campus, across the street.

Of course I didn't sign up for Seminary - my parents enrolled me into class without even so much as a discussion. I've raised this point with them, but my dad's response is "it takes just as much effort not to participate as it does to participate". So, being the disillusioned Mormon youth that I am, I crossed out RELEASE TIME on my schedule and wrote NAP TIME. That more accurately reflects what I do in that class: sleep. It doesn't count on my high school credit towards graduation, so I decided to take advantage of it.

The lessons themselves are quite inspiring. For example, this year I'm studying my Book of Mormon, which is a great fiction novel about the journey to the Americas and the subsequent fighting. My Student Study Guide textbook warns me not to try to link the included map with any real place. I wonder why?

Anyways, today's lesson was slightly different. I was given a sheet of paper which turned out to be a sort of war simulation based on one of the chapters of the Book of Mormon - Alma and the 2000 stripling warriors, to be precise. I had a finite number of resources; I promptly allocated all of my resources to 'buy' prophets. Other people foolishly brought warriors, horses, and food, but my plan was a well-thought out masterpiece. My plan was to have my prophets prophesy that I would win the war; hence I win by default, assuming I buy real prophets and not false prophets. I lost in the second round, so they were all false prophets.

The kicker is this: the teacher told the class what the most pleasing battle plan to the Lord would be like, as evidenced by the Book of Mormon. Now, apologies to you Canadians out there, he posed a hypothetical situation:What if Canada invaded the United States?

Here's what the Lord would do:

  • Offer them a chance for peace. If they refuse:
  • Offer them a second chance for peace. By now, the Canadians have most likely taken over the United States
  • Offer them a third chance for peace.
  • And THEN fight.
I am not making this up

Imagine suddenly having to part your daily life. You must replace most of the things you were used to - friends, work, recreational activities, goals. dreams.

This isn't as bad as it sounds, difficult at first, but tolerable.

Now imagine having to visit your old life again every 3 weeks for 30 hours each time. Imagine having to see everything you worked on for so long rot. Each and every time you visit more and more things you cared so much about not so long ago are turning against you.

you have got exactly 29:32 hours to fix your messed up life. go !

don't join the army. it's no good.

So I show up today to work and there were already calls in queue which means that they day will suck. It appears the upgrade has screwed up US Robotics modems so they no longer work right. However the note from engineering states "its not our fault" they can't connect even though we changed a lot of stuff early yesterday. So not only do we not get the customers connected, we get to tell them that their stuff that worked fine yesterday now has a problem.

Welcome to Life in Hell

This is perhaps the weirdest start to any day I've ever had.

I got back to my room last night around 3 A.M. from hanging out with Laura and Ken. I had a terrible headache for some reason, and after defeating Ken's proposal to drink my troubles away, I went to bed. I was hoping not to wake up until noon. At least.

At approximately 11:15, however, my phone rings. Not one to just ignore the thing, I picked up, hoping it would be an old high school friend, or my parents calling to say hello, or anyone I cared to hear from, really.

Me: He-Hello?
Him: Hey! Wow, I haven't talked to you in a while. How's your semester going?
Me: Um, great. How's yours? (Do I know you?)
Him: Oh, pretty good.

Me: So, um...I'm sorry. Who is this, again?
Him: It's Mark! You don't recognize my voice?
Me: No...because I don't think I know you. Do you know who I am? (Say my name backwards, bitch! I dare you.)
Mark: Kim. Is this Kim?
Me: No, sorry. You must've gotten the wrong room. (Ha!)

I started to say goodbye when he starts making small talk. I didn't want to be rude and tell him that he woke me up, that I didn't want to talk to him, so I stayed on the line, answering his questions politely. It wasn't an unpleasant conversation. He just wanted to know how long I've been going here, what my major was, blah blah blah. He goes to LSU and is a business major, apparently. Then I hear water running behind him as he speaks. Come to think of it, his voice was echo-y, too.

Me: Is that water running? What are you doing?
Mark: Yeah, sorry. I'm drawing a bath.
Me: Uhm, okay...

So he keeps talking to me, now about what I do for fun. I'm becoming suspicious now, so I lie . . . Then I hear something that sounds like the surface of water being slapped with an open palm. Steadily at first, then increasing in tempo.

Me: Okay. What the fuck are you doing?

The sound stops.

Mark: Nothing.
Me: Right.


Dammit. I wasn't even supposed to be awake.

Today something special happened. It will probably change my life. And yet for most of you, it's the silliest, most trivial thing; plenty of you do it every day.

I took the train. I'm sixteen years old and I took the train. Perhaps you smile - "sheltered life", "pampered southerner". But the truth is, where I live, you don't take trains. There is no public transport. You want to get somewhere, you walk; but most likely, you don't want to go anywhere. Rural southern England - a field's a field, everywhere looks the same.

But today, I needed to go to the big city. Just to meet up with my girlfriend. She's a city lass, she doesn't know about my train virginity. The only way I can get there is to be driven to the station, and catch a train.

The train leaves at 1:27. Our car screeches into the station car park at 1:25, my mum rushes in and buys me a ticket from the flustered woman behind the counter. She wants to go back to the car and leave me to my own devices, but I don't have that kind of confidence yet. She has to walk out onto the platform with me; the train pulls up.
"See you later," she says. "Ring me when you get there."

I take a seat right by the door, on my own. I look out the window and see the country-side rushing past. It's 1:28, and there's a childish excitement running through my bones. I'm ashamed among all these people, who use this wonderful service every day, to be so excited. "It's nothing but childish," I remind myself. A smile spreads over my face nonetheless.

The journey passes without any real drama. I worry the whole way that I'm on the wrong train, that I'll miss my stop.

"The next stop is... Cambridge." The doors open. I step out, onto the grey sheltered platform.
The sign reads "Welcome to Cambridge", and I feel it. I don't think I rang my mum.

Well, that's done then.

It's over. Half a year after applying for enlistment in the Air Force, after being disqualified for high blood pressure, then retesting and paperwork shuffled from office to office until lastly the final verdict came through: Permanently Disqualified.

That means I can never apply again. And so my hopes of an easy way through this so-called life are dashed. What am I to do now? All I have is this lower-end German high school education, and that's what employers want to see: something on the paper. What I truly capable of is unimportant as long as it isn't written down and signed by someone.

I want to get out of Germany. I want to move to the US. I want to go to college and learn something while I'm still able. But I CAN'T. I have neither money nor qualifications. All my life I looked down upon the proles, upon the uneducated masses who do the grunt work of civilization. Now I am about to become one of them. The thought makes me sick. Had I just had some more motivation in high school, things might have turned out for the better...

I hard as I try, I can't see any real future for me. No way to become a respectable geek, a web designer or network administrator. For such jobs you need degrees.

I don't think I can make it, working in a McDonalds, in a factory or something like that. I just wouldn't be able to stand it, day in-day out the same routine, the same menial work for the next 40 years. I'd rather die than do that, and that is no lie.

Oh Aki...if only I could hold you, feel you, love you. Maybe someday you could be mine...

Update 19.08.03: Things may be looking up...I'm in Florida now, and on my way to going to community college. After that...UCF? We'll see...

Update 03.05.04: Well, now currently IN community with my girlfriend. Fucking insane. I hate this dump, but I'm on my way, baby!

so okay, I had a pretty weird Good Friday. freakish, even.

see, in like October or something, I went to this thing/discussion/talk/rant with Neil Gaiman and Harlan Ellison and some comic book guy (he was nice enough in his own way, but he wasn't the other two, and I forget his name).

Ellison's an asshole, but I guess you knew that already.

Anyway, this girl asks Gaiman, 'I think my dungeon master is going to kill me if I don't find out what the 'vicar' joke is about from that episode of Sandman'. Gaiman says he doesn't know either, and that's the joke. Later, I find myself standing in line for an autogrpahed book with her, and we get to talking.

Talking is really like verbal ice skating. Because I'm kinda hyper about meeting Gaiman, and because I'm actually talking to someone (and they don't share my gender even), I slip and fall on my ass. She wanders off, and about a half hour later the line still isn't moving, and so do I.

Forward to today. I'm on a flight to Newark, NJ, and because I have this freaky free airfare thing with Continental, I don't get to find out whether or not I get on the plane until 20 minutes before it takes off. It's really weird, but it does beat paying for airfare.

She's sitting in the row behind me. Someone else spots her origami book and asks her about it. We get to talking about our experiences in Japan. She doesn't remember me from six months ago. This is key.

Now, Japan's pretty freaky, lemme tell you. Any country that can invent a reason to meditate in church and pachinko is pretty out there. That doesn't matter. What does matter is that this time I score the triple lutz.

Her: 'Where are you going?'

Me: 'I'm going to Washington DC to view the cherry blossoms.' (For those of you in the audience, this is actually true)

Cherry blossoms are key. Her name is Heidi, and she lives where I do.

Didn't I tell you this day was gonna be weird? I mean, I haven't known anything like a girlfriend for 10 years now, and this up and happens. I've actually counted the days between when women would accidentally touch me on the sidewalk, much less talk to me outside of work, which always makes my friends laugh at me when I tell them about it. I mean, screw the lottery, screw lightning bolts or rains of fish or blue moons (did I just name the new marshmellows in Lucky Charms?) or whatever! Damn I'm lucky!

So, now it's been three days since a women touched me, I got a bad sunburn from enjoying too many cherry blossoms, and I wasn't tempted to push people holding each others' hands into the Tidal Basin around which all the trees are planted. I also learned a whole lot about Georgia the country (or Sakartvelo), but that's an entirely different story.

I'm going with her to Kaiju Big Battel on Saturday. ^-^
Off to Osaka today with Chris to find collaborators for our first album and to drum up some hype about us. I made Chris follow my Osaka ritual of eating at the Namba branch of First Kitchen, after hyping it up for an hour or so. I finally realized that that place is just as crap as any other hamburger chain and the only thing that I like about it is the garlic mayonaise you get with the chips.

Many beautiful girls in Osaka but of course we are too shy to talk to any of them. Chris comes up with an idea. The scheme is this; We are University art students making a calendar for a project. It's going to be a page-a-day type calender with a picture of a beautiful girl whose birthday it is on each day. So we write this up in a notebook with a couple of fake names and birthdays to begin with- much like a busker (or 'street artist' as is politically correct nowadays) throwing a couple of coins in his hat to begin with, because no-one wants to be the first to give a bum some money- and presenting this to suitable young things that we come across. Mind you it took us about an hour to work up the courage to approach anybody.

Trying to find a nice hip hop club, end up in some dodgy place called sunshine bar or something. There was about ten people in the whole place. Two nice girls being husseled by some pimpy looking guy and a hot, sullen looking girl at the bar. Of course this girl terrified me. After about half an hour of sitting around trying to look cool, Chris abruptly stands up and announces that he'll be back in about five minutes. Of course he isn't and I'm stuck there sitting in this bar feeling like these old, desperate looking guys you see in bars sometimes. Man, I'm too old for this shit.

Finally the door opens and about ten Sumo wrestlers file through. The air is filled with the smell of the stuff they do their hair with. It's good for a change, something to look at other than the game machine in the corner. They meander over to the until now completly empty dance floor and I'm thinking, "alright, some sumo dancing action." However they just sit around the edge of the dance floor bobbing their heads.

Eventually Chris comes back and says that we have to hurry outside because he's lined up five nineteen year olds. Of course I'm sceptical but I follow him outside and sure enough he's used his charm and/or our fake art project to pull five girls. Chris whispers to me, "I'll take the ugly one." I look at the girls, then at him and ask, "Which one's the ugly one?" Everything seems to be going fine until we are suddenly held up by three or four Japanese hip hoppers. Not held up as in mugged, held up as in they just start talking to us. This of course gives the girls a nice chance to escape but not to worry because now we are invited to a live hip hop event in this club called Neo. Amateur night at the Apollo kind of thing, The weakest link and all. It's a battle event where the best emcees survive to rhyme again in the next round. One of the guys is the DJ and we ask about the possibilty of us joining the fray. That would be cool, our Osaka debut, well actually our all-Japan debut since we have never performed anywhere yet. We should be nervous but as everything is going along so quickly all of a sudden we don't really have time to think about it. Ultimately we were not permitted to join and it's a good thing too, these guys, a lot of these guys were great, especially the guys that stopped us in the street. We would have been slaughtered.

After that it was off to a nearby capsule hotel. This is the second time I've stayed in a capsule hotel with Chris and both times there was always some guy near us that as soon as he removed his clothes, he stunk like hell. What is it with guys? How can they smell so bad? It was pretty vile. Then when I went to my assigned capsule, some guy was sleeping in it! I was eventually assigned another capsule but had to put up with some guy in our section mumbling to his wife (who of course wasn't there) to turn down the heat. This went on all night

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