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For You Know Who,

I hope you have found what you are looking for.

this is only day number two since you broke up with me. it feels like it's been years and years already; i've lived and died so many times. i've seen so many other ways it all could have been. you say it's not me, it's you. i believe you, but why? you don't need to tell me the truth anymore, cuz i'm not yours. evidently, from what someone who knows you said, you stopped caring or started to stop no less than 2 months ago. 2 months. when i think back... all the times i said, "i love you" and you seemed to pretend not to hear, or you'd mutter it, almost sounding ashamed. why didn't i just see? how i could not have seen? it's been only two days. jesus christ.

Yesterday, I noticed a smell in my room.
It wasn't horrible yet, just unpleasant. I searched briefly for the source; it was a nice, warm day. I couldn't find it, so I opened the windows.
The smell, however, was stronger than my windows. It grew. It grew both more prevalent and more sickening. I searched at length, coming up with nothing - it seemed to come and go.

Today ... I go to school. Flash forward to 8:45 or thereabouts:
I come home. My father asks me about the smell in my room, and through some brainstorming we determine that it's probably something dead (Probably a dead bird - it's happened before) in the crawlspace above my room.
Now, for a variety of reasons I can't realistically ask my father to go into enclosed spaces, or do anything physically strenuous. So! It's up to me.

I approach the crawlspace door. The smell is indeed stronger here. I open the door with a flashlight, not going in yet. I see a dark shape. I identify the dark shape as that of a misshapen bird. I see large insect crawling on shape. I retreat to somewhere where I can clear my mind.
I get rubber gloves. I get no less than four plastic bags. I get a flashlight. I do not get peace of mind.

I continue trying to approach it. Eventually, I get close enough with the flashlight to see it well for the first time.
Yes, it is a dead bird. No, it's not exactly whole anymore. All of the down feathers along the front have been removed somehow and the Something-Not-Meant-To-Be-Visible is visible. It is the most disgusting thing I have ever seen.

I think momentarily about picking it up. I think even more momentarily about going back into the room outside the crawlspace and opening a window. Opening both windows. I breathe fresh air for a while. I still have the rubber gloves and four plastic bags on my arm - they're getting uncomfortable. My legs hurt from standing in the same spot for a while.
And it's only been 20 minutes since I got home ...

I slowly realize there are two things keeping me from picking up that bird:

  • The smell
  • Fear of what it will feel like to pick up a decaying, organic object, the likes of which I have never picked up before

And I also realize that there is only something I can do about one of those. My father mentions something about building character, that the hero dies only once but the coward dies a thousand times. I figure I'm up to 1500 or so now.

I have nothing with which to mask the smell ... except the new rubber gloves! They smell strongly of rubber and kitchen-glove. Holding the massive bag assembly in my right hand, I hold the left (with a flashlight) directly under my nose, to mask as much of the smell as possible. I can only catch a hint of it after the strong scent of rubber, and now I am able to reach for the bird.

I don't pick it up on the first try, but I do manage to close it up more, bringing the wings in front of the ghastly open chest. On the second try I get it in the four bags, which I close, tie off, and get outside.
I acquire peace of mind somewhere around here.
I take it out to the trash, feeling horrible that birds could find a way into the crawlspace, but not a way out.

Wait, no, scratch that, I feel relieved because I don't have to pick it up again. I can go back to more normal living now.

All in all, this cost me about an hour: 10 minutes of preperation and execution, and 50 minutes of hemming and hawing, dying coward's deaths.

THE MORAL OF THE STORY (and it is a long story):

Just do it already.

Hmm, summer ennui disease seems to be setting in early this year for me; that feeling that you should be getting something accomplished, but aren't, so you just feel crummy instead. Stasis equals stagnation in a dynamic world. It's not for lack of stimulation either, I have plenty of books to read and a few cool people to chill with, etc. More like, even with all the input available, none of it is triggering any kind of creative chain reaction, no new ideas for writing or researching or just considering at length. Say what you will about evil high-level Computer Science classes, at least they provide something to use up spare cycles on so those cycles don't just go toward feeling anxious.

Speaking of classes, I have one starting June 2 and going from 8 am (!!) to 10 am every day of the week. "EECS 461: Probability and Statistics" -- sounds like a real winner, doesn't it? Oh well, I've put it off enough years now that it should be a breeze, especially considering all the strong math courses taken meanwhile. Too bad about the 8 am part of the deal, though.

On a final academic note, I get to begin working with the University of Kansas's only neuroscience professor at roughly the same time the class is starting, which is pretty incredibly exciting. She does developmental ERP/EEG research, primarily, and I really need to go to the library and absorb a bunch of her papers so I'll have a better grounding in what I'll be helping with. The important part is that I'll be getting to use my CS skillz in a neuroscience context, AND at the same time building a contact with somebody who knows tons about the field and how to get into it academically. Plus, I may even find something interesting enough to specialize in, as graduate school expects students to concentrate in one area and one area only, an idea that has always been offputting in the past. Knowing all this, I still need to work with other professors so I can score the all-important Letters of Recommendation, three of which are needed to even apply to most grad schools.

Ok, let us move on to the all-singing, all-dancing, all-nerve-wracking relationship issues. Or, wait, let's not. Now that all (more or less) of the important people in my life know my username on e2, I have to assume that they're reading what I post, and so cannot write the entirety of my feelings about them. This is terrifically frustrating, as I'm sure many of you have found out firsthand yourselves :-( At any rate, what I can safely say is that somebody I considered a good friend, somebody who was my roommate for a couple of years ferchristsake, has recently proven himself impossible to trust to any degree at all. Not only did he quote things I said out of context, but he (even better) made quotes up out of whole cloth to support his viewpoint. Very fucking uncool. Dealing with the ramifications -- argh, sorry to be so vague in all of this -- hasn't been too hard, but I don't enjoy being forced to do so or losing (?) a friend. Still, I'll deal, stoicism and all that good stuff.

On the other hand, I did meet a pretty redheaded girl with a tiny, sparkling nose ring the other day AND I got her phone number, so chew on that e2-stalkers-who-probably-only-exist-in-my-imagination.

To switch subjects abruptly, again, dumpster diving season just started all over the US, as apartment leases are running out and kids are moving out of dorms, frats, and so forth. I went on a run tonight and scored an unused-looking beer fridge, which I plan to give to my mother for her birthday, as she's been wanting one. Having read this (can't escape the paranoia trip here) probably ruined the surprise for her, but I was going to give it a month or two early anyway. No, making a gift of found treasure is not white trash, given that A) the recipient has wanted the gift for a long time, B) a new one would be more expensive than either party could afford, especially because C) the giver only makes roughly $5000 a year, after taxes. QED, it's a good gift. Also found a sphygmomanometer in a different bin, an old-fashioned kind with the stethoscope and analog pressure gauge. Perfectly useless to me, but a cool find nonetheless.

Finally, there's some health stuff that deserves a mention, if only because of possible effects on my future. Due to the combination of summer's arrival and my taking a break from a long term relationship, my mindset seems to have swung back into hardcore weight loss mode. This means that I only need to eat one meal a day, and that only about a thousand calories in it; this is the perfect recipe for losing 5 or 10 kilos a month, but may not be the healthiest way to do it in general. To balance that good health addition, I've noticed that my left foot, which I accidentally smashed into a chair, hasn't stopped hurting in the three weeks or so since the accident. It hurt like a mofo at the time (I put a nice hole in the wall afterwards with my fist, at that), but I was expecting it to, um, completely stop hurting sometime, which it hasn't. Oh well, a long lasting injury is just the thing to remind me that I turn 22 in less than a month, and am never going to start getting younger, etc. etc., which leads us back to the point about accomplishing something made back in the first paragraph of this daylog....

More computer problems.

Yesterday was stressful. I got home from work to find my machine still on. This is really unusual as I make a point of checking that things are powered off and windows and doors are locked before I leave the house. I was intrigued enough to poke around the system. I discovered that the recently-installed virus checker was disabled. The firewall was disabled. Windows even said that the FTP service was running. This was not good.

A quick damage assesment revealed that most of my files seemed to be intact. It was simply a matter of restarting the virus checker and firewall, stopping the FTP service and resuming my evening I decided to relax by firing up Quake, but the bot was no longer there. In fact, when I quit Quake and checked the installed files, I found that the entire bot directory was missing. What was worse was that I could not reinstall it from the CD. I am a bit concerned that someone may have copied it from my machine.

This morning I'm feeling a little bit guilty for not protecting my system well enough. I feel like I've let down the company which very kindly offered me a place in this beta programme. I decided to write them an email, explaining what has happenned. I'll probably write it in the gaps in my work day.

I should also reinstall Windows as soon as possible.

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I cant believe how someones eyes can look like that. I'm pretty sure they're not fake, just amazing.
An entrancing light blue, with white streaks, and green around the outside of the iris. I've never seen such vivid green before. And so...

It would take 85 cans of Jolt Espresso to kill me.
Or 648 cans of Pepsi.

Ok, I am conscious enough to sit up and write, so I am going to do it.

I've been sick for six days now. Brilliant. It wasn't until Sunday that I broke out in sweats and chills, and needed to lie down all day. It wasn't until Sunday night that John suggested we move down to my room, where it would be cooler. It wasn't until roughly five in the morning, after tossing all night, that I realized the sore throat had spread from the left side to my entire throat, that there was too much phlegm to breathe through, and that spitting was not working. I asked for some hot water to melt it out, then tried to drink it as John went through the phonebook for clinics that would be open on the holiday.

We tried to sleep until morning, when we could leave. The active word is "tried". At eight I was up, hacking into the sink, staring at the back of my throat and my swollen uvula in the mirror. By ninethirty we were in the car, looking for a clinic that turned out to be nonexistent. I couldn't talk at all by this point, had to spit out the window since I also almost couldn't swallow. So we said fuck it and went to the emergency room. That was a good place to go. They let John in too, which was good. The doctor couldn't possibly have been more than 27 or 28, and looked Much younger. He looked my age. But I was having a hard enough time telling him my symptoms without also asking insulting questions that he clearly gets all the time and is extremely sick of. Anyway he was very nice. He did a strep culture, which came out positive, and gave me a prescription for amoxicillin and vicodin. They also gave me a dose of each right there. I was swollen enough that it took me at least four tries to swallow the damn things, but I got them down, and that was good. Then I got very loopy very quickly, but I guess two vicodin will do that.

He also said, "so are you two, I, um..." (at this point I started nodding yes, being unable to speak) "...friends, partners, significant others..?" and John said yes. So the doctor wrote him a prescription for amoxicillin too, to save us another trip to the emergency room if/when he catches strep too. So THAT was nice.

Then we had to go run around getting prescriptions filled, which was also fun on Memorial day. But Meijer was open, and we got drugs and pudding and applesauce, and got stupid movies at Blockbuster. Then we went home and I collapsed entirely.

So. This is the first day I've been voluntarily out of bed for more than an hour at a time. So I suppose we shall see how able I am to go to work tomorrow. I'm still all swollen and horrible and feverish and achy, but I can talk at least.

And my moron roommates don't seem to realize what strep is. "Hey, do you want some coffee?" Good god, I only was able to drink apple juice yesterday afternoon! Before that, it was too acidic! And they think I can drink coffee!? Then they keep bringing friends over. I'm going to start a fucking epidemic. It'll be great.

Also. I used to get strep a lot when I was little. A lot. So I knew I was vulnerable to it and everything, and thought I could accurately recognize the symptoms. Ha ha, no. Strep is quite different when you are an adult. Much worse. Very nasty stuff. Oh my.

Alive, well, and entirely covered in mosquito bites in Aleppo. Oh, except for the places where i have been eaten by bedbugs. Ick. I am a mass of scratching, but luxuriating in a dose of civilisation (air conditioners! private showers! loos that flush!) after a few days in palmyra, walking around the roman ruins, and way out on the eastern edges of syria, exploring five thousand year old cities about a hundred kilometres past the edge of nowhere. I have sat on the top of a 2 millenium old citadel, with hawks circling below me, with the Euphrates green-blue and rushing past at the bottom of the cliff. I have got dusty with the broken fragments of ancient pottery and falling walls of temples of Ishtar.

I have slept under a full moon, heard bullfrogs and crickets, and had my hair brushed by the wingtips of a pale owl. I have seen shimmering iridescent green birds. I have drunk a million cups of tea, and discussed having no babies with every other person I have met.

I have made origami cranes and peacocks for seven sisters, and climbed up to the necropolis to watch the sun rise.

I like it here.
The general population of Texas never ceases to amaze me.

I'm at Albertson's today buying groceries on my way home. (I got off at 2:30, I love my job.) I'm standing in the freezer section, thinking about what I want for supper, when some oversize cow in a mumu walks up and asks me if I work there.

I'm wearing a button down shirt, open to about the third button, a pair of sunglasses, a cell phone in my shirt pocket, and a pencil behind my ear. I'm not sure what made this lady think I might work there.

"No, I don't work here."

"Are you sure?"

This place is hilarious.

Happy Birthday to me. I'm turning 29 today. Let's see what I've got going for me on this, my Golden Birthday:

New home
An amazing family that loves me
Damn good friends
Air in my lungs
Writing "talent" (I'm still not sure about that, but my friends are honest people)
Relative freedom
Food in my stomach
Decent health
A few bucks in my pocket (literally)
More than my fair share of interesting, character-building experiences
My mind

Counting my blessings is so much harder to do when there's so many crappy things going on. Things I have going against me:

Dead car (using my dad's secondary vehicle)
Rent due
Late paycheck
Smoking habit
Unreliable Net access
No life savings
No insurance
Lots of gray hairs
Life's battle scars
Writer's block
Low-paying job
No phone

All in all, my life is pretty much in balance. For all the good things I have, there are an equal and proportionate amount of bad things. I'm about to go visit with my family and see what's going on there- can't ignore their summons, after all. Maybe it's just old age setting in or maybe I've always been a subtle grouch, but I can never seem to get excited about my birthdays. I mean, yeah, it's a miracle that I've survived this long and this is supposed to be a celebration of the miracle of life and all that, but in all honesty, my birthday is a day just like any other. The world does not stop, the bills won't disappear and I'm not getting any younger. In truth, this day is just like yesterday except that I just happened to be born on this one. It's a hot day in May and I'm still not any richer than I was before.

If life is what you make it, then my life can be summed up like so: a work in progress.

So I tell you, I tell you, I tell you we must send away. We must try to find A new answer instead of a way.-The Doors

Well its almost tradition with me to make that last final daylog before closing another chapter in the book of life and embark on a new journey.

Everything is packed in the jeep, the holes are spackled and the rug is clean. Of course the computer is the last to go..right next to me in the front.

I was considering listing all the great realizations I've made in the year here. In the end, though it really doesn't matter. It's all good. Life goes on, and so do I.

Durango, Colorado, here I come.
In the heat, I find it hard to compose.


Sometimes I can almost see what it is she sees, when she looks at me. I don't quite get it; I don't quite understand what it is she's marvelling over, or what it is that makes her smile.

Someone asked me the other day, what it was I had done to her. She's happy, they said. You made her happy. How did you do that?


"You know, it's almost as if your journal has been following a pattern, the last few months."


"Yeah. It's like, 'I am searching for beauty, I am looking for hope, I am horribly depressed'.'"


"I think I liked your older stuff better."
My mother's birthday. I am proud that I actually went all out this year.

She wanted the house clean (relatives will be visiting for my brother's high-school graduation soon) so I spent hours scrubbing the living room rug. I also otherwise tidied and straightened the living room, and somewhat organized the huge mass of papers on the dining room table. My parents have no method of organization so pretty much all I could do was stack random documents. I wanted to scream and cry at one point - perhaps the time of month, perhaps the fact that disorganization drives me crazy.

I also yelled at my little brother consistently until he swept and mopped and changed loads in the dishwasher. Yes, he did the work, but believe me it is incredibly difficult to get him to do anything.

Somewhere between all this running around cleaning, I managed to cook and ice and decorate a birthday cake. After the cleaning, I cooked - and that may sound mundane, but for me, since I don't cook, it was extraordinary. I don't think my mother has ever come home to dinner ready, the table set, everything.

I was also the only one in my family to buy a birthday present for her. My father brought home a boat for himself. To be fair, he got her one dozen roses earlier in the week.

I know it sounds lame to be proud of all this, but I'm such a lazy ass that it's a big deal to me. I was so tired I fell asleep at 9:00pm. (Woke up an hour later.)

There you have it. I wanted a record of my good deed because as much as I try to come off as being selfless, I'm really incredibly selfish after all. Plus, I'm one writeup away from Level 3.

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