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Well, it appears that my summer vacation is finally coming to an end. I've had a job offer extended to me, and after the obligatory background check, I should be rejoining the workforce once again. I will miss sitting around in my pajamas at four in the afternoon. I will miss the complete lack of responsibility. I will not miss worrying about whether my unemployment check is going to show up.

This was the greatest summer in my life. It feels like a few months of lazing around shouldn't count for so much, but it does. For a large majority of the time I was stress free, mooching off my wife's paychecks while she encouraged me to do so. This is the last break I'll have in a long time, as next year I will be supporting both of us. I hope that, at some point in my life, I will be able to repay this summer of my wife. I've tried to explain it to her on several occasions, but I don't think that my feelings were properly conveyed.

Perhaps all of this will be a catalyst for a change in my relationship with my fat ass. My inactivity in the last few months has caused a natural and painfully successful weight gain. I'm not enormous, but it was enough that I can tell the difference. Commuting will certainly shave off a little, but perhaps now would be the time to start going to the gym again. I had a passing relationship with the Y last winter, and perhaps I could start that again.

And the smoking. The fucking smoking. Just when I think that's licked, it bites me in the face. I'm about as quit as a guy who smokes a few a day can be. There are patches in the house again, something I never thought would happen. Even as I'm sitting here typing this, my mind is outside smoking. I cannot let this urge throw me back where I was before. I'll work through this somehow, probably by sitting at a desk for hours at a time.

It's been stressful. I'm glad we're coming to the end.

This write-up may look like a daylog, but it is actually an attempt to start writing again up in here. Things need polishing, apparently.

My, it's been a weird day. Got up after a long night's non-sleep, with the assistance of a friendly cup of coffee, and spun out the door on the small errands that keep me busy. After grabbing an American gourmet breakfast at McDonalds, I paid a quick visit to one of my storage units to do some planning (gotta get those stupid monitors off my bed).

Drove up to the door of my cube, and there's a nasty little green lock on it... not mine. Rather surprised, I drove over to the office and talked to the lady.

"Hello, um, er, um, there seems to be a lock on my cube. I'm paid up, aren't I?"
"Oh yes, sweetie. Just drive over there and wait a few minutes." She gave me a grin suggestive of a walrus.

Well, nothing to lose, I guess. Standing a safe distance from the door of the cube, I stared at the little green lock with awed anticipation, looking like a genius. After about ten minutes of this, I began to feel rather ungeniuslike, perched there on the hood of my minivan waiting for some unearthly force to grant me access to my storage space.

The unearthly force arrived a few moments later, in the form of an orange four-foot walking mohawk bearer, suddenly standing about four inches from my navel. "Guten tag", he said, as he grabbed a key out of nowhere and with a kif-whink removed the lock from the entryway and disappeared back into the ether whence he came.

Finishing my business there, I drove across town (about ninety-seven feet) to my other storage cube. Stepping out of the van, I was pleased to note that the doorway looked reasonably inviting here. As I reached toward my padlock with the key, I noticed a small, green foot sticking out of the sliding bolt mechanism of the door. I peered into the dark opening. The dark opening peered back at me, with two little green eyeballs.

I stomped back to my minivan, got in, and locked the door. I sat there and thought for a moment.

First, I have to pull alien eyeteeth to get into storage #1, and now the lock on storage #2 is evolving into a higher lifeform. This is not my day.

After cooling down a bit, I reinspected the door latch. Little foot was still there, green eyeballs were still there, staring at me out of the darkness. I poked at the thing with a key... and a small frog poked its head out, and pulled it right back in.

I had identified my enemy.

I could just slide the door open and obliterate the frog, but who wants to do that? So I pulled out my trusty Leatherman, and proceeded to poke at the Microsoft end of the frog. The blasted amphibian darted out of the hole, jumped onto my shirt, and jumped back off into the hole. Twice.

You can perhaps imagine how I felt at about this time. I mean, at least before I was dealing with stupid humans. Now, I'm standing here in the hot sun, doing pitched battle with a baby frog, and the frog is winning.

It took me twenty minutes to get Gertrude fully out of squishing range, and about thirty seconds to finish my work there and leave. Hopefully tomorrow will be boring.

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Weightlifting in a silent and lonely gym, I lay underneath the bar, listening to music. My iPod randomly selects Annie Lennox's hauntingly sad song, "Why". No. Not that song.

It was a sleepless night. Too many thoughts. Too much going on. The sadness wasn't here, yet, but it was coming. I awoke at 3:30 a.m., tossed and turned for an hour unsuccessfully attempting to return to sleep. Finally I gave in to whatever my nagging mind was saying, and by 5 a.m. I was at work.

Lack of sleep and sluggishness let the bad thoughts creep into my consciousness. It's as if the psychological immune system was down, and the infections of ideas I'd rather avoid thinking about surface opportunistically. I was tired and powerless to think of anything else.

I'm tired and I don't want to lift this weight, and a sad song comes on. No. No. Not now.

How many times do I have to try to tell you
That I'm sorry for the things I've done?
And when I start to try to tell you
That's when you have to tell me, Hey
This kind of trouble's only just begun.

Tell me.........Why?

Promises made. Promises kept, and promises broken. The infinitely bifurcating future taking me forward, always forward. If I don't make a decision, that too is a decision, but complacency is the secret death, the death of a thousand tiny moments, until they accumulate with such weight and mass that they crush life and love and hopes and dreams.

I may be mad,
I may be blind,
I may be viciously unkind,
But I can still read what you're thinking.

And I've heard it said too many times
That you'd be better off besides
Why can't you see
This boat is sinking?

Let's go down to the water's edge;
We can cast away those doubts.
Some things are better left unsaid,
But they still turn me inside out.

Tell me.........Why?

Tender moments: a hand on a back, in the middle of the night. A sigh. A rustle. Hearing the sound of a deep intake of air: someone inhaling fully to capture your nighttime musky smell, to make you her own. Hair splayed over bare shoulders. A leg stirring. A hand moving. The most exquisite

No. No. Not now.

Perhaps: Not ever.

This is the book I've never read.
These are the words I never said.
This is the path I'll never tread.
These are the dreams I'll dream instead.
This is the joy that's seldom spread.
Thes are the tears, the tears we shed.
This is the fear. This is the dread.
These are the concerns of my head.

I am tired, and waves of sadness break over me. I am powerless to resist the song. A tear trickles down, glides down the lined face, and drops to the blue vinyl covered bench.

No shit, there I was. Some of you may have caught my daylog -- the one from April 8, 2004 -- and if you didn't, I urge you to go check it out now. It has direct relevance on what follows.

I've been on travel a lot recently. Boulder, Los Angeles, Denver -- in and out faster than I can blink. Getting up at dawn (local time) and not sleeping until I've put in a second day's work back in the hotel room, checking e-mails and proofreading mind-numbing contractor documents. Never mind making sure I have the Red Sox game on in the background so my good karma will wash over them. Boston fans, you can thank me: I tuned into Game 4 against the Yankees because I was bored. I didn't miss a single game after that.

Erica's been busy, too. She's in grad school now at University of Maryland in College Park, studying nutrition. She had exams all week, and of course she's also handling the bulk of the work getting ready for our wedding. She's an angel, and a great kisser, and she's got great legs... and she's the meanest damn tail gunner ever to play Mario Kart: Double Dash!!. No wonder I'm going to marry her, neh?

I'm going to take a little timeout here to talk about the chronic overuse of the word Zen. Ever since the Robert Pirsig's book everyone goes totally apeshit about "Zen" being intricately attached to their art. Archers, knitters, football players, soldiers, postal workers... I'm a little sick of it, personally, but I can't say I think they're entirely wrong. A few years back, when I was an undergrad, I played Half-Life a lot. I was mediocre at best, but I enjoyed it -- and then one day, after a 12-hour day of ROTC and senior design project preparation and a raft of endless shit, I sat down in front of my terminal and loaded up Half-Life. Like one of those Tibetan sonsabitches during the Vietnam protests, I was on fire. Two-on-one kills, three-on-one kills, dodging rockets I didn't even know were coming. I went something like 49 kills in a row on a jam-packed server without getting killed. The fatigue put me at ease.

Just the other night, I was home from the West Coast after a three-week absence. Erica was exhausted from her exams. I poured us some whiskey and cranberry while the lasagna cooked. I cannot accurately convey how tired we were when we sat down. I turned on the Gamecube and we settled in for another drubbing.

The first race was so easy I thought that perhaps I'd accidentally set the game on 100cc. The second race they gave us some trouble, but I still won easily. We plowed ahead, always winning with seconds to spare, occasionally wrestling back from tough starts or bad positions -- but always squeaking by. The second- and third-place karts were aggressive, but Erica is a demon with green shells: she would pick whichever one was closer to us in the standings and relentlessly bury them under withering fusillades of items. Pink boxes, green shells, red shells thrown backward, bananas left behind tight turns... our nearest opponent felt her wrath. At the end of the fourteenth race, I paused the game to let the lasagna cool down. When I came back, I called her attention to the scores: we led with 140 points (the maximum possible at that point) and the next closest competitors were our two nemeses, tied with 96 points each. With two races to go, the worst possible outcome was for us to walk away with 140 and the computer to have 126.

I pointed out the score to Erica and she giggled. We had only been this close once or twice before, and this goal had been eluding us for months now. We settled in and drove the last two courses, finishing with the nefarious Rainbow Road. Let me tell you something: that Zen detachment bullshit is not bullshit. I dodged almost every item on the track. I hit dash panels five-in-a -row, I wove between giant bananas and moving Bowser shells, I did a variable-radius spiral turn down a blind ramp, zig-zagging between obstacles with fractions of a second to spare. We didn't take the lead on that course until the last straightaway, where we scooted past Donkey Kong and his gunner Peach, landed a jump, and corkscrewed down the last turn in a flurry of blue sparks.

Final Score: J.R. & Erica, 160 - a perfect score on mirror mode, to complete our trophy case. Donkey Kong and Peach, 110. Petey Pirhana and Toad, 110. Nobody else was even close. Our final time for mirror mode was 35:09:41. Upon Googling to compare other people's times and scores, I find that a 160-point finish on mirror mode is widely considered a fool's errand. I'm all Zen and shit. POW.

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