Distances and Reflections

It’s interesting, the breadth and depth of the people we lose contact with. Amongst recent days full of recollections of days gone past, it’s unsettling to bring back those memories of places, atmospheres, and people, close people, and then to look around and find nothing, no one, like it was. The best you can hope for is to see glimpses, taints, of the people you knew in the people you know now.

It’s approaching mid-summer now, and I’m looking back into time. Only one time period can be seen; it’s the summer of 1995, my last summer in college. Halcyon days they were. I was living on campus that summer, as I had for the previous three, only during this particular summer I had no classes, no courses; only my dayjob at the campus printshop, my newborn adult mind, and my handfull of close, close friends. I stayed in the dorm just to the west of Francis Crawford dorm, top floor (which oddly was the ground floor on one end). Communal showers. No running water in the room. Shared ventilation. Low ceilings. Small closets. Really odd, odd accomodations, but my roomate and long-time friend Stephen Gent and I made the best of it. Had a hell of a time there.

Stephen, earlier in the spring semester, introduced me to his friend and classmate Donna Crochet. Over the spring semester, as I had a part-time security job in the Francis Crawford dorm lobby, I got to spend some time with Donna, helping her to heal from that night’s damage inflicted on her by her then-boyfriend Richard who treated her badly. Every night she’d come in either laughing or crying, and we’d sit and talk in the lobby as I tended to my arduous door-watching duties.

A few weeks from semester’s end, Donna gave up on her boyfriend; it was forthcoming to say the least. Stephen and I were both cheering her on towards that goal. By summer, Donna was a free woman and ready for another try with another guy.

I had discovered that Stephen would be staying on campus during the summer to take two classes, and we sought each other out for a rooming arrangement. Our partnership then would have vast effects on the future of that summer. We had discovered that Donna would be staying that summer as well, taking a class. Stephen and Donna decided they could make some extra cash by working at Magic Springs Amusement Park 30-minutes away in Hot Springs, with Stephen working sound at the stage shows and Donna working tickets. Proved to be a good arrangement. I would work my dayjob, come back to my room at 4:45pm, chill out for a bit, make some dinner, listen to some loud music, and around 8 or 9pm, Stephen and Donna would come home from Hot Springs, usually with some ongoing conversation and a plan for the evening.

Now, there’s something you have to understand about Ouachita Baptist University: since the charter of the university is Baptist in nature, and a large portion of the funding for the place came from Baptist dollars, you’re damn-right they upheld Baptist principles. So, not even during the summer was inter-sexual visitation allowed. Each sex could visit the other sex’s dorms only in the lobby, and during limited hours at that. Well, during the summer of 1995, I had been there for 5 years, poured tons of money (and vaporbucks) into the school, I was a senior, and I would be damned if my dorm’s Resident Assistant (a fellow schoolmate) was going to say anything about Stephen and I having girls in our room. Seeing that it was easier to get women into our room that to get us into theirs, mine and Stephen’s room was the hangout for most of our friends.

Ok. So Donna grew up as one-half of a pair of twins. She was always accustomed to having someone sleeping in the same room where she slept. In that situation, she slept better, more at ease; couldn’t sleep well without a roomate. Stephen understood this, and asked me if I had any problem with Donna staying the night while her summer roomate was gone to Little Rock for the evening or the weekend. I had no problem with that, and we made her a nice, thick pallet on the floor. A few more sleepover evenings later, and the sleeping on the floor became a shared bed with Stephen (seperate covers, of course). I will admit I felt a little guilty about making her sleep on the floor. She deserved some mattressed, covered real-estate in the sky with us, right? So, there she was, sharing his bed. No biggie, no problemo. We all said good night Johnboy, giggled, and nodded off to sleep.

By next weekend, the Donna-Stephen sleeping arrangement was getting old: apparently they both move around a good bit when asleep, and on those twin-size beds, that’s not a good thing. So I suggested she sleep with me, seperate covers, head-to-foot, etc., etc. That was rough sleeping, I will say that much. A girl, close to my age, in my virgin bed. Sheesh. I didn’t get much sleep that night. The next time around, I got even less; I told her she could sleep head-to-head. At this time, it was all still quite plutonic, but the tension was there. A few more evenings, and I get brave enough to allow her to share my covers; it’s less she has to sneak in, less to crowd our tiny bed.

Later that night, something happened. In the twilight of the Arkadelphia night, under glow of stars, moon, and campus streetlights, we made out. Snoozy, half-asleep, with slumbering Stephen in the next bed, we made out. The relationship between Donna and I was redefined that night. The next day we sat outside on one of the stone benches and just talked, trying to sort out what happened. Up until that point, Donna had been talking with me to see if we’d like to date, to be an item, and I was generally reticent on the idea. But that night changed it all. Throw hormones into the mix, and you can expect drastic changes.

So, over the course of the next days we continually changed our definitions. It had been 5 years since I last dated someone, and I was taking it as slowly as I could while still embracing the hope, the prospects, in something new. It was a new energy to me, a stranger inside whom I had to meet again. That friday night, Donna offered to have me stay in her room for the night. It was there and then that we gave ourselves up to each other for the first time. As humbling as the fumbling was, we had found peace in her bed, in her quiet room, in each other’s arms.

That summer sticks strong in my mind as I remember this season’s past. I can’t help but to remember the look of Verser Theatre, at the intersection of Pine Street and Ouachita Avenue, just in front of our summer dorms. I can’t help but remember the sun’s glare from those buildings; the breezes; the heat from the asphalt, concrete, brick and stone; the well-maintained grass; the thick shade of old trees; the parking lot to the side were Donna and I rediscovered the openness of communication and garnered the heady resolve that got us through the rough, unsteady days of our early courtship; the cool nights at Lake DeGray, at the picnic table by the crooked tree, where Stephen, Donna and I, and a few other friends would congregate with wine coolers after closing hours and night-swim; the gazebo by the Ouachita river where Donna and I would play and press into each other for hours, damning all the mosquitos and the glare of the student center at the top of the cliff above.

And it’s funny how eight years can change and tear away everything. The last time I heard from Donna was just after our breakup in the fall of ’95. Last time I heard about her was in 1998, through Stephen. And the last time I heard from Stephen was two years ago in a brief email. Our time together was sweet, and it’s sad that our trio came to an end.

I was eating out tonight, after work, and I saw a woman who came in as my meal was nearly finished. I looked her over, and I saw a faint hint of Donna. She wasn’t her, but it was enough to spark the memories.

My time has passed on, and all I hear are echoes, praying for sounds to be born again.

Ping?

Bored with life

Yep. Bored with life. Pretty much. Yeah.

sigh

And no, Virginia, stupidity isn’t in the equation. Things just suck. No forward motion, that kind of thing. M’kay?

Settling into an increasingly harmonic vibration; a monotone. 439Hz. Hum drum. Been at my job long enough I was allowed to sign up and start my 401(K). Couple that with my savings account and, um, does that mean I’m getting old? Hmm. Being old wouldn’t matter if variations happened, if things were interesting for once. Christ’sakes.

Tired of working, tired of eating, tired of laundry, tired of sleeping, tired of hanging out, tired of missing concerts, tired of skipping parties, tired of iced tea, tired of ramen, tired of smoking, tired of anxiety, tired of projects, tired of programming, tired of driving, tired of writing, tired of reaching out, tired of talking, tired of digging for shit to say, tired of keeping with bored company, tired of trying to find a good woman, tired of wondering what the secret formula is, tired of having no reason for people to seek me out, tired of seeking, tired of being without base, tired of appearing to lack depth, tired of lacking confidantes, tired of sharing too much with acquaintances, tired of “too much information”, tired of helping, tired of no returns, tired of failure, tired of this journal entry.

Serendipity, I could really use your touch right now.

I feel like wandering.

(update)
How appropriate. When I viewed this message after posting it, the fortune cookie gave me this: “Far duller than a serpent’s tooth it is to spend a quiet youth.” Synchronicity is cruel.

My State of Affairs

OK, I’ll get you folks up to speed on what’s been going on with me. For the last 5 days my lungs have been twinging, spasming, and producing excess phlegm. Sunday night it reached a head: I laid down for sleep and kept getting panicked because I had extra difficulty breathing. I had had enough. So I checked myself into the E.R. at Seton Hospital.

After five hours of getting tested, injected, inspected, treated, x-rayed, heart-monitored, and all else, the doctors couldn’t pinpoint why my lungs were spasming. Our only conclusion is that my situation gets worse when I smoke, especially when I smoke like I have been for the past few months. Folks, this is not good.

The doctor did find something wrong when he had an EKG done on me. Found I have a slight abnormality with my heart. Either some scar tissue or more likely some conductivity problem between my upper heart and my lower heart, like a neural pathway is too active. I have experienced sudden flutters and speed-ups before. This also is not good.

Since the albuterol treatments didn’t help, since the x-rays didn’t turn up anything (thankfully), since the EKG’s didn’t turn up anything conclusive, I am left with only one, knowable fact. I need to quit smoking. Now. If I want to get better.

I’ve known for a long while that all of my cardio-pulmonary problems, most of my digestive problems, many of my stress-panic problems, stem from my excessive tobacco usage. There’s no denying that. There’s no point in denying any of this. I’m smoking myself to death. It was fine way back when, when I didn’t have the effects of 8-years’ damage, when I didn’t find myself thinking 1 pack a day wasn’t bad, when my body didn’t know what the hell a panic attack felt like, when I found myself saying, “Oh, I’m not addicted – what is this thing we call ‘addiction’ anyways, eh?” But it’s not fine now.

I worked two hours yesterday after being up all night at the ER. Our secretary and everyone else who knew my situation told me I should go home, and I did. I attempted to call my doctor, but his office was closed for lunch. So, being weak with sleep, I laid down for bed around 12:30pm. I finally got out of bed around 5:30 this morning. And interestingly enough, I did not crave a cigarette. As long as I associate the smell, taste, look of a pack of Marlboro Lights with clenched lungs, I think I might nick this nic-thing. For some stupid reason, though, I forgot this and had half of a cigarette to curb a small crave, and now I’m dealing with the clenching again. Stupid move, stupid mistake.

The first stupid mistake was going to the quickmart when I got home from that bad date in October ’95. Stupid, self-destructive move. And how stupid of me to keep blaming my addiction on that fateful night.

I’m finding myself remembering what life was like without cigarettes. Luckily, I started when I was 23, so I have plenty of years worth of memories untinged by smoking, plenty of reference to go by. I remember having unhampered sense of smell, of taste. I remember running across campus with no remorse, no passing out. I remember hanging out indoors for hours on end without having to step outside.

Friends, this is something I must do. If I’m AWOL for some time, I hope you’ll understand.

Yawn Two Three Four

Burning the midnight oil a lot these days. So little to do, so much time. :sighs:

Starting to get mighty warm around here. Nothing like good heat and dense humidity. Mmmm. Makes opening my car door that much more pleasant. I swear, I gotta start cracking the windows or something to equalize the humidity. Sheesh.

I’ve been finding myself doing more programming lately. It’s now again starting to become fun, like a puzzle I do. The drill is simple: create a problem (if one doesn’t already pop-up while solving another problem), and write code to fix it. Some people have their crosswords, I have my programs. My current puzzle is trying to split and parse an SQL insert statement. I want to split off all the flag keywords and parse the remainder of the statement in any of the three standard ANSI SQL formats. I’ve been running into problems having my code differentiate between column text and actual column names. Currently, though, I think I’m on my way to getting this problem licked — I wrote a small finite-state automaton (a smart loop — a bot, basically) that steps through the statement, one character at a time, and tests that character against a small nested list of rules. To me, this is exciting stuff. So far, with a few logic problems aside, I think I really do have it beat. I hope so, anyway.

I want to thank each and every one of you who extended sympathies and shared in my anger at what happened to me a few days ago (as eloquently described in the last entry). You folks are indeed my good friends. Thanks.

:yawn: Ok. My eyes are getting droopy. Nothing like the cumulative effect of getting less than four hours of sleep a night for the past 4 evenings. I decided to head home early tonight, and that was the most perfect choice.

Gotta take better care of myself. You should do the same. G’nite!

If only I had left five minutes earlier…

I should have left when I felt it. But, no, I hung around just five more minutes. Just enough time for me to get suddenly hit with an egg thrown from a passing car.
FUCKERS!
There is nothing you can do about people who drive by and throw eggs when you’re sitting in front of a coffee shop. NOTHING. And that’s what angers me the most. By the time you realize what just happened to you and every single bit of clothing you’re wearing, the car is at the next intersection and speeding away.
F U C K E R S !
My freshly washed shirt and shorts, fresh socks, even my laptop bag and my hair, were trashed by running, slimy egg. No telling how old the egg itself was. All I know is that I’m sitting there, I feel a smack! on my right shoulder (which felt like someone came up behind me and smacked me really hard), I turn around and find no one there, my friend Collin looks at me to see what happened, assesses the situation, stands up to get a look at the car, and notes its make and model (BMW 3-series, or something like that), and I look to see what hit me then realize it was a fucking egg. A FUCKING EGG! Even Collin’s pants got the shrapnel. I tell you, that shit gets everywhere.

I cannot put forward how much anger I feel right now. That angers me even more.

FUCK OFF AND DIE, BORED YUPPIE FUCKERS! FUCK OFF AND DIE!

Thankfully, some guys, a bunch of badasses a few tables over, offered to help should those fuckers swing back by for another pass.

And so this summer’s round of chickenshit attacks begins. Time to take a shower and soak my clothes.

Fuck. Fuck this all to Hell. Fuck.