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I suppose I was hoping for a little pomp to go with the circumstance. Apparently you only get that the first time around.

For those what don't know, after three very long and exhausting years, I finally submitted the official copies of my master's thesis, signed and on lovely cotton paper, to the Dean of the Graduate School. This means that I now have two lovely little letters after my name and I now have proof of my knowledge in Microbiology and Molecular Genetics.

The past week or so leading up to this moment have been largely uneventful -- getting papers signed, making corrections on my thesis, waiting impatiently for my advisor to come back from a conference, and cleaning my leftover crap out of the lab. Luckily, a favorite noder stayed with us this past week; this made being home a lot a whole lot more worthwhile.

Things were finally completed a scant few hours ago, on Monday: I made friends with the staff at Kinko's, copying my thesis onto the expensive paper; I waited three hours for my advisor to return from a meeting to sign my thesis, because I was late for my appointment with him earlier in the day; I delivered one copy of my abstract to the department office; I delivered one copy of my thesis and three copies of my abstract, plus a candidacy form, to the graduate school's administrative assistant; and then I called Chris and my folks. And that was it. It becomes official at some point on Tuesday. Really, I swear.

The thing that got me, though, was that not one person I encountered today made any sort of reaction to the entire event. My advisor said, "Good luck, and keep in touch" and went back to work. The other people in my lab said, "we'll miss you" and went back to work. The people in the graduate office said, "thank you, that's all we need" and went back to work. Even my parents said, "That's great, got a job yet?"

It's not that I was expecting some huge fanfare or anything. I got lots of noder love, which I very much appreciate. I'm not asking for love (although donations are always accepted!). I guess what I want is a sense of finality. It doesn't feel over to me. I still feel like I have to go back and work in the lab again tomorrow. (I don't, but that's beside the point.)

Maybe getting a job will help. If I ever get a job.


For those that are bored and/or having trouble sleeping, I will get around to noding my thesis at some point. In the meantime, read a little bit about the project here and here. (shameless node plug)

A few days ago I found out that my friend had fallen from a balcony, and was in hospital with serious brain damage and a great deal of damage to a lung. Yesterday he had an operation to remove the lung and his heart stopped: his brain was deprived of oxygen for too long. This morning they turned off the life support machine. I wrote this last night, slightly drunk. It's structureless, and rambles. But I'd like people to know about him.

Albert Schweitzer, the Nobel prize winning humanitarian, said this: ‘I always think we all live, spiritually, by what others have given us in the significant hours of our life. These significant hours do not announce themselves as coming, but arrive unexpectedly. Nor do they make a great show of themselves; they pass almost unperceived. Often, indeed, their significance comes home to us first as we look back, just as the beauty of a piece of music or a landscape often strikes us first in our recollection of it...if we had before us those who having thus been a blessing to us, and could tell them how it came about, they would be amazed to know what passed over from their life into ours.’


I wish I had Giles before me now, to tell him what passed over from his life into mine. I would tell him all the ways I would like to be more like him. I would tell him that I would like to possess a little more of his fearlessness when confronted with injustice; his wit; his gregarious charm; his generosity; his passion; his total loyalty to his friends. I would tell him that my life was hugely enriched by his presence in it, and that it is immeasurably diminished by his loss.


Things about Giles. He loved playing football, and he was pretty good at it, albeit better in the showman’s arena of yard than in the artisan’s match environment. He had a thing where he would back into you bobbing the ball on his right foot as he hopped backwards on his left, and then he would suddenly flick it hard and turn you and when it worked it was brilliant. He was an excellent winchester college football player, but instead of going for canvas he opted for the Hopper’s team because he found it more fun. He liked being part of a team, he liked being amongst his friends. He had one of the worst singing voices I’ve ever heard. He was extremely clean, and regularly despaired of the rest of our year’s unhygenic living arrangements. He did these amazing casts of his face for his GCSE art. He was quite extraordinarily bad at latin. He liked playing cards. He liked to think he was good at poker, and was quite proud of his grasp of the terminology. He was brilliant at winding me up, and infuriatingly placid himself. He was a source of good advice when it mattered. He had big ears, and was by reputation short, though in fact by the top year he was one of the tallest among us. He had an enormous, adorable smile, and a similar laugh. I hate to admit it, but he was a handsome chap, with a hint of double oh seven about him. He read The New Yorker religiously, and always passed on the issues he had finished to me. He copied pictures of album covers or famous paintings which he liked and stuck them to his bedsit door. He understood the importance of a good suit. He quite liked looking in the mirror, but he wasn’t excessively vain. He had a silly middle name - Onkatil. He liked going out, and was on occasion replaced by a strategically shaped pile of clothes under the covers on a friday or saturday night. He didn’t like school food much, and could regularly be heard wondering why the cook didn’t use the stock from lunch to make a good soup. He knew how to look after himself better than anyone else in our undomesticated peer group, and could quite easily have survived living on his own. He would have thrived at university. He didn’t suffer fools gladly. He loved going to the theatre, and acting, and had innumerable roles in winchester college productions, including the leads in The Good Person Of Sichuan and The Government Inspector. He was a huge fan of stand-up comedy, too, having been to the Edinburgh Festival. He thought Jane Austen’s creation, Emma Woodhouse, was a manipulative bitch, and stoutly and aggressively defended his opinion throughout a year of heated classroom debates and some of the most infuriatingly bloody minded essays I’ve ever read. He liked all kinds of art. He liked Picasso a lot. He claimed not to believe in love. He wasn’t afraid to stand by his point of view if he thought he was right, which was most of the time. He and I had enormous protracted arguments about all kinds of things in the galleries, occasionally (well, often) keeping the rest of the room awake. He was funny. He was impetuous and idealistic. If he knew the answer, he would definitely put his hand up. He had a young nephew, who he doted on, and went on about. He loved living in London, and was good-naturedly contemptuous of out-of-towners. He called me a stuck-up pretentious git; I called him a short-arse jug-eared sloane. But he wasn’t really, at all. Well, apart from the bit about his ears. He flourished at Winchester. He was just starting, I think, to figure out what he wanted to do. He was interested in philosophy. He died on his nineteenth birthday. He was just beginning. In every way that matters, he was a good person. The last time I spoke to him, he sounded happy. He was right in the middle of becoming a man.


We used to wonder what we would all be like in ten, twenty, thirty years time: I never quite knew with Giles. He could have done so many different things. He might have been a journalist, I think, and he would have been a good one, steadfastly moral and angry enough to write things that felt like they mattered. Perhaps he would have done the thing he dreamed of, and acted: his passion and imagination and willingness to listen and willingness to contribute would have stood him in good stead. I was always confident that his cynicism about the possibility of romantic love would be scuppered by someone. Who knows, now?




The summer before coming to Winchester, aged thirteen, I and twelve other about-to-be-hopperites visited Compton Road for orange juice and a biscuit. We were largely happy ignoring each other and staring at the carpet; but, mothers being mothers, this wasn’t allowed. Which is why my mother firmly took my arm and put her other hand at the base of my back and propelled me, the plump red faced child, towards the short big-eared one, who was under similar parental pressure. He eyed me suspiciously; I eyed him suspiciously. An impasse was reached. His mother exchanged a genial greeting with mine, and we found out, to our mutual chagrin, that we had known each other when we were toddlers. Our excuses to ignore each other were running out. So we talked.


Not much of a story, really, is it? All it has going for it is that it's the first time I remember meeting him. I can’t even remember what we said, and I don’t suppose it was terribly interesting anyway.This is the trouble with real life. it’s messy, and things don’t tend to fit into a narrative pattern with logical beginnings and ends. And in a film, you would snort at this. A real deus ex machina, an ending with no relationship with the rest of the story. This is much how it seems in real life. Giles’ death was untimely and unnecessary and senseless. But it happened; and, as hard as it is to believe, he is no longer with us.

Giles hated phrases like that. He hated the way people pussyfoot around death. he insisted on total honesty, all the time.


We went to a house dance, for many of us the first such occasion, aged fourteen. these events are joyless exercises in superficiality. I was joylessly exercising my superficiality in the corner, staring glumly at a girl I liked: Giles came up to me, asked me what I was doing, listened carefully but with a hint of exasperation at how silly I was being, and, rather like my mother, briskly propelled me towards her, offering me very little choice in the matter. That the object of my affection had the good sense to tell me where to go is not the point: without his help I would have stayed there, standing in the corner. I think there are other people that Giles helped not to stand in the corner.


Giles was one of the most opinionated people I’ve ever met. He was famous for an argument about political correctness with a prospective parent at lunch which led to a snort of derisive laughter which silenced grubbing hall. He understood the importance of believing in things, and he believed in them properly.


It may not be possible for anyone who hasn’t spent five years in a boarding house in a group of thirteen to realise how close the bonds that develop are. It is truly more like brotherhood than friendship, in the way that it requires the ability to live and work alongside these people when they are driving you crazy: and because you have known these people through thick and thin, because they have seen you and you them at your best and worst, because they have heard you fart and caught you lying and understand you with a kind of intimacy impossible even to parents, the loss of a member of such a group is a devastating blow. You would never say it their faces, but you love these people. I loved Giles, and he was one of the people that I knew best in the world. his loss is literally incomprehensible. Everyone always says, after such an event, that they can’t quite believe it has happened, and I understand that now. I get that you can’t quite switch off the expectation that at some point you will walk through a door and he will be sitting drinking a cup of Earl Gray, which he loved; that even though you know the words ‘Giles is dead’ to be accurate, you don’t quite know them to be true.


It keeps re-occurring to me. As absurd as it sounds, I forget even as I write this. I remember something about him, and think about it, and then it hits me again.


There is no way of making sense of this, really, hard as one tries. Better to have lived nineteen happy years - and I think, by and large, that Giles was happy, though who can ever really tell? - than a thousand miserable, yes; but better live ninety than nineteen. This was senseless, and pointless, and such a waste. If there is any consolation to be found, it may be in these words of Rilke’s: ‘In the end, those who are carried off no longer need us; they are weaned from the earth’s sorrows and joys, as gently as children outgrow the soft breasts of their mothers. But we, who do need such great mysteries, we for whom grief is so often the source of our spirits’ growth; could we exist without them? Is the legend meaningless that tells how in the lament for Linus, the daring first notes of song pierced through the barren numbness; and then in the startled space which a youth as lovely as a god has suddenly left forever, the void felt for the first time that harmony which now enraptures and comforts and helps.’


Even so. None of this helps, really. I miss him, already, more than words can say.

I don't daylog, blah blah blah, but this is a bit of self promotion - a few people have asked me about this, so I'm collating the info here, and it doesn't really belong anywhere else. Unless I'm allowed to create a node called Hey Guys, My Short Film Is Out Now!! Love Me!!! or something, but I guess I'm not. Which is just fucking CENSORSHIP, man.

A while back I won a scriptwriting competition run by the UK Sci Fi Channel. The prize? Have your short script professionally made into a proper short film (10 minutes), and released in the UK along with Men In Black 2, and trawled around the film festivals for ever and ever (go here - www.uk.scifi.com/htmlsite/winner2.asp - for more details, and a picture of me gurning; yes, I had to wear that t-shirt for the publicity, but I got a free GameCube, so what the hell, I'll be your whore if I get free stuff). Pretty fucking cool. I got to do rewrites, collaborate on the creative process, watch the filming, see a rough edit, and all that happy horseshit that is so exciting to me. Due to many and various reasons, it wasn't released with MIB2 - thank God, apparently it sucks big floppy donkey dicks, and nobody I know wanted to see it (MIB2, not mine).

But now, finally, it's out. It'll only be on at UCI cinemas round the country, but that's still a good few (but NOT Empire Leicester Square who are not showing it for some reason, or Lee Valley, who fucking lost their copy, the dumbasses). At the moment it's showing with The Bourne Identity, the Matt Damon Euro spy thriller remake amnesia shooty bang bang fisticuffs type thing, which is a top notch piece of cinema. If you're near a UCI cinema (NOT UCG, please, I cannot and will not be held responsible etc etc), and were going to see Matt kick some ass anyway, check it out - my short will be on just before it. No cinema showing at the moment, I'll update this when it's out again - I haven't even seen the bloody thing myself, yet. It's called Cheap Rate Gravity, and according to the rating from the BBFC (http://makeashorterlink.com/?A277265E1) it contains scenes of "mild fantasy peril" - nice! gnarl says i want 'mild fantasy peril' on a tshirt now. - Well folks, I copied his idea shamelessly, and now I have that t-shirt. Fuck, could I get any further up my own ass? Update: Apparently, yes, I can. Check out www.monkeyshatner.co.uk/cheap.html for a scan of the official certificate they sent me. Nice! I have seen the short, finally, and enjoyed it very much. There were one or two shots where the wire removal was a bit shoddy, my cameo didn't make the final cut, and I hate the added line "I'm adrift", but everything else was great, I'm totally pleased with it. Other cool thing? As I had a cameo in it, and it starred Phyllis Logan who has a Bacon number of 2, that technically means that I now have a Bacon number of 3. I have a Bacon number! Wooowooooo, etc etc. There, I think that's as far up my own ass as I can get, thankyou and goodnight.

It should be on with a few more films soon too, apparently it'll be with Halloween: Resurrection on the 25th October, but I hear that's a big pile of shit, so you may as well catch it with a decent movie before then. I'll keep this writeup updated with any news or changes. These are the UCI cinema details, if and when the short is out again:

Update:

The short will be showing from 14th February 2003 at all UCI cinemas with Final Destination 2, so get along and see it!

For UK viewers in London:

UCI Surrey Quays, Redriff Road - Surrey Quays (East London line) or Canada Water (Jubilee line) tube station

UCI Filmworks Greenwich - fuck knows, it's in the middle of nowhere - check www.thefilmworks.co.uk for maps and stuff

UCI Whiteleys - Bayswater tube (District and Circle line)

The Whiteleys one is probably easiest to get to. Go to http://makeashorterlink.com/?R2BA317F1 - it's the blue building in the middle. I haven't got a copy yet, but if you want to wait until I do, that's cool, I'm not forcing anyone to pay 8 quid (after 5pm and weekends, 5.75 before 5pm) to see a 10 minute film that you might not even like.

Outside London: Go to www.uci-cinemas.co.uk, click on What's On, and choose your nearest area.

Ireland, rest of Europe, USA, rest of the world: tough luck. You have two choices: wait for it to be tramped round to a film festival near you, hoping that serendipity will prevail, or just come and visit me when I have a VHS copy. Actually, there's a third choice: you can ignore the whole thing, and manage to get on with your life quite easily. But for the purposes of this daylog, I am the most important person in the universe.

And as this is a daylog, some personal detail: Virgin Radio just played November Rain, but faded it out juuuuust before the wicked geetar solo, which is shocking behaviour, although not as bad as their day of tragi-tainment when they played 911 calls + screams of terror over records on the Sep. 11th anniversary. For lunch I had KFC chips, a large banana (one medium brown spot), a Cadbury Fudge, and a packet of Nice and Spicy Nik Naks. I haven't failed any tests, broken up with anyone, or argued with my mother, so I apologise for the lack of angst. But hey, I guess you just wouldn't understand anyway...

I am always saddled with one or two toxic people who are, for some reason attracted to me for friendship. Perhaps it's because I'm a very giving, supportive person, to the point of fault. I very often sacrifice my own happiness, health, wellbeing...whathaveyou to please the people around me. (Yes, I'm in therapy for it). But it gets to the point where I'm nauseated at the thought of encountering them. I have to walk on eggshells around them, careful of every word, picking comments like strange produce, making sure that I don't unknowingly set off or offend my 'friends' which will result in beratement or crying or the silent treatment or sniping behind my back.

Luckily, last year I cut off relations with one of my toxic girls, telling her simply that she was making me 'unhappy'. She of course wept and apologized and promised not to be mean anymore. And I said, "too bad". It felt good actually.

Today, I had a 'friend' of mine, who is bipolar, depressed and a bit prone to rage call me a bitch and say "still whining about that baby you can't seem to have?" Then, she had another friend of hers email me and ask "why are you so mean to her? You know she has depression." And that was the last straw. She's out. I HAVE DEPRESSION AS WELL. I don't use that depression and the medication and the therapy as an excuse to be rude and cruel to people. I don't use my depression for sympathy or a free pass to be an asshole to people. DON'T PLAY THE DEPRESSION CARD with someone who has the same fucking thing. YOU ARE OUT OF THE FRIEND GROUP.

I won't really tell her she's out, because she'd revel in that rejection and tell everyone what a horrible person she must be to have me reject her. I'm just going to be cordial, and quiet, and not let her get to me. I'm thirty years old now, and I don't need this eighth grade bullshit.

Another Tuesday, like so many, at least from the start of it.

No classes today, so I woke up late, not till perhaps 1 or 1:30 - the covers began to get too heavy, too warm, too much noise outside, the desire to check my message inbox... the desire to paint a little, before dinner.

Dreamed some last night, can't remember so much now, mostly about being back in Thailand with the students and professors I was there with before, only Thailand looked like the University Circle area of Cleveland.

Spent too long staring at the computer, far too long. Played the mix I created for ailie, but have not been able to burn, as I have not put my burner back in my computer. I still like the way it sounds:

Short, sweet, nice mix for running, I think, which is what she wanted... if only it hadn't take three months to make.

Sold the semi-functional power board from my PowerBook G3 (Wallstreet), and mailed that. Picked up postcard stamps at the post office - hopefully, will mail the postcards I have had sitting around, before too long. Glanced briedly at my empty box. At least there aren't any bills.

Drove away from the post office far too fast. Up and down a hilly road with a speed limit of 50, going 70, 75, 80, 85... trying to make my minivan fly, I think. No success there. Slowed down, made the turn off...still trying to go far too fast. Good thing I don't have a cute little Honda or something. Might kill myself.

Barreled down the gravel and dirt road at the field station, till I remembered smacking my transmission against one of the bumps, yesterday. Slammed on the brakes, did a donut. What the hell am I thinking?

Just here to look at the area I am painting, to get the compostion right. It is but a minute or two from the observation building, where I park my minivan, windows open.

So I sit there, and look at the landscape I am painting. I can't seem to focus on it, and I don't really care. I lie down on the bench , there, for a minute, lake on one side of me, trail on the other, and I just don't care. I look up, and it is there. I want to go back to my minivan, but I feel the need to go on. A good walk would do me well.

My plan is to walk a little, then go back to my minivan, which has, after all, a bunch of stuff in it - power tools, a cd player, a laptop... all that.

So I walk. I walk and walk and walk. I walk quickly, and with purpose, like I walk everywhere, trying to get to the end as quickly as possible.

The air gets cooler, as I walk into the old growth beech-maple grove... the trees block out most of the sunshine. I continue walking, a little slower, passing through the occasional patch of sunshine. The old growth forest is a beautiful thing.

I continue walking, a bit slower, choosing the longer loop. I begin to see strange hoses coming out of trees, connecting a few of them... I wonder if it is some sort of strange sculpture... after a while, I realize that they are sugar maples... soon I see huge masses of these hoses, connecting many of them, leading into larger and larger hoses... Why don't we have maple syrup in the cafeteria?

Walking, walking... the occasional sound of a bulldozer reminds me of the importance of this preserve.

Walking still... eventually passing the halfway point... thinking of stealing one of the "No Tresspassing" signs, which detail the ownership of this plot by the college.... thinking of stealing one of the transcontinental cable signs... not doing that either.

More walking, at a nice, leisurely pace.

Eventually, a bridge, over a stream, with a rock bottom. I lean backwards, so close to falling over... but why?

It looks dark. The trees do not let much light through... It looks to be almost six, maybe seven... I hurry.

Back in the van, sunlight, 4:30pm. Back to campus, more e2, more other stuff, blah.

Opening for a show at the campus art gallery. Visiting photo professor. Not getting drunk on cheap wine. Colin was shocked to hear that I had stopped drinking, saying that it was so much of who I was. Came as a bit of a shock... didn't realize I did it THAT much. Free food is good. Cookies! Cheese!

A couple hours of painting, some progress, I think. Can I get another seven finished in the next seven or eight weeks? Maybe.

This was the second entry in my DeadJournal for the day. I felt that it was worth posting here because it was one of the first times I opened up and was honest about myself.

It's been a chaotic week for me. It all started on our way to Café Soda last Tuesday. I'd been feeling down because I couldn't get access to my email (see the entry 24/09/2002 "The Day Telia Started To Suck Hardcore"). I told him I was feeling down because of that and that generally I wasn't satisfied with who I was, how other people saw me and where I was going. He told me that I could talk to him about this kind of stuff. I preceeded to open up like a tin can and we talked about why I felt this way. We finally figured out that I didn't see myself as having a particular purpose or function in the group and that it made me feel lost and listless, having no direction. Steve told me that I'm basically the "Mad Scientist" of the group, and I was sure of at least something that day.

Since then, it's like all kinds of things that have been bothering me have come to the surface. I know that it's good for me to deal with these issues, but it doesn't seem that way when you're at the bus stop at 8am on a Tuesday morning and you start missing your old friends in Australia because you feel that they at least tolerate your presence, or that they've gotten used to your bad points.

And it affects you. I was quite snappish to Bernado and Selina yesterday when Bernado asked "what took you so long?". It'd taken me damn near half an hour of a ten-minute walk to find the fuckin' frisbee golf course and I wasn't feeling superhappy to start with. But to have that be the first question he asked really pissed me off. It was like a "well thanks a fucking bunch, I really feel how much you appreciated me showing up in the first place you inconsiderate shit" kind of feeling (not that I actually believe you are an inconsiderate shit, but that's what I felt at the time, OK?). And lately, I realised how distant I had become to one of the others in the group (this'd be Personality Clash No. 2 at last count). And when that happens, you feel not only a sense of loss because the illusion that you'll keep being friends with them after exchange is shattered, but failure because you feel that you failed them and yourself in not being likeable and anger because you think "well, other people like me for being myself so what the fuck is this person's problem?". A sad, sad cocktail of emotions. I know you get past it, "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger", etc etc. But still.

One thing I do know is that this is bringing Steve and me closer together. Sunday night I talked to him for an hour and a half about lots of things that have happened in the past. Perhaps it's his new interest in Reiki that's given him a new perspective on things. To me, it's another way of explaining basic principles of human group psychology but either way it makes sense. I've gained insight into my influence on past events that I wouldn't have asked about back then. And it feels good to know that in the past you have been a cool person, that people have for a period of time been glad that they are with you at that time.

But now, I feel that I'm better off if I'm honest about how I feel. As I said yesterday, the catharsis that I get from telling someone what I'm feeling is great. It's like I need another perspective on things so I don't kick my own arse too hard. There still is the voice inside my head that says "stop it, suck it up, stop crying for attention, don't burden other people with your problems", but, well, fuck it. I'm better off this way.

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