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Willie's Off-Brand Web Journal: May 21-June 18, 2006

Saturday, June 3, 2006:

For our anniversary, Bev bought us a copy of Found II to share; it's the second book compilation from Found magazine. At one point, editor Davy Rothbart gives advice on "finding" personal documents online, through P2P programs like LimeWire. That is, people tend to make the mistake of including their "My Documents" folder in their list of shared folders on these programs, so it's a simple matter to locate letters, journals, and other personal writings that way. Is it ethical? That's up to you. In my opinion, this sort of voyeuristic curiosity is nothing compared with the NSA listening to our every phone call- not just because my finds won't be used against anyone, but because these people have taken an active part in sharing these documents with me, one way or another (they downloaded the program, they're online, they shared the folder). It's not as innocent as picking an abandoned mash note up off the ground, but it's not as morally questionable, to me, as going to the Target photo department and flipping through other people's prints until you're asked to leave. Not that I, um...

Anyhow. I thought I'd share with you some excerpts from the best things I've found since I started this undertaking. I've changed all the names and identifying characteristics, but these are the interesting bits. They simultaneously give me hope for humanity and make me wish we'd be wiped out tomorrow. Enjoy!

FIND #1:

October 11, 2005

TODAY, I ACTUALLY HAD AN AITE DAY. WORK WAS PRETTY KICKBACK. TO BE HONEST I DIDN’T DO SHIT! FELT GOOD. I THINK BACK, THE ONLY COMPLAINT ABOUT TODAY IS THAT KELLY LIKE ALWAYS WAS TRIPPIN ABOUT ME TAKING A DAY OFF. I DON’T KNOW WHY HE ASKS LIKE THAT? ANYTIME, THE OTHER CREW, WANTS A DAY OFF……HE NEVER TRIPS. BUT WHAT CAN U DO? NOTHING CUZ HES THE BOSS. LETS SEE……OH YEAH THE ONLY OTHER THING THAT BOTHERED ME IS THAT MY GIRL. WAS TRIPPIN. SHES STILL A LITTLE UPSET WITH ME…..BUT I CANT BLAME HER. SINCE I DID ACT A FOO. YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN? ANYWAY IM GONNA HAVE TO SHOW HER THAT IM NOT HERE TO PLAY GAMES BUT IM HERE, TO BE WITH HER. AND BE HAPPY…..SO HOMIE STOP TRIPPIN…..AND BE YOURSELF! AITE SEE YOU LATER!

October 12, 2005

TODAY I WENT TO WORK AFTER A FEW HOURS AND DECIDED THAT I NEED TO PUT A LITTLE MORE EFFORT INTO MY RELATIONSHIP. SO I WENT TO WALGREENS AND BOUGHT A CARD. TO SHOW HER THAT I CARE AND THAT I WAS THINKING ABOUT HER. IM PRETTY HAPPY CUZ IT LOOKS LIKE SHES FEELING BETTER AND SHES STARTING TO LIKE ME AGAIN……WHICH IS OFF THE HOOK! BRINGS A SMILE TO MY FACE KNOWING THAT SHE LIKES ME AGAIN. MAYBE SHE WAS NEVER REALLY ANGRY JUST A LITTLE DISAPPOINTED AND EXHAUSTED FROM THE LACK OF SLEEP. YOU KNOW WHAT? I THINK THAT’S WHAT IT WAS. IM FEELING BETTER. WRITING SURPRISINGLY IS HELPFUL. IM NOT FEELING SO BUMMED ANYMORE. HOPEFULLY DOING THIS DAILY MAKES ME BECOME A BETTER PERSON. WELL IF THERES NEW TO ADD ILL LET YOU KNOW, PEEEAAACE MY BROTHA……….IM OUT!

October 18, 2005

TODAY WAS A KOO DAY. MY SISTER CAME DOWN TO VISIT. UNEXPECTEDLY BUT ITS KOO THAT’S SHES HERE. FUCK! FUCK! FUCK! IM HELLA SAD. IM SO FUCKIN STUPID! IM REALLY FUCKIN THINGS UP BETWEEN ME AND MY GIRL. I THINK WE WERE MAKING PROGRESS AND THEN FOR ME TO DO THIS……….FUCK! FUCK! FUCK! I NEED TO LEARN TO STOP BEING SO SELFISH. IM GONNA FUCK UP MY HAPPINESS IF IM NOT CAREFUL. AND I REALLY DON’T WANT TO DO THAT. SHE MAKES ME HAPPY. SO HAPPY THAT IT HURTS. IM ON THIN ICE WITH HER…….I HONESTLY FEEL THAT ONE MORE SLIP UP AND IM THROUGH! DAMN IT! I HATE FEELING LIKE THIS………IT MEANS I REALLY DO CARE ABOUT HER. NOT A LIL BIT LIKE I WANT TO BUT ALLLLLLOOOOOOOOOOOT…….LOL….WHO THE HELL IM I KIDDING? IM GONNA FUCK UP AGAIN. WHEN HAVE I NOT FUCKED SOMETHING UP? WHEN THINGS ARE GOING WELL?I FUCK UP SHIT…..LIKE ALWAYS. SO WHY SHOULD I GET UPSET? WHEN ITS JUST A MATTER OF TIME. DEEP BREATH CALM YOUR FUCKIN ASS DOWN. STOP THINKING NEGATIVELY. SHE TOLD YOU, IT UPSET HER BECAUSE SHE OBVIOUSLY CARES FOR YOU. IF SHE DIDN’T, SHE WOULDN’T OF TOLD YOU. BUT THE FACT THAT SHE TOLD YOU, MEANS A LOT. SHE COULD OF EASILY DROPPED YOU AND IGNORED YOU LIKE THE FIRST TIME BUT SHE DIDN’T. SO CALM DOWN. SHE TRYING TO WORK WITH YOU SO YOUR RELATIONSHIP CAN GROW INTO SOMETHING BIG AND BEAUTIFUL. SHES OBVIOUSLY PUTTIN EFFORT INTO IT, MORE THAN YOU ARE. SHES GIVIN 100% AND YOU ARE JUST GIVIN 75%. STOP BEING A BITCH AND GO ALL OUT! GIVE 150% STOP BEING AFRAID AND STOP PUTTING YOURSELF FIRST. GIVE EVERYTHING YOU HAVE INTO HER. REMEMBER THESE LINES……….YOU RECEIVE, WHAT YOU GIVE……….SO IF YOU DON’T GIVE NOTHING, THEN HOW DO YOU EXPECT TO GET ANYTHING.? SO FRANKLIN…….TREAT HER LIKE YOU WOULD LIKE TO BE TREATED……..KEEP THAT ALWAYS IN MIND. LIKE SHE SAID SHES A GOOD GIRLFRIEND…….IF WANT TO KEEP HER………..YOU HAVE TO DO THE DAMN THING. MAN UP! BITCH! DEEEP BREATH………OKAY IM KOO NOW……I CAN GO TO SLEEP…….JUST WISH HER A GOOD NITE AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS TOMORROW. IF YOU NOTICE SHE DOESN’T RESPOND………WHO GIVES A FUCK! GO AT IT HARDER…………YOU HAVE TO GIVE EVERYTHING…….I MEAN EVERYTHING YOU GOT……..TO KEEP HER…….SO DO IT…….OKAY? AITE THEN………PEACE IM OUT………..AND THANX FOR THE TIME……….I FEEL BETTER…….

January 11, 2006

MAN, THIS SUCKS. I REALLY WANT TO CALL BABYS MOM TO SEE MY DAUGHTER! SHES PROBABLY GONNA BE BORN, IN A COUPLE OF WEEKS. AND IM NOT GONNA BE THERE. L WHAT DO I DO? IF I CALL HER, THEN ILL BE BREAKING MY PROMISE. AND I DON’T WANT TO DO THAT. I TOLD TORAL I WOULD GIVE HER MY ALL! ALL 100% OF ME. SO DON’T GO BACK ON YOUR WORD! ITS HARD THOUGH. ESPECIALLY, SINCE I DON’T EVEN KNOW, WHATS GONNA HAPPEN BETWEEN ME AND TORAL. YOU KNOW, ONE DAY, EVERYTHING IS KOO OR AT LEAST IT SEEMS LIKE IT IS, BUT THEN THE NEXT MINUTE, SHE MAKES ME FEEL LIKE IF SHE MADE A MISTAKE, IN TRYING TO GIVE ME ANOTHER CHANCE. LIKE TODAY MAN…SHE SAID SHE DOESNT SEE US GOING PAST SAINT PATTY’S DAY. THAT’S SO FUCKED UP! WHATS THE FUCKIN POINT OF BEING TOGETHER, IF IN THE END, WERE JUST GONNA BREAK UP? SHE SAID SHE WAS KIDDING BUT A PART OF HER, IS BEING HONEST. BUT YOU CANT BLAME ANYONE BUT YOURSELF! IF YOU WOULD OF JUST TOLD HER THAT YOU WANT TO BE A FATHER TO YOUR BABY AND HAVE HER AS YOUR GIRL TOO…SHE WOULDN’T OF STUCK BY YOU. BUT NOW….WHO KNOWS WHEN SHES JUST GONNA BREAK UP WITH YOU. YOU KNOW ITS GONNA HAPPEN. IT JUST A MATTER OF TIME. I TELL HER THAT I LOVE HER BUT WHEN SHE SAYS IT BACK SHE SAYS IT UNDER HER BREATH. I WONDER IF SHE EVEN REALLY MEANS IT? IM SO TORN! I REALLY DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO! THEN ON TOP OF ALL THAT, SHES SAD AND I CANT HELP BUT TO THINK THAT I AM THE MAIN REASON FOR HER SADNESS. I BROKE HER HEART AND TRUST. SHE PROBABLY FEELS LIKE THINGS WILL NEVER GO HER WAY. SHE SAYS SHE DOESN’T KNOW WHY, BUT C’MON NOW…SHE KNOWS BUT SHE JUST DOES WANT TO TELL ME. CUZ SHE DON’T TRUST ME. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA…I FUCKEN HATE MYSELF! FOR MAKING HER SAD! FUCK! FUCK! FUCK! DON’T YOU THINK SHE BEEN THROUGH ENOUGH BULLSHIT? FUCK! WHATS WRONG WITH YOU? SHES SO GOOD TO YOU! AND YOU REPAYED HER BY LYING? GOOD FUCKEN GOING FRANKLIN……..GOOD FUCKIN GOING! YOU JUST BETTER PRAY SHE DOESN’T LEAVE YOUR RETARDED ASS. CUZ YOU KNOW BITCH ASS PERCY WILL TAKE HER FROM YOU…….IF YOUR NOT CAREFUL! WOW THIS ACTUALLY WORKS…….WRITING YOU THOUGHTS DOWN…I WAS REALLY FEELING SHITTY LIKE A FEW MINUTES AGO…BUT NOW…….IM FEELING AIIIIIIITE. STOP TRIPPIN ABOUT THE BABY! LET HER GO! AND STOP TRIPPIN ABOUT TORAL LOVING YOU! YOU LIED TO HER TWICE AND SHE STILL HERE! HOW STUPID DO YOU HAVE TO BE? TIL YOU SEE IT? PENDEJO SHE LOVES YOU! SHE LOVES YOU! SHE LOVES YOU! SO STOP TRIPPIN……..SHEEEE WAASSSSS JOOOOOOOOOOKINNNNNNN…..GET IT? WELL I THINK IM GONNA START WRITING EVERYDAY. THIS REALLY HELPS….SO REMEMBER SHE LOVES YOU! AND GIVE 150% TO TORAL-BEAR AND NO ONE ELSE! DON’T LOSE SIGHT OF YOURE HAPINESS! TORAL-BEAR…..AITE THEN TALK TO YOU MANANA……OR WRITE YOU MANANA…….PEEEEEEACCEEE!

January 12, 2006

HI THERE. J I WASN’T SURE HOW TO START OFF TODAY. WELL LETS SEE……TODAY MY SIS AND FAMILIA ARE COMING DOWN. SO THAT’S HELLA KOO. I MISS THEM ALL. I HAVEN’T SEEN THEM IN FOREVER IN A DAY. MAN, I REALLY MISS NERMAL. I CANT WAIT TO SEE HER TODAY. WHAT AM I TALKING ABOUT? I ALWAYS MISS HER. I ALWAYS WANT TO SPEND EVERY WAKING MOMENT WITH HER. I REALLY DO LOVE HER WITH ALL MY HEART. SLOWLY, BUT SURELY IM STARTING TO REALIZE SHE LOVES ME TOO. JUST GIVE IT A LIL TIME. SHE’LL TRUST AGAIN. YOU JUST HAVE TO BE PATIENT. REMEMBER, HER HEART WAS BROKEN. TIME…..ONLY TIME……WILL HEAL HER WOUNDS. IT FELT GOOD TO BE HONEST WITH HER AND TELL HER HOW I WAS FEELING. SEE….SHE DIDN’T BREAK UP WITH YOU. JUST CUZ YOU TOLD HER THAT YOU FELT LIKE CALLING BABY’S MOM. SHE UNDERSTOOD. SHE LOVES YOU. AND TODAY SHE TEXT THAT SHE MISSED YOU. QUE MAS QUIERES? IT FELT GOOD. WHEN SHE TEXT ME. IM STARTING FEEL STRONGER AND MORE CONFIDENT THAT WE’RE GONNA MAKE IT. SHE WILL, ONE DAY, BE YOUR WIFE! THAT’S TIGHT! I CANT WAIT TO SPEND THE REST OF MY LIFE WITH HER. WELL TAKE CARE…OF YOURSELF AND DON’T LOSE SIGHT OF WHATS IMPORTANT. YOUR LOVE AND JOY, NERMAL. AITE THEN MR MOOPLES………..PEACE IN THE MIDDLE EAST……LOL…….IM OUT!

FIND #2:

Dear Mum At school we did capacity. and capacity

Means how much holds. Holds means how much

Something there is .

On Saturday I had some tost for breakfast I

FIND #3:

English III Hon/DC
11 May 2006
Writing Option # 2

Dear Abby,

My name is Janeane and I have been having problems with my boyfriend, Ben. Lately he has been acting strange, and I do not know what to do. Whenever we go about our regular routines he always acts as if he does not want to be there. I love to go fishing and up until now so has Ben. All of a sudden whenever we are fishing he complains about everything. He complains that the fish will not strike and he even complains about the way I clean the perch. Since when was my way any different than any other time we have cleaned the perch. There is just no way of figuring him out. There was a time when he loved me dearly, but now it seems to have faded away. Tell me, what should I do? I honestly do not know what to do anymore.

Woman in Distress,

Janeane

Dear Janeane,

You are smothering him!! Give the man some space. Do you ever let him spend time with his friends? He probably sneaks behind your back to do so! Be careful, men do not like women who are too clingy. They need to know you want them, but just not all the time. You say he always complains about you alls regular routine of fishing? Well that is just it. It is “routine”. Why don’t you change it up a little. Instead of fishing, try swimming or going ona romantic picnic. But most of all what you guys need is space, space, and more space from each other all the time. Your friend who is always here to help the lost…

Abby

FIND #4:

Dear Alcohol,

This is my goodbye to you. We have had seven long years of a so-called relationship. We have had our ups and downs, mostly downs. I didn’t see too much of you growing up as a kid until we got formally introduced when I was 14. I vividly remember that evening at my friend’s house you were in a forty-ounce bottle of old English. We clicked right away. I fell in love with you instantly. Finishing that bottle before my buddy could even get half way. You gave me confidence strength and an ability to be outgoing. We became closer and closer as the years passed but it did not take long to see that you affected me a little bit differently than the rest of my peers. And I recognized this but at the time you seemed to be so good to me. Getting me laid for the first time, helping me meet new friends, showing me a good time, and always being there for me. It blinded me from the fact that you also put evil in my eye turning me into a menace with no respect for myself others or for any authority figures. Sending me on numerous trips to jail hurting my family and others verbally emotionally and physically. You took a child out of my life caused me to lose friends and places to live commit serious crimes and just be flat out a mean ruthless and completely unremorseful human being. There have been a couple of times I have tried to tell you to get the fuck out of my life on my own, but that has not worked we seem to reunite quickly. Only you would bring your friends along such as cocaine ecstasy methamphetamines and many others, and I would isolate myself to you. My life revolved around you I wouldn’t even call it a friendship but a relationship because it was like we were lovers. I woke up thinking about you how im going to get to be with you and spend all my free time with you. Even though you made my life a living hell spending a lot of time in tears pulling my hair out wishing I could get rid of you. It couldn’t even look myself in the mirror. But I would still stand by your side as you would for me carrying on with the insanity, the pain, the turmoil, guilt and suffering. I thought the night when you had me with a knife attacking my father then him having me arrested once again that that was it for you and I. Yet still it wasn’t. I only got worse when I got out of jail. Shortly after you nearly killed me after a four-day bender. I don’t remember assaulting the doctor biting the nurse spitting on the whole hospital staff and my parents, I only remember waking up in a hospital with IV’s in my body a net on my head handcuffed to the bed surrounded by police officers and getting read my rights for another trip to jail. I don’t remember doing any of that horrible stuff because I didn’t; you did you evil selfish inconsiderate motherfucker. It was time to put you to rest burry you alive cuz I know your never going to die. So with some help from my family I checked myself into Milam’s inpatient program. Where I was given the weapons to go into battle with you. For years it felt like I was riding a bicycle up hill with no pedals forcing me to go nowhere but down. Together we have dug a deep hole but I have stopped digging im climbing out now and leaving you behind. I now have those pedals on a never-ending journey to the top of that hill. At the beginning of this letter I said this is my goodbye to you well it isn’t it is good riddens. I can forgive myself but never you so fuck you and everything you represent. I hope I made it clear this time. Peace.

FIND #5:

Dear Nancy Anne Seancey,

haha sorry my letter is sorta late. its because im writing this all over again since the one i first wrote got messed up. && also it takes me such a freakkking long time to write so i decided to type. sorry if its not as "effortly." but i`ll make up for it by writing a novel ;D hehee. well first of all hows the weather? lols. here its sooooooooooooooo x10000 hot && i think i could die. blehh! i am so burned from the sun. my tan is sooo effing ugly its sick. well yeahhhhhhhhhhhhhh i still havent gone to the beach yet have you? i heard korea beaches are freaking crowded so i dernooo. well ahhh my summer is a real bore. since everyone has 2nd session, i cant play with anyone. i had first session by the way. & like volleyball just ended about a week ago so it really sucks. i have nooo life. haha . but i get to work out (: and study hard. omgash BTW i got fatter!!! rawr rawr roarrrrr!! i mean i freaking work out every spare second i have && i get fat ?! that is sooo lame. but whatever im pissed. and oh yeah im doing my hair soon!! weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee~ hahha. im making it look like Ashlee Simpsons black hair. yknow what im talking about right.

the wholeee rock look. haha its like the only hairstyle that`ll match me. and everyone else is doing like blonde/brown and i dont wanna look like everyoneee else. NAAAAA MEAN?!

haharrrrr.

anyhooooooo..

did i tell you i started piano? dsflkajsfd yeah it really sucks but ill get better soon. i like seriously dread going but then i wanna be like alicia keys and be all crazy. lols. by the way, how is the mall in korea. i cannot imagine you in fob clothes really. did you get ahold of some REAL hollister or A&F? hope so. show off your american boddy bbbebs. haha oh yeah right now im watching Kim Sam Soon. do you watch it? AHHHH! hyunbin is sooooooo gorgeous. lols. did you know sam soon had to gain like 30 pounds just for that drama? i would never do that. especially when im skinny with a good body. gah! hahahha omg i was just about to send you the I need a girl song. remember MWUAHAHAHHAHH! but then i realized this is a LETTTEER. hhaha ima dork );

well since the whole point why im writing is to UPDATE you on every little detail. let me begin! haha well hmmm on boys! YOU ARE MISSING OUT NANNCY. oooohweeeeee the hayan namjas here are soooo H-O-T. freaking AAAAAA. theres like so many of them. id bet any of them would hook up wit chu ;D but also theres a lotta hot korean guys too.

omg i heard like all the juniors are going for freshmans. so all the girls are like freaking out. lols. update on schoool. hhaha no school yet! but summer school. wow we look like SUCH losers. i mean we are wearing the latest fashion but we loook so EH around high schoolers. everyones shirts like up to their belly and ours is like covered. and their skirts are like >> | | <<< that short. hahaha well yeah people really dress nice. and teachers are pretty iffy. my summer school teacher wore this bike suit that was like highlighter color and i started cracking up bc that would probably kill mrs. owen then. and oh yes obviously on FRIENDS! badabababaaaaa im loving it. actually no im not loving it. from what i hear theres cliques at summer school between the girls. ( im not sure which one im in since i dont have 2nd session but probably with kaytlin, paris, && ashlee) but anyway its like 1st group -- dakota, bridget, so-and-so, sometimes paris&&ashlee and 2nd group -- jane, ashley, indira, etc. sorta weird but i ooonnno. haha did you see reneas xanga? fabulous five. i was just like surprised to see jane in it bc i thought renea freaking disliked jane. but WHATEVER none of my business i guess.

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. i am excited for high school. what school are you going to? International? haha you are gonna be THE shit there. seriously everyones gonna be like [Korean letters]! haha foshooo. lols. well man i am bummed i couldnt go to korea this summer! seriously. i would be so happy to see you. well i think ill be able to see you next year. im probably as in 80% sure im going. HAHHA did you knnow my stuff is still at your house? yeahhh. my pants, shirt, etc. lols. at first i was panickking and its rude to just go to your house and be like "hi im nancys friend. im here for my stuff." haha so i dont know. maybe it`ll still fit me when you come back. LOL i wish! ill be even fatter then before.

well im guessing this wont be the last letter i write so i think ill stop myself here. better write me back biatttch :D love ya<3 * and i hope you are doing good. write to me also if you ever need help with anything or talk to me online but im barely ever online now.

hahha OK SARANGHAEYO SEXY NANCY!~ haha okk bbyyyeee<3

FIND #6:

Dear,

The area that i have chosen to do on my senior project on, is Modeling and eating disorders. The reason i chose this topic is because i have also ways want to be a model, and i have noticed that models have a high chance of an eating disorder. Some experience i have in modeling come for me atendeing runway shows and also talking to many peoplel who are models.

In my research paper it will Discusse the many differnt eating disorders and what the effects, the eating diorders have on the body. It will also disscuse what may couse and eating disorder and what you can do about it. The sorces i plan on using for my papper, are the school library, the public library, and the internet. I have also planed interveiws with my mentor and other models.My project will be forming a modeling profolio. That consisteed of verious photos and my higha nd meserments. I will also be attending three major runway shows. And will be able to got back stage to see what it is truely like to attend and be apart of a runw ay show. The people that will helping me with this project will me my mentor and my panrents. Im not sure at this time how long this project will take nor doi know how much it will cost.

Plagiariam is when a person copys someone else work. For example if a person copyed and pasted there whole research paper that is a form of p;agiariam. If people do copy and paste people work they should give them the crediet for doing so. Its is Highly importent not to plageriz because when you do it you know that you did not do it your self. And you will not have the same sadifction as if you were to do it on your own.

Sincerly,

FIND #7:

June 13, 2005

Dear Dad,

I did receive your message and Peter did tell me you wanted me to call. You are my dad and I do love you but I will no longer put myself in situations where you can treat me the way you have for so long. I’m sorry that you just don’t seem to understand why I’ve had to step away from our relationship. I’ve told you so many times how you hurt me with your anger and yelling but you don’t listen, you hear but don’t listen. I don’t want to think that you don’t care enough to change. Your anger is something you have chosen to not change or control. I will not be a part of it as long as you choose to not get some help in controlling it and learning how to talk “to me and with me” not down at me. You intimidate and want to control me, I should not be afraid of my father. In your phone message you said you didn’t know if I am playing ‘games’ or expect you to ‘chase’ me or if I am looking for attention or if I am jealous. Dad it is none of those things. Your mood swings and outbursts hurt me too much and my resentment towards you may turn into something I would just hate to see.

Dad, when I got this promotion to management you never said you were proud of me or congratulated me, I hear more negative from you than positive. I am a hard worker and good at what I do. It would be nice to hear how proud you are of me, if you are, more often. You had so many chances to build up my confidence when I was growing up but you chose not to and it has taught me the importance of complimenting others and being happy for their successes.

The last time we saw each other you said some horrible, hurtful things to me, and this all started because of a situation that was between Lola and I, and one that she and I resolved. It did not involve you and you still chose to yell and scream at me as if I did something to deserve that. You say I’ve chosen to not call and communicate with you, you are right dad, I have made a choice. My choice isn’t to purposely hurt you, I’m sorry it does but you brought this on yourself. I need to protect my emotions from your anger. You might believe “this is just the way” you are BUT it is the way you have chosen to be. Just because you are my father does not give you the right to treat me or anyone else like we are stupid. I still hope that one day we can have a relationship but until you make changes I can’t see that happening. You might think your behavior does not or should not affect others but it does.

I hope you will try to understand my position and give me some time. I am not ready to talk to you or see you right now. I hope some day we can have a good relationship.

I do love you, your daughter always,

LeeAnn

FIND #8:

Dear Diary,

Today in class I had to write a new years resolution.

I want to be a better cheerleader because I think its very funny and a Can help a lot of girls be cheering for all the teams at our school “write diary “. I also think I should be nice to my brother because he is annoying and is very at points but my be if I ignore him I won’t have to put him in a boxes and sale him to china for a new pair of Jordan’s “diary I know you would to .”

I think my be I should give my sister a chance even thou every thing I do she does to I hate that but not all the time “ diary you know I can get a box big so the can both fit.”

Another thing I really need to work on is school and listening so I can actually get good grades even thou my grades an okay .I would love to be a straight .A. student I just can’t. I really want to change from schools so I can start over and have know friends and I will miss every body of forsure but it’s okay because I will still have fun.

This is a very good New Year and my be we can have a better year.

Ps : But my really New years Resolution is to pass the sixth grade and all my the next year to and help me focus in school

FIND #9:

Dear Drugs,

I was supposed to write a letter to Christa, but I haven’t seen her in a long while, so I’m writing to you, because I know you have become her confidant…

You have alienated her friends (many have given up), but we are kindred spirits, she and me and I intend to fight until we get Christa back. You don’t really care about Christa you simply trick her and agree with her and watch her deteriorate. We want her back the way she was before, a wonderful mom, a beautiful wife, and a true and forever friend. We want her back stronger and happier than she was before and although we can’t provide the instant fix, we will stand beside her for how ever long it takes. We are the ones that truly love her.

I can cry with her and laugh with her and enjoy who she is, flaws and all. You can’t do that! You have turned her into someone for whom bad (even rude) behaviour has become normal and unwillingly accepted by those of us who are still around. When I call, you get her to make excuses not to speak to me. When she visits, she spends the time disappearing (probably to visit with you instead). When I visit, you distract her so that I’m left alone wondering what’s going on. This is not Christa and it’s not OK with me! You’ve taken away all the things that Christa really loved and excelled at, what kind of a friend does that? What happened to her garden? What happened to her house? What happened to her marriage? And what is happening to her children? We will not let her children watch their mom die at your hands.

We want Christa to get better, starting today. We want you to leave her and the rest of us alone. We can be her support while she heals and can hold down the fort while she’s away. We love her so much and we want her to be healthy and happy again. Please get this message through to my dear friend and tell her I miss her.

FIND #10:

Dear Mabel, all I can say is sorry. After branding you with such an awful name I’m now going to abandon you through the 10 most confusing years of your life. We will be able to contact each other by mail during this time, so please always remember to write me whenever you feel the urge.

Puberty! There, I said it. That’s what you’re about to face. A time of great change for you and your body.

I speak of your body separately to your mind because pretty soon you will think it has adopted a mind of its own. Your breasts will start to swell and perhaps get tender at times. Your whole body will get a little softer, especially your boobs. They’ll get plump and bumpy and then slowly they’ll grow into fully-fledged breasts by the time you’re 18. This never happens at the pace you want it to but you can always buy a good push up bra if it’s really annoying you. You will start to grow pubic hair under your armpits, which you will of course need to shave or wax to stay fashionable. You will also start to sweat, or more that your sweat will start to smell. Please buy a good anti- perspirant like Rexona, body sprays smell nice and you can wear them over the top of your deodorant, but without the deodorant you’ll get a bit stinky on a hot day.

Pubic hair will also start to grow on your fanny. It’ll be straight at first, but eventually it’ll get curly. You will also get your first period ( menage). This is unfortunately one of the suckiest things about being a woman. The only good thing about a period is it gets you out of PE if you don’t feel like doing it. You won’t know when it’s going to happen, but be assured it won’t be when you want it to. Your tummy may feel a little bit funny and you will probably feel a bit blagh. Your first one will probably be just a few spots of brown in your knickers, and last two or three days. But as you have a few more there will be a fair bit more blood and they’ll last up to a week. Get some pads, the ones with wings stay in place easier, and maybe some panty shields for the days you think you might get one. When you feel ready, you may want to start using tampons, get some with the applicator first until you get used to them.

Now comes the hard stuff…. Feelings. Your feelings are going to be all over the shop. You will experience the best and worst feelings of your life during this time, and probably all in a half-hour time span. You’ll even start to like boys (no I’m not kidding). They won’t seem so stinky all of a sudden and you’ll even find certain ones that you want to kiss or hold hands with. Later on you may even want to have sex, but please wait a few years for that one.

Events in your everyday life will start to hold huge importance, and one thing going wrong can wreck your entire day. Friendships, boyfriends, rumors and a whole heap of other stuff can bring you to crisis point 10 times a day. On the flipside, the same stuff can have you jumping for joy like a complete idiot 10 times a day too. Now here’s My biggie… if you ignore the rest of this letter at least listen to this bit…Don’t do anything that you don’t want to or that makes you feel uncomfortable, especially not for someone else’s approval. Know that you are a fantastic chick and if a particular someone hasn’t noticed that then it’s their loss. Stay true to yourself and your values and you will always be okay. Even if one day is shitty please believe that tomorrow will always be better, and if it’s not the day after will be. The reason its all so confusing is that everyone else around you is going through the same thing. Some kids cope in different ways to others. Some kids pick on other kids to take the focus off them, others can hurt you just because they're so caught up in their own stuff that they don’t realize how much you needed them right then. So please don’t feel alone, even though I’ve deserted you, the majority of your thoughts and fears are not unique, they’re going on in the heads of about ½ the people around you.

Okay, time for the sex talk. You’re probably going to get this at school anyway, but I’ll give you my version. You have a vagina (I’m going to say fanny ‘cos I don’t like the word vagina) and boys have a penis (I also hate that word so I’m going to say doodle). The general idea of sex is that the doodle goes in the fanny… repeatedly. By moving the penis in and out (not quite all the way) the boy derives great pleasure and ejaculates (spurts) semen out of the end of his doodle. If you don’t have a condom on, these sperm will travel up your fanny into your cervix looking for an egg. If they find an egg they will fertilize the egg, you’ll be pregnant and nine months later have a baby. So never have sex without a condom! Now boys being boys they will have there mind set on getting in, out and doing what makes them happy. I can almost guarantee that your first sex will be fairly miserable, very awkward and a little painful. You need to get to know your own body to find what makes you happy and be comfortable enough with yourself to show your partner, otherwise you’re going to have a miserable sex life. So don’t be afraid to explore yourself physically, it’s very healthy to know your own body.

You will go through great turmoil trying to decide when to have sex, who with, where, how etc. You’ll hear everyone else talking about it and many will even urge you to do it. Once again, don’t do anything you don’t feel comfortable or ready to do. For one thing, some of these girls will be lying just to sound tough or grown up and for another, most guys do tell!!! So if you don’t want anyone to know what you doing, don’t do it.

Anyway, love you honey, and please write soon.

Love Mum

FIND #11:

Dear Granny,

Well hello there! It has been a while since I’ve written, and so much has changed since last summer when I wrote you. I’ve recently been thinking a lot about life and what is important to me. Okay, so obviously I won’t write my whole life story! I will, however, enlighten you about a few things that have been going on during this past year and of course… moi!

It’s been a while (more like forever) since the last time I saw you, and I’ve (obviously) changed a lot! The last time we got together was in grade four when you guys came out here to visit us. I was around 10 then, now I’m 17, so I’ve done a lot of growing up. I guess I describe myself as an out going, quirky, music and movie obsessed chocoholic! A lot of people mistake me for being artsy, but i'm not (I can paint and act and thats about it). My favorite color is fuchsia, and I always find a way to incorporate it into my outfit for the day. My style is kind of edgy and 80’s inspired and I pride myself on having great hair (kind of like my dad ha-ha)! I am totally in to yoga, and can’t go a day with out laughing (it’s my favorite thing to do). I love the smell of the ocean and right after it rains, sunsets and sunrises, star gazing, swings, pink nail polish, anything pink (any shade of pink), and of course cheese and vegemite sandwiches. Not to mention friends and family which are number one! My favorite band of all time is Pink Floyd. I listen to classic rock (like Led Zeplin and The Who) and unknown bands like Dandy Warhols (their name is based on that of Andy Warhol… my favorite artist!). I hate it when people try to touch my feet, people who pick on others in a cruel manner and people who hate others before they even get to know them. Last year I spent a lot of time helping out with the school, volunteering with events such as dances and grade 8 orienteering. My favorite movie is dirty dancing (such a chick flick) and the best book I have ever read is DaVinci’s Code (I recommend it, it’s an amazing book, and I think you might enjoy it). Elton John is my idol (he will forever be the only man who can pull off bright pink and sparkles), I like to design clothes and shop! Not only am I addicted to chocolate, but to juice boxes as well… I can never drink enough juice! I’m very opinionated, and have a great deal of respect for those who are always honest. I’m on a mission to stop Bulling in our school and I am apart of The Leadership Vancouver Delegation, which is a group of hand selected students who fight bullying and discrimination against others in school. Oh, and I have a thing for red heads (even though my boy friend isn’t). Hopefully you can somewhat get the essence that is me! Which, by the way, might be difficult, as I am a very complicated person (according to my mother).

FIND #12:

Dear Machalai:

How are you? Some of the things that I don’t like about are society is that we depend on the police so much; now I don’t mean to say that anarchy would be a better solution but it would be better if we could solve some of are issues on are own. Alsoi don’t like how there are so many laws. For example at school we have very strict uniform requirements. If we don’t have the right uniform we get into trouble; worst case being a suspension.

When we go home in are cars there are very strict speeds that we have to follow and too many other instructions too mention. In Canada we seem to be able to do less and less things that are legal. One of the most annoying things is that we can’t legally drive a car until we are 16.

Overall we have many rules that colonize are country making it a better place and making it safer.

I look forward to your next letter and I hope that you have learned a lot about are own community and country laws.

Sincerely,

Arthur Ion

FIND #13:

Dear Linus Attel,

R.E Garden Area

I am writing in response to your letter received on 18 April regarding dog fouling in the communal garden. I assure you that any fouling taking place by any dog I may be responsible for is dealt with efficiently and promptly as I am also aware of how dangerous it can be for the children and I have a lot of respect for my neighbours. I also enjoy spending time in the garden which is another reason why I will always pick it up.

I would like to say however, that due to there being no gates or any sort of fencing at either end of the garden, we find that other children in the area will come into the garden as they wish and we have had items go missing i.e. footballs, bikes. Other dogs have also been seen wondering in our garden.

There is one other person I would like to bring to your attention as she comes into our garden nearly every day, she picks things up around the garden, much of which we wish to keep, she will then ‘have a go’ at us about the garden being a mess. I have spoken to my neighbours about her and we all agree that we would like to put a stop to her intruding in to our private garden. If you are aware of whom I am talking about, please can I ask you to deal with this matter.

Alternatively, if we had a fence/gate at either end of the garden, this will give us privacy, security and safety in our garden. It will stop other people/children and dogs getting in, and also prevent our children from getting out. I understand this has been brought to your attention before yet nothing has been done. If you wish to arrange a meeting with us, we will all be very willing to attend so we can get these matters resolved.

Thank you for you’re your time, I look forward to a response,

Yours sincerely,

Mr R Bedtomb and neighbours.

FIND #14:

Dear Miss. Donnelly

I Brock Redcorn am formally apologising for doing nothing.

I got told to right you this letter because I was following cccc school rules and some of the year 6 boys/girls wet u!!!!! At approximately 1330 hrs on the 13/2/06

I am sorry for following cccc school rules I will try not to follow school rules again.

Yours sincerely

Brock Redcorn

FIND #15:

Dear Mom and Dad,

One thing I need you guys to know is how much I love you. Never has a son loved his parents like I love you two, and I know that parents have never loved their son like you love me. You have always been there for me no matter what I did in my life, but still I find it hard to tell you how I feel about anything. I don’t like to talk about the serious things in my life.

I need you to know that I am writing this letter at 3:30 am on Wednesday morning because I cannot sleep as usual. Once again I am unable to tame my mind. I think after all these years I have finally figured out why I have trouble sleeping so often.

For as long as I have lived I have never done anything with bad intentions, and that’s because you raised me this way. In my heart I have never wanted to see anyone hurt. I think I am really a good person. But why then do I feel so empty all the time. I cannot find what is missing in my life. Now I think I know what it is, but why can’t I have it.

I have said many times that my life my only goal is to live a low-key life, flying under the radar if you will. This is why I admire Dad so much. You bust your ass every day for us, your family. You are the greatest man I have ever known in my life and are my best friend. I only want to be like you in every way, you are everything that I want to be. But I don’t think I am ever going to get there. My heart tells me that I am never going to be happy.

The sacrifices the both of you have made for Courtney and I are amazing, and the love you have given us equally amazing. This is why I am such a disappointment to myself. My entire life has been a series of bad decisions. Like I said earlier I have never done anything that I didn’t feel was the right thing to do, but then why do these decisions always end up being wrong. Why am I the black sheep of this family? Argue this all you want if you even do, but it is the truth. I am a screw up.

If you thought I was going to end up being some kind of amazing person, who makes a shit load of money. I am never going to be. I don’t want to be. The only goal in my life right now is to be a golf professional, but I put so much pressure on myself to do everything perfect that I am a screw up even in that, the thing I love to do the most. I have a great swing, and it looks good, but in the end it’s just shit. This parallels my life.

People think I’m a good kid because I have morals. I will never sell any one out, I never want to see anyone upset and I will counsel or help anyone, even people I don’t know. So it may look good, but on the inside my head is pure turmoil. I am a head case in life, just the same as in golf. I can never make myself happy, because for the recent years of my life I have been looking for something I cannot find. I have been looking for this something, but it never comes and never leads to a damn thing.

Over the last few nights I have really pondered this. Why can’t I have what I want. I truly am a good person. Do I not deserve to be happy? When I see people happy it almost makes me sick, because I am never going to feel like that. Do I not deserve it? What did I ever do to be stuck in this never ending spiral of sorrow that is my life? I just don’t get it. Everyone has their own problems and I know this, and my problems are not really on the surface, but inside there is not a person who has more. I know this in my heart.

I thought living with Randall would be a good thing. We were real good friends last year, and I never thought there would be any money problems because I knew he was the kind of guy that hated owing people money, or so he used to say last year. He didn’t have a checkbook so I put every thing in my name, just trying to help my friend out. Well the sure blew up in my face. The bills aren’t getting payed and it’s all in my name so who gets fucked, me. My good intentions got the best of me again.

Still I do everything with good intentions, but look what happens. I drive my friends to New York City because it was the honorable thing to do, and I almost killed them. We should be dead, and on some level I wish I would have died. Don’t take that the wrong way. I don’t want to leave you guys because I know how much it would hurt you, but that’s the only thing that makes me want to live. I desperately want this never ending turmoil in my head to end, but I can’t see it happening. Death would have been a way out of it. I’m sorry to say that sometimes I almost wish I wouldn’t wake up in the morning.

I’m sorry if you are disappointed in me. I am in college now, growing up and trying to have a good time. I drink sometimes, when I do it is usually a surprise people around me, but when I go I go all the way. It disgusts me on some levels because I said I never would. I am a sell out, but why should I miss out on what I have come to see as a normal part of growing up. I am twenty years old and am only beginning to things I should have done when I was in high school. I’m so sorry if this hurts you, because I never want to do that, I love you guys more than anything or anybody in the world, and I would never intentionally do anything to hurt you.

I know I have said a lot in this stupid letter but the bottom line is I want you to know how much I love you two. Words really can’t express it. Never will I ever do anything to hurt or upset you, but no matter what I do I feel that’s how it’s going to end up. Another point I tried to make is that I don’t feel happy with anything, and I hate that because I have a lot to be happy about. Still something is missing in my life, what I have been looking for I can’t find anywhere. One minute I think I have and like a helium balloon it’s gone and I’m back to my old self again.

Mom, I know you’ll say I’m missing god in my life but that’s not it. I know god exists but maybe he just wants me to suffer. Maybe that’s just what is supposed to be happening. Dad, I know you’ll tell me to quit my bitching, and it may come off like that because I am harping on my problems but the bottom line is everything I have said is the exact truth. I mean well but I am such a dumb-ass, screw-up, black sheep that it blows up in my face.

I love you both and I hope things work out and I can stop being the black sheep of our family. You may not admit that I am a disappointment, but I feel I am therefore I am a disappointment.

Love you guys,

RODNEY

P.S. If I ever do mail this letter to you, don’t comment on it at all to me, I just wanted you to know how I feel about things.

Love you guys.

FIND #16:

Dear Ms. Watkins,

I am very happy this year; you have made it a very fun year. I wood not wont an

FIND #17:

Dear NO-one,

I am very upset at the fact that my so called boyfriend lied to me about talking to a girl he knows I dislike very much. I don’t understand why he must lie to me, not once have I ever lied to him. My life has always been full of nothing but disappointments. I am very sad that the only person I that I trusted has lied to me just like everyone has. I really miss all the good times we use to have. We don’t even talk like we used to. I am not going to finish this letter until later.

FIND #18:

Dear Mother and Father,

I am writing you right now instead of calling because my phone has been disconected and because my teeth are decaying and it hurts when I talk. Well on a lighter note my roomate is getting married and I was wondering if I could borrow about 2,000 dollars to go to the wedding which is in Brazil. I'm sorry its just money has been tight and I don't get my work check until next Thursday and the wedding is this Saturday!

Don't worry everything is fine I just need some money for the trip. Lots of love.

Your daughter,

Keri Bulimia

CURRENT MUSIC: Hope by the Non Prophets and Dr. Octagonacologyst by Dr. Octagon.
CURRENT MOOD:
Bleak.
CURRENT MATHEMATICAL PUZZLE: On the box of mahi mahi fillets that Bev bought, the nutritional information panel claims that each serving contains "less than 0 grams" of dietary fiber.
TIME: 5:43 PM.

Doot? | |

Sunday, May 21, 2006:

Hi.

I've officially started my year as an AmeriCorps*VISTA (I don't know why the asterisk belongs there, but it does), and have spent the past few weeks attempting to get settled into my job at the Eastern Agency on Aging. I've learned plenty, but I still don't have a desk or workspace of my own, so I'm feeling overwhelmed in a manner that I suspect is unbecoming to us nomads. For those who are unfamiliar with AmeriCorps, it's easiest to describe it as a domestic Peace Corps- particularly because no one comes off looking good when you call it "a Peace Corps for xenophobes." You join it, you're contracted out to a social agency somewhere in the United States that has need of your services to fight poverty; it's an organization that does a lot of good.

At the end of April, I was required to attend a three-day "pre-service orientation" (PSO) for all new AmeriCorps members on the East Coast, in exciting Wilmington, Delaware. Amusingly, when I shared my destination with assorted friends and family members, I received the deadpan reply, "Hi- I'm in... Delaware" at least 50% of the time. Wayne's World has apparently done wonders for Wilmington's tourism industry.

Unfortunately, I was initially misinformed about the date the PSO was to take place, and Bev and I had already scheduled a trip to Cleveland (to see her sister, Aud, get married) and then to Michigan (to visit my family, Adrienne, Jess, Tim, the Math Reviews posse, etc.) for the dates the PSO was actually taking place. Bev worked out the logistics of dealing with this kink in our plans while I swore and complained- our relationship is remarkable in that very sort of specialized division of labor- and it turned out we could still visit both places if we halved the time spent in each. I agreed to this compromise after I secretly added a rider stating that I would make every effort not to get anything useful out of the PSO except for a free hotel room, since I was being stripped of an opportunity to see my friends. So our trip was back on, and we took off for Ohio, by way of any number of teensy New England states that we may or may not have passed through, as I was not paying attention. I do, however, know we covered Pennsylvania, because Pennsylvania is frickin' endless.

The above truck? The most interesting part of Pennsylvania. At least until we spotted a Long John Silver's, where Bev insisted we stop for a late lunch, as she has a thing for hush puppies. A thing on which it's better not to fight her. Trust me.

As you can tell, Long John Silver's is at the forefront of efforts to "keep it balanced" in America's bellies. And it desperately yearns to then deep-fry said bellies to a crispy, golden brown. I'm frankly surprised that brochure wasn't battered.

Anyway, we made it to Ohio alive (albeit with Pip's hood bungeed shut because its latch broke in our Maine driveway), and I'll hit a few highlights from there and Michigan:

Audrey and her fiance, Jerry, were kind enough to let Bev and me stay in their new house, into which they'd moved only the day before we arrived. The house was a total steal; it used to belong to an older couple who died, and their son, who lives in Chicago, evidently just wanted to unload it quickly. Under circumstances less fishy than the preceding sentence probably makes it sound. He even threw in all the appliances and a set of golf clubs. Aud described their street as "the street in the opening shot of American Beauty," and that's not too far off: it's a beautiful subdivision in Cleveland Heights where neighbors actually talk to one another (ick) and there are actual trees lining the lawns. Remember those things?

Jerry instantly adopted the set of golf clubs even though he admitted that he knew nothing about golf. At one point during our stay, he went to a golf store and brought home one of those Price is Right-style putting-practice mats. Bev, Aud, and I were in the other room, working on wedding preparations, when I finally wandered into the other room to see what Jerry was cussing about. Seems the free set of clubs didn't come with a putter, and he was practicing his putting with a driver. "Might I suggest... a putter?" I said in my best Lee Carvallo voice. Jerry, to his credit, didn't get it (or ignored me), and let me give him a brief rundown of what all his clubs were for. The next day, we all went to a thrift store and he bought two putters.

Bev and Aud's parents had driven down to Ohio for the occasion as well, and on Friday, we all gathered at the courthouse for the wedding ceremony. Once there, we all sat in the hallway outside the courtroom, waiting for a hearing to adjourn. Everyone was feeling a smidge antsy, as you do before any sort of ceremony. Luckily, the anxious anticipation was broken by the arrival of... Mr. Dipso, the chatty drunk man! Remember the Kids in the Hall sketch where the Flying Pig would entertain people at bank machines and other of life's many line-ups? Well, although this guy's MO was to entertain people as he loudly stomped into the city clerk's office and filed a grievance against a roofer whom he called "a snake," he was basically the Flying Pig! I held my digital camera at my side and discreetly recorded him, and I will here transcribe the 30 seconds of ramblings I captured:

FADE IN

INT. CITY CLERK'S OFFICE

MR. DIPSO is waggling some sort of form around.

MR. DIPSO: "I'll have someone fill it out. Give me one more! I'm gonna take it to my guy 'cause my guy..."

He trails off here, staggers out of the city clerk's office into the hallway where we're waiting, and then addresses AUD and JERRY:

MR. DIPSO: "You guys gettin' married?"

Awkward silence.

MR. DIPSO: "You guys are gettin' married young. Marriage takes a lot of money."

MR. DIPSO holds up his hand and rubs his index and middle fingers against his thumb in the international symbol for "money." Not to be confused with just the index finger rubbing against a thumb, which is the international symbol for "world's tiniest violin."

MR. DIPSO: "But you're doing it the right way they're doin' it the right way [sic]. Heh heh. 'Cause everybody wants money when you're married. Gotta get a guy up there to shoot video, and gotta get a cameraman, gotta get a guy with a camera..."

Here, he is distracted by a guy with a portable oxygen canister walking out of a nearby office, whom MR. DIPSO proceeds to tell that each day is a blessing after extracting the fact that the man needs a lung transplant.

END

The ceremony itself was nice. As with Amanda and Sean's courthouse wedding, the judge and his... bailiffs? fly girls?... were very approachable and generous, making sure to conduct a ceremony that would be meaningful and memorable even if it didn't look like one of the absurdly opulent weddings featured in any given episode of Friends. I got to actually take the bench at one point, to shoot pictures. The courtroom staff could not have been more accommodating, basically, though I decided not to push my luck and ask to use the gavel. It was very sweet. Afterward, the entire wedding party had a tailgate cake-eating celebration in the parking lot. Pleasing lack of fanfare, that, after a hectic couple days. After a quick reception lunch at a Thai restaurant and some miscellaneous errands, Bev and I headed to my parents' house in Michigan.

The morning after we arrived in Michigan, Bev and I were watching SpongeBob in my parents' living room when the cable signal abruptly cut to snow on every channel. "Dad," I called to the other room, "your cable just went out! And, on an unrelated note, our friend out back appears to be digging right around the cable box!" This last bit referred to the slovenly fellow whose backyard butts up against my parents' backyard. When I lived with the 'rents, I never took much notice of him- perhaps because my attention was commanded by his wife, who would routinely shriek profanity at their grade-school children for acting like... rather well-behaved grade-school children- but the guy has apparently become a source of immense frustration to my dad, due to the man's habit of performing yardwork in so counterproductive a fashion that my parents' yard routinely winds up covered in leaves or flooded. (This is a big deal to my dad, who has kind of a Hank Hill relationship with his lawn.) Anyhow, on this particular day, the guy had a neon green Survivor buff tied around his head (is he the reason they keep manufacturing those?) and was indeed jabbing a shovel indiscriminately into the ground around the tall, green installation that serves as the hub for several Wide Open West cable customers on the block.

"God damn it!" my dad said.

After my mom called the cable company and reported what had happened, my dad wandered out back and accosted the man, who we'll call Bud because I don't know his name. "Bud, is your cable out?" Dad asked leadingly.

"I don't think so," Bud replied.

Dad decided to double-check. "You're sure? Because our cable just went out. Your cable's fine? You didn't dig through a wire or anything?"

"No, we have The Dish Network."

Dad tried a different tack. "Bud. What are you doing here, with the digging?"

"I'm trying to, uh, change the terrain, so the rainwater won't back up so much in our yard."

"Okay. And you're sure you didn't hit a cable while you were digging?"

"Oh yeah," Bud responded. "I did hit a cable. Cut right through it." He then bent down and picked up one end of the bisected cable TV cable in each hand to demonstrate. Forming what would, in some circumstances, be a closed circuit.

"Jesus, Bud!" Dad said. "Didn't you call Miss Dig so they could mark where the wires run before you started doing this? You're lucky that wasn't a power line or a gas line!"

"Huh," Bud muttered. "I just figured it was a dead cable. I think we've got a few of them back here."

An hour or so later, a cable company technician showed up to fix things (my dad happily followed him around like a puppy who thinks he's in for a Schmackos Bakon Strip), and when we took him around back to show him where the, er, problem had occurred, we noted that Bud had resumed digging, happy as a Dig Dug.

Meanwhile, Mom informed me that with my hair the way it is, I look like Kenny G. With a hat on, I look like Chuck Mangione. Ol' Mom's pretty good at manipulating one into getting a haircut when she wants to be. This kept up until Bev and I left.

Bev had suggested we take a detour through Niagara Falls to check out the bird sanctuary, as a mechanism for making the post-Michigan leg of our trip less depressing. I'm glad we did, because spending a few hours around happy, free-flying birds made me happy enough to carry me for the next few days, not that I didn't piss and moan the entire way to Delaware the next day anyway. I like birds so much better than I like people. (Granted, I like just about all animals- including those of the stuffed toy variety- far more than I like people, but I feel a particular affinity with birds for some reason.) They're so wonderfully expressive... being around them makes me feel peaceful, and when I have an experience like a cheerful thrush hopping right up to me and singing a tune complex and memorable enough to put Carl Newman to shame, it nearly makes this world seem tolerable. I'll be sprinkling pictures from the bird sanctuary throughout the rest of this entry.

After checking into a Days Inn, Bev and I watched The Apprentice and then decided to walk down the main drag to the Falls. Both sides of the street we were traveling, and of every street we passed, were crammed with weird, gimmicky attractions accompanied by enormous displays of light and sound so garish and all-encompassing that the entire strip seems oxymoronically homogeneous. Haunted houses, a wax museum (whose wax Sarah Jessica Parker was, incidentally, far more human-looking than the real deal, who looks like a Sam Viviano caricature), theme restaurants like Rainforest Cafe, oddity museums hosted by the Guiness Book of World Records or Ripley's, etc. Some of it looked kinda fun, but the whimsical carnival appeal is somewhat dampened when you consider what an astronomical suicide rate the city must have.

The Falls themselves were nice, and from 8:00 to 11:00, were lit with colored floodlights beamed from across the lake. Because the Falls are a fine example of majestic, natural beauty and all, but you know what's kept them off the list of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World all these years? They're a bit monochromatic on their own. Go progress chrome!

(I kid, but at least the raging torrent hasn't yet been leased to Proctor & Gamble as a screen on which to broadcast messages about how absorbent Always Ultra-Thins are.)

As a side note, I e-mailed T-Bone last week to see if he'd been to Niagara Falls since we were kids, and whether he remembered it being such a weird Vegas sideshow of a city, and he replied: "I was in Niagara Falls a couple years back, and you're right, it is kind of creepy with all that stuff that's there now (not that I remember if it was like that before). We stayed there when we went to Buffalo to see Michigan play in the Frozen Four (aka the second worst sports moment of my life behind Dale Earnhardt dying). It was funny because we all wanted to go see the Falls, but we were all so pissed off because of what happened in the game (Basically Michigan had a goal waived off in the semifinals that probably would've won us the national championship since the other 2 teams were awful, and instead we lost in overtime) that we basically just drove past them and none of us wanted to get out of the car."

Tuesday saw Bev and me taking the annoying drive down to Delaware. AmeriCorps put us *VISTAs up in the Wilmington Doubletree Hotel, which was anonymously "nice." I can't imagine anyone developing any sort of brand loyalty to Doubletree over other chains, but as hotels go... it was one. Bev and I arrived at about 5:30, which was fine, because the itinerary I'd received said that check-in and registration lasted until six, which would be followed by dinner, and the first indoctrination session would start at 6:45. So in I checked, and my room smelled of stale cigarette smoke, and the window afforded a view of a Sears Auto Center. Bev gave me a big bag of Fritos and a 20-ounce bottle of Mountain Dew that she'd picked up at a gas station earlier in our trip, kissed me goodbye, and headed back to Maine. I'd be flying back home on Friday.

I chilled in my rented crib for awhile, and then headed down to officially register around six, at which time the first session... was just getting out. It had evidently commenced at 4:30. "Not my fault!" I said as I happily bounced around. "Itinerary said 6:45! Wheee!" The remainder of the night was mine to squander. The notes I took in my room that night say, "I sat at dinner for a minute and then went on a walk outside to see what I could see. Saw nothing interesting, as Wilmington is dump."

Each V*STA was assigned a roommate, which made me nervous. I enjoy the use of my kidneys, and would not have trusted any roommate to refrain from removing one while I slept. However, I apparently used up my entire life's worth of luck at the PSO, because I had the best roommate of all time: one who never showed up. So I got to sit around in my boxers and watch America's Next Top Model reruns on VH1 with no complaints from The Man. The second night I was there, Bev went online back in Maine and ordered a Papa John's pizza to my room, knowing that living in Maine has made me really miss Papa John's, and also knowing that there was no way I was going to go downstairs during mealtimes and submit to the PSO's you-will-network-and-socialize atmosphere when there was a chance I could subvert it. She is the absolute coolest.

For most of the orientation, the V15TA*5 were divided up into groups for somewhat more personal sessions (i.e., 30 to a group instead of 120) with our trainers. The guy who was running our group was named Michael, and he brought in a CD player on which he blasted Ween before each session, so he was clearly awesome. Before our final training module on Friday, he gave a shout-out to those of our classmates he'd run into at the bar the previous night, who were playing a game of beer ping-pong: "For those who are unfamiliar with the game, it's ping-pong, with a bunch of cups of beer set up on the table, and every time you hit the ball into a cup, you have to drink it. Of course, the ball was rolling all over the floor and everything, so I didn't partake, but even though the alcohol theoretically sterilized all the grime and fuzz the ball had been bouncing in, the people who participated are totally hardcore." Ha!

Anyway, we ran through a few learning units, a few discussion groups, and a few teamwork exercises which resulted in a truly remarkable number of tantrums in the room. At one point, Michael cautioned us against taking our work home or internalizing the inevitable conflicts that come with the job, and one middle-aged woman offered the following personal motto: "Not everyone who shits on you is your enemy, not everyone who pulls you out is your friend, and if you just like to shit, then shut up."

One guy in my sessions was wearing a T-shirt that defined the term "O.G." as being an abbreviation for "original gansta" [sic]. Seems to me, before you shell out the cash for your own silk-screening press and a gross of Hanes Beefy-Ts with which to make your fortune, it couldn't hurt to pick up a slang dictionary.

We were made to participate in a swearing-in ceremony in which we had to recite an oath pledging to serve the United States blah blah. Patriotic oaths always strike me as embarrassingly antiquated and desperate (who are we supposed to be satisfying that we're bound to some "my country, right or wrong" code by repeating someone else's words four at a time?), but one bit amused me: the AmeriCorps oath begins with the phrase, "I hereby swear," but a disclaimer was issued several times, emphasizing that it was acceptable to say, "I hereby affirm" instead. However, the woman conducting the ceremony made the mistake of saying, "Repeat after me: 'I hereby swear' or 'affirm'..." At which point the VISTAs obligingly chorused, "I hereby swear or affirm..." like a Family Feud audience reading answers off the big board. Just a little grammatical idiosyncrasy that made me giggle. And which also underscores the fact that most of the room saw the oath more as the final obstacle to getting lunch than a personal, primary credo to be pondered.

After all the prescribed talking in unison, we were given bag lunches and dismissed. About a dozen of us retired to a set of bleachers in an unkempt field behind the hotel, to enjoy our food in the balmy Delaware weather. I sat next to a dude who I initially thought bore a resemblance to Denzel Washington, but once he started passionately opining about how mandatory car insurance is an unconscionable scam, I decided it was funnier to think of him as the Bizarro Dennis Haysbert. ("I make sure to total my car at least every two years. I've worked it out mathematically, and that's the best way to earn my money back.") I traded hugs and handshakes with people I will never see again, and retired to the hotel lobby to wait out the two hours before my airport shuttle would be arriving.

At the Philly airport, I killed some time in an overcrowded and overpriced sports bar, munching and dividing my attention between my copy of In Cold Blood and the old Red Wings/Avalanche game that was being aired on the classic sports channel. (Oddly, though I knew perfectly well the outcome of the game, I still reflexively muttered the fuck word every time the Avalanche scored.) I'd been there for maybe a half-hour when an older guy took a seat across the table from me. We nodded at each other- in tacit agreement to respect the boundary between our halves of the table, I guess- and I returned to my book.

A couple minutes passed, during which he sipped his Coors and did that thing where you stare at the bar's television but it's clear you're not watching. Finally, he nodded at In Cold Blood and said to me, "So, I guess you're reading about my home state." He told me that he's from Kansas, but had never read the book and had only a passing familiarity with the murders it discusses. So I didn't exactly give him full points for his opening conversational gambit. Anyhow, our chat continued, and he mentioned that he was returning home to Kansas after a three-week jaunt on the East Coast. I asked what he did, and he replied, "I work for Diebold."

"The voting machine company?" I said.

"Yup. You've heard of them?"

"Um... a little."

I forget exactly what his title with Diebold was, but it was something pretty high up on the org chart. I want to say it was something on the level of Senior Vice-President of Sales, but that wasn't it so don't spread it around. At one point, he said, "You'd be surprised how hard it is to convince some states that they need an electronic voting system. There's so much less potential for fraud than with old paper systems." I would've asked for clarification of how systems that produce a verifiable paper trail are more vulnerable to fraud than privately designed election machines whose workings are considered proprietary, but I think I was busy choking.

Now, it's likely that I was just projecting, but I could've sworn that, at this point, I became conscious of a vibe of horrific, empty sadness that he was giving off. He stared into his pint glass, face drooping, thinning hair fighting its damnedest to stay on the right side of "comb-over," and he suddenly seemed... tiny. Simply flea-like and ineffectual with regard to matters of his own life. Maybe that's because I intellectually knew that he was a de facto accomplice to any number of electoral crimes, but I couldn't resent him for it. I felt like I should, obviously- if I can drop heretofore good friends simply because I discover they've voted for Bush, shouldn't he have been wearing the remainder of his Coors the instant he made his little revelation?- but nothing about him felt the least bit loathsome to me. He just seemed like a guy who does his job every day, and does it the best he can because that's what you do, and who doesn't dare analyze what his company actually does or his place in it because he senses that it may open a trap door he can't come back from. So did I invent a story in which this guy is secretly ashamed of where his life has taken him because he actually was telegraphing that? Or was it a condescending defense mechanism because I couldn't deal with the cognitive dissonance of making small talk with a perfectly pleasant individual who happens to peddle corruption for a living?

I kept mulling that over in my head long after I'd left the restaurant, boarded the plane, and been catapulted into the air in the direction of Maine. I tend to be far less tolerant than I pretend to be when Republicans/conservatives are involved. And I've gotta think that this guy was one or the other, though I tried my best to steer clear of topics that would make my blood boil more than it was. Is ignorance forgivable? I tend to think not- particularly since it's so easy to circumvrent- but just say, hypothetically, that you suddenly discover your family's livelihood is inextricably entwined with the forces of evil. There's no easy answer there. You're going to screw someone no matter what. Do you choose to throw over several people you're extremely close to, or do you choose to participate in the disenfranchisement of hundreds/thousands? How do you make the decision without hating yourself? It's complicated, and although you can point fingers at horrible people who knew what they've been doing all along, there are cogs in the machine who may realize it but may not feel they have a way out. What then? Not everyone who shits on you is your enemy. Not everyone who pulls you out is your friend. If you just like to shit, then shut up.

And it finally dawned on me which of the lessons I'd learned at the PSO would come in handiest in the future.

CURRENT MUSIC: For Certain Because... by The Hollies, Yo La Tengo is Murdering the Classics by Yo La Tengo, and In a Space Outta Sound by Nightmares on Wax.
CURRENT MOOD:
Cheap as free.
CURRENT FASCINATION: Maltheism; the belief that God exists, but is evil and out to get us all. It's God-as-scapegoat, essentially. Janna and I were reading the Maltheism forums on Beliefnet, and decided there really needs to be a line of Maltheist greeting cards. For instance, one forum poster's line, "may you overcome God's efforts to thwart your efforts to have the good life you are entitled to as a human being," would make a great sympathy card, wouldn't it?
TIME:
4:20 PM.

Doot? | |

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