So I’ve been in Atlanta for approximately three weeks now, and I haven’t updated my journal in that time, in part because it’s been such a whirlwind. (I have scarcely read LiveJournal in that time as well, so if I’ve missed anything significant, let me know.)
The last three weeks have been a whirling, chaotic blur, I doubt I could sit down and begin even to construct any kind of linear narrative of what’s happened. So, in no particular order, a handful of images and scenes that stand out from the blur.
I’m standing in the Q-Zar laser tag place by my apartment, playing air hockey with figment_j. She is well and truly kicking my ass–four games out of five, and I’m no slouch at air hockey. Later, we’re wandering around the mall, just prior to closing, and it’s a bit like being holed up in some post-apocalyptic zombie movie–scarcely anyone there, the lights flickering and going out. We find a corner of the mall where a number of broken video game machines are piled up.
Now I am over at phoenixgeisha‘s house. We’re curled up on her couch, and I’m petting her cat while we watch Venture Bros on DVD and talk about transhumanism. She’s saying that Francis Fukuyama and Leon R. Kass and other prominent bio-Luddites are right to fear transhumanism, but perhaps not for the reasons they think. Transhumanism, she says, can be seen as a sort of intentional sub-speciation; when two distinct subspecies compete in the same ecological niche for the same resources, conflict is often the result.
And she’s right. For the bulk of human society, we have found it very easy to dehumanize those whose skin is a different color. Just recently, on another forum I read, people were expressing discomfort and shock because other people ink their bodies or wear jewelry in unconventional places, and express doubt that such people can fit into society in a professional way. It need not be the machines that rebel, Cylon-style, against the humans; the humans are more than capable of starting the conflict, with our inbuilt fears and prejudices, ourselves. If we can not handle people who look a little bit different from us, ir decorate their bodies a little bit differently, how will we handle people who look nothing like us, or do not have human bodies at all? It is no accident, I think, that in the Matrix, is is the humans, not the machines, who (literally) throw the first stone.
By the way, a virtual introduction. datan0de, meet phoenixgeisha, the person I’ve been telling you about. phoenixgeisha, meet datan0de, my
arch-nemesis apprentice. The two of you have a lot in common, and I suspect would find quite a lot to talk about.
I’m arriving at my apartment in the blinding, freezing rain. It’s late at night and bitterly cold outside, and the icy rain is coming down in sheets. I can’t even take the computers I’ve carried with me out of the car. The apartment is cold, and I realize that when I moved my possessions up earlier, I did not bring a blanket or a cover of any kind. I unwrap a sleeping bag from the glass shelves I protected with it, and sleep in that. The sleeping bag is my only cover for the next several weeks.
figment_j and I are sitting on the couch watching The Root of All Evil?, the miniseries on religion by Richard Dawkins. He is arguing that faith, the deliberate and intentional abandonment of reason in favor of a belief system contradicted by evidence and supported by none, is always harmful; at its most benign, it is still the narrow tip of the wedge that leads to irrational violence, to people crashing airplanes into buildings. Without religion, he says, good people do good things and evil people do evil things; to make good people do evil things requires faith.
It’s three o’clock in the morning. I’m having a lot of trouble sleeping without Shelly; for the past week, I’ve laid in bed awake but exhausted, and sleep will not come. Tonight I’m talking to dayo on the phone. I encountered her on OK Cupid, which claims we’re highly compatible.
It doesn’t lie. We talk about many things, most of them far too naughty to be fit conversation in front of polite company. It’s delightful and fun and comfortable to talk to her. The next morning, at work, I drag myself through the day, dark circles under my eyes. It’s worth it.
The office is cold. It’s so new that the duct work and the air handlers for the climate control system are not finished being installed yet. I upload some new products to the ecommerce system. Around me, workers shout and hammer on things and drop enormous pieces of duct work and curse. The next day, they test the heating system, and my office is cozy and warm. The following day, they test the air conditioner, and I sit in front of my computer with a heavy winter jacket on and my teeth chatter.
I’m driving home from work, and I miss my apartment completely and overshoot. This happens many times. I live approximately eight tenths of a mile from my office, as the crow flies. (Do they have crows in Georgia? They must.) On a good day, it takes me three minutes to drive to the office; on a bad day, if traffic is heavy, it takes four. I still haven’t adapted to how close the office is. About half the time, I drive past before I realize I’m there.
Shelly has come up for the weekend. figment_j has made us Thanksgiving dinner, and I meet her cat Liam, who jumps enthusiastically all over me, purring like mad. I reach down and he leaps into my arms. Later, when I put him down, he meows indignantly and tries to climb up my leg.
I’m sitting in a small restaurant having brunch with phoenixgeisha. There’s a print up on the wall behind me, a quick cartoon squiggle of a city, palm trees in the background. On discussion, we agree it’s probably intended to be South Beach in Miami. I told her the story of the time Shelly and I met another couple who lived in Miami and went clubbing with them, and ended up frightening them rather badly. Our version of “clubbing” means “goth club;” their version of “clubbing” means “glow sticks and glitter.” The culture shock was…well, I like to say that Shelly and I blended into the club with the careless ease of a couple of Dobermans in a cage of rabbits.
Shelly is just arriving for Thanksgiving. She took the bus; the Greyhound station is a madhouse, the street is jammed with cars and virtually impassable; the bus station parking lot has been closed with cones. Downtown Atlanta is a series of winding one-way streets that defy comprehension. The bus is late, and I’m quite cranky by the time I pick her up.
We go to Wal-Mart to buy a comforter. It’s 2 AM the day before Thanksgiving. The place is virtually devoid of shoppers but is jammed with employees, frantically pulling cheap Chinese merchandise out of boxes and crates, gearing up for the five AM rush of shoppers on Black Friday, the annual American celebration of rampant, unchecked, consumerist avarice.
I’m driving to Florida for the weekend, and talking to joreth on the phone. The signal keeps cutting out; southern Georgia is a barren wasteland when it comes to T-Mobile cell towers. She’s talking about a person she’s recently become interested in, who’s apparently adept at flogging. She is teaching him to tie a karada, and she’s finding that the 25-foot lengths of rope I normally use aren’t long enough. A person more evil than myself might suggest that simply means she isn’t tying them tightly enough.
Now it’s Saturday. Shelly and I and figment_j and her sweetie are at a BDSM play party in downtown Atlanta.figment_j is against the cross and I’m flogging her, one flogger in each hand, using techniques borrowed from poi spinning I learned from my sweetie smoocherie.. The DJ is playing VNV Nation. Her sweetie says I look like a ninja. figment_j ends the evening well and truly covered in bruises.
Later, figment_j is telling me that we created a series of worlds, like those nested dolls that Shelly’s old LJ name was taken from; the world of the club in general, the world including only the four of us, the world that extended no farther than figment_j and I and the flogging I was giving her, layers of onion skin peeling back.
Earlier that week, pulling into my apartment complex after going out to eat. The man in front of me can’t get his card to open the gate, and he’s frustrated and angry. I get out of the car and use my gate cards (do people actually believe these gates really offer any security?). He thanks me and complains bitterly about “that Mexican woman” in the office who didn’t program his card correctly; those “Mexican people” never do their work. I think, people actually believe this way? For real?
Now Shelly has gone home, and I’m talking to istislah on the phone. We’re discussing how Santa might deal with miscreant elflings who don’t want to work in the sweatshop producing toys for the good girl and boys. Santa no doubt keeps a list of naughty and nice elves, voyeuristic old coot that he is; we agree he probably keeps a dungeon behind the workshop as well, where he disciplines particularly naughty elflings personally. I suggest that the elflings are probably dressed in tight green rubber elfling-suits prior to being escorted to the dungeon; she thinks Santa probably has a black leather Santa-suit, trimmed in white fur, for those occasions. His list of naughty elflings is likely the most valuable of all Santa’s possession, if you approach it in the proper way. She thinks being a naughty elfling might be superior, all other things being equal, to being a good elfling; the dungeon is probably a whole lot more fun than the workshop.