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It was warm that day, really warm for late September. I guess I was okay with the way things were working out. I'd been in college for a while, getting used to the proverbial daily grind, and then I meet her.

Always a her, isn't it.

Kate Guyot. She usually calls herself Katie but I prefer Kate. She's a Kate to me. I met her at the end of my Japanese class back then, on that day. The excuse I made up for talking to her was that her pronounciation was really good. The more I reflect on that the more foolish it sounds. There was something more, a reason for me to talk to her that I couldn't vocalize, so I just talked to her. That was the beginning of me learning how to just say things.

We talked as we walked out of the building. We talked as we walked toward my dorm. I live on 11th Avenue. She lives on 3rd, off campus. As we reached 11th, I kept walking with her. 10th. 9th. King. 8th. 7th. 6th. 5th. We turn on 4th, and go down to Michigan where we find her apartment. She lets me in.

The hours go on. Two o'clock. Three. I realize I've missed my math class. I don't care. She misses hers. She doesn't care. Before we are aware, it is now 11PM, and I do not wish to walk home. I sleep on her couch. We awake, and go to Japanese again the next morning. Then, she goes with me to my dorm. We spend the rest of the day together, and she sleeps in our chair. Japanese again, and we depart. A total of 50 hours. This is not due to pronounciation, certainly.

We talked that night she stayed with me. I talked about how unhappy I was with my life. A cliche topic, but it was met with her concern. She told me about herself. Her life. She knew pain well. Not my pain, but her own. And she told me about how I could live more. How if I just stopped worrying about it, it would go away. It would stop bothering me. These were words I had told myself a thousand times but as they came out of her mouth, I had only response to her.

"You know, congrats. You've successfully made me want to curl up in a ball and cry, and I do not hate you for it. I thank you."

Kate revealed to me that my life was more. This is what I realized today. She has shown me how to walk the path. I see now what to do, and I do my best to do it. I have never been this happy, this energized. I want to share it with everyone. This is a feeling I want every human to have.

So as I sit here, I worry about her. I have not seen her for five days, when for three I ought to. She is a point of heavy concern, severe fear in my heart. And yet, I am not crying. She has taught me much.

Kate, if by some miracle you ever discover E2, find this node. Read this, and know that I feel what you've done is something worth professing from rooftops.

Update:She's fine, thank Gods.

The broken will of Sir Norris

day one - day two - day three - day four

The sound of the burning tobacco crackling off into ash, the smoke curling into the cold night air, mixing gently with your breath. Shared smokes on dark roads late at light or in sheltered hideouts at work or in the overgrown lane before school, our exhaled smoke combining as we shiver in the winter frost. Half-time cigarettes at distant football grounds in drizzling rain. That last, solitary cigarette at night, alone in the garden staring at the stars. The well-known feeling of a skinny rolled-up cigarette between nicotine-stained fingers. Filling an ashtray over a many a cup of black coffee and a scribbled-on notebook in a run-down cafe.

So I mentioned in yesterday's daylog that I would cease the everyday daylogging I had begun. However I also stated my intention to break my addiction, but last night I gave in. I accepted and smoked a cigarette. And it was glorious; the feel of the hot smoke hitting the back came to me as a long-lost friend returning; warm and comfortable.

So many of my memories involve smoking. So many shared cigarettes. So many friends I met solely because of our shared affliction. So many thoughts and ideas I would never have had if I had not sought a place to smoke in solitude.

After over ten years -- 87600 hours -- of smoking, I thought that 48 hours of not smoking was such an achievement; It had been fifty-four hours since my last cigarette, before I fell.

There are many nodes on here about smoking, giving up, cigaretetes, why we smoke, why we shouldn't smoke, why we should smoke, why smoking's cool, why smoking's stupid... I read pretty much all of them last night. There are some amazing words written about smoking. There is so much romance and atmosphere in these nodes -- or is that my mind playing tricks on me? Attaching importance to my chemical-induced reward. Then the real cravings hit me. I accepted a cigarette. The weakness inside can come out and be seen by all, symbolised by the rising smoke.

It was a calm decision to start smoking again; there was no guilt, no shame. Just like it was a calm decision to give up again afterwards. The mellow afterglow in my nicotine-warmed body was being replaced by the hell of the last two days of cold turkey and I don't want to feel that again.

I've read a lot about techniques for giving up, and it occurs to me that I just wan't ready; I wasn't adequately prepared. So that's my new focus: to do it by the book; set a date, organise myself, analyse what makes me smoke and attack each cause one by one.

Thanks again to those of you who have /msged me support and help. I haven't given up giving up just yet...

It's been twelve hours since my last cigarette...

day one - day two - day three - day four

As of today I have been alive for 23 years, and I think that today is going to turn out extremely well despite that I have to work all day. My wife got me concert tickets to see Brooks & Dunn next week at the Shoreline Amphitheater. Big & Rich are the opening band. She's not terribly fond of country music, and she hates Big & Rich, but apparently she could see my longing to go every time the disc jockey talked about the concert while she drove me to work. I can't wait (and I think she'll like Brooks & Dunn — they are the CMA duo of the year, after all).

A little over a week ago, we bought a queen-sized bed. It will be quite an upgrade from the full we sleep on now. We only have one set of sheets, but I think that will change at Christmas; she loves Egyptian cotton, and I can take a hint. J.C. Penney will be delivering the bed between 11:00 A.M. and 3:00 P.M. today, so we'll get to (hopefully) wake up well rested and comfortable tomorrow.

Also, I'd like to start a new birthday tradition for myself today. Instead of thinking just about what I'm getting that I'm thankful for, I'd like to think about everything that I already have that I should be thankful for. Too Thanksgiving for you? Too bad. It's my birthday, and I'll write what I want to.

    I am blessed with the following wonderful things, and my life would not be the same without them:
  • my wife, Jennifer (who makes every day better)
  • good friends (Julie and Katie have already wished me a happy birthday via LiveJournal)
  • my parents (who phoned Sunday and sent me a warm zipper sweatshirt to use as a coat during San José's winter months)
  • my cat, Brutus (who whines a lot, but at least he's cute)
  • and e2 (who distract me from work and entertain me in the catbox)

My stomach asks me, "why is there a hell when pain like this exists on Earth?" And I just don't know what to say to her anymore.

It should be noted that for the past few days, chinese food has been the only thing I've been forcing down my throat. I know there is MSG in the food. My stomach. She knows things. She tells me what she knows.

And she knows there is MSG.

I love this pain. The delicious rapture of the syrupy sesame chicken fufilling my unholy hunger, tantalizing the most erotic and secret places of my mouth. And the rice. The goddamn rice. The golden yellow, fried rice, which shines brighter than all the suns in the infinite cosmos. I swear. I should get more for lunch.

So anyways. I am in school right now, and its proving to be as exciting as an anal douche with scalding hot water. I don't know about you, but anal douches with scalding hot water are what I'm used to. I'm jaded. It's lost it's edge in my old years.

In other news, a KMFDM concert approaches. It is to be held in Lawrence, a good two hours and thirty minutes away from my current location, this saturday, and I have made it a point to attend.

See, I've only been to one major concert in my 17 years of existence (what a nerd!) That was, what, a year or two ago? Seether and Evanescence? EWWW! My first experience with music recitals of that caliber was not pleasant; the people were drunk and ill-tempered as a result, I was unfamiliar with the music (and the few bits I DID know were really, really crappy,) and in the words of the lead singer of Breaking Benjamin (one of the opening bands), "you guys chose the wrong fuckin' day to wear black." The heat. My GOD, the heat! It probably wouldn't have been bad if my wardrobe had not come into play... but anyway.

KMFDM should be a bit different. Hopefully. The tickets are posing to be a fantastic worry right now. I need to place the order today so they'll arrive at noon on saturday, at the very latest.

Come hell or high water, I WILL go to that concert.

You guys just watch!

The first bit:

They say swearing is a crutch for inarticulate motherfuckers. At times I think they mean me, and I'm pretty sure my lips will fall off from all the swearwords coming out of my mouth. But, you know, then I remember that lips coming off from excess profanity was something my mother scared newbie little me with back when I tried hard to grow up.

Then I pinch my lip, establish that it's still there and get the last laugh. Sorry, mum. I haven't tested the theory on other parts of my body, because doing so would be a bit socially unacceptable even up here where we according to the US Department of Stereotyping have orgies on the underground stations while we wait for train number four.

Maybe we do? Who knows.

The second bit:

Sometimes when you use things for the wrong purpose, they do indeed fall off. A couple of days ago a big chunk fell off me after being used for purposes it wasn't designed for. Since it's none of your business, I won't tell you much about it. I'll tell you nothing but this: don't ever use yourself or someone you care for as wallpaper or raw material for real or fictitious accounts of something that may or may not happen. The outcome can be very unexpected and painful, especially when the stuff you hammer out evokes imagery from the secret compartments inside someone's brain. The slightly glow-in-the-dark bits containing primal fear, rejection, shame and self esteem the size and appearance and of a dried, moldy pea.

Let's just say I have a newfound appreciation of the usual disclaimers found at the end of most movies and TV films: This is fiction. I don't care who you think it looks like.

So who did I think it looked like? Who the fuck knows.

The third bit:

I called up Fred today, but he was on vacation so he couldn't answer any questions I had. In hindsight, perhaps for the better. I had many questions and a plan. Some thoughts and plans deserve insanely great amounts of rumination, if nothing else than for you to become used to them. When you've become used to a grand plan bordering on wet dream, you'll think less of it, and it takes its rightful place on your prioritised list of things you absolutely must do. It ends up a bit nearer the bottom than you originally placed it, bobbing up and down in your subconscious.

I've been after an Alfa Romeo Montreal for some time, and somewhere in the German heartland, in a town the size of a football field, one was offered up for sale. The eccentric old guy who owns it was either too old to bother with it anymore or he was simply tired of it. After all, he's had it since 1977. Fred was supposed to tell me the trials and tribulations of owning one, servicing one and buying one. But, since he was away on vacation and his mobile sounded like it was trapped inside a laundromat driven by an afterburning jet engine, he couldn't talk. He'll be back on monday or thereabouts, and by then my carefully constructed no-slack plan will be roadkill. No pun intended.

I'm sticking to the plan, but some other guy might beat me to it. Maybe the old German millionaire gets a fit of second thought about the whole thing too.

Who the fuck knows.

The fourth bit:

The worst part of being stuck at home with 7000 pages of text describing the ins and outs of various pieces of software is that it takes on being thoroughly useless after a few weeks. That's a pretty dumb thing to think when you're trying to claw and elbow your way to the fata morgana-esque title of MCSE. If someone were to evaluate my ability to think pretty dumb things during the last two weeks, they would likely come up with excellent, adequate or possibly recommended for company dumbass position. Every company have those.

I mean, Microsoft have devised solutions for problems no sane systems adminstrator should ever have. It's either like some sly Slovenian sysadmin or a bored Belgian backup operator sat down one day and quietly thought to themselves "Hey! I've scripted my entire job in Perl! Now what? Maybe I should send Microsoft some bizarre software feature requests?"

I think they did, because the Ballmer storm troopers of nested Active Directory group membership death tells me all the time that the bizarre and absurd features in their stuff was requested by customers. Don't tell a soul that it was that guy from Belgium, and don't get anny funny ideas. I'm trying to eke out a living on helping people with systems that are immensely more complex than - and arguably as useful for your daily life - as Apollo 10's lunar module.

But will I ever become certified?

Fuck yeah.

The loose bit:

The down arrow key keeps falling off my laptop keyboard, even though I swear I have only used it for scrolling down. It's a bit ironic. I should tell my mother about this. Wonder if I'll get the last laugh.

Like I said: who knows.

For You Know Who,

I hope you have found what you are looking for.

“Do you know who I am?” she said,
“I’m the one who taps you on the shoulder when it’s your time
Don’t be afraid I promise that she will awake

Ever since I came back to work last week from holiday, Friday was looking bad. He was lame again in his right hind leg- which had suffered suspensory ligament damage in January- and now his left hind hoof was also pulsating with heat. Any movement was done in extreme agony. The best I could offer him for the time being was a gram of phenylbutazone (a NSAID commonly called "bute"), stall rest, stable bandages, and a call to his owner.

"Is there anything else you'd like me to do for him?"
"No, not really... Though I guess you could offer him another dose of bute. Are you sure it's not an abscess or anything like that?"
Friday's hooves were virtually like granite. She knew that. So did I.
"Yeah, I'm pretty sure. He's behaving just like he did when his right one went bad."
Big sigh. "Okay. Well, I can't come up today. I'll have a look at him when I come up tomorrow. Michelle will be coming for her lesson at 10."
"That's fine. See you then."

I have come for the Beekeeper
I know you want -
You want my Queen -
Anything but this
Can you use me instead?

I knew the pattern that was about to begin. Friday's owner, my boss, is a woman who uses optimism as a form of denial. A big fan of the "wait and see" method, she usually ends up getting burned emotionally and financially for it. Not that I blame her in this instance. She's known Friday all his life. Her cousin's family bred him. He's been hers since he was thirteen, and he's twenty-nine now. He's been a top dressage horse. There's not a student in that barn that hasn't ridden him. He's been a teacher, a therapist. He was her children's favourite. He helped children with disabilities discover the joys of riding. A real "super horse" in her eyes. However, given his age, and the fact he has Cushing's syndrome, she shouldn't be expecting any miracles.

By Thursday morning, Friday was looking more upbeat. He was still limping a bit, but at least he didn't look as if he was going to fall over each time he moved laterally. I wasn't really surprised. He had done this back in January as well. Dead lame one day and 85% sound the next. My boss was pleased to see this. She theorized to me that he probably overdid it on the grass, as it is rich this time of year. We agreed that he should be on "bute therapy" (1g bute with every meal) and his time out on grass should be reduced.

The next day was as if nothing had ever happened. Friday was allowed to go out, but I gave him a gram of bute. I also kept his wraps on as a precaution. He and his buddies were turned out in an all-weather paddock where there is little grass and their forage (hay) consumption is monitored. Predictably, my boss was very happy to see he was outside. She informed me that the vet was coming next week to do vaccinations. He would have a look at Friday then.

I cannot accept that she will be taken from me

Saturday comes and goes. I return to work on Sunday. As I'm going through the routine of feeding breakfast, I can't figure out why Friday won't get out of my way as I enter his stall. It's not until I begin to turn him out that it begins to click.

He can't move.


Upon closer observation, I see that he is also shaking and sweating with the effort just to stay standing. I make the call.

"Hello, I'm calling to give you a Friday update.",
"Oh dear... Is he bad?"
"He can hardly walk."
"And you gave him some bute this morning?"
"I can't come up there today. I just- can't. My whole family's sick, and I've really got to work on my billing."
"That's fine." The little voice in my head is screaming at my overly patient nature. No, it's not 'fine'. Your horse is suffering needlessly and this is not right.
"Give him a large dose of bute now, and again at dinnertime. Call me tomorrow if there's no change. I'll call John and see what we can do. I'll let my kids know in the meantime. I know they're going to be upset."
"Sure thing."
"I'm sorry to dump this all on you. I know it can't be easy for you either. I've only known this horse for nearly thirty years. It's going to take me some time to prepare."
"I understand."
"Thank you."

The holiday weekend brought extra riders to the barn. They'd look at Friday and shake their heads.

"So what's she gonna do?"
"The usual. If nothing changes by tomorrow, she'll call the vet. He's coming Thursday anyways." The words felt weak.
"That's not right. He should be put down."
"I know."

I must see the Beekeeper
I must see if she’ll keep her alive

Monday arrived and nothing had changed. I cringed as I added the mega dose of bute to Friday's feed. It's recommended that no horse should ever receive more than 4g of bute in a 24-hour period. He was getting six; 3g twice a day. He didn't even call out as his friends walked by him on their way out to the paddocks. Once again, I was on the phone.

"Okay, I'll call John right now. I'm almost done my paperwork here. After dinner, I'll bring my family up to see him and I'll decide then what to do. I know they're going to be upset, especially Geoffery."

"I know, but I think seeing him like this will be more upsetting."

Tuesday morning I arrive at the barn earlier than normal. This was due largly in part that I woke up at 12:15AM, then again at 2:30, again at 3:40, and by 5:55, I gave in and got up. Friday remained the same, though by now, the painkillers were giving him a spaced out look. I notice the note in the log book my boss had written last night:

Gave Friday 10cc flunixin meglumine (Banamine) at 7:30pm.

He looks really bad.

Lady, you're preachin' to the choir, here. The phone rings.

"Hi there. I talked with John last night, He can't come today...he's booked solid. He's coming tomorrow. I'm coming up around 10 or so. I'll bring you a coffee."

When she arrived, we talked about what would happen. The vet would come to put Friday down at 3:00pm. It was a rather morbid scene; here we were, standing in front of Friday's stall, watching him eat, as we sip our coffees and discuss his pending death. Not like he particularly cared. At that moment, he was higher than Timothy Leary.

"I always said I would do it when I knew for certain it's his time. It's his time. I thought about waiting until after the weekend, so all the students could get a chance to say goodbye, but you know, I think it'll be a lot easier to tell everyone after it's been done."

I merely nodded and sipped my coffee.

Flaxen hair blowing in the breeze
It is time for the geese to head south

Wednesday morning dawned like all the other days this week had dawned- cold, cloudy, and misty with drizzle. I went though my morning routine as I have had countless of other mornings before. Everyone would go out- including Friday. I figured why not, what's it going to do, kill him? I've barely begun my morning when the phone rings.

"I was thinking... Well, John's coming tomorrow, and I'd hate to have him come all this way twice... Plus Joanne will be running the therapeutic program at the same time, and I don't want to upset any of them with the sight... Well, what do you think, can he handle another day?"

No. "Well, let me see..."
"Tell you what, I'll let you think about it for a bit. Call me back in about ten minutes or so?"
"Sure." I had already made up my mind, however. I wasn't going to let her put us all back on that emotional rollercoaster again. I continued with my turnout.

I saved the old man for last, knowing that leading him out would take time. Not just for him, but for myself as well. His first dozen steps came easily, and then he stopped, the pain finding a crack in the drug-fog shield of his brain. I coax him along gently, telling him all his friends are waiting for him outside. Their paddock is out behind the arena, and we must walk through it to get there. We walk through the darkness out into the relative lightness of the outdoors. His friends are at the far end, and as they see us come, they all raise their heads and watch. All the horses in the neighbouring paddocks do the same. I let him go and he eagerly joined his friends. In that moment, I knew that is how it would be in the end for him. He would find himself walking out towards all the friends that have gone before him, who are waiting for him on the other side.

I made the call. "It's time. I don't see the need to keep him going just for convenience. It's not fair to him, or us."
"Allright... I'll let John know nothing's changed."

I left for lunch just as my boss arrived. I told her that I had turned Friday out to be with his friends one last time. She said she would bring everyone in while I was at lunch, so she could take Friday out for a few final moments. It was 1:30pm.

I returned at 2:15pm. Only two horses were left outside. I went to go get them. On my way I passed my boss with Friday grazing on the lawn. I asked her if she'd like a cup of coffee.

"That would be great."
"What do you take?"
"Double cream, one sugar."

I brought the remaining two horses in and went to the tack room to make her and myself a cup of coffee. I didn't even hear the vet's truck drive up. I walked out the barn and around to the side where we had agreed would be the best spot for Friday just in time to see him go down.

Maybe I’m passing you by
Just passing you by girl
On my way
On my way
I’m just passing you by
But don’t be confused

Euthanasia of horses via lethal injection is a two-step process. First, the vet intravenously administers a tranquillizer, in order to drop the horse to the ground. Once he is down, the vet then injects the lethal dose of barbiturate. Done correctly, it is the least stressful method to both horse and human.

"It was absolutely amazing. Friday just kept right on grazing until he dropped."

Friday grunted a bit as the vet squeezed the barbiturate home into his neck. Afterwards we sat and chatted. We talked mainly about bad drivers for some odd reason, as we waited for the drugs to do their work. About ten minutes passed, and the vet checked for a pulse.

"Well Friday, I think you're dead."

We got up and walked over to his truck. My boss thanked him for his work. He was rather pragmatic.

"The fact is, we're all going to end up like that one day whether we like it or not. We're a lot kinder to them than we are to ourselves. If I'm ever diagnosed with cancer or something incurable, I just hope that in my last moments, I have enough strength to get to this." He waved the bottle of barbiturate.

We said our goodbyes and he was off. I told my boss that I would get a pair of scissors for her to collect some hairs from his mane and tail. That way she could have a few moments alone with Friday before the dead stock removal arrived. While she did, I would busy myself with the task of removing his nameplate and putting another horse in the stall.

"I can't be the only person this is hard on, is it?" she asked, trying to smile through her tears.
"No, no you're not the only one," I remember the scene from this morning, of Friday walking to greet his friends one final time. "but what I think- what I'd like to think- is that he's with friends. Wherever he is, he's with friends."

This morning, I thought I would be a wreck the moment I'd walk in and see Doobie, not Friday, looking out of that stall. Doobie seemed to sense this and was very solemn with his greeting. The whole barn was, in fact. We all had been reminded of our mortality, that nothing lasts forever. But life goes on, and no one can say when their time will come.

One day I’ll be coming for you…

Small text is excerpts from Tori Amos "The Beekeeper." The Beekeeper, 2005

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