"I'm never going to dig out your picture, I'm never gonna look you up some day.."
Morphine Gone for good

Been awhile since I've written here. Honestly, got tired of being a votedumping target, but hey, I'm back for more abuse like a good little masochist.

A little update in the life of Garryn: nothing new. Long Island still sucks. Was in Florida during the WTC attack. Stayed there for a few extra days..figured if the world was gonna go up in flames, I was gonna go out dancing.

At least I missed the anthrax scare down there, by being back here.

Go ahead. Pile up all those little neg's. I dare ya!
sounds of laughter echo at departure

At work, I got the pain again. This dull but sharp stabbing pain in my right shoulder, getting worse when I inhale deeply. I reach around to try to find the spot where I can stop it, but I can't. I spent all day picking up breakfast and lunch for a class our office is hosting, then out to get stamps to mail off 300 newsletters. After a few hours I take a few Advil and pain goes away. I call Clay anyway.

Clay is a student seeking certification for massage therapy. He had worked on me once before and told me then that there were so many knots in my shoulders that he would not be able to get them all out. I called Sheri who had his cell and arranged to meet me after work, at Sheri's place, since I don't have a place yet and he already knows where it is.

I tell him about the pain and ask that instead of a full body massage I would like to focus on my back. He told me that he is now certified and finding a few new clients. He found the knots with little effort, two large ones between my shoulder and shoulder blade. He also found what he calls "bands," smaller points of tension that are much easier to work out. He told me that he has worked on Saints players and they didn't have the knots that I did. When he applied pressure and rolled his fingers, elbows and forearms, the knots moved like bubbles of air trapped inside a waterbed. Even though it hurt, I knew he was helping.

Then he spread tiger balm over my shoulders, rubbing it with the cap of the tiny jar the tiger balm came in. He said he could see already the toxins coming out of the skin and muscle like a blood blister. He told me to keep the shirt on for the rest of the night and to not shower until morning. As I said, he was able to get most of the knots out, but not all. I need to see him weekly, I think. When Sheri got home (I have a key, since she's storing all my stuff until I move), he showed her a portfolio he was working on, with all his cerificates and different techniques. He said he had a neighbor with intense kidney pain and was soon going in for surgery. He did some reflexology on her feet in the region devoted to the kidneys, and she said it was like bolts of electricity going through her body. She did not have to have the surgery, nor did she see Clay after that. Another person, mention in one of Clay's textbooks, was helped with her diabetes through reflexology. It got me thinking about our bodies and all the awkward little pockets of it where we store toxins, stress, and debris from daily life. I mean, had I not met Clay through Sheri, I would likely just have tolerated the pain. Now I could understand why, I could be taught to help it, even prevent it.

Sheri met Clay when he was just a student, but even now he will only charge us $20 for an hour. He said he would preferred that we not tell our friends about the discounted rate, and I understood that. He is very good, and he is kind. He will help anyone even if he makes no profit. He told us about his injury on the job at the post office where he worked. A steel crate fell on him and crushed two vertebrae. He was told to finish his shift and take the next few days off, and he actually finished his shift. Later on he had steel rods inserted into his spine and with bone from his leg, had the vertebrae fused together. We talked about how unfairly some businesses treat people with on-site injuries and that just because some people aren't telling the truth doesn't give license to turn a blind eye to obvious problems. I like Clay, and I tip him $9, which brought my session almost to full price.

I know where this tension is coming from: everywhere. I will need to be taught how to stretch, how to work out the stress. Tiger balm at least once a week and epsom salt baths whenever I want. He says I will wake up in the morning tomorrow and feel better, now that he's pounced on my knots and bands and ligaments and beaten them back like a gang of dogs threatening my sleep.

It really helps me to know how to help myself in matters like this. It helps to know that I don't have to take the pain if I know what to do, if someone is kind enough to just tell me what I need to do.

I got up at 6:30AM this morning, in a vain attempt to leave the house by 7:30AM and get to Windows 2000 training class by 8:30AM. Alas, it was not to be. My commute to work was interrupted by a big accident on Route 15 just north of Leesburg, with traffic blocked both ways. After being at a standstill for ten minutes and nothing really going anywhere, I turned around and tried to find an alternate route. I eventually ended up going via Clark's Gap to Waterford to Stumptown to Lucketts.

Things seemed okay until after Point of Rocks, when I got stuck behind some slow-moving tractor doing 30 and no way to pass it. Bleah. I got to work 15 minutes late, but there were only two other people in the class with me, and our training on Microsoft Virus Installation Wizard seemed pretty self-explanatory.

After class, I had lunch with Maggie and Lorri at a Thai place in Rockville, and then headed down to Bethesda to talk about my future at Hauptratte-Sperren. (Our story so far: Layoffs were yesterday; my department was eliminated; they got rid of everyone in my department except me, so I spent most of yesterday hiding in my cubicle feeling guilty.) As expected, I'll be updating the internet and intranet sites, and yes, they're going to move me to Bethesda in the next week or so. I had thought it would be a shorter trip, but it's actually going to add an extra two miles to my commute, plus I'll once again have to deal with the Beltway instead of taking winding two-lane country roads to work.


I woke up with the residue of a really shitty dream; right at the part where I was lifting my son’s limp toddler body out of the water he has somehow fallen into. I was in full panic; it had seemed so realistic, his skin so cold and strange feeling, like the current had shut off.

I had breakfast with my husband, who was kind of goofy and cheerful. He cooked for me and we had coffee before he left. Then I was getting diapers changed and finding socks for six feet and putting everyone into kid cloths and jackets, trying to remember to bring my purse and paperwork and money for the co-pay. I put on a black T-shirt and my eye of Horace necklace (for protection), took some Rescue Remedy, strapped the monkeys into their car seats and headed over to Jen’s.

Jen was already awake with her two kids, and ready to add mine to the mix (BLESS HER). We smoked like schoolgirls in her fabulous colorful kitchen, drinking coffee and trying not to talk about my stupid appointment (which is what I have been calling it, my stupid appointment).

Soon enough it was time for me to sneak away and drive to Grove City, which I am unfamiliar with, to talk to a stranger about peering into my cervical canal to see if we can’t just scoop out those naughty bad girl cells that seem to alarm everybody. I was early because I was afraid of getting lost (and sure enough, oh, look the sign I just drove under says that 71S has just become 70E – Tada!!) and I ended up detouring through downtown Columbus and making my way back to 71N only to find that exit closed.

In any case I still arrived early. And then it was a full two hours before I got to actually see the doctor. By that time I had worked up a nice panic attack, sitting there in the little room, which was at least decorated with lavender impressionistic pears and decent artwork. Above the exam table there was a purple wire mobile with three tiny pregnant figures, frozen in various dance positions, all smiling. That helped some. My regular doctor is a man, and as sweet as he is there is a certain something missing, a kind of absence of understanding. I can not help wondering what he thinks of vaginas, after seeing an endless parade of them, day after day, screening them for various ailments. After awhile does vagina = pathology? I want a woman to do the LEEP, if it is necessary at all. One doctor raised a “pre-cancerous” red flag about five years ago, and now they are all waving it. I have even had second opinions. And I don’t know why this scares me so much. After all, I once squatted in my living room and gave birth after being awake for three straight days. I twice trusted my body enough to know that I could manage the labor and delivery without medications or machines. But the idea of spreading my legs for a stranger with a knife, no matter how sterile, no matter how precise, well-intentioned or common the procedure, well, that just fucks me all up.

As if the sixteen acres of rubble on the back of my mind is not enough. As if the fucked up conversation I had with Jay’s mom about how she doesn’t think she and I get along well enough because I am not her real daughter (just in law), as if it isn’t enough that I can not look at an American flag without involuntarily blubbering, as if it is not enough that my mother dissed me AGAIN and that my father came walking up sheepishly the day after the whole fucking thing came crashing down and said, “I did not expect you to still be here”, during a very awkward hug. No “Hey, wow, how great it is to see you, check out those cherubic grandkids of mine, how the heck are you, hasn’t it been like eight months or something since we even talked to each other?” Instead they waited until they thought I had left town, and never called. Just when I was thinking to myself, dang this mom thing is really hard, maybe I have been unduly harsh toward my mother, maybe she did the best she could, maybe I will see her when I am on vacation and this time it will be ok. I wanted to ask her about my birth, about her health, about why her mom had to have a hysterectomy. I want to know what lovely landmine I have inherited. Instead now I have a deep distrust in my own body, a sad feeling about the world and a bad feeling that my parents hate me and they don’t even know why. I hope getting scooped out helps something. That they arrange my cast away bits in some kind of quantifiable way and pronounce me regular. Like a bomb squad, infiltrating micro-terrorist cells with science and logic and making it all good again.

This is my latest pride and joy for the Brooklyn College Excelsior. So far, I am a bit too... Impatient with showing off my work, so I want to put it up here.

Ladies and gentlemen, I bring you show business at its finest. From Arci's Place I have a cabaret act from one of the finest ladies of Broadway about her life in the wings. Closer to home in the New Workshop Theatre, I also have a trenchant parody of show business! For the nights of October 3rd and 4th, I was on a roll – maybe it's my passion for the theatre and the cabaret scene, my appreciation for shows about show business, the raspberry martini I had in the 3rd, or the the sight of one of the leggiest actresses in Brooklyn College.

October 3, 2001 - Donna McKechnie in Arci's Place

It's been a month since I went back to Arci's Place (450 Park Ave. South) – You've probably noticed my warm-up of an article mentioning my trips to Joe's Pub and Don't Tell Mama from last week. I came back to my first cabaret venue since last year in expectation to see the triple-threat Donna McKechnie. She gave us a look at her influence from watching movies in her hometown in Detroit, and her career from How to Succeed... and A Chorus Line. Even better, the director of the current Paper Mill Playhouse production of that very show, Baayork Lee, has dropped by to see this show in opening night right across my way along with the rest of the cabaret family I have missed since last month.

Donna in her own perky-diva fashion came out to the stage from the kitchen with "Everything's Coming Up Roses," and she was so chipper she had to question herself whether or she was too much in front of the audience. From what I saw, I'll never have too much of the Midwestern Perky Diva – I've seen Karen Ziemba and Karen Mason doing their shows on Broadway and the cabarets respectively, and their personalities are not the kind of stuff I would stop enjoy seeing in full steam onstage.

This show is a first time for musical director Dennis Buck – specifically it's his first time doing a show in Arci's. Any first-time kinks he had was gone right after the overture behind the piano. Otherwise, he kept up with Donna's singing and making great use of her dancing skills. The medley of movie songs (especially with a bit of "Put the Blame on Mame" from Gilda and Harold Arlen's "Get Happy") from Jerry Herman was gave just as much rhythmic room for dancing, leading to the precise footwork for Ann Hampton Callaway's "Astaire" while Donna was telling us about her night with Fred Astaire. I'm all for certain the precision was a chip off of Bob Fosse's old block.

One of my favorite parts of my DVD collection is the D.A. Pennebaker documentary for the making of the 1975 cast recording of the Sondheim musical Company. I could barely see Donna doing the recording of "You Could Drive A Person Crazy" because the emphasis was on the rest of the ensemble cast. However, her doing the same song was a treat that made me want to sing along.

The show itself is also a tribute to the folks who created the musical A Chorus Line. In memory of the late composer Ed Kleban (remembered in the last time with the musical A Class Act), Donna did the very song that has gotten Ed his chance to do this show – the "Broadway Boogie Woogie Blues." The same went for choreographer Michael Bennett with "Turkey Lurkey Time" from Promises, Promises. Granted the dance was too... ridiculously wacky with Donna's head swinging left-and-right into a blur (earning the Clive Barnes quote comparing her to a "steam hammer in heat"), the number wasn't done to insult Mr. Bennett's pre-Chrous work but as a fascinating and an embarrassingly silly aside leading to his making the moves for the big show that made her big in '75 after Sondheim. If Michael Bennett was alive today, Broadway talk-show host Seth Rudetsky would have asked for Donna's performance in lieu of a "Mortifying Clip of the Week." Ms. McKechnie doing the showstopping "The Music and the Mirror" to tie up the tributes to Kleban and Bennett working together was not given short shrift even with the small stage.

October 4, 2001 – Anton in Show Business in the New Workshop Theatre

To continue onwards to the hijinks behind the stage I went to see Anton in Show Business as directed by David Garfield. At first, I was under the impression that I had to have a serious scholarly appreciation for Anton Chekov's writings or at least the experience of watching The Seagull as presented by the Public Theatre up in the Delacorte Theatre this Summer (the post-Star Wars fascination with Natalie Portman scares me). Anton is less about Chekov's history but instead more about the latter-day situation of the American theatre. Revolving around a failed production of Chekov's The Three Sisters in Texas, this is an examination of the absuridity of today's theatre as a business, and the raison d'être of the performer and audience in this business. Given the use of rough language throughout the play (like describing the modern-day theatre being in a "shitload of trouble" right at the beginning), I was surprised that this whole message of showbiz didn't fall into chaos with its monologues praising or punishing various aspects of the business behind the stagecraft.

I hear four distinctive voices representing the stagecraft: first is the hopeful beginner actress Lisabette (Cristina Marie Harris) with her enthusiasm. The second is the weathered anger of the experienced but desparate Off-Off-Broadway actress Casey (Sylvia Scalia). You'll know for sure she was cast for the role of the plain-Jane angry sister Olga in the ill-fated revival. The third is the deep and sex-driven voice of the egotistic soap-opera actress and temptress Holly (Calder Corey). The fourth voice, the voice of the audience and the voice of reason comes not from the stage but from the house. The audience member and writer Joby (Heather Collis) engages the cast during inopportune times talking about stereotypical characters, the deal with interpretations of classic plays, and the necessity of a sex scene between Holly and a country singer who was cast as her leading man.

One of the more innovative aspects of this play is the all women-cast. Since modern-day theatre is still run mostly by men, why wouldn't the playwright want women to play the satirized male characters? For the cast revolving right outside the "voices," their specific personalities are tinged and filtered like the lights above the stage to create different characters. Anita Ahiadormey played the stage manager, a stereotypically multicultural director, and a corporate sponsor for the play-within-the-play. Katarina Vizinova (previously from Neil Simon's Brighton Beach Memoirs last May in the Gershwin Theatre) and Dalia Farmer juggled their own set of three mostly male roles of people pushing around (or in some cases being pushed around by) the three actresses and the audience member/critic.

The rest of this show (which I wanted to call the "metaplay") required a lot of guts from playwright Jane Martin's part to maintain the story of making The Three Sisters, and this production shows how the secondary storylines were pruned and swept aside. The initial attraction between Kate (the Sisters producer) and Lisabette was confronted and immediately killed off when the actresses were drunk in a hotel room before their first rehearsal. The scenes of Holly's affair with the leading man spices up the whole story, but it gives way to the immediate failure of the Chekov revival. The same goes for the phone calls from Lisabette and Casey to their mothers in the first act, because the metaplay is not directly about the actors and their struggles – those kind of stories are probably covered enough in the Backstage weekly newspaper.

It turns out the same restraint used to keep the metastory in the low-profile clean and narrow also made interesting the long revalations about various negative aspects of the theatre. Wilkéwitch, a Polish emigré director played by Ms. Vizinova, revealed to the cast the significance of Chekov to his life. Ms. Ahiadormey revealed to Kate the idea that corporate grants do not necessarily lead to convincing artistic works. My favorite was Casey being angry over audience interruptions (especially two of the real-life audience members had to stifle their ringing phones – one ran off to the lobby to do so). Those litanies do preach to an extent, but they didn't come from some extraneous preacher character or required channeling some outside personality. Those multi-role actresses using their own personalities and the "filters" made the messages of the metaplay engaging without tiring the audience.

One of the quirks about this production is the costuming of the cast. The most colorful costumes belong to one woman – Calder Corey herself. I mean, everybody else was wearing lots of plain and low-powered costumes, and Ms. Corey playing Holly provides first dibs for a short and outré violet dress and other pieces in the "barely anything and almost nothing" department. The costumes for Casey are in degrees of black and white, a very faint crimson dress for Lisabette, and the costume closest to being excessive was Ms. Ahiadormey dressed as a "Black Rage" director. I wanted to drive most my of attention to the three actresses together, but I'm not surprised if the rest of the audience looked at the "Devil in the Violet Dress" followed by an eternity of looking at her legs. In fact, I can feel pitchforks poking my back right now.

Come to think of it, the interchange between Joby and Lisabette at the end struck me as a surprise – a local theatre critic who has already broken the fourth wall talking to the former ingénue about writing a review of the whole evening. That didn't just tell me that the audience for live theatre still exists even in college, but it made question my existence as a writer here. I already have been given an answer in favor if me staying here (not to mention my frustratingly empty systems manager role in the office), but this dialogue gave me the question of my relevance in here. . . Where did the reader go?

Kit Lo has taken a whole day trying to calm himself down after seeing Ms. Corey in order to write this review. In fact, the sleep he had after watching the show made things worse.

It's been ages (as in months, not as in Noding For), and I wasn't a daylogger in the past, but this seems to be the best place for putting this all down...

It's redundant to say that all my perceptions and sense of proportion have been changed. Anyone who can't say that has no concept of death, or war, or the world, and has a mental age of no more than 3 years. (Or, blessedly, lives somewhere that has no concept of CNN and the Internet.)

It was surreal on September 11, 2001. I was at work preparing for a regular Tuesday morning meeting and I overheard a couple of coworkers talking about vague reports of a plane hitting the WTC. Then it became two planes. At that point, I was thinking Cessna, not 757. I went to my meeting and heard some more vague details from folks who had hit CNN's and The Washington Post's websites. Right before the meeting started, I got a Nextel radio call from another coworker who had been on his way up to our emergency offsite operations facility to do some maintenance work -- something about a plane hitting the Pentagon.

The meeting started. We talked for a good 15 minutes about what was happening -- none of us had had much time to tune in radios or hit websites, so it was mostly speculation. Then we tried to hit our meeting agenda. I didn't stay long -- I was summoned to the Satellite Control Center (I work for a satellite company, btw) with orders from on high that we were evacuating to the emergency facility. Not that we were in any real danger (since terrorists thrive on media coverage, the last people they'd want to take out is a communications company!), but downtown DC was about to turn into a pandemonium, and the high-ups felt it was best to move the critical operations out and send everyone else home for the day while the going was still good.

In the SCC, the TV was on, and then I saw it, for the first of dozens of times.

I called the guy who had called me minutes earlier, to tell him that he was about to get a lot of company.

As we made our preparations to move out, I watched the TV, and the replays over and over. This has been said over and over, but it was something I should've been watching on a movie screen, or a video clip from a computer game. This couldn't be real.

We evacuated. My wife went crazy trying to get a hold of me on my cell phone, but she finally did. She went home from work while I did my job in assisting the move to the emergency facility. When I finally got home, we talked a lot about it, and fended off a dozen OhMyGodAreYouOkay? phone calls and almost as many emails from friends and relatives.

We coped with it over the following days. Our high priestess was getting married that Saturday, and that had to go on, because we all needed the spiritual and emotional lift. We avoided watching TV news, but we listened to the radio (though we almost didn't, in those few days when even the music stations were doing 24-hour news) and hit the Post website frequently.

It still wasn't real. Sure, it was denial, but it was how we coped. One friend of ours worked in Crystal City, and it had taken her 6 hours to make a drive to the commuter rail station which normally takes 20 minutes. Another had been in Pentagon City for a seminar. A former coworker of my wife would've been hit by his falling apartment building had the Pentagon plane been about a hundred yards to the left on its final approach. Still another friend works for DC Public Health, and he wasn't getting any sleep.

It became real last Friday. My wife was having some radiology done, and we had 3 hours to kill while the isotopes got into her system. We decided to go down to Arlington to a favorite barbecue place of ours, because it was lunchtime and she was under orders to get something to eat and drink (to flush the excess isotopes out). We hadn't been there in a while -- and it would also take us past the Pentagon. We had to make it real, because we were past the point where denial was working.

We'd been a bit confused as to which side of the Pentagon had been hit. It was difficult to see the way we came in (and that road had just been reopened), but we saw the blackened gash.

And we'd already been crying. About a quarter mile beforehand, the radio station we were listening to (Classic Rock 94.7) had started playing an arrangement of Battle Hymn of the Republic that had been done for them, at their request, by an ensemble cast of veteran rockers shortly after 11 Sep. Now, my wife and I aren't Christian, but at this point, it hardly matters what name you give to Divinity, as long as the spirit is there and the message is right.

It was right, and it was appropriate, and it was what we needed, though maybe not what we wanted.

Arrrrrrr..... I'm awake, and the rest of the house sleeps. The coffee is dripping into the cup, and I'm getting my head on for the day. The boyfriend went out clubbing last night, and I couldn't go, for a couple of reasons. I always hate that, resent that he goes without me anyhow, comes home at 4AM all high and plays music and drinks beer and looks at porn til he collapses. So now, he sleeps, I'm up getting laundry going and baking the kiddo's birthday cake.

I love this time of day though. It's the only time I'm aloneish in my home, just me and the kitties, yawning and stretching while the birdies make noise outside. Today will be fun. Friends coming over to BBQ with us and eat cake and ice cream. They'll bring records and we'll play music and the kiddo will break out her freshly-tuned bass and it'll be a happy time. This is her 'family party' as opposed to her 'friend party' which will come later. I'm gratified that she wanted this party, wanted the adults in her life to come celebrate with her as she gets older, becoming one of us soon enough. I offered to cancel this party when her schedule got heavy, but she wants it, and I'm glad she loves us enough that we're not too uncool. Yet. She's only fourteen, so we'll see what comes next.

After studying the prophesies of the monarchy I embarked upon a mission in the direct opposite direction of my jurisdiction. The journey took exactly 7 and 3/4 seconds to complete, and suddenly I was in a situation so strange, I spun from safe to sorrowful and back again. I decided to rest my legs from the same downward force that pulls my dreaded headress to my neck. Seated on stones, I produced a knife and wood block to carve a figurine which I would command to come alive and perform minor acts of mischief at my whim. After meticulously forming a pair of legs, I was approached by a stranger, without slowing his pace, he warned me that this could be our final moment, so we had better remember it. I felt violated when he was out of sight, how dare he rain on my parade? If this world does end, I'm not going to cling to this existence with white knuckles.

I ran after him, to argue that a moments memory is worthless if we have no more moments to live. He nodded contently, as I ran in front of a moving vehicle to see the sidewalk scene in front of the bars and hotels.
After bouncing in cirlces, I returned to my resting place, and wrote my last poem, and left it in the world.

The Worldwide Conspiracy to Destroy johnson


How I learned to swallow my pride and stop being a goddamned lurker

I have spent the last three days bed-ridden. But I have come to a brand new conclusion this morning:

I may not be dead

In other news, this Monday is Thanksgiving. Huzzah! .

I am pain
For all I can remember, the seasons in Texas go something like this, starting with winter: Winter in Texas is bitterly cold. Cold, cloudy, icy. Snow is rare, but ice is more common. It's not cold by the standards of anyone north of the Mason-Dixon Line, but it's pretty darn cold. Throughout February the temperature slowly climbs. By the time March rolls around, the weather is chilly but comfortable. It continues warming for some time, then suddenly the rain comes. For about two months, it rains. Perhaps not every day, perhaps all day, but it rains a lot. The rain is nice. As the weather warms up, the rains become more pleasant. There's nothing like a good hard late spring Texas rain. But the rain eventually turns violent. Thunderstorms begin to punctuate the evenings, bringing with them hail, tornadoes, extremely high winds, and flooding. This is, to me, the most fun weather there is. Before too long, though, the rain turns into steamy muggy showers. The weather, all this time, has kept bringing up the temperature slowly and deceptively. One day, you walk outside into a thick, warm atmospheric soup, and exclaim "Ugh!" The rains stop coming. The sun shines brighter and brighter each day, burning the earth. The Texas summer is long and hot and not much else. The climate invites insects of all kinds to breed and occupy the outside air. Texas summer can best be described as the expanse of time from June until September. In September, though, the memories of better weather begin to regain shape. First, the temperature drops well into the eighties and seventies (Farenheit). A breeze comes up, clouds form, the sun relents a little. The weeks become speckled with cool days and hot days. The cool days are more than likely accompanied by thick clouds, threatening rain. And then, miraculously, there comes about two weeks where it is always cloudy. It rains almost every day. Cool air follows the rain. By this time, you know that the summer is losing its grip. There are usually a few more hot summer days after this, but it is merely summer clinging with the little power it has left. The first truly cold days come after a rain. Days when you actually regret wearing shorts, when you want to go fly a kite (the wind is perfect), when the park is most inviting. You open up the windows, notice that the A/C hasn't kicked on in a while, spend some time on the front porch with a slight shiver, noting how good it feels. This is where I am.

I got fired today. Nine months at Papa John's. To paraphrase, my productivity wasn't good enough. Vague, haunting, nebulous reason. Darrell, a pretty good friend and currently on his way to becoming a manager, will probably interepret that statement for me later. I had come in to work about ten minutes early, as usual (I've never been late for work, not once.) got into my uniform and attempted to clock in. The computer denied my request. I tried again, to no avail. How odd. I go to the back room to check the schedule. My hours for this week have been crossed off.

"Ah, it's Patrick."

I turn to see the general manager and Darrell approaching me.

"Hey, am I off the schedule this week?" I smirk. When I came in, there were already four phone lines on hold, and the night was threatening to be busy. I would actually be glad to not have to work this night.

"We've decided to let you go."

I raise an eyebrow, clumsily attempting to maintain an air of nonchalance.

"Your productivity just hasn't been up to par, and we're letting you go. You can get your last paycheck when you turn in your uniform."

Nice. A textbook termination.

I went into the bathroom to get out of uniform. I take off the hat, encrusted with the sweat-salt stress of a thousand late pizzas, irritable customers, the smell of the weekend evening rush which I worked most often. I removed the banana-yellow Papa John's shirt that I had, no less than 20 minutes ago, removed from the dryer. I'd always hated the color of that shirt. I put on the t-shirt I had come in wearing.

He handed me the tear-apart envelope comtaining the check. I say, "I'll take a slice of pizza before I go!" almost jovially. I grabbed a slice of the employee PXC pizza. Jeff, the GM, goes into the office to take care of business. Darrell smiles at me, a smile of "well-there-you-have-it, i-was-going-to-warn-you-but-you-weren't-home-earlier-today, but-there-it-is, it's-all-done-now." I recalled that I did notice his name on the Caller ID earlier today, but thought little of it. Now, in my memory, his name on the CID takes on an ominous tone. Like "I told you so. You didn't believe me, did you?"

I smirk back at him and raise my eyebrows. His expression offers no apology, no explanation, in fact, it's exactly the same as it was when Jeff was firing me. I take a bite of the pizza. Like most employees' pizzas, it's cooled off, a bit dry.

I lower my eyebrows, as if to change the subject. "Hmm, cool..."

"It's cold out there." Darrell says.

"Yeah, it's great," I smirk again. (still working on that air of nonchalance)

"Bah, I don't think so. It's cold!" he makes a shivering motion.

"It's nice. In fact, I think I'll go to the park."

He says nothing.

"Well, bye."

I turn out and walk to the front of the store, bidding farewell to anyone who's paying attention. I leave.

I've never been fired before. I muse on what an interesting feeling it is.

I wonder what I did wrong. There was no warning, no "You should work more effeciently, Patrick. Your productivity isn't quite up to par." Last week, I was commended for doing well keeping things together when they were falling apart. It's disturbing.

No sense in mourning the loss though. The job didn't pay well, wasn't fun, had approximately zero prestige, and it was only moderately fun to get zen about pizza making wirh coworkers. Now I've got some time to do what I really want to. There's time to get the band back together.

God damn, George Orwell was a prophet, even if he was off by about 17 years. Ever since September 11, 2001, everything I see, everything I hear, everything I watch makes me feel like I'm either in 1984 or Animal Farm.

If you took the TV News transcripts and added in descriptions of the video being shown, it would read much like Orwell's description of the Two Minutes Hate, except it usually lasts about 15 minutes for a local newscast (cause they gotta give you weather and sports), or 30 minutes for the Evening news. Just replace Emmanuel Goldstein with Osama bin Laden. We have plenty of good reason to hate Osama bin Laden, don't get me wrong. It just seems his images and words are being used to psych us up for whatever our government wants from us.

A new medal, the Medal of Valor is being given to emergency workers such as EMT's, firefighters, and police. There's also talk of another medal for civilians. Not that there aren't true heroes, but I just see Major with a Hero 1st Class medal.

What are we being psyched up for, you might ask? Well, there's talk about extending federal powers to warrentless wiretaps and other, broader wiretap and intercept powers. There's talk of requiring backdoors in encryption. The prospect of National Identity cards is being mulled.

Yes, National Identity cards. No doubt, a whole new bureaucracy would be created, along with a whole new class of laws and crimes to go along with it. Naturally, I'm sure that it would be required of everyone to carry such a National ID card. In fact, I'm sure it would be a crime not to carry a National ID card at all times. Forget that fact that most everyone already has some form of government issued ID, such as a state issued driver's license, state issued ID card, passport, green card (or other type of visa), or military ID. Forget the fact that the terrorists who carried out the destruction of the World Trade Center entered the country with student visa's and never showed up for class. Forget that fact that we need to fix our immigration system so that we keep track of who's here legally and who isn't; who's left the county when their visa is up and who hasn't. Forget the fact that a federally controlled ID system has far too much potential for abuse by federal agencies. Just realize that if there were federally mandated National ID card, that these terrorists most likely would not have had one anyway.

What about backdoors in encryption? The federal government want to be able to easily decrypt and intercepted communications. Presumably, the federal government would make illegal the use of encryption that doesn't have a backdoor. Assuming they did pass such a measure, think about the dangers this would represent. Every day, encryption is used to secure internet transactions (purchases made with credit cards, financial transactions, and legitimate business and personal communications. If we were to require backdoors, it would only be a matter of times before criminal crackers discovered how to abuse this backdoor for either their own gain, or to disrupt or destroy sensitive systems and communications.

Aside from the from above frightening scenarios, does anyone think that it will keep terrorists from using already available encryption? Do you think a terrorist is going to give up and say, "Well, I guess we have to abandon our plans death and destruction, since our encryption is now illegal"? Hell no! They're going to use encryption that's already available, has no backdoors, and will most likely be secure against cracking for years to come!

Furthermore, such unilateral measures don't mean shit in the rest of the world, unless we (once again) force feed our policies to the rest of the world. Pushing around the world is, in part, what brought us to this terrible crossroads in the first place. Our leaders may (or may not) have the best intentions in mind, but the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

We must be diligent and vigilant. We must not give up our rights and our freedoms just to catch a handful of people, who mean us harm, who may or may not be in this country. Our government already has the means to track down and punish those responsible for the devastation that has been wrought upon us. They need no more power. Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Such powers are always abused eventually, whether intentional or not. This fact have been proven time and time again by agents of our government.

Now that my voice is hoarse and my feet are sore, it's time to step off my soapbox.

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