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"Leaf by leaf and page by page, throw this book away."

I just watched a three year relationship go up in smoke in the space of seventy-two hours. It would have been an interesting anthropological study if it hadn't been my relationship.

The details are tedious to relate, but basically my girlfriend isn't comfortable sleeping with me anymore. Phrases like "There's just no spark" were actually used here, and I can't really think of anything more upsetting and frustrating. It's something I can't change, something I have zero control over. The logical part of my brain is saying things like "well, you can't change it so you might as well accept it, move on and hope that one day you'll be friends." But then my emotional center kicks in, blaring things like "YOU LOVE THIS GIRL, IDIOT. DO SOMETHING."

And then there's the fact that 'moving on' is a tad difficult, seeing as how we live together in a very small apartment. Every time I walk into the place I'm hit by the very essence of her. We're lucky enough to have two beds, but they're about four feet apart and I've grown so accustomed to sleeping next to somebody that I spend most of my nights staring at the ceiling, fighting the urge to crawl into bed next to her sleeping body.

I haven't been sleeping much.

And still, I cling to the irrational thought that one of these days she's going to change her mind, that she's going to realize what we had and what this whole thing is doing to our friendship. I don't want to even see her for a long, long time, and yet I still want her (the former her) to be here (to be home) when I get off of work every night.

The ironic thing is, when she was away at her internship we both had similar experiences. She discovered swing dancing and cheap movies, I started hanging out in bars and eating lunch in Central Park. We both remembered how to make friends and how to live separately. I saw this as a way of strengthening our relationship, a way of relieving some of the pressure of being in each other's company all the time, a way of enjoying each other's company more and having more patience for each other's stories. She saw this as a symbol of what she's missing, a sign of our inherent incompatibilities and a glimpse into an alternate future that in no way included me. Funny how the same data can yield completely disparate results.

What kind of home do you have when you don't want to sleep there?


Things seem so quiet and still after hours.

A mild hum from the downtown expressway and the interstate 95 interchange. Two blocks east, two blocks south.

Even the trains seem softer. As if they know not to disturb the moment. Employees at csx and amtrak must have received the memo. I can hardly hear the brakes screeching. Metal to metal. The stress from the enormous weight, pushing forward on the rails. Two blocks east.

Low light. Its darker than usual for 2:11 am. The street lights are muted. They are dull with an odd yellow hue.

The phone rings to break the calm. An unconscious struggle and awkward moments take place before things settle.

I just noticed the strange paths which form when gravity moves water down a paved alley. All that effort only to stop at the lowest point. Doomed streams at off angles. Dead end destination.

Hi everybody! I hope you all had a nice summer! Mine was great but it went too fast. I’m in the third grade now and we already had to take a math test and have to do homework. My dad thought it would be nice for me to tell you about this. I hope you like it!

Fifty dollars!

Once me and my friend Gracie got an idea to raise some money. We wanted to start our own business but we didn’t know what to do. Then, Gracie’s dog Stanton walk into the room. Then it hit me!

Me: “We can walk dogs!”

Gracie: “And baby sit them too!

That’s when it all began. We put flyers up around the neighborhood. They were on all of the trees and telephone poles. One by one calls came in and one by one we walked the dogs. We even started to take care of people’s cats when they went on vacation!

By the time summer was over we had made fifty dollars! Now, what are we going to do with it?

This weekend our dads took us to the Capital Area Humane Society and we donated the fifty dollars to them to help the animals. The lady was so nice and she let us walk the dogs in the back and play with the cats. She said we could volunteer to help them next summer! I hope we do. After that, our dads took us out for ice cream.

I feel real good!

Worst Convention Ever

The catch phrase of the Comic Book Guy from The Simpson’s came to mind to describe this past weekend.

I spent the weekend in Atlanta attending Dragon CON with no springs and my girlfriend. It was her first time to a convention of any sort, but she seemed to take to it and made talk about going again next year (she even said she thought it would be more fun if we each had costumes to wear). While it was great to have her there, the CON itself was rather lackluster. Christopher Judge was highly entertaining in his panels and was quite nice when I went by his booth, but the convention as a whole just seemed lacking. The soul of it was just not there.

That being said, up until Labor Day it was still not the worst convention ever. The year when Dragon CON coincided with GenCON still held onto that title. However, on Monday all of that changed. I had woken up that day planning on making one last pass at the dealer’s room and visiting the art exhibit with my girlfriend to pick out anything she wanted. However, I got a call from her asking me to come down to the parking lot. When I arrived, she showed me that someone had thrown a brick through her driver’s side window and had stolen her coin bag and compact disc player. We then went back to the hotel to file a police report. After calling the police, we went back to the parking lot to wait for their arrival. When we got back, the car was gone.

I called up the number listed for the impounding service and inquired if they had the vehicle. They told me no, so I then called up 911 to report that the car was now stolen. After speaking with the officer and her insurance company, I decided the convention was shot and drove her back to her place. I then found out that after she had paid off the car, she stopped her comprehensive coverage and only had liability insurance. In other words, she was out $16,000 if the car could not be recovered. I stopped by the Wal-Mart and bought her enough food and other items to last for several weeks. I asked if she wanted me to stay an extra night, but she said there was really nothing I could do there and we both had work the next day, so I started my five hour drive back home.

As of yet, there has been no word from the police. I know she can walk to work and has enough necessities for a while, but I still feel awful that she is having to go through this ordeal and I wish I lived closer so I could help her get through this.

I am the mountain that must be moved by faith.

We stood by the shoreline on a gray day steeped in mist and flecked by rain, our umbrellas leaned out well ahead of us against the wind that drove the waves to whitecaps and broke them on the pilings. I was pushed, and pushed back, against the cold and wind and rain, against the doubts and fears, and I felt, at that moment, there were none.

I felt the challenge on the waves and in the air. I felt the dare of the horizon.

We have to fight. I would have to fight the waves, step deep into the slate beneath the steel and fight to find the end. But I knew that I could make it if I would only enter the water, and that the far invisible shore would not be where I stopped. Let the wind blow, I thought, I will not fall; let the rain fall, I will not slip. Let the waters even close above my head, sealing out the sky, I will not drown. I will find the ground beneath my feet and walk with the weight of the ocean on my shoulders.

I felt this. I believed it. I believed the world would not be enough to stop me if I raised a hand to it, that I could be the piling that broke apart the waves. I saw at the horizon, the vanishing point of earth and heaven, nothing to fear. The wind I stood to contest embraced me, and in my heart I loved it back.

No one knows yet--perhaps I do not know myself--what I have in me, but it's bigger than I am, and has begun to stir. It cannot sleep forever. When it wakes I hope it will consume me, burn away the cell in which it grew until too large to be contained.

As I turned away, and my eyes again fell on the city, I thought in some small measure I had turned away from the best version of myself, for the confidence did not turn with me. The Whatifs were waiting on the bridge above the highway and at the crosswalks. They whispered. I heard them.

But I felt the tremblings at the shoreline. I felt the strength we have. It will not be long now.

It must not be long.

I played Poker Tonight.

♠ ♣ ♥

The cards flew my way as I sipped my iced tea. I scanned the eyes, trying to catch a glimpse of a tell before I glanced at my hand. One twitchy look warned me of a high pocket pair from chair number four. He sat on big blind. My cards were KK. I raised, with three callers and one more raise from number four. I capped it. We now have 5 players in for 40 each.

The flop came KA2 rainbow. I flopped a set of kings, but what does chair 4 have? I checked the flop hoping to check raise the turn for more money. “Check around”, the dealer announced as he threw down a Jack on fourth street. Chair four came out betting. I raised and the others folded. Chair four raised again and I capped it. Two players with 360 in the pot.

The river came. The board now reads KA2JJ. My hands are shaking. Earlier I put this guy on a top pair. He comes out betting. ‘All or nothing’, I think to myself as I raise. We cap again and he turns over Big Slick and reaches for the pot. I turn over my pocket kings and the dealer pushes 520 my way. Chair four is broke and on the rail.

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