Living 'softly.
a look into Zach Robinson
"But at least you know that you can really love someone.", Eric Cohn, From the Station

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Previous archives: Start (3/97). 12/99.

That was a disappointment. The lights shut off several times at the party I went to, but that was about the extent of the Y2K Disaster I ran into. Sadly, the power outages were reportedly due to people launching fireworks too close to a power line (?).

I wasn't feeling too terribly well on New Year's Eve, but I let my friends drag me to a party over on Capital Hill. We stopped by the Broadway Grill for food beforehand. We saw the Times Square ball drop, as well as the flaming Washington Monument. Rather ho-hum next to the cool celebration in South Africa we saw (a drumming celebration in the prison Mandela was imprisoned within). One of my friends was in New Orleans for the New Year and said that it was like a mini-Mardi Gras down there (complete with Fun Offers for beads).

The party was at a mansion in Capital Hill (next to the Harvard Exit Theater - I don't recall the mansion's name). the middle floor was completely dedicated to Snacks, the bottom floor had maybe 2800 square feet (!) dedicated to bathrooms (with huge lounges you could hold a half-court basketball game in...), and the top floor was for dancing 'n' drinking. They sold t-shirts for the party, which was to me a novel touch. The back of the t-shirt had the host's face pasted upon the body of Shiva (Hindu god of destruction), which I thought delightfully appropriate for a Y2K party.

There was a woman named Marilyn sitting at my table. She asked me if I danced, to which I replied, "Not very well." She nodded a little confusedly and the bunch of us returned to our normal conversation. Later she asked me if I knew how to swing-dance, to which I also replied, "Not very well." Same basic reaction on her part. I started really wanting to dance after maybe an hour or two of talking with everyone at our table, so got up and danced some with Kate and Steve. They sat down after a while, and Dee (from our table) got up and danced with me. She asked me if I knew how to swing-dance, but didn't take no for an answer. It was weird. I was wearing my 3" platform boots dancing some eccentric rain-summoning dance with this woman I'd never met before... and it was great. I got the body movements down easy enough (together left, together right, we cross and she twirls, I cross and she twirls, I twirl her this and that way across me, together, twirl together, collapse in dizzy heap - I'm sure this pattern has a name, hopefully something pretty like "La Danza Loca Ese Convocan Demonios Eso Destruirá Todo"), but I felt like I was clomping across the floor with about the same luxiorious grace previously reserved for my attempts at hand-stands (affectionately known as The Reasons Why Zach's Back Gets Completely Thrown-Out). Anyways, for all my lack of grace, I had a delightful time dancing with Dee. I forgot how romantic it is to dance well with someone.

I got really really surprised by Marilyn. About five minutes prior to midnight she said, "I think you're supposed to kiss someone special for midnight, and you're my choice," to which I blushed a deep crimson and said okay. I'm comfortable befriending anyone, but I don't think I have enough courage to ever ask someone I barely know a question like that.

We kissed at midnight.

After the mansion party ended, a score of us went to Bryan's place on Queen Anne. Dee, Desiree and I had been hitting it off really well at the party, and so we sat around exchanging jokes and talking about life. I was really enjoying talking with Dee. She looked like a fairy princess from the Matrix: she had on a luscious purple silk dress, a starred blue headband, and a black leather knee-length coat. All night long my friends had been not so slyly encouraging me to step the interactions with her up a level (I barely avoided running into her after I got shoved towards her on the dance floor by one overzealous friend). I just was out having fun, though. Maybe you're attractive to them, maybe they're attractive to you: that doesn't mean that if you're both single, something should happen. We talked at Bryan's until about three A.M... I left without getting her phone number.

I decided to let Kate and Steve drive my car home, so took a taxi myself. It was a beautiful night, so I walked a mile or so in frosty weather before I called the taxi. Foolish me: it was New Year's Eve, and the wait for a taxi was estimated at about forty minutes. I found a nearby 7-11, got a bunch of snacks, and waited inside. The 7-11 closed at 4 A.M. and the taxi still hadn't shown up, so I waited outside with my Goobers and hot chocolate. It was a long wait and it was a cold night. It was great. I love winter. If there had been some snow for me to build a snowman with, I would have been in paradise.

I almost decided to go to DisneyLand with a friend for New Year's, but decided not to at the last minute. I think I'll go sometime early next year. I've never been to LegoLand, and I haven't visited any of my relatives in California for a long-time. So my resolutions to date are to finish and send out my resume, get my passport, and go to LegoLand. And to learn to fly unassisted.

The Seattle Times head-line on Sunday: "Schell: 'I'm Not A Wuss.'" This will probably be my favorite head-line of all time. After Seattle Mayor Paul Schell canceled the Seattle Center New Year's event due to fears of terrorism... absolutely no terrorist activity took place in Seattle. That's just not the kind of decision or subsequent quote that you live down easily. Poor guy.

The top of the Space Needle has a floodlight pointed straight up, illuminating the overhead clouds. It makes the Space Needle look like a flashlight. I suggested to Anne that it was the new BatSignal. I hope they remove the floodlight soon. It looks absolutely bizarre.

If you don't already have it, you should buy or read the hardcover 25th anniversary edition of The Princess Bride. Not only is it much better than the movie (which of course is saying a lot), it has a chapter of the *sequel*. The sequel chapter has a wonderful vignette wherein Westley describes how he decided that he loved Buttercup. I finally found a copy yesterday - I waited six months for it to get back in stock at *any* local booksellers - and devoured it. Wuv, Twoo Wuv! <giggle>.

I've got a bunch of books I wanted to write up various quotes from, and tonight I pulled out Ranting Again by Dennis Miller. It's got a dedication from a woman I hain't talked to for a while. It was her birthday Sunday. I wonder how many of her friends decided not to send her presents just in case the world might end? Anyways, to the quote:

Well, there comes a point in everyone's life when they sense the randomness, the utter chaos of the world, and begin to search for an anchor, someone whose presence will serve as a haven of comforting familiarity and, hopefully, regular sex in the tornado-beset trailer park that is our daily existence.

-Dennis Miller, Ranting Again

He's talking fairly specifically about relationships and marriage. I've done a lot of waffling back and forth over time on my positions on marriage. "Marriage" as a concept is only worth what the partners make of it, no more, no less. A truly committed relationship should have no need for the formal marriage bonds. Through no-fault divorce, the marital bond has almost no substance anyways. And it's so easy to get married that it means nothing to many people. For me, if I give you the title "girlfriend", that means a lot. In the past three years, I've only had two "girlfriends": I can't think of someone as my girlfriend unless I'm sure I'm fully willing and prepared to make things work between us. No boundaries or limitations, just the best relationship possible. I think that's the issue between Marie and myself: I think I'd be cautious and put limits on the relationship, and I don't want to be involved in that kind of relationship.

So... I guess as for me, the legal bond of marriage would just be a formalization of my permanent dedication to try to make things work. It might be impossible or there might be something better for one of us somewhere/someone else, but it would be mutual decision.

And I think that's where the formal bonds of marriage come into play: your partner. You're both saying to each other that you *will* try to make this work. You know your heart, but it's so hard to know someone else's. When they say that they love you, are they saying it out of duty or out of real feeling? If they're not saying they love you, do they still anyways? Even with good communication, it's still extremely hard to know all a person's feeling or actions that you need to know about. Marriage should be both of you saying that you're going to do your absolute best to make things work. It should be a matter of personal integrity: if you're not going to work to be dedicated in your relationship with your spouse, what relationship *are* you going to be dedicated to? I don't think there's any good answers if you fail your spouse.

Kate and I were talking recently about whether or not I should disclose to my next girlfriend that I keep this journal. It might be a little awkward - reading other people's journals remains the single best way I've found of ruining friendships - but I want to be upfront about who I am and what I might say about them. Different people have different standards of privacy, and I need to respect those of the people I deal with. I never really wrote about my relationship with Anne because I didn't think she was comfortable with me doing so. She knew about my journal, but I'd never explicitly asked her if she wanted that degree of privacy. And of course it turned out that she was okay with me writing about her, which meant that I'd held my tongue when I didn't need to. And hey, sometimes it's nice to read what someone who thinks you're wonderful writes about you.

Portabella mushrooms: proof that the world loves a vegetarian.

I can see you with the top down
In that car you keep under the eaves
I can see the ocean wind blow
Through your hair
And all along your sleeves
I see you turning up the radio
Listening to the DJ's dedication
I can see you with the angels
Flying off the tower
At the station

Me I keep watching from the corner of my eye
Looking for some reason I should run
I know you don't have your answers either baby
But at least you know that you can really love someone

I see you kneeling in the garden
Closer now to something real and true
I see you feeding something beautiful
And I think that's all you ever
Really wanted to do
Now you're blowing out the candles
Now the guests pull out the drive
Now you're listening for the telephone
Of footsteps
That don't arrive

Me I keep watching from the corner of my eye
Looking for some reason I should run
I know you don't have your answers either baby
But at least you know that you can really love someone
Really love
Really love
You can really love someone

-Eric Cohn, From the Station

If you've never heard this incredible song, ask me and I'll play a copy - it's great. (Splunge is a defunct Seattle men's a cappella group, and one of my favorite bands ever. Let me know if you'd like one of my extra Splunge CDs: I bought a bunch since I like them so much.)

"Be careful what you wish for: you just might get it."

I don't understand. I really really don't. It's been weird enough just seeing all the women from my past come spilling out of the woodwork (see 1/9 entry). But it's seemed like there's been someone trying to fulfill my dreams and wishes recently. I've wanted romance in my life. I would like to share my life with the right person. There's no hurry - I'm only 26. But I think I'm finally at the point in my life where if I was in a relationship that was right for me, I'd be ready to do everything I'd need to do to make that relationship work. Marie has rightly criticized me about my lack of true commitment in my past relationships. I put my job and myself first often, and not the relationship. Maybe my priorities are still askew, but I think I can fix any remaining rough spots for the right person.

So I've felt... readier for a relationship, but I haven't been pursuing anything. If I'm struck by the thunderbolt (term used in The Godfather as indicative of true full love), I'll be receptive, but I'm not interested in dedicating myself to something that's not what I'm finally going to want. Mind you, I'm not exactly sitting in the corner twiddling my thumbs. I've been out there dating people, but I've been keeping a lid on how far I'm willing to take things.

What's weird is that I've been thinking that I'd like to meet the right person, and within a twenty-four hour period recently I had two serious romantic overtures headed my direction, and two basic maybe-we-should-have-tea-together offers.

That continues the trend of weirdness in my recent life. Maybe you're a woman, maybe you're used to this. I'm a guy: I'm not used to it. I wasn't at a bar, I wasn't out dancing, this is just me at home and at work and it's inexplicable. I've been working too much and this is what happens. I don't understand.

So... I went out on two dates.

I kissed a 30 year old, Gwen (oldest woman I've ever kissed). I've long held that older women would be much more appreciative of the person I am (I consider myself a Nice Guy), and I think it was really true. She seemed to be very very into me... I didn't know what to make of it. She's one of the brightest women I've ever met and looks like she could be a classical goddess (not Rubenesque, though: she kick-boxes and is in better shape than I am...).

So we hung out for several hours talking and laughing together. We've got very compatible senses of humor. We tried finding a movie to see together, but it was too late so we ended up going to a video store. It's really interesting to go to a video store with someone you're... compatible with. It felt so easy and fun and we teased each other - "oooo! Pokemon the movie! Must see!" - and touched - I'm a big fan of touch. On the way back from the video store she wanted to know if I was thirsty or hungry. This impressed me because I understand what she was doing: I try to do the same thing myself. She might not have what I really wanted at her place, so she'd get it if I voiced my desire, trying to be a good host, a good friend.

We went back to her place. I met her dog, Bacchus. I always look at people's Stuff Collections when I visit. Their literary and musical tastes can sometimes point out parts of their personality you weren't previously familar with. Her bookshelf was simply incredible: it looked like you could earn a Master's degree (she has one) just by reading a couple shelves. She's one of the few people I've met that has similar tastes in music... from Enya to Debussy to Sting to Art of Noise... it was amazing. She's a computer geek, likes to dance, runs, doesn't drink....

So during the movie (Cinema Paradiso), we sat together on the couch and she's massaging me and eventually we stop watching the movie. Later (for those accusing me of cynicism, things stayed mostly PG-13 and besides YOU clicked the Voyeur check-box...), I'm standing in front of the picture window of her apartment, looking at the street below (for some reason I find 12th street on Capitol Hill fascinating: I have a friend who lives a couple blocks down, and I love to look out the window there too) and she comes up behind me to hug and kiss me. And we're standing there in front of the glass kissing in full view of anyone on the street and maybe it's not anything to you but I'm standing there thinking: wow - she understands that kissing someone NOW is infinitely more important to attend to than moving to somewhere so as not to offend some phantom sanctimonious stranger that might venture by. Love is beautiful: affection is beautiful. I've said to Kate that PDA is something anyone I date has to be okay with: if you're going to put the moral indignation of others over the beauty of a kiss shared with someone you care about, you're just not approaching romance from a good angle.

It's small, but this is everything I want, everything I've been asking for in relationships for the past decade. She loves to kiss, loves to touch, loves to massage and be massaged, everything previously mentioned, mature enough ...

Every check-box of mine that I had enough knowledge of to make a judgement upon she passed.

It's not going to go anywhere.

It's weird. It's so close to wish fulfillment I'm actually a little concerned about my lack of response. I know I'm a little interested in someone else, and maybe that's it. Maybe I just don't want anything at all, but I don't believe that: I want the right thing, and I don't think this is it. Maybe I'm intimidated by her inner strength and greater life experience. I could almost see that. I typically date younger women: I haven't had to be in the junior position in a relationship... well, ever that I can recall.

And so I think if she asks me I'll go on a couple more dates with her to flesh things out, but otherwise I'm not going to pursue this. I just don't feel the butterflies and the excitement I feel with certain people.

One thing that may have also influenced me was her comments on Kate. I was talking about how Kate is planning on going on a trip around the world later this year, and how it's going to be weird without her in my life. Kate's been my best friend and confidante for over three years now. I'd trust her with my life. Anyways, I mention that my best friend is going away - I think this was in the context of her discussion of a friend of hers that she hasn't talked to in a while - and after maybe a couple minutes of talking about how odd this will be for me, she turns to me and says insultingly, "Why don't you marry Kate, then?" I was jolted. She said something along the lines of not wanting to hear it. Was she jealous? Was she just bored with the topic? I don't know. I subsequently came to the opinion that she was jealous (based upon her comments about love and friendships), but still: no one has ever snapped at me like that. I respect where she might be coming from, but it just seemed unnecessary. If she wasn't interested, she could have changed the topic. Oh well.

So we'll see where things go from here. Things left on a good note, but again I just don't think this is the right relationship for me. I don't feel like being in a relationship where we're unequal emotional partners and I'm very suspicious that she feels strongly towards me. And if things were equal between us... well, then she wouldn't want to pursue anything anyways and there wouldn't be an issue.

The other date was with Anne.

Something seemed to change about Anne this past week... she was as bright-eyed and as chipper as I've ever known her to be. It might be just a misperception, but she had a special glint in her eyes the past couple days. Anyways, I've talked with her about how much I like to be touched, and she really listened. Just the small things like hugs, curling up next to each other when reading, etc. And so I'm with this woman I feel really comfortable with and think is really amazing and who's going out of her way to show me she cares and she turns to me at just the right moment on a beautiful rainy day and tells me that I mean a lot to her and I felt like blushing it was so nice to hear. You know? Just a real moment of togetherness.

Oooo. Power tools. I stopped by Fred Meyer tonight to get a soldering iron. Those things are fun. Getting an arcade game (I own a Marvel Vs. Capcom Street Fighter arcade cabinet) has been eye-opening in that I never previously had a need for power tools. But now, of course, it's critical that I have lots and lots of power tools. I can't believe I previously never used a soldering iron. This is so much better than duct tape: it makes things stick together AND involves flames.

Tomorrow will be even more exciting, as I get to use my power drill to install a drink holder. It's fun having a pamperable toy. I'll never be much into cars or tinkering with them, but tinkering with video game cabinets is fun for me. I caught myself showing off and explaining the benefits of the Happ Perfect 360 Optical joysticks and thought to myself: My god - I've finally cracked and Gone Geek. After I install the drink holders there won't really be anything left to add to the box, but it'll be fun to show off to people who stop by my office.

Speaking of people stopping by my office... I had someone come into my office the other day and say that my office was full of eye candy. This is after I'd taken home two boxes of decorations and action figures. I'm so used to the looks of my office that I'd been thinking my office was actually kind of bland. I stood at the door looking in tonight to get a feel for what others see, and I could see her point. The comics, posters, pinata, postcard rack, action figures, stained glass... there's just a lot of stuff to look at in my office. Since I see it daily, it just doesn't have the same effect upon me as it does others.


At the end of any good mystery, all the plot elements that you never really noticed before entwine into the final revelation. All the miscellaneous actions and sights that seemed coincidental turn out to have been foreshadowing what finally occurs.

That's how I feel things are in my life right now: it feels like I'm nearing the denouement.

When I was in junior high, I was reading Coleridge about the same time that a number of authors I was reading (Douglas Adams, Piers Anthony) were involving him in their stories. Now, for the past month, it seems that almost anything I'm reading or paying attention to is coming into view in another venue, and it's getting unsettling.

When Anne and I stopped dating, I started my part of the conversation by quoting to her from the beginning of T.S. Eliot's Prufrock. Later on that night, the restaurant we went to together quoted Prufrock on the menu.

Lynn gave me Confederacy of Dunces back in the summer. That book showed up in the background of a scene in Ellis' Transmetropolitan. Confederacy referenced Boethius' The Consolation of Philosophy. Consolation was also referenced by Power's Last Call. I love poetry, so I got T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land Drafts. Last Call began with a quotation from Waste Land, and sprinkles the poem throughout the narrative. And so on... these are just the cross-references I remember off the top of my head. Of course any good author is going to enrich their material through referencing cultural touchstones, but I've never had this level of interconnectedness throughout my reading before.

I'd ignore it if that was all that was occuring. But that hasn't been the case. My romantic life has been freaky weird. Ex-girlfriends are simply crawling out of the woodwork. I hadn't seen Amy Miller (dated in 10th/11th grade) in five years, I run into her and her husband tonight at the grocery store. I've seen Jen Kitely (first kiss, dated in 9th grade) three times in six years, one of which was yesterday. I haven't seen Deborah Sekreta (dated in 8th grade) since high school, guess who runs my dad runs into last week? A woman I took to the opera last year turns out to play soccer with one of my friends. My old boss Kip goes on a recruiting trip in California, he runs into the sister of one of my ex's. I haven't seen Stacey for a year, of course I run into her. By this point I'm so weirded out I literally jump upon seeing her.

Anne invited me to a Jason Webley concert over the summer. On Jason's latest album, Michael and John from Player King provide musical back-up on some tracks. John and Kate and I were in Theater Dangerously together, and Kate and Jason were in drama at UW together. Chadd's my boss. Chadd dated Angela, Angela lived with Vince, Vince dated Jen, Jen hangs out with Marc, Marc and Kate go way back. Jen and Patrick are good friends, Patrick (who I never met until a couple years ago) has been close friends with my high school buddy Luke since junior high. It feels like Six Degrees of Zach.

None of this would be too particularly unsettling if it happened over time, but all of this has been concentrated solely within the last month - which is absolutely inexplicable. The right answer is that it really doesn't need explanation: this ... synchronicity (not quite the right word, but close) happen sometimes in life. Still: it makes me suspicious about what is to happen next.

I was curious as to whether this was leading into something exciting upon the New Year. That wasn't the case. The intertwining has continued, so perhaps the finale is yet to come. I'd guess either running into Dana (an older version of me, haven't seen for years), Sonja (first real girlfriend, haven't seen for years), or Steve Martin (the comedian: he's been inspirational to me) would be the surprise climactic event. I know where Dana lives... maybe I'll go visit him just to end the feeling of build-up. <grin>

1/10/00. Second Entry. I forgot to point out that Fred Meyer's has the best boxer selection in the world. I head to all the guy stores where you think you could find good boxers, and come up blank. When I went to Fred Meyer's, they had Curious George, Tigger, Cat in the Hat, Dr. Seuss, and assorted other boxers. It was a real delight. I hate shopping for boxers at most guy stores: there's an overemphasis on certain areas. If the boxers aren't crude or obnoxiousness, the drawing somehow has a focal point at the front center of the boxers. So I was delighted to find great comfy goofy boxers. Plus I had never before seen Dr. Seuss boxers.

I'm planning what's shaping up to be an odd vacation. Ken may be joining me for a trip to Legoland California. I've always wanted to go to Legoland, and California is much closer than the other options (Denmark and England). It's looking like it's going to be a pretty whimsical, though. The park hours are 10am-5pm (?), you get free loaner Polaroid cameras, and they tout their BBQ food fare. The part literature says: "This is the first LEGOLAND in the United States and is designed specifically for children ages 2 through 12 and their families. " (emphasis theirs). Of course the important part is the gift shop: "The Big Shop in The Beginning features the largest selection of LEGO products in the nation." Oooooo.

So I think the plan is we'll head down there Friday night, hit Legoland Saturday, and then get in as much mini-golf and redemption games as possible.

I think it sounds like a hoot... it remains to be seen what Ken is going to think.

1/10/00. Third Entry. I don't even begin to believe it. I got an e-mail from the girl I went on a date with this weekend (Gwen), saying that although she likes me, she thought she was more interested in something than I was and so she just wants to be friends.

No drama, no blow-ups, no intrigue: just an honest offer of friendship. I was already very impressed with this woman, I'm even more so now.

So my dating life is barren again. I like this.

The next time I have to think about asking someone to do something is for my Jan 22nd tickets to the Seattle Opera's Boris Godunov. I promised myself when I bought my season tickets that I'd use them as an opportunity to meet new women. I used to be a serial monogamist, so I wanted to ensure that I was at least pretending to be out in the dating scene. I've done a pretty good job... I think I've gone with a different woman to every opera so far. So now I've got 12 days to find a date. We'll see. I could take a guy friend, but I find myself morally opposed to this. What's the point of going to the opera except to have the opportunity to have a woman you're attracted to look exceptionally attractive? Evening gowns... yumm.

Anyways, so I've got to think about who to take. Twelve days is not much time, when it comes down to it. Aigh. Maybe I'll just take Mr. Penguin, my giant Fez wearing stuffed penguin. <grin>.

I just submitted an order for twenty more Splunge CDs. You know you want one (I'm giving them away free in the interest of people getting to listen to great music).

Ken said yes to going to LegoLand! We still have to work out the itinerary, but I'm finally getting to go to LegoLand. Wa-hoo!

Anything worth my love is worth a fight.

-Kenny Loggins, I'm Free (Heaven Helps the Man)

Our high school track coach used to have us meditate to I'm Free set on auto-repeat. The day before the meets we would all lie down in the gym, the lights would be off, and he would take us through the next day, telling us all the things we would focus on to ensure victory. It seemed to work: Redmond High School track always did very well. That's really beside why I used the quote, but it is something the song reminds me of.

I think I figured out why Gwen and I didn't click properly. Almost invariably I can tell within a day or two of meeting someone how much I'm going to like them. It's odd, but very rarely wrong. I think this has to with my sense of the other person's whimsy (for lack of a better word). I feel life is too short to be taken fully seriously, so I want the people I'm going to truly care about to have a deeply rooted sense of delight. So even though we were getting along great and laughing together... she didn't seem intrinsically amused at life and as odd as it sounds I could never fall in love with someone who wasn't. Maybe it's the fact she grew up on the East Coast? I don't know.

So I feel better. I now feel I can explain myself to her - even though she wasn't asking, still if we're going to be friends it's something that's good to get straight. More importantly, this helps me know what I'm looking for in a woman.

I wore my new Dr. Seuss "One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish" boxer shorts today. It makes my day brighter to be wearing really cool boxers. Gina asked to see them, but I wasn't quite sure how I felt about that since I work with her. She has a boyfriend so I wasn't really worried about it on the personal level, but it just didn't seem like the kind of thing I was comfortable doing with someone I work with.

I got notified that I "have significantly contributed to shipping Windows 2000 and you are eligible for our Ship Gift.... a very cool black wool jacket!" Wa-hoo! Free stuff is always exciting. Well. Hrm. Actually, I've got a huge stack of free t-shirts, jackets, and such that I'll never wear, but the IDEA is great. The only two things I've gotten that I've actually used are the "Windows Media: It's so cool It's unreal!" bumper sticker and the ASF conference t-shirt (one of my favorite shirts, actually).

I notched my first corner kick assist in soccer today! I was ecstatic! I don't usually take corner kicks - I've only taken ~4 ever - but I got off a beautiful curved arcing kick that Tim headed in for a goal. It was a great game tonight, although it was cold, rainy, and windy. We won 3-1, and I had two assists. :) I especially enjoyed the game because everyone was playing the game for fun and exercise, not to be cutthroat. We had the Steven Seagal-look-alike referee who never calls anything so long as you play under control, and people in general did a good job of not being violent. One girl I stole the ball from repeatedly started kicking at my ankles late in the game, but I can understand the frustration there. She did get in one nice ankle-shot which had me limping a little. Ah well.

Sadly, the Blue Crew - the team Chadd, Steve, Kate, and myself played for last season - has officially folded. Kate and I have joined this Wednesday night team, Juventas, but it'll be sad not to see Chadd as much.

Note: The cherry vanilla lip balm at Bath & Body Works is the best lip balm I've ever had. I really like flavors and scents, so I think I've got about 20 varieties of lip balm all told. Here at work I have cherry vanilla, mixed berry, raspberry plum, caramel craze, megamint chip, cherry chuckle, vanilla, passionberry, kiwi fruit, tropical fruit, and black cherry. Dee and Desiree (from the New Year's Party I went to) liked that I came prepared with lip balm and tasty mints. I found some really good grape breath mints at a Japanese import store - I think they were called "Pinky". I'm all out now, so I'll have to go get another box: they were really popular. Gina and I sometimes have lip gloss tasting exchanges. She hasn't tried the cherry vanilla yet, though.

It was pointed out to me that the Seattle Opera's Ring cycle begins this year, and it'd be kind of eccentric to take a different person to each of the operas in the cycle. Hrm. I guess I'll cross that bridge when it comes.

I actually had the courage (?) to ask Janice to the opera. She'd been my weird first choice. I really like her, but she's such a wild card: I don't know how things are going to be from one day to the next between us. I tend to roll with the punches pretty well, but it is very disconcerting. I talked with Kate a little about Janice, trying to ascertain whether there was any bad blood between the two of them. Thankfully Kate's concern is just for my wellfare: she doesn't dislike Janice, which I was glad to have clear. And I can understand the concern... things have been very topsy-turvy with us over time. So... although I wanted to go to the opera with her more than anyone else - and she's even gone with me before and so this would be a hitherto unheard of 2nd invitation and you can make of that what you will - I was hesitant to ask because a: we haven't been talking until recently and b: I'm never sure how things are between us or what she wants. But we were talking and teasing around a little and I had nothing to lose since there's not a lot between us right now. She said she was busy, so I still need to figure out who to take. So now it's kind of out there lingering that I asked her and I get a little paranoid. I've always believed "the soul chooses her own society" (Emily Dickinson). I take that a little further: I think the soul chooses her own critics. That is, the opinions or feelings of someone only matter to you so far as you let them. So I've always had a good knack at bouncing back from bad times or bad encounters. So the problem with dealing with someone you value who has been known to devalue you is, well, it hurts. Ha, me, Mr. Vulnerable. When I care about someone, I give them the opportuntity to hurt me and very few people ever do that. Marie is blisteringly cynical about me sometimes, but I like it and it's fun and I know we're friends so I actually rather relish her critiques because I'm not supposed to go away hurt, just educated. Janice... well sometimes I think I'm supposed to go away hurt. I just don't treat people that way: life is too short, so learn your lesson and move on. Hrm. Well, if we all acted and treated each other the same way the world would be pretty dang boring. I guess pain is the price we pay for an interesting world.

I'm so exhausted. I've worked eighteen to twenty hours each day this week. Thankfully, I use twenty six hours in my day, so I'm not completely thrashed, but right now I'm typing empty. Oh well. I made a huge check-in that enabled almost everything I had left on my current agenda, so I can sleep the sleep of the just now, as Kirt puts it.

I'm learning to trust my instincts. Gwen called me to ask me if I wanted to get dinner last night. She said that she didn't want anything from me, and just thought I was a neat guy that she wanted to be friends with. I was a little doubtful: she seemed pretty interested last time we were together, so I wasn't really convinced that she had had a change of heart that quickly.

So we went out to sushi. Her car was closer, so we took her car. I quickly learned that it is imperative that you never ever let a New Yorker drive you anywhere. I have previously only been in the back of New York cabs. The cab drivers seem maniacal from the back seat vantage point. From the comfort of the front seat - and I'm using "comfort" in the traditional sense meaning being used as a tetherball by Hell's Angel's bikers - it's gut-wrenching. I felt like I had been stuck on the Disneyland Tea Cups for too long.

So anyway, we ended up going out to I Love Sushi in Bellevue. I hadn't been there before. I prefer not to eat meat in general - especially poultry - but I've learned that I really enjoy spicy tuna. So while my first choice is probably always Italian or Mexican, sushi is usually pretty good too. When we first sat down, we heard a baby crying. We looked at each other and thought about leaving, but decided not to. Then *another* baby cried briefly. We decided to stick it out. Oddly, the kids didn't make any more sound the rest of the night. The food was very good. I had tuna nigiri, tuna roll, spicy tuna roll, and (can you guess?) another tuna dish. Some of it was really spicy: I was happy. Gwen had diet coke to drink with her sushi. That was weird: I hadn't previously been with someone who ordered anything besides tea at a sushi place. We talked almost nonstop through dinner... it was probably twenty minutes before we were even ready to order. We talked about where each other grew up, about our parents - both our sets of parents live nearby - , and about our careers. Both of us are thinking about making major changes... she's currently actively looking for another job, and I'm trying to figure out where I might want to move to. (I've spent most of my life in Redmond, and I think it's time for a change.)

We talked about the difference in personalities between the East and West coasts. I had mentioned how much nicer I thought people on the West coast were. She believes that's because we have a small-town mentality: West coasters think that we might run into run into someone again sometime, so we are artificially nice to people we don't really care about, whereas on the East, you probably will never see someone again, so you tend to be direct about what you want without regards to those around you. She said people on the East coast were more genuine. I don't believe that, at least not for myself. I think - maybe wrongly - that people are genuinely good and decent. Maybe I'm just naive, but that's how I feel. I try to treat everyone I meet with respect and courtesy. It isn't because I care about whether or not I see them again, it's based upon my belief that one way to better the world is to ensure that those who you run into and encounter leave the experience with a smile, enjoying the world a little more. Maybe they do the same for someone else, maybe not, but if a butterfly in Brazil can cause hurricanes in Miami, I don't see why a positive interaction in Seattle can't cause someone in Detroit to have a better life.

So we talked and talked, until finally the place was closed and the servers were subtly encouraging us to leave. We headed off to Starbucks at the Barnes and Nobles in Bellevue, as she was really thirsty. I don't drink coffee, so I just got a root beer. There we talked about the conceptualization of memory management, a little chaos theory, a project I was working on - I realized how to make a major breakthrough as I was getting napkins - and again talked so long that we closed the store.

I still had oodles of work to do, so I had her drive me back to work. On the way, we kissed while stopped at a stoplight. We missed a couple of greens, and I thought to myself: a woman after my own heart. I don't know how people feel about kissing people they aren't planning to be serious about. Is it acceptable? Is it not? I'm still trying to draw my own lines and limits. Anyways, at the time I felt that that was okay. I wouldn't have started it, though. ? But I'm trying to be honest with the people I go out with, and so I told her that I was being cautious: I don't have any need for a girlfriend in my life. From what I've seen to date, we could be very good friends - we talk really easily, but my heart doesn't leap to her as it does to someone I would want a relationship with. And if she doesn't want anything from me... well, that's good but a little confusing. Why are we kissing then? I think I should have turned down her kiss. Oh well. I'm still learning. Hopefully we can sort things out next time we see each other. I think she's a great person, but I keep getting the feeling that she's really into me and wants me as her boy, whereas I think she's great but don't want a relationship with her. I'm usually okay with dating, but she seems to want to take things seriously and get physical, whereas that's not something I want with her, and I've learned it's not a good idea to be involved with someone who wants more than you do. <frown>.

Thought of the day: In 2.1 gigs, you can hold 575 full-length songs compressed using the Windows Media Audio codec. So given a five disc CD changer (for a total storage capacity of 3 gigs) that plays WMA files, I could basically have on hand every song I would ever want to listen to. I really like what the multimedia industry is doing.

I was planning on working very late last night, but they had to shut down the building for X-rays (?). I stopped by the grocery store to pick up some food. Then I went to the video store, since I figured some good vegging would be a nice relaxation after all the work I've been doing. Unfortunately, they didn't have any of the "Quest for Iscandar" or "Yamato" movies (a.ka. Starblazers), didn't have any Miyazaki, didn't have the Bicycle Thief... basically didn't have any of the foreign films I'd been wanting to see. So I figured I'd get a comedy tape to listen to as I puttered around the house, getting caught up on chores. I ended up getting The History of White People in America on a complete whim. I was hoping for one of the Millers (Larry or Dennis), but I'd heard/seen all the Miller tapes they had, and this seemed to be the funniest thing they had in the comedy section. And yes, that is a sad sad statement on the video store's comedy section.

The guy in front of me at the check-out line was really rude to the kids working there. He left in a huff, and I let the kids decompress a bit before they checked out my movie. When they finally calmed down, they noticed that the guy had left his movie card. Well, it turned out that I had forgotten my card... so we put my movie on his card. Of course I paid for the movie, but it would somewhat funny if they just keep checking out all the films to the guy's card. You have to pay when you check out the movie, but he'd get all the late fees and no one would ever get notices that their movies were overdue... Alas. This is one of many reasons why I'm nice to almost everyone.

Anyways, so I went home, put the movie on, and started my chores. Steve Martin actually has a brief cameo as himself, talking about how he took some 'white roles' early on in his career, so he's been typecast as a 'white actor' since, how even though he read for the part of Wilt Chamberlain in the "Wilt Chamberlain Story", the part went to some 'less experienced black actor'. The cameo was hilarious if you bear in mind his part in The Jerk where he's been adopted by a black family and so thinks he's a black guy all his life. Maybe it's just me, but I thought his part in History of White People was an awesome riff on the The Jerk.

After the tape was over, the TV was still on and I was in the kitchen doing dishes, and happily enough Spaceballs was on. I got to hear one of my favorite movie quotes:

So, Lone Star, now you see that evil will always triumph because good is dumb.

-Dark Helmet, Spaceballs

<grin>. That's such a funny movie. I think Spaceballs, I.Q., and L.A. Story are my favorite movies ever.

McFarlane Toys is going to be producing Akira toys! That is so incredibly cool. The only Akira toy previously produced to date was Kaneda's motorcycle, and that was only available in Japan: I've never seen one in the states. They're also doing Ash from The Evil Dead Trilogy. Also very exciting.

FWOOMP! Relationship flambe.

Things with Gwen are over with a vengeance. She called last night to Chat. She said she felt like I expected her to give the relationship between the two of us Direction, and that she knows what she wants - and so wanted to know what I want. Since I had already previously said that I didn't want anything, I was kind of confused by this. Of course, every alarm bell in my head is now going off: I'm stupid but not that stupid. If you tell someone you don't want anything with them right now and they come back asking where you're at and what you want, then you get to make a fun choice between getting more serious with them or never talking to them again.

The sad thing is that I mentioned this to her already. I had said that one of the reasons I didn't want anything with her is that I liked her as a friend. We talk extremely easily together. Getting involved with someone who cares more about you than you do about them is (I've learned to my chagrin) fatal to a friendship. So I didn't want to be involved with her.

So I ask her what she wants, and she tells me that she wants someone to go places with and talk to and share with. Note the complete omission of any romantic relationship in the discussion here...

I agree. I say that that's what I want.

She goes on and says that she's looking for a relationship with good potential. The people involved should be mature, know what they want, and ready to face life together.

I explain that I think I'm at that point. But I'm still looking for the right partner, and don't want to get involved with someone who isn't right for me. I say I'd like to be her friend and maybe go on dates, but nothing more at this time.

She goes on and says that she's always cared about me (we used to be friends a long time ago), that I'm creative, smart (a nice compliment coming from her), have a big heart, etc. To me, this conversation is not going well. I'm hoping to hear that she has little invested into the idea of a relationship between the two of us. That's not what I'm hearing.

We go on talking and it appears more and more like I'm her sunshine. This is just not good.

And she keeps giving me crap about Kate. I understand some of the jealous feelings people have had towards Kate - Kate *was* my girlfriend at one point in time. There's a difference between jealousy and insecurity, though, and Gwen was definitely seeming insecure about Kate. It is extremely not a good sign for someone you're just interested in being friends with to be insecure about you having someone else as a best friend.

We end up agreeing to keep things mellow and calm between us. She asks when she can see me next, and I say we should look for interesting things to do together this coming Tuesday or Thursday. Sunday night Kate comes home, Monday is the first night test really gets to bash at my code, and Wednesday is soccer.

I'd been up for thirty hours straight, and wanted to go home to sleep, so we said gunite and hung up.

I stopped by Mark's (my employee) office to chat about some final things before I left. My phone rang, and I thought to myself: I couldn't possibly want to answer this, but went back to my office anyways. My office was dark, so I couldn't see the caller I.D.- as if I needed it. It was her.

She wanted to know if she could join Kate and I Sunday night.

I said no, that it was a private time for Kate and I since she'd be coming back from a romantic anniversary get-away and we'd probably want to talk in complete privacy.

Gwen said that she knew Steve, so it was probably okay if she was there.

This was not going well.

I reiterated that it was going to be the first time Kate and I would have to catch up on her trip. It went back and forth with Gwen for a while, with her trying to justify why she could be present.

Finally I just told her *I* didn't want her there: I want to be able to tell Kate anything, and vice versa, and I didn't feel like interjecting some stranger into the equation. Gwen just wasn't 'one of the girls'(?) yet, and I'd see her Tuesday or Thursday.

So we hang up again, on semi-amicable terms, and I prepare to leave again.

I leave quickly this time.

My cell phone rings.

I'm *dying* by this point. This is just beyond reason. Let me get some damn sleep and we can talk about it in the morning! I've been up thirty hours and you're going to try to convince me that you should be privy to the gossip between my best friend and I? I don't think so. Give it a rest, talk to me in the morning, bake me some brownies: let's go at this from a positive angle, don't try to bludgeon me with your opinion when I'm obviously not interested.

It is indeed Gwen on the phone. She throws out that when we first went out on a date, she blew off her friend to hang out with me, and she's upset that I'm putting her off until Tuesday or Thursday.

At this point I'm beyond... I don't know what I'm beyond, I'm just freakin' beyond. This is digressing into some black comedy where my rabbit is going to end up hurt.

I give it one last chance: I explain that blowing off her friend was her decision, and my decision is to hang out with Kate on Sunday night, and I want that to be just Kate and myself.

She goes off again, saying I'm inconsiderate.

The hell? We go out on a date two days ago, she's got to go out with me again now or I'm inconsiderate? This just is not going well. Might it be my crack cocaine-tainted lip balm? <grin>...

I start saying, "Get a grip, ..."

I know you're generally not supposed to say that, but I think I was almost justified, I would have explained it, and anyways I plead insanity due to sleep exhaustion.

I hear assorted swear words from other end of the phone, deprecating my general character and worth to the world, ending with "Goodbye!"

And so endeth the chapter of Zach and Gwen.

You want to know something really funny?

Kate and Steve are hanging out tonight.

If Gwen had let things be, I could have actually called her up and invited her out to ice cream. I don't know if I would have after the second phone call - that was a pretty good sign we were on completely different pages. But after the third phone call... I just deleted her number from my cell phone's address book and chalked this one up to experience.

I had to get some wires and electrical tape, so stopped by Fred Meyers. I ended up buying myself some flowers, too: it's important that people have flowers in their life.

For some unknown reason, the flowers have a sticker saying "Virginia" on the wrapper. I'd like to think that it is a note from the world to me saying "Yes, Virginia, there is a Cupid."

There's someone out there for everyone - even if you need a pickaxe, a compass, and night goggles to find them.

-Steve Martin, L.A. Story

By popular request, I'll be changing this page so that new entries are added to the bottom, rather than the top, fairly soon.

Went out with Julie last night for Orange Julius and more socks. You can never have enough good socks. I picked up some cool flame and taxi socks. She picked up the gold necklace her boyfriend gave her. It was nice. I think she's more of a silver person though. She wears a lot of greys and oranges. The gold was a little sharp in contrast with the rest of her clothing.

We talked about her boyfriend. She is a hoot: she usually starts out pensive around me, complaining about her work life (she keeps getting rejected for the job she's applying to), and et cetera - but she's a kid at heart and so very easily amused... it's a weird combination. She usually seems unexcited about life, basically, although it's easy to get her to laugh, and she's very good natured. We were talking and she said, "I don't know what we would do if we broke up. I would be so bored." That was a weird comment. She meant it in a good way: that he brings something extra and interesting to her life, but it made me laugh to hear it phrased that way. They've been dating for almost a year and a half now, have been to Disneyworld together, etc. I'm happy for her: it seems like she's got a good thing going.

We get along very well, and a bunch of people have thought there was something up between the two of us because of this. I think this is because no one besides me has ever seen her boyfriend.

The AT&T job fair is tomorrow. I'm going to have to whip up a resume at long last. I don't think I'd want to work there, but at least it might lead to some good interview experience. I haven't had any really tough job interviews ever, really. Even the Microsoft interviews were basically a cakewalk. My dad taught me logic puzzles since I was a wee bairn, and the coding questions were stuff I'd recently covered in a refresher course I gave myself. I really don't expect things to be so easy in the future, so the more I get challenged now the better chance I will have at not failing miserably when I get to the interviews that really matter to me.

I'm surprised at my travel life that's developing. After traveling once every three months or so last year, I'm traveling to San Diego at the end of this month, Milpitas early next month, and Portland later in February. One thing I wanted to do for the new year was to travel more, and it looks like I'm starting off well. I'm going to San Diego with Ken to visit LegoLand, Milpitas to meet with a company to get some of their technical issues worked out, and Portland to see an opera with Tami. After these trips, I think I want to go visit the Boardwalk and maybe my grandma in California.

My friend Patrick declared for the NBA draft when he was in college. Of course he has zero basketball skills, but it's actually very easy to declare for the NBA draft. I think I'm going to start a log of Easily-Acquired But Impressive-Sounding Credentials. For starters, you can become a reverend, a doctor, and a saint at the Universal Life Church. You can become a model and/or an actor by simply registering with an agent. I'll have to ask Patrick how you declare for the NBA draft, and brainstorm with my friends to see what Easily-Acquired But Impressive-Sounding Credentials we can come up with.

Kate and I stopped by Crazy RedHeaded Go-Kart Racing last night, but they had been rented out by a private party. Oh well. It looks pretty interesting: the cars are electric (since the track is indoors) but very fast.

I had a poem read (well, actually, written) to me. People who share poetry with me are Delightful.

Tami got a trip to Cabo as part of her bonus. I'm jealous. Money is a nice bonus too, but something concrete like a trip sounds like a better deal.

Kate and I were talking about being blind. She asked whether I would want to have a cane or a seeing eye dog. I thought I'd want a cane, since a cane is suave and can be used as a sword or a cudgel to beat up ruffians. But then I realized that you could also use a seeing eye dachshund as a makeshift sword. And frankly, I think a heartily yipping sword would be much more prone to strike fear into the hearts of evildoers. I can practically guarantee you that if you walk the streets with a dachshund sword, the only people that are going to bother you are going to be from the ASPCA.

Ruffian 1: "Hey, let's go rob that guy!"
Ruffian 2: "Err, he's waving a dachshund about blindly, and the dog is really dizzy and yippy from all the waving."
Ruffian 1: "Hrm. Let's go rob the blind guy with the cane."
Blind Guy With Cane: WHAM! WHAM! WHAM! "Ha! I know Cane Fu!"

Life continues to be a little frightening. I got Alice in Wonderland for Christmas. Ken brought me back Alice in Wonderland playing cards from his trip to Vegas. One of the books I'm currently reading, Tim Power's Expiration Date, of course quotes liberally from Alice in Wonderland. Thankfully I've slowed down at running into everyone I know, but I'd really enjoy going a week or two without seeing this interlinking between the areas of my life.

I like this article about how overblown Peanuts was as a comic. I loved the early early Peanuts (the '50s, I believe) where Snoopy would emulate various animals every couple months, but after that... it just got tired.

Kevin Smith of (Clerks, Chasing Amy, and Dogma fame) was signed by Marvel Comics to write the first eight issues of the Daredevil title relaunch. He wrote a masterful story arc about finding faith and strength (now collected in the Datedevil: Visionaries trade paperback and highly recommended), and in the end killed an old Spiderman nemesis. Of all the ironic stupid blunders, Marvel has been inserting inane anti-drug comics in the middle of all their current titles, starring this same now-dead Spiderman nemesis. And sure enough, the first insert appears in Daredevil #9, one issue after the nemesis dies in one of the more brilliant story arcs in comicdom. Gah.

To be clear, I think the inserts are inane because they take at face value that drugs are bad. I don't take drugs and personally think they are destructive, but I would never try to make a point about drugs with these infantile inserts. They don't even say drugs are bad by themselves, they resort to guilt by association: the druggee keeps getting into troublespots that Spiderman has to bail him out of. And this is different from the people that Spidey normally saves how? You can easily reverse the logic here: if Spidey had only had to rescue one druggee but rescues normal people all the time, perhaps it's actually atypical for a druggee to be in danger... yeech. Look, drugs are bad and will rot your brain, but let's not resort to fallacious arguments to dissuade kids from taking drugs. Let's treat them with respect and share facts, not faulty logic. Yeech.

This is the same problem I have with Star Wars What does the Empire ever do in A New Hope - or even the entire Star Wars trilogy to justify the rebellion? Sure, its leader looks hideous, but I can't think of any president besides JFK that has been remotely close to cuteness. And Yoda ain't exactly Fabio, either. The Empire wears black but also white, and the Rebellion wears gray - perhaps a hint as to the moral ambiguity of their struggle? Oh well. At some point maybe we'll see how the plans to destroy the local police station, err, Death Star, were justified but until then I'll keep rooting for the Empire.

Decided to change the color of my site. Black and white really isn't me, so I decided to go with mint chocolate chip for now. Also added the ability to dynamically generate a table of contents for the page, but then I'd have to use frames or layers or put it at the bottom of the page to appease IE and I just don't have the heart to do that right now. So for now the shift to mint chocolate chip is as far as I'm going. I put a hard-coded table at the top of the page.

Last night, I witnessed the single lowest point of my soccer career.

Wednesday night for soccer we had, to us, a new referee. He was extremely bad. I got a yellow card in the first five minutes of the game when the other team's goalie dived at my feet (a league no-no), smacked into my planted and locked leg (I had brought myself to a halt as soon as I saw him lunging). Thankfully the goalie had little momentum (and I stopped quickly) or my leg would have been snapped backwards at the knee. This is the kind of injury starting point where somebody gets to go watch from the sidelines for the next six to eight months. Anyways, it was at best reckless behavior on the part of the goalie, and as I caught my breath - that had been an extremely close call - I thought to myself that I hoped the referee kicked the goalie out of the game. I play soccer for fun and exercise: lunging at someone's leg is an absolutely repugnant thing to do. However, instead of calling it against the goalie, the referee gave me a yellow card for "getting in the goalie's way". I really didn't have anything to say to that. I just felt lucky I was still able to walk at this point so shut my mouth and walked away. So we play the game and the referee continues making terrible calls and both teams are almost heckling him. After the game, our team (Juventas) spends about 10 minutes talking to him, trying to figure out why he called the game so poorly (he gave the opposing team a game-winning penalty kick on another bad call...). He said he was brand new to Seattle Co-Rec soccer, and had only been refereeing a month.

"Joyfully" enough, we got this very same referee for last night's game at Miller Playfield over on Queen Anne. People got so angry and irate with his terrible calls that he had given out three yellow cards to people just to shut them up. I respect that: a referee has to establish authority if not respect, and giving out cards are a great way to get the point across that *you* are the player and *I* am the referee. That's one of the reasons I've learned to largely shut up and keep playing. The referee came over to talk to our team at half-time, and the players gave him an earful. I could see this getting ugly, so I tried being nice to the referee, tried keeping things light and jovial.

The second half of the game was not just worse, it became farcical. There were two more yellow cards given out to people who were jawing at the referee. Then the other had a fast-break that our goalie stopped. The opposing player ran through our goalie to track down the ball that had drifted loose. I managed to stymie that player long enough for our goalie to get back up, and then the defense kicked the ball upfield. Our center forward said somewhat loudly that the referee should have called a foul when the opposing player ran through our goalie (that's a no-no)...

... and the harried referee red-carded our center forward, yelled "Your team forfeits! You lose 3-0!" (we were ahead 3-2 at that point), walked off the field with about thirty minutes left to play, and left.

The entire field was beyond stunned. This was the lowest point in any of our soccer careers. Everyone from both teams started yelling at him that he couldn't do this - including one of our players who is an active ref for Co-Rec - but it was too late, and he left. We stood around puzzle for a little while, bewildered, tossed around the idea of playing some more, and then we all just wandered off the field.

How incredibly weird.

After that we went out to the Wedgwood Ale House (they sponsor the team). I don't drink myself, but I like the team so I thought it would be fun. It was. So we finally got the Wedgwood Ale House after talking about marriage and work and kids' TV programming. Erin, a woman I had taken to an opera last year, was there. I hadn't seen her for a couple months. Originally I was sitting next to her, but we moved the tables around to seat a couple late-comers and I used the opportunity to get a different seat farther away from her. That sounds weird. She's an attractive woman - she's intelligent, in great shape, strong-willed, and good-looking - I just wanted to meet different people, and since we hadn't talked in a while I didn't feel like we should monopolize each other right away. So I sat next to Jen and Sieb (a married couple) and the woman I drove with (I forget her name) instead. We talked about the soccer game for half an hour or so, since Sieb was the one who had been red-carded and been the straw that broke the ref's back. Then we talked about some local delivery company that allowed you to rent movies on-line, and delivered them to you. I said that I personally liked going to the video store. I think it's an opportunity to find out more about the person you are with. Jen and Sieb laughed and said that wasn't an issue for them - they've been married for many years now. We talked about teaching - Jen is a first-grade teacher like my mom - and the cool Giant Robot projects the kids were working upon. I wish I had a Giant Robot project. :) Then we talked about cooking. Ack! It turns out that Sieb is a chef, and takes great pride in being able to prepare "tasty" dishes like sweetbread (calf pancreas), tongue, and liver. As a quasi-vegetarian, I was not enthused about the conversation. But we did talk about something close to my heart: the death of speciality shops and the growth of stores like Wal-Mart. Sieb obviously likes to have good material to work with, and he remarked on the incometence of butchers at stores like Safeway. Then we went on to talk about how much better it would be to get most items at a store tailored to that genre: green-grocers, butchers, pastry chefs, florists, etc., rather than at your local Safeway or QFC. I had to agree. I really like the vegetables I get from the Pike Place market more than what I get from the local QFC, nothing matches a Krispy Kreme donut, and a good florist really helps put it all together. I personally have liked QFC for flowers, but that's solely because they have a great selection of roses. I typically do any minimal arrangement needed by myself. It'd be nice to have someone who knew what they were doing helping me.

Anyways, we all talked for about two hours, and then Jen and Sieb left. At this point it was three girls (Erin, Opokua, and ?) and two guys (Beau and myself). Beau and I got to listen to *lots* of girl-talk. It was like being in the girl's locker-room. My friends are primarily women, but I don't usually see out-and-out girltalk like that very often, talking about men in an objectifying fashion. It was enlightening.

When Beau and Opokua mentioned that they worked at AT&T wireless, I asked if they knew my roommate, Kate, which they did. Small world. Erin then asked if I was going out with Kate yet. I was taken aback. I explained that Kate was my best friend, that's all, and had been dating her current boyfriend for about a year. Erin countered that she had seen Kate and I together and that she could just tell that Kate and I would be together someday. I said we'd *already* been together and that that had been the end of it, but Erin wasn't convinced. Ugh. I wish people could understand. Kate is one of the coolest people it's ever been my pleasure to meet and I hope we'll be friends until we're old and gray together, but it ends there for both of us. I think we should just adopt each other to get rid of all the misplaced notions. I think we bring each other happiness as friends - she's the kind of person that makes you happy just knowing they exist - but we could never bring each other the same kind of romantic happiness that others could.

I explained that to Erin, but she still wasn't convinced. I guess she's been feeling in the relationship doldrums, and threw out that she had someone like Kate in her life who lived in Las Vegas. She said if she got to be 40 and hadn't married anyone yet, she would marry him. I thought that was weird and said so. If I'm going to marry, I want to marry to marry for romantic love, not just companionship love. I know when I'm attracted to someone romantically: it's darned obvious to everyone, since I just tend to have an extra spring in my step around them. That's what I'm going to want in my wife, and for her to have for me. I will not settle.

So conversation continued around the table, and the great work question, "would you have sex in the office?" arose. When Erin and I went to the opera together last year, we talked until the wee small hours of the morning about sex and boundaries and et cetera. Mind you, she had a boyfriend, but physical intimacy is a very interesting area of conversation most times. Anyways, we all answered, and the two of us who had said yes admitted to already having done the deed. We talked about bondage a little bit - one of the girls said she would tie someone up, but not be tied up, which was a little odd: it's a matter of trust, but it goes both ways. If you don't truly trust your partner, you shouldn't be there in the first place. Anyways, it was interesting. I don't usually participate in group discussions with relative strangers about sexuality.

Later on, I was talking to Beau and ? (from WSU, I don't remember her name) about the merits of dating younger or older people, when Opokua somewhat loudly leaned over to Erin and asked something alone the lines of why Erin didn't ask me out. I'm glad I don't blush easily. Erin is someone I could see myself going out on a couple dates with. I don't think it'd work very well from the little I've seen, but you never know. I had mentioned that I was going to the opera tomorrow with a woman, and although I didn't hear much of Erin's response, that was one thing I heard mentioned. I'm curious to know what Erin's response was. She's going off on a trip to Europe so it'd just be for curiousity's sake, but I don't have the chance to get feedback on me-as-a-prospect from balanced extremely honest women very often. I've never seen Erin be anything but fair and in control of her emotions, and she's usually honest beyond what might be tactful to say. We all left shortly afterwards so I didn't have the chance to ask her - plus I didn't want to put her on the spot - but I' m curious enough that I *almost* would ask her. Ah well. All curiosities aren't meant to be satisfied.

I grabbed a handful of Dum-Dum lollipops to make a little bouquet for my date tonight and drove home.

Update: You can fit about 800 songs in 3 gigabytes.

I went to Seattle Opera's Boris Godunov last night with Cynthia. We're friends of friends - we had talked on the phone for a couple hours before, found out that we both liked opera and theater, and decided to go together. So in some ways it was my first real blind date. When I went out with Lynn we had seen each other twice before, and that was probably the closest I'd come to a blind date previously. In this case, my friend Kevin had heard me musing about what to do about my opera ticket - I had come close to not asking anyone - and knew Cynthia was a big opera fan, so decided we might fit well together. He brought her one of Kate's postcards of me so she knew what I looked like, but I hadn't ever seen her before. I just knew that when I'd had the chance to talk to her, we talked really easily together.

So for the past couple days I've been cleaning the apartment neurotically. Even though she wasn't going to be coming over, I always like to have my best foot forward when I head out on a date. (Which actually is an interesting side-note: I mentioned I was left-footed, and she asked what foot I start down the stairs with. i had never noticed before, but it is indeed my left foot. I guess you always start down the stairs with your dominant foot.) I got to bed about 5 a.m. Friday night (after soccer, the ale house, and reading the rest of Expiration Date), got up about 11 a.m., got my dry-cleaning, played another soccer game (my first game ever on AstroTurf over at Miller Playfield by SPU), went home, washed the car, showered, and got dressed. I was looking through my sock drawer to find appropriate socks and decided on the comedy/tragedy drama mask socks. I thought about wearing a tie, but I think suspenders are a nice look by themselves: they look good, but aren't too stuffy. I think they reflect my personality well. I wore a light blue shirt that Cynthia later mentioned looked good with my eyes.

I was supposed to pick her up at 5pm for our 5:30 reservations at the Painted Table, so I left about 4:20. I ended up getting there about ten minutes early. I parked in her driveway, and noticed her door was to the left of the car. Since I was early, I reparked the car backwards, so the passenger side was on the same side as the stairs to her door. I figured this would make the standard door-opening I like to do for friends less conspicious: I didn't want to convey the wrong impression through opening her door, but I also don't like to sacrifice my personal desire to be a nice guy. So anyways, I walked around the block for a little bit while waiting for it be 5. I figure showing up early can be unsettling to your date, so I was aiming for being almost exactly on-time. Then a girl came downstairs, went to her car, got some dry-cleaning, and went back upstairs. I was kind of intrigued: was this Cynthia? Was this her roommate? Then the girl came back down the stairs several times to go out to her car, and I started feeling *really* conspicous looking around at the view (the block has an incredible view of the Montlake cut). Thankfully she drove off in her car, and a little before 5 I knocked on Cynthia's door. And again. And again. I felt silly, but I had to knock three different times before she ended up hearing me. She came downstairs, we exchanged greetings, and realized that we both looked very familar to each other. She went to Whitman College and grew up in California, so I don't *think* our paths have crossed previously, but we both did seem to recognize each other.

First impressions of Cynthia: a scarf! I love scarves. Nice dress, looks delightful to the touch. She looks a little like Jordan from Real Genius, a little like Julie Andrews. Black hair, blue eyes: Kate would like. Tall: she was 5'9" without heels. Nice smile, nice teeth. Great eyes: like the blue of a hot flame. Nice lips: very defined Cupid's bow (that's the shape lips are in). Long fingers.

I told her I came bearing gifts and gave her my little bouquet of DumDum lollipops. She laughed and said that she just gotten a vase she could put them in. A woman after my own heart: easy laughter. I'd already noticed this on the phone, but there's nothing like seeing someone laugh. She invited me upstairs so she could get her things.

First impressions of Cynthia's apartment: Bunches of scarves on the coat rack. This is a good sign. Stained glass in the windows: I approve. Upstairs: the first thing you see is the bookshelf. I'm hypnotized. The books: one shelf of lighter weight books, Shel Silverstein's poetry collection, a couple Anne of Green Gables books, The Little Prince in both French and English editions. Next shelf: a Life magazine picture book, Jacques Cousteau picture book, a couple other oceanography books. Douglas Adam's HitchHiker's Guide To The Galaxy in the Serious books shelves (?). Metropolitan Guide to the Opera. Books I like and approve of. I tend to give a fair amount of weight to what people read, listen, and love, so I explain this briefly, and ask her if she's heard of Shel Silverstein's Uncle Shelby's A.B.Z.'s, but she hasn't. The living room: wow. This is a classic Seattle home. Looks like a Martha Stewart abode. Everything's in place, paintings tastefully decorate the walls, two little hearth dogs (?) adorn the double french doors to her deck. Deck: another great view of the Montlake cut. Stereo is a portable stereo on a chair - grin. TV is TV and VCR in one - to each their own. Piano: ooo. Kitchen: Einstein magnet on the refrigerator - that's my favorite kitchen magnet ever. No dishwasher: poor girl. Organized and spotless: hrm, *my* place doesn't look this classy or clean.

So she gets out a little tiny vase for the DumDums. She said that she had had no idea what to put in this vase previously, but the DumDums were a nice fit. She kidded that she had to put the DumDums in water soon or they might wilt. Beau and I had spent a while the night before guessing which flavors she'd like, so I asked her which one she'd probaby eat first. We were right: we had guessed strawberry.

I asked if she played the piano, and she said she did: that's why she had such long strong fingers. She asked if I did, and I explained that I could play a teeny bit of piano, but wasn't good at it, that I was better at singing and trombone.

I mentioned I liked the books and decorations, and it turned out that lot of what I'd seen was actually her roommates. She said that if it was to up to her, the walls would probably be barren because she was too busy/lazy to decorate. I thought that amusing. I used to be like that. I rely on other people to do the actual work of hanging paintings and et cetera, but I've acquiring a little of my own taste in decoration by now. The hearth dogs were hers, named Gog and Magog, after someone else's cats she'd known. I was really amused at the names: I asked her if she was aware that Gog and Magog biblically were the enemies of God? She didn't... <grin>. I felt a little bad tainting the names for her, but the allusion had sprang so quickly to mind that I had laughed before I realized that she might be better off not knowing. Ah well.

She showed me the opera glasses she had gotten for Christmas: it had been the only thing she had asked for. She's a big opera and theater fan.

We talked for a while, again easily. I had been a little worried that after talking for so long previously on the phone we wouldn't have a lot to talk about, but it seemed like that wasn't going to be a problem.

Then we headed out to my car for our reservations. I opened her door unobtrusively.

We drove to the Painted Table. We had talked on the phone about our different tastes in music, so I had chosen Art of Noise's The Seduction of Claude DeBussy as something that while she probably hadn't heard before, everyone seems to really like. She did like it, and since it has opera singers in it at times, it was very appropriate.

So we got to the Painted Table. They had live piano music that night. I hadn't been around before when they've had live music: it was quite nice. We were seated immediately, and offered drinks. She didn't order anything, but I ordered a root beer to start with. We discussed our favorite kinds of root beers. I think my favorite to date is Ramblin' Root Beer, the kind that Baskins & Robbins uses in its ice cream floats. She asked if I liked the root beer by itself or if it was just the association with floats that I liked, so we talked about how to make good floats (diet drinks cause the foam to crystallize, while non-diet drinks keep the foam creamy), the merits of various pops for use within a float, and how to make a Roy Rogers - she didn't know: it's coke and grenadine (grenadine is made from pomegranates: everyone usually thinks its a cherry syrup). Then the waitress came back and explained that they were out of root beer: it turns out that there's a temporary shortage of Thomas Kemper throughout the Northwest. That was the weirdest thing I'd heard in a while. Probably a sign of the pending Year 2000 Apocalypse. So I ordered their peppermint tea, and Cynthia decided to have tea too. It took me aback to hear Cynthia ask what kinds of tea they might have: most of my dates at fancier restaurants in the past year have been with Anne, who knows teas so well she simply asks who they buy their tea from, and she then names the tea she'd like. I realize she's one in a million in that fashion, but it was still unsettling. I haven't been out with any other tea-drinkers other than Anne in a long time. Heck, Gwen had had Diet Coke instead of green tea at the sushi place....

So we got our teas, and I gave a brief overview of the Painted Table to Cynthia since she hadn't been there before. I told her one of us had to have the Layer Goat-Cheese Salad because it was simply so interesting to look at - it's a small stacked tower of salad, the best Northwest example of nouvelle cuisine I'm aware of.

We talked about clam digging, crab trapping, and fishing. I don't like most kinds of aquatic-dwelling food, but I've done all three. She really likes clams, but had the same antipathy to fishing that I have. We both like the idea of sitting together talking on the waterfront, but didn't feel any need to hurt worms or fish as part of the arrangement.

We talked about our favorite foods. I think Hot and Sour soup is my favorite, she wasn't sure as to hers. We talked about ice cream: we both have a penchant for caramel in our ice creams, but she doesn't think she exercises enough to excuse eating too much ice cream: she said that most of her exercizing picking up kids when she babysits. (She works at the Eddie Bauer call center, but really likes kids so babysits for friends.) I play soccer somewhere between one to three times a week, and am probably underweight anyways (160lbs, 16% body fat according to Kate's scale) so I don't begrudge myself any sweets.

We talked about babysitting. I really love kids too, but they just don't ask you to babysit if you're a guy over 18: they think you're weird to still like kids at this point. She laughed and said she was lucky to be a girl. She said that babysitting was great birth control in that it satisfied her maternal instincts. I laughed to myself at that - "birth control" was really the wrong phrase to use for that, but I knew what she meant. We talked about the cool toys kids you babysat had, how babysitting after Christmas was always fun (new toys to play with!), and how Sesame Street now had Monster Opera once in a while. I liked that.

I gave her the first taste of my soup, and asked her if she'd read Orson Scott Card's Prentice Alvin. That wasn't really fair: I couldn't tell her what I meant if she didn't know the allusion, but if she did, it would make perfectly clear why I'd offered her the first taste. She didn't know the reference, so I moved on. The reference was to the magical power that the first sharing of essence of any item has. But of course if you didn't previously know the reference you might have thought I was being extra nice, which is exactly why I didn't want to explain. I just think it's a sweet idea, and sharing something possibly magical with someone you like is a great idea in my eyes.

We talked about stuffed animals. She has a tiger she calls "Asthma Tiger" that I got to see later. She calls it Asthma Tiger because when you squeeze it, it purrs, and when you release it, it makes a wheezing sound as the air bladder refills. I told her about my large menagerie. I've got the big happy Mr. Penguin (2 and a half foot tall penguin), Gossamer ("I will hug him and squeeze him and call him George" sez Bugs Bunny) still wearing the surgical cap he acquired when he saw me through my hand surgery, Hobbes my stuffed tiger, Lizben the big white bear Anne got me, Sorceror's Apprentice Mickey, The Grinch, Panda, a couple more penguins, Quackles, Thunder the all-black bear, and a couple others. She seemed amused. Lately I've been sleeping using Hobbes as a pillow and Lizben as a body pillow, so I asked her if she ever used her stuffed animals as pillows, but she said no. She did have a second pillow she put behind her back, though.

We talked about Roman mythology for a bit, since she was named 'Cynthia', birthplace of Diana. I asked her her favorite Diana myth. She thought the myth of Diana and Actaeon was her favorite. That put me off. A tale of a man being torn apart by dogs for gazing upon the naked Diana? I said I'd have to careful around her. <grin>. She asked mine, and I said I had to go with Diana and Endymion. She wasn't familar with it, so I explained the general myth: that of the young shepherd who loves the moon, who in turn - unbeknownst to him - secretly loves him in return and watches over him in his sleep.

We see in Endymion the young poet, his fancy and his heart seeking in vain for that which can satisfy them, finding his favourite hour in the quiet moonlight, and nursing there beneath the beams of the bright and silent witness the melancholy and the ardour which consume him. The story suggests aspiring and poetic love, a life spent more in dreams than in reality, ...

-Thomas Bulfinch, Bulfinch's Mythology: The Age of Fables

She thought the tale very beautiful and romantic.

So we talked and talked and finally left for the opera. I helped her on with her coat, and we waited for my car. I'd told them I needed to be out by 7pm, but it took forever for the valet to get the car. I was a little worried we might be late. On the way there we talked about siblings. She was surprised to hear that I was the oldest brother of three, saying that I wasn't cut-throat enough, which I thought was curious. I said that I was very tenacious in my pursuit of what I wanted, but I tried never to be too agressive about it:

"Once...a king gave a feast for the loveliest princesses in the realm. Now, a soldier who was standing guard saw the king's daughter go by. She was the most beautiful of all and he fell instantly in love. But what is a simple soldier next to the daughter of a king?

At last he succeeded in meeting her, and he told her he could no longer live without her.

The princess was so taken by the depth of his feeling that she said to the soldier, 'If you can wait for 100 days and 100 nights under my balcony, at the end of it I shall be yours.'

With that the soldier went and waited one day...
two days...
then ten...
then twenty.

Each evening the princess looked out, and he never moved! In rain, in wind, in snow, he was always there! Birds shat on his head, bees stung him - but he didn't budge.

At the end of ninety nights he had become all dry, all white. Tears streamed from his eyes. He couldn't hold them back. He didn't even have the strength to sleep. And all that time, the princess watched him.

At long last, it was the 99th night...
and the soldier stood up, took his chair and left."
"What happened at the end?"
"That *is* the end. And don't ask what it means. I don't know."

-Giuseppe Tornatore, Cinema Paradiso

It's Endymion, it's Demian, it's the knight: to love something fully, offering but not entreating. Even in the face of success turning away from what you most love and desire if it does not come willingly. I think that's part of the fabric of my being.

But that's a different journal entry...

Anyways, so we did end up being late. We sat downstairs in the lobby together watching the opera on the downstairs monitors, waiting to be let in.

We got seated. My seats are actually fairly close the stage - I like being able to see what's transpiring - so the opera glasses Cynthia had brought were unnecessary. The opera ... was opera. If you hadn't read the synopsis, you would have missed out on a lot. The music was superb, written one of my favorite composers, Mussorgsky. Intriguingly, I heard traces of various parts of his Pictures at an Exhibition throughout the score. I've heard that album enough that enough though they were typically just a second or two long, I was started to hear the music twist from the familar strains of say, The Hut Of Baba Yaga, back to the opera's score. Between scenes, the couple next to us offered to put our coats in the empty seat next to them, so we took them up on their offer after they said no when I asked if they were an international gang of coat thieves.

As always, I felt really tired during the first half of the opera. I typically have to fight off sleep during the first act, and having worked so hard this past week and playing two soccer games in the past twenty-four hours certainly didn't help matters any. I made it through without napping, but it was a close thing.

At the intermission, we went out to get snacks - I definitely needed caffeine. She turns out to be a Pepsi person, which is a religious-level difference, as I was raised a Coke guy. We talked more. We'd never told each other our ages, so we took turns guessing. I guessed that she was 28. She looked and acted mature and I knew she had done work on her masters degree. I was wrong, so I guessed 29, but again was wrong. I didn't feel like guessing 30 because that seemed old for her, and 27 seemed a little young for how mature she seemed. She's 27. She guessed that I was 28, and then guessed 29 when I said she was wrong! I was so flattered. I'm 26. She said that I was much more mature than most guys my age she's met. I asked her what she meant, and she said that I wasn't a drunken overgrown frat boy, to which I laughed. I said that I certainly had her fooled. I felt really flattered, though. We asked each other's birthdays, and it turns out she was born exactly nine days after my ex-girlfriend Marie. That was kind of weird. I only know two twenty-seven year olds, and both were born within seven days of each other. I admired the material of her dress. She told me that it was stretched velvet, and that it was okay if I touched. I felt a little like blushing: I was indeed not going to touch it without permission. I just wasn't sure of her physical comfort level, and have been trying to be cautious when I'm on dates, trying not to give off the wrong impression. I'm a very touch-oriented person, and that can come off completely wrong to people who are looking for more. I try to be completely honest in what I say about what I want with someone, but sometimes people don't listen and wind up confused.

The intermission ended and we went back to our seats. We asked each other a couple more questions as the lights dimmed, and for some reason her hand rested on my leg briefly. That was startling... if I decide not to initiate contact with someone, I don't expect them to initiate things. But her hand moved away and so I just sat there a little baffled and watched the opera.

In the end, Boris dies and the chorus of angels or Russian peasants (I wasn't sure which they were supposed to be) sings for him and I couldn't help thinking how incredibly glorious the end of Faust was, with the chorus singing from the back of the theater at the stage. Ah well. Boris was a good opera, it just pales next to Magic Flute and Faust.

So we left the opera house, and I asked her, "Where to, Miss Daisy?". I thought the opera would get over at midnight, but it got over about 11pm, so we could have gone out for dessert or something similar if we so desired. She suggested that we could go back to her place for cocoa, and I thought that sounded fair, since I was a little tired.

We went back to her place, and she brewed us cocoa. She likes cocoa with milk; I've learned to drink mine with water since I can always change my mind and have tea at the last minute with boiled water, whereas boiled milk with tea just isn't right.

We talked about music, remembering our favorite Bon Jovi lyrics, she sang a little to me - she sang in her college choir - which was delightful, and she asked me to sing the Pina Colada song for her, but I didn't remember the melody enough so begged out of it. The Pina Colada song is uniquely fascinating in that it's a romantic story on one hand - finding that exciting part of your lover you had previously never known - , but on the other the couple is so defeatist in the relationship that one had put out a personal ad, and the other was responding to them, rather than trying to work through the relationship through normal means. That frightens me. Life and love are too fragile. I try to be honest and open about who I am, but who is to say that some undisclosed need of my partner might not lead to the doom of a relationship? Communication is so critical to a good relationship.

Anyways, so we drank cocoa and sat on the coach together talking, about the view, about books: I had lent her Hesse's Demian since she hadn't read it. It's weird. Older women seem much more interested in perusing my book shelf than younger women ever seem to be. Both Marie and Cynthia explicitly said they wanted to read my good books, whereas I've never really gotten that from younger women. ? She pronounced Demian right, which was points in her favor. My middle name is DEMian, not DAMien. DAMien is the child anti-christ from bad 80s movies and a friend's love life, DEMian is the romantic in search of meaning.

We looked at her movie collection, sat on the side of her couch looking at the beautiful lyrics of Jessie by a forgotten 80's singer, and generally got along together as if we'd known each for years.

It turns out that she quite likes board games, especially Scrabbble. I'm looking forward to playing her. Our next get-together is going to be ice-skating after I get back from LegoLand. She promised she'd teach me how to skate backwards: she did competitive figure-skating back in high school.

She turns out to have a strong interest in feminism, so I teased her a little bit about my being a patriarch, and we had a good brief conversation about politics. I like when people are politically active in what they believe in.

So it got to be 2a.m. and I decided I needed to head home. I made little physical hints that she could choose to pick up on if she was tired or wanted me to go, but we just kept talking and she never said anything about me going. I just figured 2a.m. was as late as I want to take a first date nowadays. I gathered up my coat and shoes, we continued talking for a while, and I headed downstairs. She thanked me for the date, saying that she had had a great time. I smiled, said likewise, and left.

So no goodnight kiss, no goodnight hug. Was the opportunity there? I don't know. Did I want to take it if it was there? I don't think so. I mentioned to Anne that I feel like I'm at the end of my dating phase. I just don't feel the need to acquire new romantic interests, I'm winding things down with a couple people that things have been ... in the air with.. I guess I'm willing to stand on my own two feet. If things work out for me, that's great - I hope so because I have a lot of love to give.

it was 2 a.m. at her place and we had had cocoa (i had chocolate & caramel, yumm) and had talked and talked and been close together and she had put her hand on my knee and we had talked on the floor together, looking at her movies, and i decided to go because it was so very late and i left out the door and she repeated that she had had a great time and i smiled and said i had a great time too but didn't move to kiss her because i think kissing one person, gwen, that i wasn't desperately attracted to fulfulls my quota for the year and the next nine people i kiss shall be the same woman, whose touch and laughings and frettings and presence bring me happiness. i can hope.

"Love must not entreat," she added, "nor demand. Love must have the power to find its own way to certainty. Then it ceases merely to be attracted and begins to attract. Your love, Sinclair, is attracted by me. When it begins to attract me, I will come."

-Herman Hesse, Demian

All I can do is be myself; to my own self be true. And in this case, starting anything with her that could have been misleading would have been a discourtesy to both of us. We seem to be great friends, and we will leave it there.

So the date was great. I'm surprised at how easily and well we got along. Hopefully we can get some great Scrabble games going.

I ran across this quote and liked it: "Koalas grab onto you, digging their claws into your shoulders, and dripping stale eucalyptus drool all over. The animals are small and compact and heavy, and would like to think of you as a tree."

I like that idea. David Brin in his Startide Rising series came up with a psychic creature that deformed reality around it due to the extent of its deep rejection of the way things were around it. If it wanted you to be a tree, you *were* a tree.

I was talking with a friend last night about her relationship. She's never seemed especially enthused, which to me is a very bad sign. It turns out that she has an Understanding with him: they've know they'd never want to get married or to seriously commit to each other, so they're just biding their time together. That's so weird to me. If I'm coming to that point in a relationship, I end the relationship: I don't stay in relationships where I don't see long-term prospects. It's a waste of both of our times and emotions.

The roses I bought myself last week started wilting. I removed all their petals. I've always wanted to kiss the woman I love as she fell back onto a bed of rose petals. So now I have a pile of rose petals on my desk. I offered them to Kirt to share with his girlfriend, but he turned the offer down. Ah well. My office will just smell extra good for a couple days.

Cynthia called me last night. I never know the rules on calling someone after a date. I think you call back the next day if you're completely smitten, two days later if you had a great time, three to four days later if you had a good time. If you take any longer to call back, you're probably wasting your time. Anyways she called to say that she had really enjoyed going out with me. We caught up on each other's Sundays, talked about the coming week and my trip to Legoland. We're going to go ice-skating together when I get back, but she also brought up the possibility of sky-diving, back-packing, and et cetera. Sky-diving??? Hrm. I didn't really picture her as a sky-diver based upon what I saw of her Saturday night. She did seem pretty interested in athletic activities, though. She seems quite interesting, it'll be fun getting to know her better. Plus I've always wanted someone to teach me how to ice-skate. I don't know what I can teach her in return. Maybe cartwheels?

I talked with Lynn about visiting her in New Orleans in April. That could be fun: I love jazz and cajun food, and Louisiana is definitely the right place for that. Lynn laughed and said I'd been bitten by the travel bug. Maybe. I've just lived here too long to stay here all the time now.

I said to Dawn : Be sudden -- to Eve : Be soon

-Francis Thompson, The Hound of Heaven

Put a link to the Pacific Northwest Journalers site on my links page and asked to be added to their list. I'm nowhere near as interesting a writer as most of them, but it is a PNW journal collection, so I figured what the heck.

I'm going to be putting up a gallery for the ZachCam soon, maybe Monday. I've got some pictures I happen to like that I'll be putting up, but you're also welcome to submit any (preferably with caption) if you want.

I read an Underwire article about love that I liked. I especially liked the quote: "Realizing that one begins and ends with oneself is the source of all tender regard." I'd been in many relationships with many wonderful women over the years, but until the past year or so, until I started having a firm sense of self, it wasn't really possible for me to be in love with someone else. It's weird: as I was more dedicated to finding romance and finding love in the world, I was less dedicated to who *I* was. So now... I find myself in the weird position where what mattered to me the most for a verylong time and is still probably as critical to how my life is lived as anything could be, no longer has the same pull. So while I find my head thinking that a relationship is to be deisred, I find that I'm just not terribly excited at exploring new prospects. I think the differential now is that whereas I was primed to fall to in love, now I'm in the position where it takes growing into: I want to grow into my feelings for that person, rather than just walk right into something as I've been prone to do in the past.

There's an Uncle Bonsai concert in Michigan in May. I'm pretty set on going. Not as exciting as a Buffalo Tom concert - I'll pay good money to anyone who can track down one of their concerts for me - but I haven't been to Michigan before, and it's far enough away that I can book it now without thinking that I'll be too busy to go travel. I've found that as long I plan major events at least three weeks in advance, I can make them happen. But if I plan them any later than that, I get too worried about schedules and timing and end up not doing them.

Sadly, as regards to Buffalo Tom concerts, there's a mean and cruel article that says they'll be "hitting the road soon" on a tour. Grr. I've looked high and low for concerts of theirs, but can't find a blamed thing. I even got 137 hits or so at on my search for "Buffalo Tom", but *every* *single* *one* was "EFX: Tommy Tune" or some such other abomination that had nothing to do with Buffalo Tom. Boo hoo. I cry a million tears.

Hee hee. Dr. Laura is broadcasting using Windows Media live between noon-3pm PST weekdays. The archives are all currently in RealAudio format. We used to have a RealAudio 4.0 filter for Windows Media Player, so I wrote a quick installer for that so I could run it on my Win 2000 box (the RealAudio player has too much clutter for my taste). I listened to a little Dr. Laura. Not my cup of tea, but I can see how someone strong-willed and ready to cast judgement is a positive presence in people's lives.

I like the RealNetworks team's sense of humor. They sent Craig flowers when they hurt his neck, and Glaser sent him a "Have a REAL great birthday!" birthday card. <grin>. We just have bumper stickers: "Windows Media: So cool It's unreal." It'd be nice to have a friendly rivalry with a company. Too many times Microsoft has had to battle things out in court rather than work things out cooperatively. In the Ziff-Davis Network News coverage of the Glaser Senate testimony, they noted that:

It is unusual for one software maker to go so far as to offer a work-around for an alleged bug in a rival's product.

That's how sad and pathetic industry relations are. Apple and RealNetworks go to testify to the DOJ and Senate Judiciary Committee, respectively, about how Microsoft is "delibately harming their products" and nobody stands to say that that is "unusual" or immature (when you're wrong). But wanting to put things on a good footing, I go make patches for these companies and - *that's* "unusual". Oh well. Hopefully that's all done with now and we can go try to stomp each other in the marketplace by writing great software.

My friends in Windows Media Player test voted me "Dev of the week". Kirt got 2nd place, or "Vice Dev". It's completely a popularity contest that they hold simply to extort donuts from the dev team. They haven't held the voting for several months now, but I sent a check-in mail using "frickin'" repeatedly and they thought that was neat so reinstated it for my benefit.

Jerry Stackhouse is's vote for NBA's Most Improved Player. That's really cool. Their write-up:

Most Improved Player
Jerry Stackhouse, Detroit Pistons.

Stack has gone from being a washout that nobody would touch into an exceptional complement to Grant Hill. After a rough personal year with family last season, he's gained focus and his talent is blossoming like those believed it would when he left North Carolina early.

I like it when people make turn-arounds or comebacks. Stack came into the NBA, was touted as the next Jordan (they both are shooting guards from UNC), did terrific his rookie season, and then played relatively poorly the next couple years. But this year not only is he a very serious MIP candidate, but - and this is the reason I bring this up - he finally got his degree like he promised his parents he would when he left college early for the NBA. This is just a good heartwarming story: you do what you say you're going to do, and life is good to you in return. That's how the world should work. of course the best sports story of the past year is definitely the high-school baseball coach who at the insistence of his team had a baseball try-out this past summer: and ended up making it into the majors that same year. I wish I had the URL for that, it's a neat story.

This weekend is my trip to Legoland California. It should be fun traveling with Ken: he's a great guy and very entertaining. I'm going to try to take lots of pictures so I have good new postcard material. Maybe I'll try to be like Kate and Steve and put up Travel Writing on my web site. I've got a couple people at work who are very excited about hearing about my trip: they want to take their kids there. <grin>. I'm still a little apprehensive that it might be geared for too young of kids - which is fun when you're with a girl (and hence it is sweet and romantic) but not when you're with a guy (where you're supposed to be macho and not into that Kid Stuff anymore). Maybe I'll have Ken wear a beanie and I'll wear a fez just so we know we don't have to be macho around each other.

I'm going ice-skating Monday with Cynthia. It should be fun: she's going to teach me how to ice-skate backwards. Hopefully I won't break anything *new*. I still have the same broken toe on my right foot that I first got several months ago. It keeps *almost* healing and then I manage to break it again playing soccer. I took almost a full month away from soccer during the Christmas break, and yet I still managed to rebreak it the first game back. The rest of my body is in good shape though, and Chadd says he might be interested in playing soccer again next season. The athletic interests of my friends at work typically are just fads: from racquetball to biking to climbing to soccer, everything seems to maintain their attention for 3-4 months, and then they forget all about it and go find something new to do. Hmm. Interns are only here for 3-4 months. I wonder if there's a correlation...

I've been talking a lots over instant messaging with Janice. We have a really amusing level of ... abstraction? in our communication. Neither of us really knows where the other is coming from and we can't see each others faces (at least in real-time) so we never get the chance to look each other in the eye and ... be straight-forward. It's like a weird chess match where you can't win and can't lose because nobody's putting anything on the line. And you can't easily go meet for tea or cocoa because you're far apart, and there isn't enough... synergy possible over chat to get enough spark to really try and be friends. It's weird. I have the opportunity to visit her general area - and maybe have lunch or something with her - for work, or I can choose to take another trip to New York, visit Anne, and see more plays. Kirt says I can't do both since there's so much to be done, even though I've been putting in long long hours. I'm certainly on top of everything currently, but generally when I'm away Things Fall Apart, so they don't want me taking too much vacation right now. Ah well. Given a choice between heading one place for work and a chance at friendship or heading to another place for fun and a close friend, I think I have to choose the latter.

One of my friends is worried about me talking to Janice. She tends to be viewed as capricious, so my friend fears that I'm going to get hurt or have my confidence betrayed or somesuch. But at the same time, when we have connected... when we're not busy hating or insulting each other or thinking each other are evil, she's someone I like and want to have be part of my life. I don't know how she feels - we haven't *really* talked for maybe a year because frankly there ain't nothing to talk about if you never see each other.

Oh well. Life doesn't always end cleanly like in the movies. Maybe you meet Ms. Wonderful, maybe she walks away. There isn't a power on Earth that can change how someone else feels or acts towards you.

The weirdest thing about the equation is that she's really the one person in my life whom things can range *completely* across the relational spectrum. From archenemy to love, we've got(?) or at least had it all at some point. They say you only get emotional about people you care about. Now it seems we're friends, but in emotional stalemate as we sit far apart trying not to get hurt again by the other person. Damn it, distance sucks. I just want to go over, give her some Opinionated Daisies and then share some particularly yummy ice cream with her and catch up.




And he carried the groceries down the street to my apartment. Well, he carried them toward my apartment. Unfortunately, we had to take a detour on our way there because we came upon a very terrible tragedy a big tall office building had caught on fire a man had fallen off the thirty seventh floor and landed and squashed on top of this woman and they both were dead.
And this nice man, this nice man carrying my groceries said to me:
      "Darn! If only she had been wearing an airbag dress!"
and that's when I knew I could love him.

-Christine Lavin, Shopping Cart of Love: The Play

And finally, an update on Splunge: I got my CDs at long last, and sent the following to John (a member of the group):

-----Original Message-----
From: Zach Robinson
Sent: Friday, January 28, 2000 2:37 AM
To: John N
Subject: RE: cds?

Thanks. I will yet build a huge cult following for y'all, forcing a Reunion Tour. :-)

and got back:

-----Original Message-----
From: John N
Sent: Friday, January 28, 2000 8:50 AM
To: Zach Robinson
Subject: RE: cds?

Cool - no one has died yet, so I think we could pull it together :-)


I've got a zillion things to do so I'll write a real update later, but for now, to understand a part of how incredible and cool this trip was, bear in mind that a: Legoland is almost equidistant between Disneyland and Mexico, and b: we had rented a convertible and it was very sunny out.

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