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Journal Archives - April, 2001

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April 1, 2001 ... Back in civilization!

After the requisite showering and toothbrushing and changing of clothes, our first act was to drive over to Hometown Buffet and make royal pigs of ourselves. There's a touch of irony in that.

We woke up this morning damp but free of rain (the fog had left us more than enough moisture to have made the tarps a happy thing). A little packing and food experimentation later (note to self: Pancakes that don't cook right get ugly fast), we were off. And, boy, we tore up the trail.

After having left camp at 10:15 -- and having set a goal of return-to-car-at-2:30 (a hiking distance of 6 miles, largely level or downhill) -- we surprised ourselves by reaching the end of the trail at 1:15. A steady 2 mph with packs on -- including rest and lunch break! A good ending to a satisfying trip.

The downhill drive was much slower than the uphill one. (And in the daytime, to boot. I have to wonder how much of the speed decrease was due to my being able to see what would happen if I went off the road.) As we came back to the highway and started speeding off toward FC's house, I felt rather ambivalent about coming home.

Getting used to the wilderness again was a pain, yes. But once I re-acclimated, it was definitely a good thing. Now I'm returning to the same house, the same lack of work, the same computer, the same routine as before ... it feels a little like stepping bax into the rut. A comfortable rut, surely, but a very worn pattern.

FC & I talked in the car about that sort of settling down: His parents, he said, have been in the same place for essentially most of their adult life (only moving three times in over 30 years, and even then, not leaving their home city). I can't do that. I haven't even found a job yet that has held my interest for more than a year at a time. I can't really imagine picking just one career and settling into it for life. There's just too much to do, and no outstanding appeal to anything I've yet tried.

I'm still frustrated; I still feel disconnected from society's created world (and, to some extent, myself). I don't think this trip has produced any epiphanies. But it was a great way to do nothing -- by which I mean, I spent nearly a week (by the time I return to Seattle, anyway) accomplishing nothing on my to-do list, falling farther behind on e-mail, not searching for a job, etc., and yet I still feel the better for it. I was so caught up in the moment that I just didn't have time to parse all the little worries and time-wasters that drag you down while you're inside society. I got some reflection done. I found some metaphorical bones to gnaw on.

... And I got one hell of a sunburn. Even the shower was painful. Fuck. Note to self: WEAR SUNSCREEN.

Very soon now, it'll be bax to the grind ... I hope I get a chance to do this again.

April 5, 2001 ... I rented a movie today. Orson Welles' "Touch of Evil." I found myself explaining to my roommates that no, it wasn't a horror flick; no, it wasn't that movie about the detective guy who investigated a Cthulhu cult; really, it was a lot like "Traffic," except in black and white and 60 years earlier. At which point they lost interest and I got down to the business of admiring a piece of classic cinema.

I first heard about it from Robert Anton Wilson's "Cosmic Trigger" series, but that's probably neither here nor there. Wilson makes a big deal out of Welles' persistent challenging of reality and perception in his films, but really, not much of that comes across on a first viewing. What really struck me was the filmwork.

Welles' attitude toward the camera seems much like the wind's attitude toward the willow tree: keep it in motion, push it where it needs to go, swing it in long arcs instead of short jerks. This made the movie very vibrant for me -- very filled with the sort of graceful movement that, like tai chi, establishes a rapport with the world outside. As opposed to the kung fu of modern cinematography, with fast-paced transitions from still shot to still shot, where the aim is to assault the recipient with a barrage of blunt surfaces until they overload.

Those long, flowing scenes manage to build a connection because, really, that's what life is meant to be like. We work in long arcs of time, uninterrupted patterns, knowing disruption is inevitable as we shift from focus to focus, but trying to minimize the disturbances between them instead of hopping around schizophrenically. Stability is important in life. Balance (in the "not falling over" sense, as opposed to the "right proportions" sense, although the latter is admittedly important too) keeps us sane.

Which is why many small things going wrong seems far more devastating than one big catastrophe.

After a disaster, one copes. There is much work to be done to regain that normalcy we treasure; the emotional equivalent, I suppose, of windmilling one's arms in order to stay upright after a shove. But the force of the blow -- strong as it is -- comes all at once, and when you regain your bearings you can again stand straight. No big deal.

A series of annoyances, on the other hand, is easier to initially take ... but if you once lose your composure, it's all over. Every time you think you're ready to regain your usual stance, something comes along and pokes you in the butt, and you slide another few degrees closer to the ground.

I've had a number of things -- mostly small -- go wrong in the 48 hours since returning from my camping trip. (So much for returning revitalized.) Some of the worries were financial: I opened my latest credit card bill to find a nearly four-digit figure staring me in the face; a day later, I joined the ranks of the millions of Americans who dread April 15, as I filed my tax return by telephone and found out that -- completely opposed to expectations -- I owe money to the government. Not an insignificant amount. Apparently my previous workplace made an OBO error on the withholding.

And then Glineth left. There's quite a bit of irony in the reason why, but the story's a little too involved for this forum, so I'll demur on the explanations for now. I've been giving her a little time to cool down, because I really want to talk to her; maybe being here wouldn't be the best thing for her, but I want to have a serious chance to hear (and hopefully address) her problems, and not just get blown off out of fear.

As I write this, I've also just finished writing a letter to my other ISP (home of my old pages); it seems that their recent system upgrades have made a mockery of all that's decent and civilized. Or, at least, have decided that I'm some sort of rogue hax0r whose use of their copy of Pine for more than one hour per day borders on the criminally suspicious. My connection there, to read my mail, just got reset -- again -- with a nastygram stating, "ddragon, you have just been kicked off. Make off, don't try it again, today."

Should I count the atrocious grammar as an annoyance of its own?

In the meantime, I'm slogging up the hill of Ongoing Problems: Behind on mail, needing to update my resume, struggling with lofty identity versus cookie-cutter world. I'm starting to feel a tiredness which no vacation can alleviate: the unyielding pressure of Work To Be Done, which doesn't go away when you do, but rather sits around, grows bigger, and scares off the groundskeepers.

Blah. Blah, I say, blah.

I'd love to have the serenity of simplicity, but failing that, even the blur of routine is starting to sound pretty appealing.

April 6, 2001 ... Alright, alright, I'm stealing this one. But, unlike some people, I will do so shamelessly.

There's a little online test (2016 update: link dead, maybe try here? -b) where you plug in a bunch of information about your spiritual concerns and beliefs, and it will match you up against a heaping helping of religious organizations to see just how compatible you are to them. Lo and behold, I took the test, and here are my results:

  1. Unitarian Universalism (100%)
  2. Neo-Pagan (99%)
  3. New Age (98%)
  4. Theravada Buddhism (94%)
  5. Liberal Quakers (79%)
  6. New Thought (77%)
  7. Reform Judaism (75%)
  8. Mahayana Buddhism (75%)
  9. Mainline to Liberal Christian Protestants (73%)
  10. Secular Humanism (69%)
  11. Jainism (68%)
  12. Scientology (66%)
  13. Orthodox Judaism (61%)
  14. Hinduism (59%)
  15. Orthodox Quaker (58%)
  16. Sikhism (55%)
  17. Baha'i Faith (51%)
  18. Christian Science ("Church of Christ, Scientist") (50%)
  19. Islam (44%)
  20. Taoism (44%)
  21. Atheists and Agnostics (39%)
  22. Seventh Day Adventist (39%)
  23. Roman Catholic (39%)
  24. Jehovah's Witness (31%)
  25. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) (31%)
  26. Mainline to Conservative Christian/Protestant (30%)
  27. Eastern Orthodox (23%)
At this point, a few thoughts spring to mind.
  • Yep, that's pretty darn accurate, at least in that the four biggest positive influences on my spiritual life thus far have hit the top of the list. I was rather amused that my dead-last match was Eastern Orthodoxy; my mother's Greek, and many of my blood relatives are in fact under that umbrella. I guess that ol' urge to rebel really hit its stride in my spiritual development. Never mind that I never actually attended a single Greek Orthodox church ceremony, ever.
         I was kind of surprised to see secular humanism get such a comparatively low score -- although I do take my religious impulses seriously, I believe that my ethics stand on their own merit. I guess that whole secular-humanist atheist/nihilist worldview does count for something in the final tally.
  • Okay, let's figure out just who's secretly slipped gurl.com a few bucks under the table here. Of the four people in my webjournal circle who've posted this test on their site (myself included) ... Unitarianism scored 100%, 100%, 100%, and 90%. Hmmm. A consistently high score I can understand, because I hang out with very tolerant, spiritual folk ... but three 100s? Wink wink, nudge nudge, on a recruiting drive maybe? ;-)
         "Mainline to liberal Christian Protestant" scores weren't suspiciously high, but on the other hand, made an appearance by #5, #5, #7, and #9 in our four respective lists. On the other hand, Islam scored pretty abysmally ... and there was only one entry for it. Not even divisions into liberal and conversative sects! Can anyone say "cultural bias"?
  • The big losers: Jehovah's Witnesses. My match was by far the highest; everyone else's compatibility scores were in the single digits. Boy, as if they didn't have it bad enough going around and knocking on people's doors already ...
         And you'd think that, with Scientology's advertising budget, it could have done better than an average score of 60-something-percent.
  • It's fascinating to see the divergences in the top four matches among our different lists. Two Buddhists, two utter non-Buddhists; only one strong secular humanist; some serious variation on liberal Quaker (read: "Christian") scoring. It's equally fascinating to see the scores for the lowest items on each individual list: 23%, 9%, 7%, 4%. I guess since the 23% is mine, that means I'm just naturally a more religious guy. But since "atheist" was one of the choices, that also means I'm naturally a more anti-religious guy. No. Wait. ... Aigh. My head hurts.
Anyway, I'm interested in what everyone else matches up with; discuss it in the forum (or, hey, post it up in your own webjournal). In the meantime, go check out the new TTU stories; I'm going to bed.

April 8, 2001 ...

<Glineth> Resolution is for weenies. ... Life doesn't work that way.
(prolonged hug)
<Baxil> Call us weenies, then.

April 10, 2001 ... The true story of a life is, I think, in those things which are not said.

I don't feel like I'm really telling the story of my life here in this journal. That's not necessarily a bad thing -- it's not my responsibility to live my life for posterity. But it seems like I'm doing so much living that I only barely touch on when I sit down to write.

There's the glittery hair, for instance. Yesterday, Erin was stalking me around the house with glitter mix. I pounced her before she could glitterize me -- and, in consequence, the stuff flew everywhere. My hair sparkled for the rest of the night. (I'm going to have to change my sheets before going to bed tonight.) Of course, her arm caught it just about as badly -- glitter backblast, I've been insisting on calling it; Erin prefers "fallout," which probably is a better visually descriptive term, given the stuff's tendency to shine.

I was going to write about that in yesterday's journal; I somehow didn't find the time.

There's the intricate details of the resolution that Glineth and I came to (and what we've been doing since then; in hindsight, it's obvious that my three-line post -- while poignant -- didn't even answer the question of what the resolution we reached was.) There's the question of who Glineth is in the first place (one of three spirits who has been staying here with me full-time, whom I've gotten very close to in the three and a half years she's been around). There's the discussion I had with my inner cynic around the whole issue, and the conclusions I reached -- one of which, that being "science and mysticism stem from the exact same primal human urge, that of finding predictability and control over the universe", helped resolve some inner conflicts I'd been having recently over spirituality in general.

I wasn't quite sure how to sum that up when I put fingers to keyboard.

There's the details of the hiking trip I took with FC a week and a half ago. Fortunately, those will reach the site; they're already recorded in my paper wilderness journal, and all I have to do is type them in.

There's the story of the drive home from California, post-hike. After four days of mostly cloudless and summerlike hiking weather, the skies unleashed all of the precipitation they'd been struggling to keep from hovering overhead while I was enjoying myself in the middle of nowhere. As a result, things got somewhat schizophrenic. Over the course of about an hour, and less than 30 miles ... I drove through the following weather: Sleet. Snow. Blizzard (with actual snow on the ground, at an elevation of roughly 2,000 feet). Sunshine. Hail. (Hail!) More sunshine, and rain.

There's the Warhammer games I played while coming to terms with my unemployment; I'd gotten somewhat scared off of the game a decade ago, when a dear junior-high friend of mine beat the pants off of me several times in a row when teaching me how to play. Two weeks ago, I skimmed the rules, built some armies, and managed to edge out a victory and a well-fought tie against one of our house's more experienced tacticians.

There's the night I went to a local gun range with some co-workers, bax when I was still at Wildtangent. We rented several high-caliber pistols (I would have preferred lighter guns, but I wasn't paying) and a Colt AR-22 rifle. I learned how to handle a firearm, what it feels like to shoot one, and that I'm not all that bad of a shot for a beginner. I've still got the paper targets to prove it.

That one I was going to write about, weeks ago, but kept putting it off.

Even at that, I've just now named a large handful of things which are good stories, which provide a glimpse into some of the things I do. I haven't talked about my life. There are stories I won't tell here -- stories I won't even hint at -- and stories that I kind of want to tell, but feel awkward about relaying. There are portions of my life that I don't mind sharing, but need to find a less public forum to do so in. There are portions of my life which strongly affect how I live my life -- such as the job search I'm currently undertaking -- but which don't really rate a mention here, except in passing. There are portions of my life which just have no bearing on anything, anywhere. (My current heart rate is approximately 70. There is a sleeping cat in the chair next to mine. The Cheesy Poofs that I was snacking on earlier this evening contain disodium guanylate.)

Biographical writing is, by nature, a distillative process. You take an entire existence and condense it down into some fascinating highlights, some good soundbites for the audience to remember after the show is over, and some poignant thoughts to provoke or inspire those other lives which briefly sit enraptured at your antics in the spotlight. But, in the end, that's all you can do. The curtain closes after the show, and you're the only one who gets to go backstage.

April 13, 2001 ... I flew to California yesterday to help my parents celebrate their 25th anniversary. (I'm still there, and won't return home until Sunday evening; I have a wedding to attend tomorrow. Apparently this is a good week for romance.)

My sister and I prepared them a four-course meal, complete with roaring fireplace and lit candles. I served sparkling cider, Sarah kept an eye on the four-cheese pasta and roasted garlic potatoes, and the family dog sat at Dad's feet at the table and cast her pleading eyes on everyone in turn. Mom offered a short prayer before the meal. Tchaikovsky played in the background. It was a truly touching moment, a quiet homage -- and exceptional testament -- to 25 years well lived. A simple meal, perhaps, considering some of the restaurants that couples celebrate their silver anniversary at; but one just as memorable as (and more meaningful than) any five-star restaurant's.

They exchanged cards the night before I arrived; they exchanged gifts at the table while we ate. Curiously enough, both of them had prepared the same present for each other ... a small photo album with a 25-year retrospective culled from their (individual) archives of photographs. Both of the albums started with the same picture (two consecutive shots, anyway, taken at the same time and location).

As if that wasn't enough evidence of their cosmic alignment ... both my mother and my father, shopping at different stores for their anniversary cards, picked out the same card for each other. It wasn't even a "25th anniversary" card, either, just a general anniversary card with a lovely photograph of a beach and a poem.

I can't think of any more touching evidence to show that my parents will happily celebrate their 50th together. And I wish them a wonderful journey along the way.

April 15, 2001 ... I'm home. I was hoping to write up Saturday's events here, but as usual time has slipped by, and I need to get to bed, and I'd need an hour or two to get all of my notes out. Darn my schedule. Arrrgh.

I bet Timothy Leary doesn't have this problem. On the other hand, Timothy Leary is dead, which is a pretty good clue I'm right. He wrote a book -- "Design for Dying" -- in his last days, which I've been reading recently, and I can't help but think that he was facing the ultimate deadline there. So I suppose it's all good that he doesn't have to deal with it any more.


Leary goes off, at one point, on out-of-body experiences, and how to prepare oneself for them, and the natural tendency of the mind to, more or less, hallucinate during periods of relative sensory deprivation -- a sensation which I have plenty of experience with, as it's an ongoing struggle to stay mentally focused while doing spirit work. Interestingly, he provided a list of ways to practice "stilling the mind" -- to stop your consciousness from jumping up and down and screaming out "Notice me! Give me something to do!"; to detach the process of observation from the automatic interpretation that usually goes on and throws us off as to what we're really seeing.

What caught my eye was a suggestion about halfway down the list. That being, "Read without vocalizing." Look at words -- text -- without hearing the words inside your head.

I thought, "Okay, I grok that. Lines on paper. I need to look at the text as an image, a pattern of stripes on a blank background."

I then proceeded to flip a few pages back in the book and utterly fail at my actual attempts to do so.

It's incredible just how strong that reflex is to interpret. Just how difficult it is to not read, when presented with patterns that just might be letters, even with a conscious effort.

The tagline "Underestimate the power of belief at your own risk" has graced my (human) signature for many years now. I'm beginning to think it applies, if anything, even more strongly to expectations.

April 19, 2001 ... The job search continues.

Were you aware that Alaska Airlines does not hire smokers? No, really, scroll down to the bottom of this page of job listings. "Users of nicotine products" need not apply. I guess that's one way to push a moral imperative ... but, boy, is that a lawsuit waiting to happen, or what?

I've also been spending some time today doing completely useless things. (Don't worry if you don't understand the story behind that link; it fits into the sequence of events listed on this thread (start halfway down the page) on the antwon.com BBS.) It's so fun to throw lots of effort into utterly random acts of creativity ... it seems like people appreciate your work all the more when they don't see it coming.


Incidentally, I'm also pissed off at the state right about now. Washington Governor Gary "Spineless" Locke, who last week found the guts to call a threatened state employees' strike "obviously illegal" (because it was), scrambled all over himself to weasel out of his own quote once the strike actually started. Thanks, boy-o, for allowing the fine workers of our Health & Human Services Department to run around breaking laws instead of DOING THEIR WORK. (Because of the nature of public-sector work, government employees aren't allowed to go on strike. It's specifically illegal. You don't like it? There's a whole free market out there; go get a better job in the private sector. Or else stop complaining: I remember noting, back when I was in California, that Department of Motor Vehicles paper-sorters -- an unskilled, entry-level position -- were paid $17 per hour, nearly 1 1/2 times what I was making at a newspaper job requiring a college degree.)

Not that I'm bitter. But the unemployment insurance people fucked up the check this week, and they've turned off the damn phones at the TeleCenter, so I can't call in to clear the situation up. The lines at the office -- if they're open at all -- are going to be six shades of horrible. Ya know, I figure that's $250 that I'm just going to have to kiss goodbye, because depending on how long the strike lasts, I may not see it until I get hired again. In the meantime, our state's diligent social workers are whining piteously about receiving merely a six percent raise over two years, instead of the seven percent that was promised to teachers.

Boo hoo.


Here's to hoping that I find employment quickly, so I can get all this crap behind me.

April 21, 2001 ...
A lot of bridges in Birmingham
A lot of ghosts and a lot of houses
Look over there, a dry ice factory
Good place to get some thinking done

Moment of self-pity:

Apathy. Bleagh. BLEAGH!!

End moment of self-pity.

Did I forget to mention, forget to mention Memphis?
Home of Elvis and the ancient Greeks
Do I smell, I smell home cooking
It's only the river, it's only the river

You know, for living in a city right on the ocean, I sure do spend a lot of time not around it. Last time I actually touched water that didn't come through a pipe was, uhm, Tuesday. And that's only because Erin and I went down to Magnuson Park for a walk.

Then there's Seattle, the home of coffee
Can't turn around without hitting a tree
There's lots of tech jobs, on a good day
People are civil, except when they drive

Is Seattle where I would choose to live, if I were starting from scratch, if I didn't have any immediate constraints like relationships or job offers? Hardly. I love the sun and the heat too much. The warm, mild climate of Santa Barbara, the easy access to both beaches and mountains, blew away any other place I've ever lived. But, as I remarked to Erin earlier tonight, I'm not going to give this up. I've worked too hard to make this happen, and I'm not going to give up now.

Is that the sound of roots sprouting?

There's some good points, some bad points
But it all works out
I'm just a little freaked out

We've been going through some tough times recently. I won't elucidate on the financial troubles; everybody deals with lack of money at some point in their lives, and if you haven't yet, you someday will, so don't let me spoil the surprise. And, honestly, it's not nearly as bad as it could be over here, it's just upsetting to deal with the dispution of the illusion of stability that society tries so desperately to project. Since when was "comfortable routine" the default setting for life? Just where, in between "the switch from hunter-gatherers to agriculture" and "the invention of the cell phone", did we evolve the idea that to be concerned for one's basic survival is a breakdown of the normal order?

Uhm, not that that's a bad thing, mind you. But it certainly isn't normal, not for any form of life without the foresight to machine-engineer electric can openers.

I'm checkin' em out
I'm checkin' em out
I've got it figured out
I'm the one that's got it figured out

Money makes the world go around. What a fucked up way to live.

It's true. Billy Idol claimed (paraphrasing Gareth Branwyn's "Is There a Cyberpunk Movement") at the beginning of his "Cyberpunk" album: "Information is power and currency in the virtual world we inhabit." Well, it isn't, not in the real world, not even on the Internet. A decade after that album's release, the 'Net has remained a bastion of idealism, and generally anyone trying to sell you information online keeps getting undercut by hordes of geeks offering it for free. Information as currency was hyperinflated to death as the Internet became, free of charge to the consumer, the world's biggest encyclopedia. Meanwhile, currency as currency just kept talking.

We're addicts, all of us. Addicted to the social structure that promises regular and uninterruptible fixes of our basic survival needs, in exchange for only a bunch of that green-hued cloth. (That's "paper money" for you home viewers. You did know that American dollars are printed on cloth instead of paper, right? It lasts longer and is more durable than that wood pulp stuff.) And once you're in the system, they can make you dance just as hard for those little bills as you ever would to go out and gather vegetables for that night's dinner.

The trick is that there's always someplace else to spend it. Have you spent everything you need to on food, shelter, clothing, and waste disposal? Hey, how about some entertainment? How about a few bucks to charity so that the people getting the shit kicked out of them by the social structure can live in a little bit less misery? How about this wonderful box to put on your desk so that you can play Solitaire and Minesweeper every day after work? How about this smaller box that turns your desk-box into the world's biggest encyclopedia, for only a small monthly fee? And should you have enough to afford all of that without blinking, how about giving lots of money to your representative in the political structure overseeing the whole mess, so that they can subtly influence the power structure in your favor and you can get even more money?

Somewhere in there is the joy of friendship, the beauty of a sunset, the satisfied exhaustion of sex, the exhilaration of solving a complex puzzle. But the world keep revolving, whether you've got any of those or not. The only absolutely necessary fundamental of existence (and I don't mean life; I mean avoiding cessation of physical function) is those little scraps of cloth.

Find your city, find yourself a city to live in ... (-- Phish)

And what's my alternative?

Is Outer Space hiring? I've got a really nice-looking resume ...

April 22, 2001 ... Incidentally, the Seattle verse of yesterday's song lyrics was completely fraudulent. I made it up myself. Uhm, just for those keeping track. Or those all excited about how Phish talks about Seattle on "Slip, Stitch and Pass", 'cause they don't. (Yes, I know that "Cities" is a Talking Heads song. Or, at any rate, I do now. But the Seattle verse is still mine. MINE, I say!)

Oh, yeah, and the unemployment office did come through. They found and corrected the mistake, and sent me out my check, even before I called. I just thought I'd mention this because, after the vitriol of the 19th's rant, I think they deserve some credit.

April 25, 2001 ... I dance the flow of life.

I wheel around the trees, dive through the rivers, and somersault over the mountains. I dart across the open plains. I bound through the snow; I spin with the sun; I dodge the raindrops. I tango with the ocean as she leaps into my footprints on the beach.

I pace the steps of the nervous predator across the smooth tar-smeared rocks of the city. I tiptoe around the blades of its fields of precision-cut green. I synchronize with the slow breath of the office building, then explode into motion of my own once the chorus has finished. I roar and twirl through the lines and curves of the written word. I gracefully leap through the voids of inner space, sometimes landing again on our Earth, sometimes finding myself continuing the dance on strange shores.

I circle my arteries and veins. I tap and stomp within my muscles. I convulse within my brain, and jitter through my nerves. I rock back and forth with my heart, my lungs.

I whirl around the floor, and the other dancers know me, know my steps. Most simply try to ensure that their own paths are clear. Some dance with me. Some intercept me, and try to guide my steps. But my heart tells me my dance. Those who see my heart sometimes find themselves falling into my pace. I dance my dance; those who follow me are welcome to use my footsteps, but if their heart does not beat in my rhythm, they would be happier seeking their own.

Life is motion; I dance the flow of life. There is a stillness to constant movement. Many of us seek this stillness, or confuse it with the stillness of refusing to dance, or the stillness of the pauses in between steps. But I am only alive when I follow my steps. I seek constancy of motion, not repetition of motion, which is a poor substitute.

Someday my music may stop. I do not fear this; my heart knows the tune, and the steps it guides me along will have run their course by then. All I fear is someday being too tired to see the song through to its end.

April 26, 2001 ... (Today's journal entry is a guest post by Erin Lynn. Thanks, Erin!)

I think my mother and I have a pretty good relationship. I'm estranged from my father, which means that I've seen him twice since I was 11, and that's a good thing. But I keep in touch with my mom, by phone and e-mail.

I had a very interesting telephone conversation with her yesterday. Not that the content of the conversation was interesting, but the insight I gained into our relationship.

I'm not "out" to my mom as a dragon -- especially since I'm not a dragon; it would just be too hard to explain. I'm also not "out" to my mom as being polyamorous, which means that she thinks that Myles, my husband, is the total of my family, while Bax is "just a roommate."

During the conversation, I realized that unless she changes dramatically, I'm very unlikely to bring up these subjects, or any others that could be potentially difficult to explain, at least for another good long while. She gave me her usual harangue about going back to college, and told me that I was "crazy" not to take advantage of the financial aid that's available. She also said that I should "make something of myself." I replied that I already have made something of myself, but that sailed right over her head.

Mind you, I'm 29, and have been living away from home for over a decade. I've proven my ability to take care of myself in a wide vareity of situations, including some very adverse conditions. She sometimes praises me for living the kind of life that she would have liked to have led -- and then in the next two sentences she's telling me that I need more security in my life. Thank the gods that she hasn't given me the "When can I expect grandchildren?" line, and has been supportive of my decision to not have children ... but I have to wonder if that will change to "I hope you've made the right choice, you can always adopt" when I manage to get my tubes tied (which I'll do as soon as I can afford to, dammit).

The practical upshot... I don't expect that I will ever be able to discuss the idea of draconity with her. I don't expect that even if I do, that she will ever accept it. At this point, I'm resigned to giving her abbreviated and edited commentary on my life, which seems to be what she wants to hear.

When all is said and done, though, I'm okay with that. She's my mother, and I love her, but she's not my chosen family. She's a good person, and she did her best with me, and still does. I'm sure that her worrying about me reflects her care and love for me. But I don't live with her. I don't need her approval for the choices I make with my life. I don't need her to accept my beliefs, or agree with them. It would be nice, but it's not necessary. I have my own life to live. I have my chosen family to talk to about my beliefs and decisions. Even when they disagree with me, they never disapprove, and they always accept me -- all of me. Even the bits they don't agree with.

April 27, 2001 ... I spent most of the day at APC7 today. (That's alt.polycon, in layman's terms.) It did a great job of not meeting the set of my expectations I was expecting. Which is to say, I was expecting it to be a social event; it turned out a great deal like a convention, despite its small size. As a convention, it meshed with my expectations of conventions very well. But I wasn't expecting ... ah, never mind.

I attended two panels, participated in many discussions, filked for a few hours, stole a Tim-Tam from the Con Suite and then neglected to eat it, and ... oh yeah ... decorated my badge.

You think that's bad, you should see Erin's. :-)

Believe it or not, each of those stickers means something. Something specific. There's a master list in the Con Suite, where all the stickers are kept. It's kind of like the Dragon Code, except it goes on your Con badge instead of in your .sig file.

F'rinstance ... I'll start in the upper-left hand corner and work around counter-clockwise. The swirly means "You may hug me." (There's a different swirly to denote the opposite, and a few other symbols for in-between levels of physical comfort.) The fish means "Feed me sushi!" The blobby thing, which is supposed to be a planet, means "I'm a sci-fi fan." The hand, for some reason I don't grok, means "I am flaky about returning e-mail." (The exclamation mark after it should be an obvious modifier to those who know me well.) The penguin means, logically enough, "Go Linux!" The heart is for number of current significant others (the most I've seen on any single badge is, uhm, eight ... which strikes me personally as excessive, but obviously it works for hir.) The dragon means "I'm a dragon!" -- if I remember correctly, the con has three (out of around 100), which isn't a bad percentage for a convention specifically made up of readers of alt.polyamory. The star denotes current relationship status -- different colors for "actively seeking other partners," "not looking for other partners," and "not not looking."

There's even a specific sticker to denote "I ran out of room on my badge," if that's any indication how intricate the system is. Fortunately, I was able to keep things fairly simple. (On the other hand, geek that I am, I've memorized the sticker meanings list. I was able to rattle off the relevance of all but two of Erin's stickers, and I missed those only because I confused them with others of a similar type -- there are three different kinds of flower stickers, for instance, and one specific hand color that doesn't mean the same thing as the rest of them.)

At any rate, I've been enjoying myself immensely. The con will continue running for two more days, and I need to catch up on my sleep tonight so that I can attend a panel early tomorrow morning, so expect further details as the weekend progresses.

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