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June 4, 2001 ... I haven't written anything for a week because I've been afraid that it would come out as one long, continuous whine.

That's the way my life's been going lately.

Being unemployed tends to weigh one down over the long haul; I suppose I could write something clever about that, but Antwon has described the travails of the jobless while remaining far more upbeat than I could. (Where? here, if you're reading this in the archives.) It even feels awkward to say "someone else has written about this, and I agree completely," as Rene has noted. (This Moment of Irony -- quoting her as saying "I haven't written in my journal ... because I am afraid of mixing other people's personalities with my own, blending their views with mine" in order to vigorously nod my head in agreement -- is brought to you by Apathy, the letter Lambda, and the number 49.)

Actually, did I say something about whining? I take that back, really I do. The problem hasn't been things going wrong lately. The problem has been that I've been trying to hold off on reporting anything until I could get some resolution on the wrong-going things, because reporting on them before the post-mortem would lead to the aforementioned whining. This is a fine idea in theory. The problem with it has been that the home stretch has turned into a marathon.

Consider this. I return from Baycon happier, less stressed, and ready for good news. I don't even get to leave the Sea-Tac airport before discovering, over the phone, that Trendwest -- remember them? -- had neither hired me nor decided I didn't fit their needs; instead, I was wanted in later that week for a second interview. All things considered, not a bad outcome, but it left things up in the air.

I spent most of Wednesday and Thursday dealing with a long-running medical issue. It will undoubtedly surprise my readership (minus one) to learn that, for most of the last two months, I have been freaking out about the possibility of having testicular cancer. I discovered a suspicious lump in my scrotum while showering back in late March, did some quiet research in the background, and kept coming back to the same conclusion. It took me two weeks to really come to terms with the concept that my body might be slowly and prematurely killing itself. It took me another week to bring it up even to my mate. It took me almost a month to find the courage, and the funds, to visit a medical clinic downtown. It has been driving me slowly neurotic this whole time. However, again, I have wanted some resolution (one way or the other) before writing about it ... my readers have far more productive things to do than sit here worrying about potential Baxilian health problems. (Actual Baxilian health problems would be quite a reasonable topic of discussion. But it's not my business to engender paranoia.)

So, anyway, on Thursday I finally talked to a medical professional. She asked me a number of pointed questions, prodded my genitalia for several minutes, and returned a professional diagnosis: It ain't. Whatever it is that this lump might be, the chances of it being testicular cancer are minute. From what I now understand, T.C. is an actual lump on the testicle, one of the two round sperm producers that hang below Mr. Happy. The lump in question was floating free within the scrotum, behind one of the testicles but not attached to it at all. She suggested that the most likely culprit was a swollen vein -- the same culprit that leads to varicose veins in legs, but in a different (and slightly more ominous, in my case) area.

That was my resolution on that particular issue. Thursday night would have been a fine time to write that one up, but I was preparing for the next day's follow-up interview.

And on Friday, things got interesting.

(Continued tomorrow ...)

June 6, 2001 ... (random tangent)

"Tomorrow." Heh. What a word. In the Baxilian lexicon, it's got nearly as many meanings as "set." "Tomorrow" seems to be the mental glue that holds together the scattered pieces of the future; it seeps into every crack, pools, dribbles around the edges, and gradually solidifies as the present catches up to it.

"Tomorrow" is more than just time, even; it's potential. To understand what tomorrow really means to me, you have to think of the specific phrase "tomorrowlands" ... it's ridiculous to think of the Tomorrowlands as a strict geospatial area, bounded with the chain-link fence of a twenty-four hour period. The Tomorrowlands are infinite. They represent not a tomorrow but all tomorrows. You walk out east of the Eden of Today, and the World of Tomorrow fills your vision. ("Tomorrowworld", unfortunately, is a horrendously gauche phrase.)

Of course, there is some sense of presence in "tomorrow," even for me; otherwise it would just conflate with "future," and I'd be losing a perfectly good linguistic distinction. Occasionally, tomorrow does assume the traditional meaning of "the next calendar day," but in the general case, something I'll do "tomorrow" is lower on my priority list than "as soon as I can" and higher on my priority list than "when I have time."

Further, "tomorrow" is bounded. The lower bound is pretty straightforward; I generally don't consider anything to be occurring "tomorrow" unless at least one of the following is going to occur before the event in question: (1) Me going to sleep. (2) The sun rising. As for the upper bound, I may just have to be content with showing, in true mathematical style, that a boundary does exist: Anything that I intend to get done tomorrow will in fact be accomplished (or reassigned in priority) before the heat death of the universe. Further precision is left as an exercise to the reader.

Really, my entire perception of time is that nebulous. I live in an eternal now, with a weak sense of past (loose clusters of strong memories, with the rest disappearing into a giant, uniform blur) and an unhurried sense of future. (While outside obligations tend to regiment themselves, anything that I impose upon myself degenerates into the lackadaisy described one paragraph above.)

I've spent some serious time lately -- a tiny chunk at a time, spread out over several months, naturally -- simmering the question "What are characteristics typical of dragons in human bodies?" on the mental back burner. The wacky perspective on the time that I've described above seems to me to be one of them. (Admittedly, I don't have much insight into the typical human perception of time, so I'll have to find a "control group" to measure us therianthropes against.) I don't think it's necessarily exclusive to dragons -- it's far more characteristic of long-lived sapient species -- but it does seem to be a common thread we all share.

Eh, I'll finish the research tomorrow.

June 7, 2001 ... Flash forward to sunrise, Friday morning. (This would be Friday of last week. I'm continuing the saga of Crazy Week.) I get up uncharacteristically early, shower, put on a tie -- yes, a tie, albeit one with an M.C. Escher print on it -- and drive to Trendwest for Interview, Round Two. Last time, I had met up with Terry and Ed, two programmers who I'd be working with, and Mike, the manager directly over their heads. This time, the main feature is a meeting with Joey, the übermanager of the I.T. programmers. I make sure to bring my resume -- there had been a little mix-up with it last time, and I ended up having to give Terry the URL for the online version so that he could print it out. (The temptation was great, at the time, to refer him to Baxil's resume instead, but I was rather hoping to get the job.) I walk into the building, get some favorable comments on my tie, and hang my coat on the door of Joey's office.

I will now switch to past tense, because otherwise I'm going to lose myself as well as all of you.

Let me say this now: Joey was one of the best interviewers I have ever had the pleasure to speak with. He had prepared a list of highly incisive questions; knew exactly how to read what I was saying; leapt at targets of opportunity; and didn't get caught flat-footed at awkward moments. The interview left me feeling like he'd walked with me to the edges of my social and employment capabilities -- as opposed to pushing me there (which many interviewers will do, in order to see how someone holds up under stress), or taking it easy (implying lowered expectations or a mind already made up). I left feeling tested, but not assaulted. I'm not used to the former -- usually the question of my qualifications is settled, one way or the other, far before the interview -- and the latter made me feel very enthusiastic about having him as a potential supervisor.

Consider this: My draconity came up during the interview. We were talking about PERL and Web skills, or my ideas about user interface, or some such, and he pulled my website up on the screen. There it was, right in the sidebar, and of course he had to choose that particular word (out of the hundreds he was staring at) to probe: "What's draconity?"

Getting questioned about the details of one's spiritual beliefs ... classic interview nightmare situation, eh? Especially if those beliefs don't fit with the prevailing social standard, eh? Well, if there was one thing that I regret about that morning, it is that I took it that way, and choked there. I recovered quickly, but I know he caught it. I had to stop and gather my words together, and found the courage to explain, "Essentially, I believe that I am a dragon spirit inside of a human body." I disclaimered that rather quickly by pointing out that my record showed it didn't interfere with my ability to do my job, etc. Joey scored some major points with me when he immediately came back by saying, "Actually, I think the fact that you're willing to put it on your website shows great strength of character." We talked a little about why I was "out" about it (to save others from the loneliness I had experienced when I struggled to that realization myself, I explained, now back on familiar turf), and moved on to company benefits, and so forth.

I was sent back to Terry & co. afterward, and discussed the minutiae of what I'd be doing there if I was hired -- usually a good sign. I walked out of the building feeling very good about the impression I'd made. Even despite the dragon thing. Or perhaps because of it -- Joey's reply had been so unexpected, and complimentary, that it rather cancelled out the shock of having the subject come up at all.

Later that afternoon, Erin called home from her job to ask me for a ride. Not a problem, I assured her, and after reaching the first available stopping point on the computer, I hopped in the late, lamented Mercury Tracer to drive to --

Did I say "late, lamented"? I'm getting ahead of myself. Terribly sorry.

It was raining at the time, although not particularly hard. I flipped on my headlights, pulled out of the driveway, and headed Erin-ward. As I approached the first intersection north of our house, I decided that I'd be better served by cutting over a block to my left, a far larger thoroughfare, rather than staying on the residential street. I signalled for a left-hand turn and slowed; cars were parked all the way up to the corner on the cross street, so visibility was for shit, and I was being extra careful. Apparently, not careful enough.

I should point out, first, that the cross street in question is one of those infamously narrow Seattle "let's cram in a road here, because there's no room anywhere else" streets. An alley with parking. Three lanes wide, two of which hold parallel-parked cars. As such, if you're driving down that street and see a car coming the opposite way, there's no room to swerve; you have to negotiate with the other driver who gets to pull into a convenient driveway and who gets to cruise through.

And I'm making a left turn onto one of these streets when a Toyota Camry, with its lights off (it's raining, remember?), careens into the intersection from the direction I'm turning in.

The other driver and I lock eyes (here I go switching back to present tense ... but isn't it more dramatic? Isn't it?), and we both stand on the brakes. I manage to come to a complete stop. He doesn't. WHAM! The Tracer rocks from side to side as the fronts of our cars collide at about a 45-degree angle; some important piece of my rapidly depleting supply of hope rolls into the metaphorical corner behind the sofa; and then all is silent except for the incongruously appropriate crooning of Terrell, whose "Bitter" is travelling in little electromagnetic pulses from the car's tape deck to its speakers.

The rest of the day was a decided anticlimax -- or, at least, the memories blurred into a continuous haze of Feeling Like An Absolute Fuck-Up. I caught a ride from Misty down to the police station near Northgate Mall -- we tried to pick up Erin along the way, but she'd hiked down to the bus station while I was trading insurance information with the other driver -- and I picked up some of the auto accident forms so I could report the collision. I then went fifty blocks north to my insurance agent; it was raining, and I couldn't cope with standing in the rain waiting for a bus, so I called a taxi. The driver figured out fairly quickly that I was in no mood to talk, so he flipped on National Public Radio. There was some news report on the black guy that had gotten shot by police in downtown Seattle, and a piece on another suicide bombing in Israel. Morbidly enough, that cheered me up. It helped me to remember to keep events in perspective. The taxi tab: $3 for the drive, and $10 for the lesson. At least I'd like to think it broke down that way.

I dealt with insurance crap for most of an hour, and then caught some buses back home. My timing was apparently hellacious, because I did a lot of waiting for buses (fortunately, it had stopped raining), and didn't get home until after 7:00. It helped that Erin was there, and had had some time to process everything, and that we got to talk and be mutually miserable. It would have really helped to have someone to be strong at me, and let me know that things would be okay, but mutual misery was a very meaningful consolation prize. Pardon the pun.

Things cooled down over the weekend, but there were more resolutions to come. To be continued ... again.

June 8, 2001 ... I like this pattern: Big news, random tangent, big news, random tangent. It helps keep my journal from descending into a high-angst drama production.

Drama, incidentally, is a child of civilization.

Tragedy? Farce? They're as old as the hills. You don't even really need sapience for those; any race that has notions of pain, recognition of individuals, and a capacity for entertainment can embrace them. Wild animals do things all the time simply because they are amusing; birds that mate for life will pine to death if separated from their mates.

But drama? "Drama" in the sense of "being dramatic," i.e. "suspenseful," or as WordNet puts it, "thrilling in effect"? There is no place for this in the life that does not inherently have a grasp of the concept of "safety," the capability for forward thought. Drama does not exist where there is not the leisure to seek entertainment, the intelligence to assess risks, and -- most importantly -- the settled life to produce a desire for risk as entertainment.

Drama, inherently, is about how characters deal with setbacks. It's in the middle ground between tragedy and (for lack of a more appropriate word) comedy -- tragedy is about things going wrong; "comedy" is about things going right; drama is about overcoming obstacles to resolve the former state into the latter. You can't have obstacles without risk. Similarly, you can't have obstacles if those risks are fatal (or otherwise too severe); if the character breaks, it's not drama, it's tragedy.

In that sense, drama is about creating a sense of danger. Drama is about approaching the line of tragedy, but not crossing it, and that requires knowing where those lines are defined. That's something that we don't know about ourselves unless we push those boundaries; that's why, I think, drama resonates with us so strongly, and helps us to declare ourselves.

June 10, 2001 ... Random quotes, and stranger things:

"If you love hubris, set it free.
If it loves you, it'll return."

    -- Me, earlier tonight

"I need naked women all year round."

    -- Kylee, this evening, who even said that I could quote her

Overpopulation, n: The status of having: (1) more humans on Earth than jobs for them to work in, and (2) the expectation that one must work for a living.

    -- Me, last week

"Next Friday will not be your lucky day. As a matter of fact, you don't have a lucky day this year."

    -- The 'fortune' utility on this server, just now; one can hope its predictive powers aren't that good

And don't forget that Cher is Pure -- at least in ROT-13.

June 12, 2001 ...

If you are sinking
Hands up in the air
If you are drowning
Hands up in the air

-- Boom Crash Opera

Excuse me? What in the heck were they thinking?!? It makes for a catchy chorus, I'll admit, but if I were drowning, I'd rather be using my arms to swim with.

So, anyway. Speaking of which. To wrap up the saga of Crazy Week (previously reported here and here), we now fast forward to Friday evening, June 1, 2001. Errr, for some value of "forward." Like "at a later date and time than where we left off."

Okay, never mind, the point is moot; we're fast forwarding rewinding zooming to the following Monday. When last update's story ended, I was awaiting some resolution on the job search, and the insurance report on the car; hooray for the happy fun corporate world, which stops existing between Friday afternoon and Monday morning of every week.

It was a long weekend.

It was an even longer weekend when Monday passed uneventfully. No word from Trendwest. No word from State Farm. I tried calling the latter, only to get my numbers mixed up, and accidentally get on the phone with the insurance company of the other driver involved in the collision ... which I only found out after half an hour of supplying them with the juicy details of the incident. I hung up feeling (A) impotently frustrated that I'd wasted half an hour on the phone; (B) like I'd shot myself in the foot by blabbing my side of the story to the Other Guys rather than letting the info percolate through proper channels. Joy.

On Tuesday, I found out I didn't get the job.

Audra, at the contract agency I would have been working through, was apologetic. She told me that she'd heard from Trendwest that "we were looking for someone with more PERL skills," which in this case is corporate shorthand for "we don't feel like telling you why you're unsuitable." Perl was never in the job description. My knowing Perl was a perk. I can be philosophical about not getting the job -- plenty of other fish in the ocean -- but, dammit, I don't like getting jerked around.

I have considered the idea that my draconity did, in fact, figure into the hiring decision -- I mean, it did come out, right there in plain view, in my interview with the company's VP of IT. However, I don't think this was the case. I would have to assume not only that Joey had come to a snap decision about it, but that he was able to completely cover his reaction up, and lie to my face by saying it showed admirable traits. That's some pretty serious paranoia.

It would also be a too-convenient scapegoat. I am a dragon. That's who I am. But, I am very openly public about it. That's my choice. If I'm not willing to grit my teeth and stomach the extra complexity it adds to my life, I can damn well choose to be more quiet about it. (I know that we should live in a world where intolerance is condemned, and I'm free to be open about any non-mainstream part of my life. But let's be realistic here. I'm way out on the fringe. This is way beyond homosexuality, or even polyamory, straight into topics that short out the mind of the average human.)

And you know what? Even if being a dragon was the deciding factor in the job interview, then dammit, it's still worth it. I'm not going to throw out my principles -- and the 3-5 letters I get every month from people thanking me for showing them they're not alone -- for a $20/hour programming job.

Incidentally, the explanation I finally settled on was that they'd just hired someone else for the position before getting around to considering me. Audra had let slip to me, earlier in Crazy Week, that I was one of four people they had interviewing at Trendwest. I don't know how many positions were open, but "less than four" is a safe bet. And I don't know for sure that anyone else was hired for those position(s), but I do know that I've never been told by a company, "Sorry, we decided to hire somebody else instead." I'm not sure why that's such a taboo topic, but there you go.

It took me until Friday to finally get the car insurance straightened out. I had been waiting all week for an insurance adjuster to come out to my house, and assess the damage to the car; turns out they had dropped by, earlier in the week while I was asleep, and had declared the car totalled (expected repair costs more than 60% of the value of the car; in this case, about $3,000). Six inches of crumpled steel, and it's totalled. Aaaargh.

As it turns out, that became the silver lining in the Crazy Week cloud. Because it's being written off as a loss, I'm receiving a check for $3,500 (car value minus deductible) once all of the paperwork clears and the car is hauled to the scrapyard. $3,500 won't go very far toward purchasing a replacement vehicle -- but it doesn't need to. My roommate Misty's got a car that is completely roadworthy except for a few hundred dollars in routine repairs. We're working out a deal to share use of the vehicle once we get it up and running ... and, suddenly, I'm going to have a few thousand dollars fall into my lap.

This little windfall isn't exactly an excuse to splurge. I'm back in debt at this point, after having paid off all my bills back in February, and I'd rather not be; additionally, most of the money is probably going to get sunk right back into household expenses, given that five out of six of us are still unemployed. (What happened to the economy while I wasn't looking?) But it's badly needed money -- and given that I am currently in the process of sinking, I'm reluctant to look a gift life raft in the inflation tube.

Just don't expect me to throw my hands up in the air.

June 13, 2001 ... Well, it's finally happened: Someone's gone and said I'm crazy.

You would think that, given that my Draconity FAQ has been on the Web continuously since 1996, this wouldn't be news. But no. This is a milestone. To my knowledge, this is the first time that some random Web surfer has ever found my site, skimmed its contents, and proclaimed that I am nutso. (Or, at any rate, has used the World Wide Web to do so. I have no way of determining whether random web surfers are making snide comments about my site to the friends staring over their shoulder.)

I'd like to congratulate Ryan Spicer for his role in helping me reach this landmark. I do respect the fact that he's the first to say anything; I think the fact that he's willing to go on record on his website as saying that I'm "forgetting the difference between what's real and what's not" shows great strength of character. However, despite his best intentions, the rant he wrote about me ends up as nothing but an illustration of the adage that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

Ryan's complaint against me reduces, in principle, to:

The internet is good because it allows people the opportunity to interact "in character," but some people abuse this by trying to carry their character back with them into Real Life. The only reason to identify as a dragon is if you are pretending to be one within the confines of a fantasy role-playing game; thus, thinking you're a dragon outside of a gaming context is inherently unhealthy.
Boy. From the implication there that online RPGs have the power to suck in and corrupt otherwise sane people, you'd think someone's been reading Chick tracts. But I don't feel particularly obligated to defend role-playing games ... especially against a fellow gamer. Where this argument really disconnects from reality is in the automatic assumption this online gamer makes that Baxil is an Internet role-playing character.

Ryan specifically links to my history essay from within his rant, so it's surprising to see that he apparently hasn't even read it. I go into mind-numbing detail of my now-thirteen-year-old contemplation of draconity. How can he ignore the facts that I've been Baxil longer than I've been online, and that I have never played as Baxil in any role-playing settings? Baxil isn't a character any more than Tad is a character. Baxil is a name, an identity, that describes who I am. That's all there is to it.

Yes, I do believe myself to be a dragon. Yes, this is still a bit of an unusual belief. Tell you what. Let's lay out a series of first principles here, just to get draconity out of a gaming context:

  1. People have "souls" or "spirits".
  2. These souls, when the body dies, reincarnate into other bodies.
  3. Humans aren't the only beings to possess souls.
With me so far? Here's the rest:
  1. There exist or have existed beings, somewhere in this really really really big universe of ours, which we year-2001 American Earth humans would classify, upon visual inspection, as "dragons."
  2. Some of these happen to be here in human bodies (see #2).
Even given those principles, we could debate about the intricacies of whether this makes one a "dragon in spirit," or a "former dragon," or a "human who identifies as a dragon on the strength of past lives." But the point is that this, not some reality-displacing LARP at www.make-me-a-dragon.net, is my basis for draconity. Please tell me how any of this counts as "RPG-heads ... believing they are their character/class in the real world." I'd love to know.

The problem with Ryan's essay, I think -- and, again, the factor that shows that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing -- is that he (both on that page and on other pages on his site) admits to quite a history with online role-playing forums. I don't doubt that he's talked, while in character, to quite a number of people who, in character, are dragons. He's been exposed to "dragons" for just long enough to make up his mind about them for good. I don't have this problem with random site visitors who have no experience with role-playing -- they start from scratch with the concept, and since draconity is so far outside of their normal neatly-parcelled world, they don't have any blinders on to obscure the points that I'm making.

I do sympathize with his grudge against people who take their role-playing too seriously, but he's got cause and effect backward. As a five-year member of the online dragon community, I have dealt with more than my share of people with dragon "characters" who try to make too much out of them. But do you know why they get too into character? I'll tell you: These people see a group of dragons interacting, assume it's some sort of RPing, and try to act like full-time dragons (like the rest of us non-roleplayers) to fit in. Their average length of their stay, once the idea of "just be yourself, no matter whether you're a dragon or not" has been forced through their skulls, is around a week.

But let's be gracious, and concede that there are people who get a little bit too "into the game," and some of them are, in fact, dragons. My first reaction, then, would be: This isn't news. I wonder, has he checked his friendly local atheist's homepage lately? Scientific skeptics have been complaining for centuries that people get too much "into the game" of religion, and the world would be a better place if everyone would just be sane and stop "[pushing] real-world realities ... aside in favor of fantasy".

Ryan, if you're in that camp, I wish you luck, because you've got a lot bigger fish to fry than us dragons. I suggesting starting with the Hindus, because Christians and Muslims have the occasional nasty habit of being rabidly in denial about it.

If it helps any, I do agree that would-be dragons who are "mired in fantasy" should also be quietly guided to a more personally fulfilling path. This is because I take my draconity seriously. Intellectual honesty helps everyone achieve greater results.

Which brings me, in a roundabout way, to the most serious slip of the entire piece. I'll pull a direct quote here:

But, I think most people agree that decreeing that you "are" some sort of mystical creature with magical powers is more than a "little" unhealthy and outside the social norm.
Outside the social norm? Yes. Unhealthy? Excuse me? Ryan, who are you to judge? Learn something more about my life than the first four paragraphs of an essay on one of my beliefs. Then we'll talk.

What if I were to tell you that I am only alive today because believing that I am a dragon has given me the strength to cope with exceptional difficulties in my life? This isn't the case for me, but I could name some people for whom it's true. Is that unhealthy? Are you prepared to say that anyone who could believe in such a heretical idea is literally better off dead?

Saying I'm crazy, that's one thing. Saying that my beliefs are outside the parameters of what you can accept to actually be "reality" is entirely within anyone's rights. (Heck, I've got my share of opinions about people who I feel are detached from reality -- the Time-Cube guy worries me.) But saying that my behavior is unhealthy is a serious accusation. I am frankly insulted that anyone would have the chutzpah to say "this man is a danger to himself" solely on the specious evidence of "he's been gaming too long."

So, ultimately, thanks for nothing, Ryan. I appreciate that you made your argument as clear as possible, and I appreciate that you tried to be fair, but you missed the point. Best of luck in finding it before lashing out against any more innocent targets.

June 14, 2001 ... You want a concrete example of how being a dragon helps improve my life?

Right now, I feel like shit. I feel like day-old, rotting shit. I would feel like shit warmed over, except that this would imply some sort of heat, which would mean energy, and I am completely drained.

I feel like the universe's only purpose is to provide concrete proof to me of what a monumental fuck-up I am.

But ...

In my last life, as a dragon, I made some really monumental fuck-ups. Well, at any rate, that's what I thought at the time. They were so bad, I figured, that nothing I could ever do could redeem myself to me and my race. So, I exiled myself to a place where I couldn't cause any further harm to dragons, because there were no dragons to hurt.


You know what? With the clarity of hindsight, I was beating myself up over some pretty stupid shit. And you know what? I know that the things I have done today that make me feel like grand fuck-up of the universe ... they're nothing compared to blaming myself for a war that ended up destroying most of my race and causing the rest to flee to an unsettled continent in order to avoid extinction.

In hindsight ... it would have happened anyway. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

So being a dragon helps remind me, on a daily basis, that I am not in fact the fuck-up I make myself out to be. If I'm going to feel like shit, I might as well wait until I've actually done something wrong to deserve self-loathing.

I still feel like shit, but I know I'll feel better tomorrow.

And that's how being a dragon helps my life.



June 16, 2001 ... I'm in California right now, posting from my parents' house. My sister Sarah graduated from high school this afternoon. The day was appropriately hot. I did, in fact, wear sunscreen, and am not colored Painful Skin Red. Apparently, I am learning.

I would like to congratulate Sarah, and wish her a great deal of fun on the cross-country road trip she will begin this coming week. And safe driving. Don't underestimate the value of safe driving.

After all of the festivities, the family sat down to enjoy the home movies of the graduation itself. Dad recently bought a digital camcorder. It's got incredible resolution, great zoom capabilities, light amplification/night vision technology (!), doubles as a digital camera, and takes both film and memory cards. I'm suitably impressed.

I also received a rather interesting fortune cookie tonight. It informs me, quite smugly, that

You are talentes in many ways.

Um, that's reassuring. ... I think.

All your spell-checker are belong to someone else?

June 17, 2001 ... The nature of "love" has been gnawing at me for the last several days. Specifically, what I mean when I say "I love you." The question underlying such other related ones as "who do I consider to be a potential mate?", and "why do I care so much about the people I care about, and not Joe/Jane Q. Random?"

I notice one thing in common about all of the people I've loved: They've all shown interest in me in some way. They have cared about my welfare, made sacrifices for me, been made happy by my happiness.

This amounts to, essentially, throwing the dog a bone, and if that's all it was, it would be a touch pathetic. But I do know a handful of people who care about me, that while I like them and appreciate them a whole lot, I don't muster up the energy to Love. So there's another factor: An intellectual peer. I want someone who can help me noodle about the things I care about; who I don't have to keep backtracking and explaining myself to; who shares (or accepts and encourages) my eccentrities.

I also really only ever love people who I've filed in the mental category of Potential Mates. When I realized this, that's when it hit me: When I say "I love you," I am expressing a commitment to the other person, that I will do everything in my power to help them achieve happiness.

And the other two conditions suddenly make a greater sense. When I make that commitment, I am indicating a willingness to give nearly everything of value to me in the world. I can't make that sort of statement without trusting my partner. If someone has expressed that commitment to me in return, then I know they won't abuse my promise by making themselves happy at the expense of making me miserable. If someone is an intellectual peer, I trust them to not continually snow me under with petty problems.

I can want to help someone without loving them. (There are other factors besides intellect that make the difference. Actually, simple "time known" makes a lot of difference in how much I can commit myself; I've never loved anyone without at least a month of constant contact to reinforce my first impressions.) But it usually does boil down to a matter of trust, or priorities. I only have so many resources to commit, and I want to make sure the ones I love the most get their share first before I start making promises to others.

I'm pleasantly surprised to see that such a seemingly complex issue reduces down to something so straightforward for me. And I'm glad I came to this particular epiphany ... it's helped me resolve a number of relationship questions today.

With that resolution under my belt, I'm feeling infinitely better than I was a few days ago. Hopefully, things will level out from here.

June 18, 2001 ... So, I asked a good friend recently, "Would you have expected five years ago to end up where you are today?" ... and got to thinking about my own answer to that question.

Five years ago today, I had just finished my first year of college. I had bid my first magic teacher farewell as she left for Ireland. I had been a participant in the newsgroup alt.fan.dragons for six months, and was writing up one of the earliest versions of the Draconity FAQ. I was single, spending a lot of time online, and putting my bright shiny year-old 66mHz Power Mac through its paces by playing top-of-the-line games like Marathon 2.

I think I would have guessed that I would end up in a weird relationship situation ... although polyamory would have surprised me. (Which is, on its face, ludicrous. After all, the reason that I would have predicted I'd end up in a weird relationship would have been that I had very firm opinions that anyone who I got into a relationship with would have to understand that I wasn't thinking of them as a soulmate, because I was already spiritually united to Thea, who is. And yet I was clueless about poly? *shrug* Go figure.)

I think I had my job situation just about spot-on. Which is sad, because my expectations were fairly low. I've been mostly working as a copy editor or doing entry-level computer programming stuff since then, and completely failing to settle into a career, because I'd rather be doing something like living in a moon colony or exploring alternate dimensions. My dreams of being an explorer haven't changed. I still haven't found anything that I can explore for a paycheck.

Of course, a not insignificant part of me was expecting that the Earth Changes would hit before now, and that I'd have my hands full trying to save the world from itself.

Ah, impatient youth. There'll be plenty of time for that, throughout my whole life, in far subtler and more fulfilling ways than I'd ever imagined then.

June 19, 2001 ... I've been earwormed.

Spam! It's pink and it's oval
Spam! I buy it at the Mobil
Spam! It's made in Chernobyl

Like its electronic equivalent, "Spam" is basically impossible to get rid of. So much for my mental Liquid Plumber. Fortunately, Kylee -- who exposed me to Save Ferris' catchy little ditty of ultimate evil -- also loaned me a few Toad the Wet Sprocket CDs to listen to, and returned my copy of Coil. It's hard to have any stray lyrics running through your head when you're singing along to "Amnesia." (The lyrics immediately below are from that song; the rest are from other songs on that album.)

Here, I need your help
Deliver me from myself
Take me where I'm wanted
Or make me someone else

Great dragon [1], my life has turned upside down in the last week.

... Is it Tuesday evening already? I find it hard to believe that it was only Sunday that I managed to, in one stroke, resolve issues of relationship boundaries and expectations with three separate people. It's been a long 48 hours since then. A long, happy 48 hours. All is right with the world, even those weird little pockets of the world containing songs about processed meat byproducts. Much clarifying of situations has occurred; much snuggling has snuggled; and I now appear to be two TOCOTOXen richer (an alt.polyamory shorthand for relationships TOo COmplicated TO eXplain). I find myself delighted, and also like a great weight has been lifted off of my chest, now that I've let myself act on my feelings for those two individuals.

Having been polyamorous in theory for approximately two years now -- as the mate of a partner who has another relationship besides me -- it feels weird but liberating to actually take a step toward making that reality. It feels like, after circling the knight of monogamy for months on end, I've finally managed to knock away his shield of "one person can fulfill all of your needs" and melt down his sword of "your current partner means less to you than you thought." Thus disarmed, he's finding that dragonslaying isn't always a healthy occupation.

Take the story you've been sold
The lies that justify the pain
The guilt that weighs upon your soul
And throw them all away

Erin and I have been talking for months now about the possibility of me finding another partner. I've never had a problem with her being otherwise mated, but thinking of myself as a person who could be involved in more than relationship at once was something of an uphill struggle. My big epiphany was this weekend, when I cleared my mind on how I treat love. I don't know that I'd ever before fully parsed that, dammit, I love Erin regardless of what (or who) else is going on in my life ... and that it didn't matter what (or who) else I was doing, that wouldn't change. There was always that fear that I would be walking away from her, but I know now that won't happen.

She's supported me fully in my reaching out, and that has meant a lot. I'm finally getting it pounded through my head that my needs are important, and that I'm not doing anything wrong by not being happy with what I've got. Think of a guy fascinated by model trains whose wife could care less about them -- he would need to go outside the family (to a model train club) to fulfill his need for train fiddling, and nobody would consider that wrong. So why is it that we have ingrained into our heads that, if one partner in a relationship is far more physically oriented than the other, it is a grave sin for that partner to spend a few hours here and there engaged in passionate snuggling with another person? (... Let's not even get into sex.)

In the air I'm sensing a change of weather
In the end the path is clear

I shall state with a happy sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I
Said "That's no choice; I'd rather fly,"
And shrugged, and ran, and hopped a fence.

([1] Shamelessly stolen from Tserisa, because it fit in both thematically and phonetically far better than "My god.")

June 21, 2001 ... *happy tuneless humming*

You'll have to pardon me; I'm doing what is known in alt.polyamory as "poinging." I'm poinging quite acutely. In fact, I am, as wise men say in hushed tones, In Love. All over again. With not only my thoroughly wonderful, beautiful mate, bright constellation of my heavens, but also two women whose incredibleness illuminates the whole sky like the Milky Way. (Alt.poly also has a term for this effect of fresh love giving everything a vibrant glow: NRE, or New Relationship Energy. At the moment, this seems to me awfully cynical, because it somehow implies that I'm going to someday float back to earth; that this wonderful, timeless contentment with life is not a normal state of affairs. Even my inner cynic agrees that, all points about the truth of that implication aside, it is pretty disappointing.)

I spent the Summer Solstice basking in the warmth of these unusually bright lights. (Oh, and the sun. I was able to walk around with my shirt off today, a rarity in the chilly and cloudy Emerald City.) Kylee met me for lunch, and we ate Thai food and stared off of the Fremont Bridge. Ssthisto and I continued to fire off lengthy e-mails back and forth, and she said "yes" to a suggestion that I was almost too timid to make. Kylee came over after work, and she and Erin and I sat around, ate ice cream sandwiches, and laughed at the "moo cascade" that Erin started on one of the Battle.net chat channels. *happy sigh* I'm in love.

Yes, with all three of them. Yes, all at once. Yes, they love me back.

I'm sure some people would get peevish at this interesting relationship math. After all, most fellows only get one heavenly object in their life at a time. Or, at any rate, they can only pick one bright one, and the rest must be reduced to tiny, smoldering embers. There are, they say, too many problems with having more than one star out there, including the danger that the stars, deprived of attention or burning themselves out in an attempt to outshine the others, will run out of fuel and crash and burn.

I don't see why.

And, more importantly, I don't see why -- given multiple stars in my sky -- I should settle for that devastation just because it "should" happen that way. None of my three stars need to be the brightest one in my sky. They all know of each other, and none of them have been competing for my attention. What good would it do me to pick a brightest, when all three shine so beautifully, and none needs that reassurance? They all simply want to be there for me, and I for them, over the long haul. Moreover, what good would it do me to let one burn down? It would make me sad to lose that light -- and, let's face it, it wouldn't be peaches and cream for the star.

... See? This is what I'm talking about. I'm in love. Love makes even overly simplistic and horridly overdone analogies look good. How could they not be? They came from the world that gave me the chance to meet Erin, and Kylee, and Ssthisto. *sigh* ]B=8)

Anyway, to go off on another topic entirely ... sex. Whee! Sex is good too. Wouldn't trade love for it, but it's a fantastic supplement thereto. ... And then there's humor. Humor is good too, too. Wouldn't trade sex for it, but it's a fantastic supplement thereto. And what could be more hysterical than well-done humor about sex? ... Well, probably lots of things, but (all together now) I'm in love (thank you), and it's all good.

So, when I found "How To Make Love To A Single Girl", I nearly laughed myself out of my seat. (Content warning: It's all explicit and stuff. Don't click on the link if your mom's going to sue me.)

*continued tuneless humming* ...

June 26, 2001 ... Anniversaries are momentous occasions. Not because they are times of things happening, necessarily, but because they are times of memories. Times to look back and reflect on the happinesses and successes of the past, to learn from the failures, to pass the milestones and set your sights on the next one.

That having been said, of course, most people use anniversaries as an excuse to do something special. I'm generally no exception. The first profundity I ever put in my quotebook, as I inaugurated QB#1 on July 19, 1993, was "Take time out to celebrate your birthday -- after all, nobody else will if you don't, and we all need to feel special at least once a year."

And so what did I do to commemorate the one-year anniversary of my first Tomorrowlands journal post? Why, the same thing that I did last June ... blinked, and suddenly four days had rushed by.

I hope this doesn't get to be a habit.

So, anyway. Blah blah blah, waxing nostalgic; blah blah blah, pointing out cool old posts; blah blah blah, speculating about how much longer I can keep this up; blah blah blah, pushing everyone toward the forum so you can pat me on the back congratulatorily for my failure to lose interest in my brainchild.

As to where those four days got to ...

I agree with Ssthisto; I hate ADSL. sigh It's not that I'm particularly impatient about our relationship -- I'm quite zen about letting it find its own place, in its own time, actually -- but both of us spent a very significant fraction of the weekend trying to meet each other on Alfandria for some real-time interaction, and with her ADSL breaking left and right, ... well, yeah. As it was, all we got to do was talk, and I have this guilty feeling, like if we'd somehow been more level-headed about it, we'd have just rescheduled instead of fighting faulty hardware, and I wouldn't have wasted quite so much of her time.

(I do say her time for a reason. I'm unemployed, remember. And there weren't any role-playing games going on this weekend, or any other reason for me to do anything other than lie in bed and feel like the world was rotating without me. Which I mostly did, in between waiting for Ssthisto's hardware and coloring my latest drawing.)

I've also spent a decent fraction of the last two days putting "The Sims" through its paces. It's been fun, but I think that: (A) the game has provided me with just about all of the entertainment that it's ever going to; (B) it's starting to scare me. There's something freaky about controlling a little virtual guy running around a little virtual house, directing him to clean the kitchen; wash his hands; play games at the computer -- especially play computer games.

Thank goodness that they didn't have an option to have the sims write daily updates on a virtual website. That would have been just a little bit too meta for me to bear.

June 28, 2001 ... Whoops ... dawn.

My schedule lately has been very night-oriented. Despite this, I'm reluctant to call myself nocturnal, because I don't always work best that way. I'm obviously not very diurnal, either. Even when I have the time pressure of getting up at 8 AM daily for a corporate-hours job, I usually push myself until well past midnight to get things done.

I need a new word for my sleep preferences. "Biurnal", in the same spirit as "bisexual" or "(am)bidextrous", will do.

Honestly, I don't seem to work any better either during the day or at night. I seem to be most comfortable when I have elements of both to work into my schedule. I do tend to drift into a nocturnal pattern when I have no other demands on my time ... but I've figured out why. It's the solitude. If I stay up all night, people leave me alone, because everyone who would otherwise be, say, watching TV around me ... they're all asleep instead. And I can get my work done.

So, what I need isn't more daytime or more nighttime. It's a home office (or, at least, a comfortable table and chair in a cubicled-off place). Of course, a 24-hour world, where I was completely free to set my own hours, would be quite a handy thing to have, too ...

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