Friday, March 31, 2006

Am I More Memorable Than I Realize?

I recently called my wonderful apartment office, wondering when the hell they would fix the disaster that is my toilet. They also haven't gotten around to fixing my garage door, but I'm not complaining on that one. I always feel bourgeois when I slide into my garade while others must step out of their cars and open their doors manually. Take your time and let my guilt fade. Anyways, the woman on the phone asked for my apartment number, paused and said "Oh cool, it's Brett. Hi Brett, how's your cat situation?"

I have no recollection of talking to this person about my monstrous cat situation. I'm not even sure who it was I was talking to, but I only put signs up about the devilish Queen of all Cats. So how do the leasing people know about her? My guess is that by day she leaves the apartment, terrorizes the neighborhood, and returns to terrorize my own animals. My name may be coming up in local curses, spread far and wide across the estates.

Of course, this woman could always just be making casual conversation. They may have some ginormous database filled with residents likes and dislikes. Still, it's always nice to be remembered.

Cautiously Nervous

I know rationally that I'm not really nervous about the show tonight. Indeed, I'm looking forward to it. Yet people seem hellbent on making me nervous. Thus far today I've had this conversation about a hundred times:


"Hey Brett"

"Whats up?"

"You nervous about tonight's debut?"

"Not really. It should be good."

"So you're not worried about your writing debut? It's a big night for you. I hope it's good."

"Like I said, it's good."

"You nervous about forgetting a line?"

"It's usually funnier when people forget their lines. Makes the show feel more amateur."

"Well just don't be nervous because you might screw up if you're nervous."

"I've done this before. It's not a big deal."

"Well Mr. Funnyman, break a leg and all. Don't be too nervous. I'll be watching."

I'm also still working on that novel. You know, where there's a protagonist who learns a valuable lesson. Maybe changes...(KABONG!)

Thanks for the laugh

Heather at Dooce has posted pictures of fake children's books. My favorite is "I Lost My Dad to Syphilis" which almost had me fooled.

Nice one.

Thursday, March 30, 2006


When I think of courage, I think of this man, who survived a horrifying ordeal. He suffered through the death of his coworkers and a terrible coma that almost killed him. Despite his overwhelming brain damage, he rehabilitated himself faster than anyone thought possible and is now returning home to his family. His only comment when asked what he would do is "probably just hang around, hold my kids and stuff." Wow.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Shameless Promotion

I rarely use this blog for self-promotion (cough...cough...ehem) but I feel I need to promote this wonderful event. This Friday, March 31st at 6:30, there will be a production of my very first script. Okay, it's a murder mystery, and most of the dialogue I wrote has been improved upon by other people, but I'm still proud. If you want to come see it, email me and I'll arrange tickets.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Starbucks Woes

I hate it when I'm misunderstood. It happens a lot. People often misinterpret my body language, thinking I'm uncomfortable or rude even when I'm trying not to be. There are times in my life (I suspect there are times in anyone's life) when I seem uncomfortable or awkward. Lately, it's been because of my hands, which I've preferred either sticking in my pockets or holding against my arms. Both these positions make me appear unhappy. I swear I'm not.

What spurred this was R-dogg's declaration that the Starbucks ladies are unhappy with me. They claim that I am unfriendly with them, grabbing my coffee and completely lacking any greeting. In his defense, R-dogg did attempt to rationalize my behavior, but he wasn't entirely sure why I was so odd in front of them either. He confronted me about it, and I managed to blubber something about being uncomfortable around new people. But I've been thinking more about this, and I think it's deeper than that.

R-dogg and I have an odd dynamic to our friendship. He is the bombastic, incredibly friendly and very social guy. I am his comic foil. My purpose is to listen and occasionally make a funny quip or an insightful remark. I am quite happy in this role and function well with it. Our friendship works quite well.

However, when R-dogg isn't around and I am left alone with the Starbucks ladies he has befriended, I become shy. I say hi, grab my coffee and sit down to read or work for class. As previously noted, my body language will suggest that I'm uncomfortable at the table. Starbucks ladies, I am not put off by you. Indeed I find you very affable and nice. Your willingness to remember my name and the exact thing I want is quite amazing. But when I'm there alone, it's often for ulterior motives. I want to be alone, sipping my coffee and being contemplative. My reserved greeting or lack of conversation is merely because I have other things on my mind.

Part of the problem is that we (as a society) read far too much into each other's body languages. Analysts suggest that 80% of our communicating is through body language. I feel that may be because we are pushing our own preconceived ideals about body language onto others. Maybe it would honestly be better if we spoke exactly in the way that we meant and didn't judge based on the way their bodies react.

Monday, March 27, 2006

V (Why I'm Not a Chef)

Last Saturday I tried making the "eggy in a basket" from the movie V for Vendetta. It seemed simple enough to me, fry some bread up and throw an egg over it. Apparently the thought hadn't occurred to me that eggs don't tend to cook on top of bread. Instead, the egg slid off the bread and crashed onto the pan. I ended up with scrambled eggs attached to toast, which wasn't all that bad.

My failed breakfast attempt made me realize how deeply embedded in my mind the movie has become. It's rare that a movie stays with me, but V for Vendetta has. Once again Wachowskis, you have me thinking about heavy philosophical and social issues.

Thank you.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Fun with Spam (Found Poem)

Rancher to operate foggy bay window,
Give the nonfat malpractice
To moral support.
Telling the
Avenge the brotherhood pompom
But frantically,
in inherent stink
baby boom loser or joyrider,
automobile mayo
was bungee jumping.
Confine the cutter:
delighted peach.
Body language
With outhouse of missing.
Rhino was approximate.
The conceptual migratory
of a four-leaf clover and
dally to equitable
Religiously geometrical
the sordid water is a
skyscraper per
smug sneeze: self-important
but a flea!
Cobweb and marmalade
of steel wool
rotate waxiness in
fanciful to

The certification of a peach
as a wristwatch:
still life resurgence.

Ahhh exercises in nothingness, how wonderful you are.

Thursday, March 23, 2006


I vivdly remember the moment I found out that Elliott Smith died. My normal routine was to sit down at my computer at work and check the news. My boss at the time was sitting at the computer next to me. I hopped onto Yahoo News and my eye immediately caught the headline. Elliott was dead of an apparent suicide. My throat let out an inadvertent yelp that caught the concern of the entire room. I couldn't help it, my favorite musician was dead.

Elliott brought me through some tough times. His melodic melancholy always had a healing effect on me. I owed him. His death saddened me greatly because I knew that I could never tell him how much he impacted me.

I recently purchased the Elliott Smith tribute album, and found it interesting. I have always wanted to sing his songs, indeed I find myself singing along to his music more than any others. So I wanted to know how others would treat his music.

The result is, admittedly, quite a mixed response. Some of the choices are downright strange, creating the wrong feeling. At one point while I was listening I openly cringed, my hand shooting for the skip track button.

The problem is that Elliott's songs are purposely slow to create a mood, and attempting a more up tempo feel loses the spirit of the song. I felt my hands tighten whenever I heard a synthesizer on the album. Elliott was definitely not a proponent of overly produced music.

There are some serious bright spots on the album. Amelia does a wonderful job with "Between the Bars" adding her own special chord changes and depth but retaining the resonance of the song. Blake's "Rose Parade" is almost identical to the first one, and in this case it's not such a bad thing.

Maybe my point is that we (and by we I mean the collective Elliott Smith community) miss Elliott's wistful, breathy voice and thoughtful lyrics. With the overabundance of crap being touted as music nowadays, his impact is that much more startling. Do yourself a favor and pick up his albums. They are worth the experience.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Seriously Hilarious!

This video is absolutely necessary to capture the bizarre feel of being on WoW. PALS for life 4 ever!

Thanks Dave.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006


I was totally geeked out by this description of what might have been in the Star Trek universe. Perhaps the best part is Merrick's impassioned explanation of what went wrong with Star Trek:

"TREK’s diminishing audience happened because fans and laymen alike were sick of lifeless, bland, and safe storytelling that took no chances, and never came to life. Series and movies became visually flat, kinetically dull, and aurally muted (compare the way music is used in THE WRATH OF KAHN to any “sonic wallpaper” score in VOYAGER or ENTERPRISE). The camera became increasingly locked down...colors became more and more drab.

Above all, TREK derailed when it ceased to be about “all of us”, and became insular in its scope and ambition. It looked in on itself for inspiration, instead of reaching out to our world. And, most importantly, reaching out to our spirits."

So true.

We've Come to This

Our president is so simple that he makes national news when he uses a big word. This, of course, caused quite the kerfuffle.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Okay, Apparently I am Crazy Cat Man

She's small, perhaps weighing a grand total of 6 pounds, and she's got this cute little nose that she can wrinkle in the most adorable way possible. When I sit down, she throws herself next to me and places her head on my leg. I can't eat without her poking her face in to see if she can steal some. She follows me around the apartment relentlessly, hoping to get my attention. She may not be my cat, but she has definitely decided that I am her human.

And in the course of four days, she has taken over my apartment entirely. She has completely made my own cats subservient to her. It's her bed, her kitchen, her food, her human. They are completely in awe of her. This afternoon I plan on hanging signs, hoping to find her owner. Otherwise, I'm not sure how else I'm ever going to rid myself of The Queen of all Cats:

Thursday, March 16, 2006

I Am Not Crazy Cat Man

Yes, I have two cats. I understand the social stigma of a single male having two cats around his tiny apartment. My cats are different though. They are fantastic in their unique un-catlike qualities. I wouldn't give them up for anything.

So it was with great apprehension that I discovered a freezing and starving cat sitting next to my door when I came home last night. She was a beautiful calico cat. What struck me was that she was willing to have me come and pet her. I knew then that she wasn't a feral cat. She was either lost or abandoned.

After a bit of a struggle, I managed to grab the cat and bring her into my apartment. She was nervous. I was nervous as well, not knowing how my cats would react. It wasn't good. There was lots of hissing and crying and most of it wasn't from me.

Needless to say, she's now sitting in my bathroom, waiting to see what I'll do with her. I'm thinking I might bring her to the shelter, where she can get properly treated and adopted. She's an adorable and well-mannered little thing, but I just can't deal with the stigma of being a single guy with three cats.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

I Am Not Who I Am: Another Short Story

I am, I think. Or maybe not. I'm not sure.

We all have a story about where we came from, who we are and such. Every sentient creature, anywhere, desires to know their origin. Most are simple and also stunningly complex. Mine is just bizarre.

I was brought to life by a breath, a noise, perhaps a whisper. There are times when creativity coagulates into a pure form, a cohesive unit. This is where I came from.

To be more broad, I was a fictional part of a tale. The speaker called to me in order to spice up his story. He wanted to make it more important. Initially, I had a purpose and that alone satisfied me.

I am a jerk, or better yet I was a jerk. In the initial telling, I existed solely to annoy. I popped in to make the teller seem more virtuous by comparison. I was his moral foil. This definition was fine with me.

Problems arose when the tale became more elaborate. It was told many times with much embellishment. I gained new personality flaws; I was angry, whiny, loud and bullying. As the story grew, so did I, developing a rounder personality.

I no longer wanted to be me. My existence was founded on the idea that I was a terrible person for no reason. It's awful to be a mean person and not know why.

So I went out and found those emotions. I looked at what made a person belligerent or just plain angry. A new emotion arose, one that I found to be mine. It was at this moment that I became real.

So here I am. I'm sick of being what the storytellers want me to be. I know there's something more to me than the story suggests, and it's my turn to go out and prove it. The story may be the beginning, but it will certainly not be the end

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

They Don't Always Land on Their Feet

Wendell is a klutz. He is perhaps the most awkward animal I've ever seen. He moves in a way that makes me seem graceful. I'm not graceful, I'm a klutz as well. Together we knock over more lamps than I care to share.

So it was with terror and hilarity that I watched Wendell's antics this morning. He was lying on the bed, stretched out in his wonderful morning laziness, when he looked up at me and rolled over to have me rub his belly. He miscalculated and went flying to the floor on his back, paws desperately trying to grip something. My feelings went through how cute it was to very quickly realizing that he might be hurt. I ran over to his side, and saw the glint in his eye, the one I get so very often when I trip over my feet. Wendell looked embarrassed, a rare sight for a cat.

Of course, just like his daddy, he picked himself up and strutted out of the room as if that was what he wanted to do all along. They grow up so fast.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Fark Photoshop

This Fark photoshop thread is brilliant and hilarious.

Bad Movie Admission

I need to get something off my chest. I hate Batman Forever and Batman & Robin. They irritate me in the lowest depths of my Batman fandom. The movies are so bad that they deserve everything that is said about them.

So, that's a pretty easy admission, right? Except, there's one more thing. I always watch Batman Forever and Batman & Robin when they are on television. I'm transfixed by them. Everything, the horrific acting, hokey action sequences and ridiculous sets, appeals to me. Something about them is absolutely fascinating to me. So while I know in the back of my head that I hate these films, I also have a certain amount of love for how bad they are.

I'm so embarrassed.

Friday, March 10, 2006

I Want One...

This has to be the coolest techie device I've ever seen.

Angry, Why I'm Not

When I began teaching, I had a fierce temper. I remember snapping at kids for things that kids do. My capacity for yelling was infinite. Needless to say, I stressed myself out all the time.

So recently I and several of my fellow staff members were involved in a scuffle with a student. The details are unimportant, but I remember asking the student to please relax and telling her that the only reason I was bothering her was that she was violating the rules.

Naturally, I was called into my bosses office. He wanted to know what happened. A fellow staff member looked at me and said "Brett never even raised his voice past a whisper." My boss looked at me, a smirk stretching on his lips.

All he could say was "That's the new Brett. I love the new Brett."


Wednesday, March 08, 2006

My Favorite TV Moment

It's from House, of course.

I thought the writers and producers had gone too far by having House ask a husband for his wife's organs moments after she died. So I cringed, feeling uncomfortable and realizing that my favorite TV character might not be endearing, but just might be an all out jerk. When the guy decked House and then agreed to have his wife's heart used, I was ecstatic. There is indeed justice in the world.

Monday, March 06, 2006

You Know Me Too Well: A Short Story

The Clairvoyant Convention takes place every March in a brightly lit conference room on the top of The Comfort Inn in Elizabeth Massachusetts. From all over the country, those that claim to see the future converge on Elizabeth, prepared to discuss the hot new trends in clairvoyance. Panel discussions are held.

Driving up I-95 in my worn-out green Ford Escort, I watch the water slide into the rocks and explode into the sky. There is a calm from the water, an infinite degree of contentedness that takes place in the ocean. Before I know it, the exit comes upon me and I cruise off the exit. The specter of the hotel is before me. Relaxation bolts as my hands quaver on the steering wheel.

The room is tiny, a single bed pressed against the wall, and a small dresser on the side. It's simple, without any tacky hotel furnishings. The bedsheets are a cool cream color, unencompassing and easy. I've requested it this way.

I put my bag down on the dresser and stretch out onto the bed. My body is still shaking, so I practice a breathing technique that I read about on the internet. Tension drips out of me.

A sharp bang comes from the door. I'm not exactly sure how long it's been, but I feel refreshed. I reach over and open the door, still lying on the bed. The bulky frame of Tom Redding walks into the room, sitting down on the bed.

Tom is the most recent president of the Clairvoyant Club, having accurately predicted several hurricanes and snowstorms. He's a weather psychic, though he claims his powers extend far beyond that. Occasionally his local news station will have him on to guess at next weeks five day forecast. He's correct nearly two-thirds of the time.

He breaths through his lips, staring down at me through his pale green eyes. He looks concerned. He opens his mouth.

"I know what you're thinking Colby," he says.

"I know you do Tom." I keep a serious expression on my face, but my eyes secretly roll. He has no idea what I'm thinking.

"Look Colby, you're mad, but there's just no way that we can have you giving a key-note speech this year. Your powers are quite amazing, but you're too young and inexperienced. Maybe next year kid." I bite down hard on my lip to keep from laughing. There are so many things that Tom doesn't know, yet his eyes are self-assured and satisfied. I nod, pretending to be upset but understanding.

"Have you been working on those exercises I gave you?" I nod slowly. Last year at the convention, Tom gave me mental exercises to stretch the capacity of my psychic ability. He squeezes my hand, rising off the bed, gives me a quick wink and walks out of the room. I turn over and nearly die laughing in my pillow. The mental exercises had succeeded in giving me an enormous headache.

The Clairvoyant Society claims it holds its annual meeting in Elizabeth because of its relative closeness to Salem Massachusetts. They say there is heavy psychic energy in the air, which fosters the growth of our powers. At every convention three or four psychics pass out, being diagnosed with psychic overdose. It's always fun to watch the overly dramatized fainting acts; the twisting and twirling, overly excessive screaming and gasping.

I walk into the meeting room, observing the overly ornate dressings on the wall. There are painted sconces with incense smoking blithely from them. From the ceiling gold and green silk hangs, stretching out across the room. They are supposed to be the most psychically powerful colors. A huge fountain sits in the middle of the room, gurgling loudly. It's meant to focus psychic energy, but inevitably someone will become inebriated and dive into it, claiming they can feel the energy.

The clairvoyant Society is a broad spectrum of people, ranging from a man who claims that at night someone whispers the future to him, to a woman who says she is capable of bending wood with her mind. She merely chooses not to, realizing how dangerous it could be. The elaborate costumes people wear always make me laugh. The men wear metal tunics, claiming that it focuses their powers. They have elaborately stitched robes with hoods and an interesting assortment of helmets. The women wear incredibly detailed black dresses, punctuated with pale makeup and dark lipstick. I'm dressed in a simple blue collared shirt and slacks, unassuming and easy to ignore. I look like an outsider.

A scuffle breaks out to my left. An enormous man, his arms shooting out of his torso like great oak tree branches, has jacked a much skinnier man against the wall. People have surrounded them, some begging them to stop, most encouraging the fight.

"Dude, what the hell is it that you're thinking about my wife?" The man points out a large, silver haired woman standing next to him. She is dressed in a black and purple Gothic rayon dress, her legs barely poking out of the hem. The small man's face is scarlet, his knees clattering. He gurgles, trying to answer the man, but breath has failed him. The eyes roll into his head, and he becomes unconscious. The gigantic man releases his grip and lets the other man fall to the ground.

Tom comes running up from the back, slightly out of breath and looking dazed. He has adopted the outfit of the president, a grey raven's helmet with a scarlet and gold tunic. He places his hand on his temples, in an effort to mentally assess the situation, but decides better of it. Apparently his psychic energy was being blocked.

"My god, Roger, what the hell have you done?"

"He was thinking about my wife in dirty ways."

"Dirty ways?"

"Yeah, like thinking about her body and stuff. I heard him in my mind."

"Are you sure?"

"Yes. The thought was as clear as a bell. He was in the middle of talking to her when I heard in my mind that she had an incredibly nice body. I knew it was him, so I had to defend her." The small man is still on the floor, his eyes closed, his face nearly blue. He is in no position to answer for his charges.

"Well then, I suppose what you did could be justified. But please, in the future try and control yourself."

"I'll do my best Tom. Thank you." I stand back as Roger strides out of the room. Others move away from him, scared of the huge psychic man.

I grab some spicy punch and sit through a speech entitled "How to give your third eye Lasik surgery." It's a wonderful presentation on how to clear your mind of any distractions in order to see what's really available. I force my hand onto my mouth, desperate to choke back any giggling. Since I'm in the back of the room, no one seems to notice.

The evening's big event is a speech by Tom, who walks up to the podium slowly in order to highlight his elaborate outfit. He looks over the colorful audience, seeming to consider other people's thoughts before starting.

"My friends, we are in danger. Yes, I realize that this is a startling remark, as most of us know we are highly evolved human beings with superior brains. But every year, there seems to be less of us coming to this conference, and I'm worried about our future. Being a psychic should be a community experience, where we share our thoughts together. Yet our brothers and sisters seem to shy away and take on a life of their own. So today, I'm empowering all of you to go out and recruit another psychic for our ranks. I am convinced that someday soon, humanity will need us for a great noble purpose and the more of us there are, the better. Go out into your community and find as many psychics as you can. We will be strong." Massive cheers rise from the audience. The idea of psychics becoming a powerful force in the world appeals to people. I am nearly sickened by the idea, and get up to politely leave.

A small old woman, her hair dark auburn, wrinkles stretched delicately across her face, follows me into the hallway. She corners me in the hallway, a suspicious look in her eyes.

"Excuse me."


"What are you doing at ourconvention?"

"The same as you, to focus my powers and gain new psychic strengths."

"You are not a psychic. I can't feel your mind or touch your soul. You are spying on us! You are a fraud." I look down, embarrassed by her accusation.

"I'm not a fraud, my powers have just not been developed as yours. Please, allow me to go back to my room and meditate on tonight's happenings." Her deep hazel eyes thaw, and she nods understandingly. She tries to put her arm around me, but notices me cringing and thinks better of it.

"Good night young man. May your dreams be filled with the future," she says. I wait for her to walk back into the conference before the smile envelopes my face. Fraud, indeed. I walk down the hallway and to my room, whistling a happy tune. For a small moment at least, I am happy.

The tap on my door comes at 10:15. I'm reading a book about how coma patients sometimes become clairvoyant. Excitement surges through me as I stand and open the door.

Standing outside is an old, thin man with a wide moustache and pointed ears. The fedora on his head sags from years of poor use. His yellow trenchcoat exudes mustiness. I've been waiting to see him.

"Hello Eugene" I say, trying to keep the nervousness out of my voice.

"Hi Colby" he answers. "We should go, it's getting late and the night is at hand."

"Do you want to..."

"No, not until we get there. It's too dangerous here."

Eugene grabs my hand and leads me out of the hotel. I'm thankful for the warmth and human connection his hand provides. We walk the old streets of Elizabeth. I look at the amazing architecture, ancient and imposing. Elizabeth is normally a thriving New England tourist town, but the cold winter months have scattered people. Kitschy bars and restaurants are open, but they have few patrons. I admire the look of the place, imagining what the colorful streets and cool shops must be like when it's warmer.

In front of us is an ancient Gothic library. It sits on the edge of town, skillfully made to look discreet. The beauty of the grey stone is subtle, and tourists would never think of patronizing it. It just hangs back, available for other uses.

A single tiny bulb burns somewhere in the building. The timeworn library is filled with stacks of books piled haphazardly to the ceiling. Dust lingers in the aisles. A reference desk, its old oak beginning to wear with water damage, lies in the center. I hold my breath, allowing Gene to lead me around the library. We move quickly through aisles of musty books. In the back of the library there is a heavy wooden door. From far away, it looks like an average supply closet, but if you look closely there is a dangerous symbol cut into it.

Eugene extracts an ancient key from his pocket and clicks it in the door. We enter the room and he shuts the door immediately. The contrast is startling. In the fireplace, a log is burning brightly. It fills the room with a comfortable warmth. The room is immaculate, with colorful tapestries hanging from the stone walls. Two enormous leather chairs sit next to the fire.

I sit down, and Gene runs off for a bottle of port. He is nervous as well. The night has much to offer. He pours glasses of wine and sits down, staring at me.

"Colby, why do you insist on going to that ridiculous function?"

"Makes me feel better."


"Its absurdity. I love the way in which people view psychic powers."

"So you go to laugh?"

"I hardly ever get to."

"I know, neither do I. But I'm worried people will begin suspecting you."

"Eugene, everyone knows those people are kooks. That's the point. If I hang around with them, no one will suspect anything. They'll merely think me another kook." He begins swirling the port in his glass, staring at the maroon liquid. He is deep in an idea.

"We lead a lonely life, don't we?" He asks.

"We have to. It causes me enough problems when I slip and accidentally tell people what they are thinking. Usually I have to give up contact after that happens."

"You know what's funny?"


"Your friends at the convention aren't wrong. This area is indeed a hotbed of psychic energy. It's easier for us to expel our energy because it's less noticeable. Our forebears started the Clairvoyant Convention to cover our tracks, blame it on someone else. For a brief period, while we are trying to cure ourselves, they actually might obtain our powers. We need them. I just find it funny that you've grown so accustomed to hanging out with them." I put my hand on Gene's to comfort him. He moves his fingers around my palm, pressing gently into mine.

"Don't worry my dear friend, I'll be fine."

I feel Gene press his head against my mind, and words are no longer needed. It's started. Our minds flip images back to each other, easy and clear. He shares with me the triumphs and pain of the past year. His fears, anxiety, joy and happiness seep into my mind. We talk that way for quite some time, me passing along my year and he sharing his. Finally I feel him lose his inhibitions and open his entire mind to me. Hours go by as we share our entire lives, down to the minutiae. Finally, we break contact, our psychic abilities expelled.

"I have to tell you something Colby, and I'm not sure how to say it." He looks at me, his orange eyes twisting.

"Just say it, I'll understand." He sighs, forcing his moustache to flicker in his breath. Looking down, he finally addresses me.

"This is my last year. After this, you'll be alone. I'm sorry, I know this is sudden."

"I know about it all. You did your best to hide it from me, but I could still feel it lingering in the back of your spirit. Please don't do this Gene. There's got to be another way."

"There isn't. I can't go on living this way. I've come here tonight to give you a year to find someone to replace me. I plan on doing it." I find my face hot, the tears falling uncontrollably.

"Gene, you're the only person who understands me. I don't know of anybody else who I can trust. What will I do now?"

"I've left you a significant amount of money so you can go on and find another like us. Please Colby, understand why I'm doing this."

"Of course I understand why you are doing this. You can't stand dealing with the ability- knowing all the time what people are thinking, what they are going to tell you. Worrying how you are going to hide it from them. It still makes it that much worse for me. I'll be alone, without you or anyone else to take away my pain."

"I'm sorry Colby, you know I am. But I can't live with this anymore. Tonight, I'm going to walk into the rocky shoals and it'll be over with. I'm lucky though."

"Why's that?"

"When most people die, their memories vanish, spilling out into the world. I know with you, my memories are safe. You've been good to me Colby, and I know you'll do fine." I was nearly bawling when I felt his head once again touch mine, and darkness slip over me.

When I awake at sunrise there's a letter for me, explaining how much he cared for me and exactly why he will miss me. I walk outside, and sit on the rocks by the shore, reading the letter in depth. Waves crash in front of me, alarming and sad. My tears mix with the saltwater as he tells me that everything will be okay. The last line burns into my mind:

"I'm sorry to do this to you. You know me too well."


I walked down the beach, the future lingering before me. His words stung me. I tried to steel my heart from the pain that I was feeling, but it was no good. All of a sudden, I was alone again, hopelessly lost in the world. I walked through the world, a lost soul struggling to find a place. I didn't stop until your mind brushed against me.

I found you, lying in a field in Central Park, staring at the deep cobalt sky freckled with clouds. You had a terrified look on your face, not sure what to do with the world. I could feel you from across the city, pain and confusion pouring from your mind. I sat down next to you and stared into your neon blue eyes. You were scared of me, and tried to get up, but I placed my hand on yours and sent you warm thoughts. You relaxed and hugged me, crying on my shoulder, whispering in my ear that you were so alone in the world. I knew and began crying as well.

Since then, we've shared perfect moments of joy. I have never been comfortable in my life. I can't seem to quiet my mind. It's always processing other people's thoughts and wondering. But then, there are times that we share that I know I'll never be alone again and my mind stops. Walking in a deep forest, hand in hand, not another human for miles and nature spreading itself out before us. That time we sat on an abandoned beach, the water rolling in slowly, I held you close and you smiled at me to let me know everything was okay. I wanted nothing else but your company, and I didn't care about my foolish thoughts. Life was amazing. Life is amazing.

Yes, you know me too well, and sometimes that creeps into my thoughts. I shake, knowing that there is someone else in the world who sees me as I am. That doesn't matter though, as I know you'll be there to press your forehead against me when I cry. The sadness of the world evaporates in your skin, and life couldn't get any better.

More New Orleans Fun

Have I mentioned yet that there was a lot of eating in New Orleans? Regardless, I can't seem to understate this idea. There was more food being offered than I've ever seen in my life. There was meatpies, pastries, crawfish, ginger chicken, beignets, and some stuff I couldn't pronmounce. This was all for breakfast, which took place between the hours of 10am and 1pm.

At some point, Lui's other sister Cris showed up with her family. Her son Christopher is a cool kid, very smart and full of energy. He ran around the house with great excitement, his tired father Ferdie trying to keep up with him. Youthful endurance is fantastically endearing.

After our feast, we decided to attend a Mardi Gras parade. I was happy we were going, but thinking a day parade couldn't be all that exciting. I've seen lots of day parades. Foolish.

Nothing can, or will, prepare you for the massive spectacle that is a Mardi Gras parade. The sdewalks are lined with people, all desperately vying for the silly items that were being thrown off of floats. There's lots of screaming, cheering and laughing. Enthusiasm pours off the crowd and the float riders. The floats are majestic, jutting beautifully into the sky with wonderful monster based themes like Frankenstein and Dracula. It's hard to describe just how amazingly detailed and extravagant they are.

I'm chiefly glad I was able to attend a parade with a child. There's nothing like joyful enthusiasm at such a huge parade. Christopher was running around, full of great joy and amazement at the enormous floats. At some point, I caught his energy and ran around with him, catching beads and toys. I didn't keep any of the toys I caught (what am I going to do with teddy bears and plastic figurines) but I did bring home an enormous bag of beads to share with my friends.

We left the parade, the general consensus was that we needed to eat again. My mind protested, but my body was surprisingly ready to go. Apparently all the running around had made me famished.

I'd never eaten Popeye's chicken before, and usually I tryand stay away from fats food restaurants. However, everyone insisted I needed to try it, and assured me tht it was a New Orleans experience in itself. So I bit in to the chicken, wondering what was in store for me. My reward was delicously lean and wonderfully spiced fried chicken. The sides were also worth the experience and could have made the meal on their own. I was still sneaking biscuits late that night.

After dinner I excused myself, realizing I hadn't spent time alone in several days. We were planning on going out in the French Quarter later that evening. I wanted to have some time to process the experience, so I went to the room I was sleeping in and laid down to watch television for a bit.

After a time, I walked out into the living room to find the entire family fast asleep in front of Olympic Ice Dancing. Oh well.


I'm sick of this mainstream media trope. Every year they slam the host of the Oscars, claiming that he or she was unfunny and that the show was boring. Writers think they are being edgy by saying the show is dull, but the cliche is like moldy bread on a July afternoon. It smells real bad and sticks to everything. Cut it out.

In actuality, Stewart was great. He was quick on his feet and delivered some excellent one-liners. After the relentless smattering of Hollywood clips, Stewart's line "We are actually out of movie clips" was tear jerkingly funny. He was a great host with excellent timing and wonderful stage presence.

If you want to criticize him for not being political enough, that to is a double edged sword. He made occasional jokes about politics, but they were largely in good taste. If he had made more Daily Showesque jokes, chances are he would be heavily criticized for that this morning. Stewart made a choice, and it was a good one.

Of course, there were a couple of problems with the show. The music they played while the winners were giving their speeches was alarmingly tasteless. Plus, the constant slamming in our faces of the idea that movies need to be seen on the movie screen was awkward. Jake Gyllenhaal couldn't even read his dialogue about "portable dvd players" with a straight face.

Everything else was very good though. I'm happy several people and films won. Mostly, I'm happy that Wallace and Gromit won for best animated feature. The folks at Aardman do good work and deserve to be recognized. I was rooting for Murderball over March of the Penguins, but I'm still happy the penguin movie won.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Further Adventures in New Orleans

After lunch and coffee, we arrive back at Lui's parents house and relax for a bit. Then we have a wonderful dinner of ribs, chicken, corn grits (which I'd never had and were terrific) and other dishes I couldn't quite identify. My small body is now wavering on the brink of mass food consumption, and I'm delighted. I haven't eaten so much in years.

Lui's parents seem desperate to make sure I've had enough food, and playfully criticize me for not eating enough. I feel as if I will never eat again. Talk of Mardi Gras parades and New Orleans events fills the tables. We sit around, talking about what we might do that night, and Celina mentions that Harrah's casino has just reopened. It's a big deal. So we decide to head off to the casino for the evening, which I'm excited about. I've never actually seen a casino outside of Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods.

We head off to Harrah's, Lui's father questioning me about what casino games I enjoy. I tell him 'I've always enjoyed craps, and he is immediately interested. However, explaining the game of craps is a lot more complicated than actually playing it, and he seems confused at my scattershot definition of it. I decide craps might not be the way to go.

As we head into downtown New Orleans, I can't help thinking that the city looks entirely sane. If I hadn't viewed the other areas of New Orleans, I would have never known about all the damage around. Instead, the business district looks vibrant and healthy, a well-groomed metropolis. Lui comments that the streets look empty. It would be a crowded night in Hartford.

At the entrance of the casino, my ID is heavily scrutinized. Apparently they are nervous of all the counterfeit security precautions Connecticut has put in. After examination by several security people, I am finally let in, everyone waiting for me.

We separate with Lui's parents, who want to walk around on their own. I'm distracted by all the shiny, blinky things. My attention span isn't all that great. Mark, Lui and Celina want to play some slot machines, so I tag along. We travel through the massive rows of slots, and finally decide on an interesting nickel slot machine.

20 dollars later, I decide to move to a new machine. Mark and Lui are eager to play Wheel of Fortune, but I'm attracted to a video slot game that involves fishing. I sit down and begin fishing for numbers. Normally I wouldn't have a problem gambling, but the saddest gambler I've ever seen is sitting across from me.

She has this strange swagger, and refuses to sit down. Instead, she is moving between three machines, and literally hooked into all of them. Jutting out of the machines are three player club cards, attached to her belt with a clip and long wires. I can't help looking, fascinated by the walking metaphor this woman has become. She needs help, but is also the kind of player the casinos love. I watch her lose a couple of thousand dollars in the course of thirty minutes. Mark returns, and I am primed to leave, feeling saddened by the experience. Mark assures me that it's no big deal.

The next morning, I wake up early to Lui's mother's wonderful Community Coffee. Lui's dad tells me he watched Craps, but still couldn't figure it out. Being a diligent learner, he sits down with a pad and patiently takes notes while I explain it in greater depth. As we sit there, enjoying our coffee and pastries, I think to myself that for the first time I am truly comfortable.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Mardi Gras on My Mind

The New Orleans Superdome is an imposing figure coming over the bridge. If nothing else, the enormous egg-like structure is a heavy reminder of the turmoil that the city has suffered through. A sign is posted saying that it will reopen in September. I find myself choked up looking across New Orleans and seeing massive amounts of destruction, with scattered recovery.

The cold fog is heavy over all of New Orleans. I can barely make out the cruise ships that linger at the port, carrying relief workers and displaced families. Still, there is something vibrant as we exit the highway and drive into the Metairie. Roofing crews are out in great numbers, working long hours to repair houses. Local businesses have begun returning to normal, signs in their windows pleading for employees. Many offer a signing bonus of over a thousand dollars to wait tables.

Mark and Lui are buzzing, excited to be back in New Orleans. They've been back before and claim the atmosphere is far better. The city seems to have far more life in it. I can't help wondering what they must have seen on their first trip.

We park at Lui's parents house, where a small Filipino woman greets us at the door. She is Lui's mother, and while she looks tiny, her electric attitude makes up for it. I feel warmth as she reaches up to hug me. The house is a place where love grows. I hang out shyly in the back as Mark and Lui talk to the parents. After a bit, we decide we need to eat.

After making several calls, Mark and Lui arrange to have lunch at a real New Orleans restaurant. We are starving, having stopped only at seedy rest stops. Leaving Lui's parents to prepare for an enormous supper, we drive to Lui's sister's house. I hate being in the car and feel crankiness slam into me. A deep breath and a sigh, and I tuck the feeling away. It's not my place to complain.

Lui's sister Celina and her husband greet us merrily, trying to usher us into their house. While it's not my place to say anything, my body is beginning to quaver. I haven't eaten in about 14 hours, and my body isn't happy. Luckily, Mark and Lui feel the same and drag them out of the house. We drive to R&O's, a place that I'm told was underwater. There's a sign informing patrons that bad attitudes will not be tolerated considering what New Orleans just went through. I worry that I'm too cranky to eat at this restaurant, but Mark assures me it will be alright.

We are seated, and all sorts of food is quickly ordered. I'm eager to try almost anything and order a Shrimp Po'boy. Mark is so hungry he begins to devour the free crackers on the table. I'm more patient, excited about the prospects of food I've never eaten. Fajitas and pizza arrive first, which we all greedily consume. Then my po'boy arrives, and I bite into it not knowing what to expect. I still remember that first wonderful taste. People aren't exaggerating when they talk about how great the food is in New Orleans.

Feeling heavy, we all stumble back to the carand take a ride through New Orleans. The atmosphere becomes morose as we pass houses that have been decimated by the storm and flooding. We drive by ports that have been washed away, Celina pointing out places they used to eat at. I barely recognize any structures.

After our heartbreaking ride, we sit down and do something I am quite fond of. We decide to have coffee and pastries. There is a wonderful type of coffee in New Orleans called Community Coffee, that is brewed from coffee beans and chickory. The smell alone rejuvenates me. They also bring out wonderful pastries called beignets, which are like funnel cake. I chat with Celina's husband, who has lots of interesting stories about Mardi Gras. I wonder what the next few days hold for me.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006


This is a continuation of my crazy vacation story from yesterday:

I exited the plane exhausted but excited. My brother Mark said he had a surprise for me, and I was eager to find out what it was. I walked quickly through the airport terminal, my rolling luggage chasing after me. He was standing at the end of escalator waving at me. He looked thinner and happy to so me, so I walked over and hugged him. We drove off, and he suggested we eat before bed. We went to an eclectic dinersque sort of place called the Magnolia Cafe, where I devoured several breakfast tacos. Mark and his partner Lui gaped at my amazing ability to eat a ton of food. I'm normally a reluctant eater.

After dinner/breakfast we began driving. I fell asleep with my stomach warm and happy. I woke up intermittently, thinking it was taking a lot of time to Lakeway, a suburb of Austin where my brother and Lui live. Occasionally I looked out to see if I recognized anything, but I failed. My anxiety rose. It took a lot of guts, but I finally spoke up, asking where in the hell we were going.

My brother looked at me, a smirk grazing his face, and said "Houston," chuckling a little. I wondered why were going to Houston and Lui said we were spending a day there for Mark's birthday. That seemed like a great idea, so I fell back asleep, the idea of a nice adventure in my head. I had no idea how much of an adventure it would be.

I woke up about three hours later, having made myself a makeshift bed out of a few pillows and a comfortable blanket I found in the back. The sun was just cresting over the sky and we had stopped at a gas station for some refreshments. I asked Mark if were were in Houston yet, and that smile once again came onto his face. Lui looked over and laughed a little, saying "we passed Houston about two hours ago Brett." My ears and nose became fiery. I demanded to know where we were going. Mark said "You're so inquisitive. We are going to New Orleans for Mardi Gras. Make yourself comfortable, we're still about 6 hours away."