for a while
being the swept dust
I slept in the corner

nobody was warm
that I knew of

and after a while
they just stopped
and I didn't

I saw them today
where they break everything down
and they had me for coffee

now I'm back
and I can't get this spoon
out of my eye
in a bad way

for a while
I knew, and what
really drives me nuts

is I knew
and when she asked me
to sit down, I sat

like a hooligan

I knew everything
before the confession
there is no miracle
to come, just a sneaking suspicion

the walls have slipped
down the hill, each side
and there are no more corners
in which to hide

and the people now
are tangible as smoke
untouchable, and all I want is touch

to hold for a while
the air she displaces
to know the contours of her face

I was let go and shown
that nothing means anything
and even ambiguity is a ruse

Part of this cold-but-not-too-cold evening was spent playing drinking games with a young Chinese gangster and his three "girlfriends". While waiting for my friend to stop making a fool of himself on the dance floor. While yet again regretting that I'd been dragged to a nightclub.

Why can't I accept that I just don't like nightclubs? Because every now and then, maybe once a year or so, I go to where there is music and dancing and dance my lily-white laowai1 arse off, and it feels good.

It's just that all the times that are not "that time" suck so hard they would have little difficulty in sucking the proverbial golf ball through the metaphorical garden hose.

A word about Chinese drinking games These seem mostly to involve everyone having their own cup of dice and rules that you negotiate mostly before, but also somewhat after the enthusiastic shaking and rolling of the dice. Winning involves laughing at the loser; losing involves finishing your drink and buying another round. In my reasonably extensive personal experience, the winning/losing bit is fairly culturally universal.

An Example:



GANGSTER is the kind of drunk that substitutes repetition for details. Both GANGSTER and THE LAOWAI are speaking CHINESE, subtitled.

Smallest total smallest total smallest total!

When the other guy has a gun in his jacket...

Ok Ok Ok!

One, Two, Three!

(almost at the
same time)
One, Two, Three!

THE DICE show that THE LAOWAI has double four, but nothing higher. THE GANGSTER has a much bigger total.

(her hand goes to
GANGSTER's chin)
Oh baby never mind, drink up!

Death death! Double Death! 2 Again! Again!

(sudden understanding
and sudden fear)
Ah, ok, just one more time, yeah?!


  1. "Laowai" is the toneless pinyin for the Mandarin word meaning "foreigner". Literally translated, it means "old outsider". It is not, as the literal translation might suggest, offensive.
  2. Because the number "four" has the same sound as the word "death" 3 - the Chinese often associate the two. In fact, because of this, four is by far the "unluckiest number" in Chinese numerology. Eight and Six are lucky numbers for similar "soundalike" reasons. Nine is lucky because of historical associations -- and because it sounds like "a long time" when used in combination with other "good sounding" numbers -- for example "89" sounds like "fortunate forever".
  3. "si" sounds nothing at all like the English word "see" - it also sounds nothing like the "oo" in book but sharpened and cut off at an angle, but that sound is closer, if you see, or rather hear what I mean!

The day log isn't my bag, but I feel like shit and I like the noise my keyboard makes when I press its keys.

Here's a bit of background: I'm at Magdalen College, Oxford, doing French and German, and in the first year. Babs is in St Fucking Andrews doing Economics. He came to visit me for a week - and went home on Friday.

Something strange happens when we're apart, and this is what's making me feel like shit. We've just spent one of the most amazing weeks together. We lay in bed for 24 hours. We cooked eachother delicious meals. We went shopping and he helped me carry the bags. We basically did fuck all and I've never loved him more.

The first time we have a long conversation on the phone, there's an argument. I have no idea what it was about. The way I was eating my Kit Kat Chunky? The fact that I was miserable? The disagreement we had over the meaning of a painting called Natural Divisions? Either way, I upset him, and he won't tell me why. I cannot apologize because I don't know what I've done.

It could very easily have been me who went in a mard. It's a strain. I love him so very very much that it's impossible for me to be happy when I'm not with him. This means I'm in a miserable mood. Since he's the only person I ever talk to, he feels the brunt of my anger. I know this is unfair, but I just can't help it.

So today, I've been messaging him, pranking him, trying to phone him. All to no avail. He's ignoring me. I've pissed him off and there's nothing I can do about it. I hate myself. I'm absolutely not angry with him; I am absolutely furious with having to cope with a long-term long-distance relationship.

I'm not seeing him again till my term finishes on 8th December, and I dread us carrying on as we are until then.

Life's giving me lemons and I need to rant about it. Sorry.

The past few days my dorm room's been exceedingly hot, through a combination of the campus forcibly switching everyone from a/c to heat, my affinity for transistor-based heating, and the weather in Atlanta. Earlier this week, I was able to cool the room very effectively by opening my window, but 70°F (21°C) weather just doesn't cool like 40°F (5°C) weather. This was not helped by my roommate and I's apparent inability to shut off the heat with the controls. Tonight we were thinking aloud about the problem, and decided to open up the air conditioner/heater and look for additional controls. We found a valve to stop the coolant (I use the term loosely) flow and accompanying heating. We also noticed the heat exchanger has no electronics or wires near it, so we cooled it down through liberal application of ice. One problem solved.

My headphones half-broke this morning. All of a sudden, the left side went dead, and its wire seemed a little loose. I took the left speaker off its swivel bracket, breaking that bracket in the process. With some effort, I got the speaker open. the red wire had disconnected itself. 'This should be an easy fix', I thought, and proceeded to fiddle with it and various-sized pieces of electrical tape over the next hour or so to varying degrees of success. I found something that worked relatively well. It wasn't exceptionally comfortable, but it let me listen to music in stereo for a few more hours. Eventually the other wire's solder couldn't take the stress and it broke free, at which point I gave up on getting that to work again. So now I'm left with the right channel only when I use my headphones (such as when my roommate's trying to sleep). But my dad's coming up for a business trip this week, so I should be able to get a new pair then.

Thanks to the above headphone incidents, I now understand why the fan-induced insanity spouted about by owners of high-speed Delta fans and Vantec Tornados can occur. I have 3 computers within reach of me: a full tower, a minitower, and a laptop. Between them, there are 20 fans ranging from 40mm to 92mm, and 12 hard drives (10 7200rpm, 1 5400rpm, and 1 4200rpm). I also have a Honeywell Enviracaire 17450 (one of the 'quiet' models) about 6 feet away, set on high. Usually, these are blocked out by my music, but with the loss of usability of one channel of my headphones, it's no longer tuned out. When I'm a bit farther from my computers, I find their hum reassuring. It's akin to when Trip said on Enterprise something to the effect of "I just don't sleep right if I don't hear the hum of the plasma injectors".

I picked up Red Mars a week or two ago at the student bookstore at the same time as A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. I started reading Red Mars on friday when I did my laundry. So far, it's interesting, but I don't have the same drive to read it that I did with Cryptonomicon. Even though I'm nearly 1/5 through Red Mars, I doubt I'll finish it as quickly as I did Cryptonomicon. So far, it's interesting and funny, it just hasn't sucked me in as far.

I need to meet with an advisor from the ECE department tomorrow. I have a hold from them on my registration because I got a U in English 1101 at midterms. It's because of crap like this that I hate bureaucracies and most things related to them. I also have until 4:30pm EST tuesday to register for classes for next semester. I'm not even really sure what I need to take. Note to self: get organized.

Funny I should mention that. My mom's been telling me to all my life. Usually I interpreted it as 'clean the 3 feet of crap off your desk' or something similar. But now I'm beginning to realize the significance of the other interpretations, although I'm still not exactly fanatical about getting organized. Outside of files on my computer, that is.

We got up early today. Too early for a Sunday, and with my fears of our financial ruin still deeply intact from the routing I took yesterday at the mechanic, we set off to the Baltimore Aquarium. I sluggishly walk to the car balancing the coffee, the keys, and the cigarettes like some sort of gypsy performance artist. “Are you sure?” I asked when she offered to pay the admission for the four of us. I know that we’re teammates, and that’s how we’ve been able to tackle everything else we’ve overcome, but I still have this pang of ego every time she pays for me. Even more so when she pays for my children.

See: Goodwill, Children’s clothing
See: Groceries

She smiled and said, “ Yes, you silly! I haven’t been there since I was five, and it’d be a lot of fun to be there with the kids. Now get your ass moving!” Ever the trooper, ever the motivator, ever my love.

Our first stop was to pick up the kids at their mother’s house. This is always an odd place to stop, especially with her in the car. Everyone gets uncomfortable when they get close to each other. Better to be in and out as fast as possible, I told myself. Try and keep Beth from following us back to the car. Of course the kids are only half dressed and still eating breakfast even though I’m ten minutes later than when I told her I’d be here. Of course it looks like they haven’t had a bath and Zoe’s hair is styled so horribly she looks like a character from Gummo. Of course she put the glittery gel in Henry’s hair to make him more effeminate. I take a deep breath, gather my children, and head out the door. Every time I think of the rat shit and sawdust piling up outside the cages in the front room, and the hugely piled dishes in the sink, and the overfull ash trays. I try to remember that she’s been sick, and will straighten the house up when she feels better.

See: White trash
See: Embittered ex-wives

Half way to Baltimore the kids start acting up in the back seat. Henry’s been lashing out at day care, and I finally get to see what the teachers have been complaining about. It’s a temper tantrum that ends with him kicking the back seats and punching the door. For a four year old he sure makes a lot of noise. We weather it and get parked and out of the car as fast as possible.

The Aquarium was as nice a trip as I could have imagined. The kids really enjoyed it. So did Laura. There was a seahorse exhibit that Zoe especially liked, and the dolphin show that stunned and amazed little Henry. I think I made some headway with him about his tantrums. At least I’m hoping I did. I think that I made some progress towards my feelings about us moving farther away from the kids, and me not seeing them quite so often.

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