cygnoir.net

impromptu

It turns out I’m only good at planning impromptu events. Who knew? (Other than everyone else except for me. Yeah, yeah.)

Chad suggested, last night, as he was walking out the door to rehearsal, that we host a New Year’s party, since we don’t want to venture out of Marin and we have a few friends in the north bay who might feel the same way. I quickly invited Lunesse and Atomicboy, John (who had just fixed my computer) and his fiancÈe Maureen, Alice, Sarah, Chris and Clay, and the rest of the D&D crew. Snacks and wine are on hand, and yet I have only a vague idea of who’s showing up around eight. But hey, Marinites need parties too, and my bathroom really needed a good scrubbing.

Here’s hoping wherever you may be, you greet the new year with a smile. Happy Palindrome, everyone.

at the end

I wish I could sum up this year. It’s been more than a year, in my life’s skewed timeline. So much has happened. I began co-writing a screenplay with a dear friend I knew only online. I was happily surprised by a party of wonderful people on my birthday. I visited my mom in Chicago, and my digital camera was stolen. I found my current workplace, which is never boring and happily so. My dad and stepmom visited and we went to Monterey for the first time. I survived several near-death experiences, in D&D terms . I visited the desert for the first time. We moved into a house. I met my writing partner in person, after knowing him for years online. September 11th happened, and I still have no words for that. I got a new digital camera. Chad’s parents visited us, their first trip to California. I auditioned for community theatre, and didn’t make it. Mish came to visit for one whole week. I leased a new car, Loligo echolalia, who thanks to Mish has a very special license-plate frame now.

I have come out of my shell, socially, a bit more. I have thought deeply about the past, and forgiven myself for some of it. I have met some incredible, fascinating, wonderful people. I have done more than I thought I would, and know less than I thought I did. Goodbye, 2001. You surprised me with happy and with sad.

in my opinion

I’ve got mail. In the mail I’ve got, several people are asking me about two things: one, why I didn’t ‘blog the giant squid story that broke recently, and two, why I have been mysteriously silent about “The Fellowship of the Ring”.

For a few days, I didn’t know why. These are two bits of breaking news in my world, and surely if it’s important to me I’d mention it here. Or somewhere. Anywhere. But I haven’t, and I’ve been thinking about why I haven’t, and here goes my theory.

I am extremely protective of my opinions. This is not equivalent to “I get defensive about things I like” although that is related. No, this is something deeper, something less tangible than defending my opinion against contrary ones. It’s almost like I don’t believe my opinions are viable on their own, and that I have to provide some reasoning behind them.

For years, people have asked me, “Why do you like squid so much?” Honestly, I still have no answer for that. For myriad reasons I have admired these creatures, especially the elusive, gigantic ones, without knowing exactly why. That doesn’t bother me as much as it does some people. After all, these same people understand without much trouble why I like cats: look at a cat, and see in it what we as a culture have decided on is likeable. But squid? You can’t even hug a squid. Which has why “hug squid!” has become an anthem for me, of sorts. “Hug cats!” is easy; go up and hug a cat, and maybe one of them won’t glare at you but instead purr and curl up and be happy. But hugging a squid? Figure out how to do it. I’m daring you. It’s almost like I started to like squid because they were so elusive, so undomesticated, so untouchable. You can’t by nature hug the creatures themselves, so you have to figure out a way to hug them elsewhere. In your minds? Perhaps. Picture yourself hugging a squid: are you damp, now? Is it suffocating? Are you underwater?

You have to think about it. I like having to think about things. Forcing myself to think is one of my favorite pastimes.

None of this comes out when I answer the query, “Why do you like squid?” I usually just mumble something about their intriguing system of communication, because that fits me and my linguistic background. Is this all dishonest? Of course it is. Do I really want to deceive people as to my true affection for squid? No. But when people ask, do they really want a dissertation on me appealing to difficult thoughts as opposed to easy ones? No, I don’t believe they do.

And if they do? Then I’m the one missing out.

As for “The Fellowship of the Ring”, I loved it. We saw it at 12:05 a.m. on opening day and then again on Christmas Eve. I’ll see it a few more times before it leaves the theatres. I could go on and on here about this choice and that, casting, artistic, or otherwise, but I won’t. Everyone is entitled to his or her unique opinion – I’m getting back around to this, believe me – but I can’t bring myself to read any more of the “the movie SUCKED!” ones. I can’t even understand the people who didn’t like the book. I mean, I accept that they’re out there, but I actually read one opinion from someone who said that she realized Tolkein [sic] was the grandfather of fantasy stories but so much of what he did has been improved upon by contemporary writers. Now, I’ve read quite a bit of the fantasy genre, and I believe there is some good contemporary stuff (e.g. George R.R. Martin). Certainly artisans can refine a craft, but how could any replace the inventor?

O, and look. I can’t even keep my own opinion out of it. It’s all struck a nerve, see: every last account I’ve read claiming, “It was so boring!” or even, “It made a mockery of the book!” It’s not that it’s a differing opinion; it’s that I am trying to understand that opinion and I am hopelessly biased against doing so.

Somewhere along the line I grew up believing that it was my duty to understand everyone, to see all sides of every situation, and to respect and acknowledge all opinions. I can’t reconcile this, and here lies the cognitive dissonance. I did not understand, as a younger person, that there would be people who considered their opinions more important, more valid than mine, instead of equally important, equally valid.

We don’t need to get into religion here. It must be obvious by now where that would go.

I have no great ending here. Real life doesn’t tie up nicely like journal entries do.

vacation

Now I wish I hadn’t signed up for the HoliDailies thing, although I’ve mostly enjoyed it. These days, Chad and I are spending a lot of wonderful time together, and there isn’t much to report here. I definitely needed this time off work, at home. It’s hard to write compellingly about contentment. Instead, go see The Realm of Lorin, which is the stuff for Chad’s DnD3e campaign we’ve posted on the Web. We’ve been working on it together this week, and I think it’s fleshing out nicely.

Whew, two minutes to midnight and I managed it!

the great parental conspiracy

-----Original Message----- From: Halsted's Dad Sent: Tuesday, December 25, 2001 1:43 PM To: Halsted Cc: Chad Subject: a true christmas one-act pageant here is the scene--it's shortly before Xmas and an almost 11 yr old girl has been informed by a blabbermouthed playmate that Santa really does not exist. while getting ready for bed she confronts her father with the awful possibility. he asks her if she wants the truth. with great trepidation she reluctantly nods her head. he tells her that santa is really just her parents. she proceeds to stomp around the room fulminating against the GREAT PARENTAL CONSPIRACY rhetorically asking why "don't parents just tell kids this in the first place!" What used to be represented by a lightbulb icon in cartoons/comix suddenly turns on whereupon the hyperlinked lass whirls around and demands: "I suppose this takes care of the Easter Bunny too!?" ah, the vagaries of childhood [and parenting].

Some of us don’t ever want to grow up. Merry Christmas, everyone.

centerpeace on earth

I drove Logo all the way to Castro Valley last night. It was in turns frustrating (other drivers suck) and invigorating (going fast rules). Chad and I went to a party, and I took some pictures, but my party pictures are never as good as other people’s. I think it has to do with having a photographer’s eye, or rather, with not having one.

On the phone tonight with my dad and stepmom, I realized just how isolated I feel this Christmas. Twice in two days I have been spoken to in Spanish by men from Algeria. I didn’t even know they spoke Spanish in Algeria. I had forgotten how to say, “I’m sorry, I have not spoken Spanish in a very long time.” Pennsylvania could be right next to Algeria, for as far away as it feels right now. At the end of January, I hope to visit both sets of parental units, and my grandmother. I’d like to have coffee from the Sheetz convenience store in Meadville, scour the Pink Frog for fashion steals in Chicago, and take my grandma to her favorite used-bookstore in Detroit. So many places can be distilled into what I’ve bought. That might be unhealthy.

To every last person, in Algeria and otherwise, who suffered through my broken Spanish or my confusing English, happy holidays. That must mean everyone. Take good care.

resolve

This is my early New Year’s resolution, as it came to me over coffee with my new friend Alice:

Visit more often with your short-distance friends, and be more available to your long-distance ones.

I think I am regaining lost self-confidence in my ability to be a great friend. Where did I lose that, anyway? Ah yes, I remember now, because this ties in tightly with how hard it is for me to separate others’ opinions of me and my own.

By the way, long-distance friends: send me an ICQ message soon. I’m using ICQ for Mac now, and it works, so I need to add you to my contact list again!

giving

Well, not all of my Christmas shopping is done, but at least the parentals have been taken care of. I haven’t even finished my Christmas cards, so I’m going to work on a few of those before I fall asleep. If it hadn’t been for my present to Chad this year, I’d be somewhat un-merry. Since he’s already found out what it is, I’ll spill: an eight-week course in stage combat for theatre and film. I think I’m more excited about this than he is, although to be fair he’s pretty psyched.

As we were walking around the mall tonight, I realized that I hate shopping but I love giving gifts. May this be my reminder to myself for Christmas 2002: make your own presents, dammit!

realm

I bought a mug from the Celestial Realm Coffeehouse in Birmingham, Alabama. At work, it disappeared from the communal kitchen for weeks, once. It’s just a mug, and I was heartbroken. First of all, the Celestial Realm Coffeehouse no longer exists. I bought the mug from the owner who, while scrutinizing me over the tops of her pink-rimmed bifocals, asked if I wanted to buy the entire coffeehouse. She said she’d make me a great deal on the place, furniture included, freezer and coffee bar too, only several grand. I wanted to, and yet I could not imagine another anchor to Birmingham, not when I was so miserable there without a coffeehouse.

Secondly, so many of the precious few good times happened for me in the ‘Realm, the most important ones involving friends now scattered across the globe and a group called the Birmingham Boardgamers. We would sit for hours around rickety tables in pathetic chairs, laughing and conversing, overflowing ashtrays emptied, coffee cups pushed out of the way for the real connecting to take place.

And lastly, because I was so naive back then to think that once a friend, always a friend, and that I would never be on the breaking side of a friendship.

The mug resurfaced. I immediately wrote “hmb” on the bottom of it in black permanent marker and thanked anyone who happened to be in the kitchen with me for the next few days. After those first days, I noticed a hairline fracture around the bottom edge of the mug’s handle. It occurred to me that someone had used it, broken it, and instead of throwing it away, had glued it back together and carefully replaced it in the kitchen.

I may no longer be naive, but I still have hope.

anticipation

I love anticipation. Impatient as hell, that’s me, but still … the Christmas season still holds real magic for me, because I get to wriggle in anticipation for almost an entire month. It’s not so much about what presents I get, although I do love getting presents. No, it’s much more about what I find for other people, and the satisfaction of getting one person something she or he really wanted.

This year, the car has been my Christmas gift. I’ve dragged out this “name that echo” contest because the car itself is an utterly practical gift, despite the fact that I really like it. No magic here; I picked it out myself, and have to take good care of it for the next four years. Its name has been the surprise, and I’ve really enjoyed this collaboration with the people who read this website. It was difficult to narrow it down to my favorites, yesterday, but once I did, the final choice was apparent.

So, without further ado, the winning name is “Loligo echolalia”, “Logo” for short. I picked two of the suggestions I liked best to form a “scientific” name of my creature because of the wonderful squid-related, linguistic and poetic (alliteration, anyone?) aspects to it all. “Logo” is a clumsy abbreviation of the first part of the name, but I liked it so much because of its sound and its root. Lunesse and Treppenwitz, as co-namers, will each get an autographed photo of me and Logo, plus their websites pimped on squixel.net for a full month. Congratulations to them, and thank you to everyone who participated. And yes, to that anonymous poster, I will definitely be The Bunnymen.

it’s beginning to look a lot like

One-day weekends aren’t really weekends at all. That’s okay; I’m about to have a whole bunch of time off for the holidays. I decorated the house a bit today for Christmas, with lights and garland and Christmas cards and our stockings on the mantel and a miniature pine tree on the dining-room table. Now it feels like Christmas!

To clarify: I absolutely love all the “name that echo” suggestions so far. I just wanted to give everyone a chance to play. So don’t get all bent out of shape! Here are the finalist entries ( now you can get bent out of shape):

  • Inko (submitted by Mish)
  • Lalia (as in “echolalia”, submitted by Treppenwitz)
  • Loligo (submitted by Lunesse)
  • Mink Car (submitted by both David and Roe)
  • Tentacles (pronounced TENT-ah-kleez, submitted by Kim)
We’re making chili and cornbread, with a pecan pie for dessert tonight. Our newly-engaged friends are coming over and we’ll stuff ourselves and watch a movie. Tomorrow I’ll name the car, so prepare yourselves!

finger’s tip

The tip of my left index finger goes partially numb when pressure is applied. It only lasts a second or two, then returns to normal. Should I be worried?

If you are a California Highway Patrol officer, do not read the following: I got the Echo up to 80 on the expressway today, without incident or even much sweating from the mini-motor. Saturday mornings on the 101 are pocket-sized joys. Humming tunelessly along to the radio, I am full of hope and of myself. I remember what it was like to enjoy driving, and so I do.

The movie “Vanilla Sky” impressed me. This will be another of those movies I adore and everyone else feels lukewarm about. I thought about buying movie gift certificates for some people who seem to have everything, but then decided that’s as cheesy as buying book gift certificates. How the hell am I ever going to get my Christmas shopping done if everything I think is cool is really cheesy?

Libraries without people in them are simultaneously gorgeous and sad, like russet leaves disappearing under car tires in the rain. Go to a library when it opens, because it needs you. It’s just a building full of books if no one ever uses it.

If you don’t name that echo, no one will. Weep salty, guilty tears in the dead of night or post a suggestion: your choice.

skippage

Yesterday I skipped another day because it sucked so hard, and I can’t really write about it. Work, while still being a wonderful thing, can really try my patience sometimes. I handled the situation to the best of my abilities and it still wasn’t resolved satisfactorily. And that’s just how it goes, sometimes.

Spending time after work with Chad cheered me up immensely. Then when I checked my email this morning, I was overjoyed at the response to my “name that echo” contest. You people are terrific. TMBG- and squid-related names, even! Some of those puns made my head hurt. I’m still soliciting entries, so keep going. (You can enter as many times as you like, too.)

Tonight I’m having Thai food with a kind, lovely, creative friend of mine named Izumi. His website is almost as cool as he is, so go look at it. Tomorrow I’m coming into work even though the library is closed … expect interesting poetry.

name that echo

Let’s have a little audience participation, shall we?

Name my car. No, really! Name my car!

Here’s a picture, taken just tonight:

namethatecho.jpg

Post your suggestions here. The winning namer will receive an autographed photo of me in (or on, I suppose) the car, plus her or his website pimped on the front page of squixel.net for an entire month, if applicable.

Things to keep in mind:

  1. I do not like ultra-feminine or ultra-masculine names.
  2. I prefer adverbs to adjectives.
  3. I am a huge fan of They Might Be Giants .
  4. I also (obviously) love squid. To hug, not to eat, people. Puns on “calamari” are not funny. Yeesh.
  5. Excessively long names should have short nicknames.
  6. The weirder and obscurer, the better.
Ready … set … name!

running out of gas

I picked up my new car today: a black 2001 Toyota Echo coupe. It’s as cute as can be and I can already tell I’ll love driving it. However, I have completely tired myself out with all this excitement. No pictures of the car until I can snap it in daylight.

I’m going to go read now, but be prepared … as soon as I get those pictures up, I’m going to be naming my car. And I want you to help! Stay tuned.

automated

There is a huge bit of news in the works. First, the background.

I learned to drive on my mom’s 1988 Toyota Corolla LE. It was her first new car, and we had to share it because unlike 99% of my high school classmates, I didn’t get my own car on my sixteenth birthday. After a few years, my mom decided to give me the Corolla and she got her own Camry, which she still has, Chicago winters and all. The Corolla made it all the way to Pennsylvania with me, then to Birmingham, Alabama, and then at 150,000 miles it was time to admit that it wasn’t going to make it all the way West.

I loved that car. We went through a lot together. It smelled bad, because the trunk was mildewed, and the radio was stolen in Birmingham, and the alternator went once. I think three out of the four cylinders only ever worked. But it got me places, without fail, or without catastrophic fail at least. I did so love that car.

Chad and I have been sharing a car for over two years now. It hasn’t all been happy public transportation time for me, here in Marin, where things are a bit more spread out than they are in the city. And now that I have a job that’s not based on an hourly wage, but more of a “work until your work is done” thing, Chad’s schedule doesn’t always match up to mine. Trying to carpool when we don’t work the exact same hours or even near each other anymore has been causing us quite a bit of stress. Then there’s the fact that we each have friends, hobbies, and commitments all over the Bay Area.

Debt is not something I’m fond of, but sometimes it can’t be helped. So I shopped around and found the car I wanted … and then I found the car I could afford. The car I wanted is a Chrysler PT Cruiser. The car I could afford is a Toyota Echo. It’ll get me from point A to point B, and that’s what’s important. Plus, it’s a lease, so I can trade it in if I want to, although I suspect I’ll be keeping it until I run it into the ground, much like I did with the Corolla.

But this isn’t the end of the story. I have something else in mind, something involving audience participation, but you’ll just have to wait until I actually get the car and take pictures of it to find out what that is.

group of

I missed a day! But only because I was at work during the day and at the Lucas companies’ Christmas party in the evening. The party was a different kind of fun from last year, but still fun. Los Lobos was the main musical event, and there was a jazz lounge set up as well. The theme was Mexican, so we had a ton of Mexican food, and everything was washed in red and blue lights; as a result, most of my pictures did not turn out well.

I’ll mess with the pictures and see if I can improve their quality at all. Watch this entry for more photos.

The best part of the night happened while I was sitting at a few tables pushed together with a group of Chad’s coworkers I really like. We were all having a few drinks while joking around and enjoying the music. Right then my new friend Alice (who used to work with them) walked up and gave me a great big hug in welcome, then sat down with us. I had a wonderful moment of, “hey, I have a group of friends here.” I have really needed that.

dismissed

I arrived to the county courthouse bright and early this morning, ready for my American Adventure: Jury Duty. These two words have evoked groans and pitying looks from every single person I know – but I was excited. I really wanted to do this thing, see democracy in action, sit in a room with strangers and answer personal questions and feel mildly embarrassed because you just know you’re going to see this person again, on a bus, or worse yet, in Safeway, that one time you are there at 1:30 a.m. buying a tube of K-Y and a pound of ground beef and one of those Starbucks frappuccino things that never taste as good in reality as they do in my memory, and yet I still buy them, why? Why do I waste my money?

Where was I? Ah. Yes. Jury duty.

The Marin County Civic Center is a beautiful building, at first glance. Frank Lloyd Wright designed it, and we all know how I feel about the Frank. Inside the Civic Center is another story. After a half-century, it’s falling apart, and county funds being what they are, the refurbishment comes piecemeal if at all. So it smells funky, like all government buildings do, that industrial soap mixed with strangers’ smell. It’s falling apart, we’re all falling apart, and propping ourselves up inside a beautiful structure we are supposed to decide the fate of other strangers by virtue of anonymity, animosity, whatever.

I’m here for the Learning Experience.

First I bring my jury summons to the plastic counter, wo-manned by two tired, sad people with tired, sad Christmas-themed cardigan sweaters and tired, sad gold-toned jingle bell earrings drooping from their tired, sad earlobes. I am bright and shiny and perky and happy and I am going to Uphold Justice. I give one of the women my jury summons. She scans it into the computer and hands it back to me and says in a tired, sad voice, “Sit down. It will be a while.”

Now, I am the first to admit that I am an impatient person. While others can bide their “a while” increment of time for fifteen, possibly twenty minutes, my “a while” is at maximum thirty seconds. I sit down with the best of intentions: work. I have brought work. To work on, to be productive while I wait. I open my book to work.

I shut my book. There are strangers, all about! They are doing Things! Like making out Christmas cards! (O, why didn’t I remember something clever like that?) Like looking at me! (Okay, pal, look any harder and I’m going to charge you.) Like staring into space, drooling ever so slightly! (Look at the way the sunlight hits her chin …)

Okay, so maybe I should try reading. I get the book open, and re-read half a page earlier (necessary, for Tolkien) and get caught up and into it and my name is called. So I hop up, gleefully ripping off my “juror’s badge” (read: tiny slip of paper from the jury summons) and march up to the counter. The badge is stamped in a tired and sad manner and a plastic badge-holder is thrown at me. I insert the tiny slip of paper into the plastic holder, attach it to my blouse, and we are off! On our way! Lining up on our way to the Courtroom! Where Justice Happens!

I really was thinking in exclamation points all day. Well, until I wore myself out. But we’re not there yet.

We file into the courtroom. It is partially circular and thus even groovier. I secretly smile, thinking of the Frank. I find a seat in back and there are people in uniforms and a court recorder and there are lawyers and even a defendant. It’s not at all like the movies but still, just far enough out of my normal realm of experience that I am excited. Bouncy, even.

For the first ten minutes.

I had no idea this whole thing was an audition. It is! The court secretary calls your name, you go up, sit in the juror’s box, and answer the judge’s question “will serving on a jury cause you to suffer unnecessary hardship?” If you say yes, you have to say why. If you say no, you are asked to fill in the blanks in the sheet in front of you, which is basically the first part of any credit application, with the obligatory “have you ever served on a jury before?” question tacked on.

Then the judge proceeds to ask some more questions. Some people are excused because of their answers, usually having to do with how they are related to lawyers or police officers or people who have experienced situations similar to the crime that is being prosecuted (in this case, domestic violence). Thus began my own internal cross-examination.

See, I really wanted to be on this jury, any jury really. I want to do something like this to learn about our justice system firsthand because I have very little patience or interest for reading about it. But justice waits for no ‘Sted, and the sudden-death overtime that was the series of “peremptory challenges” was indeed over before my name was called. I didn’t even get to answer any of the personal questions. Not that I’d have been selected; my stepmother worked at a shelter for survivors of domestic violence for many years, and I volunteered there as well. I think the public defender would have cut me right out.

After we are dismissed, I return my badge to the tired, sad clerks upstairs. Into the sunlight I walk, not looking back at the beautiful, dilapidated building. I do not think about the life that will or won’t change, that has or hasn’t already changed, or the million other lives hinged on moments, on “I don’t want to be here todays”. After all that walking, I do not feel disappointed about not being a part of it. Merely tired, and a little sad.

playing chicken

Here it is: the longest game of chicken.

I’m over here, you’re way over there, and we are moving so slowly toward each other that no movement can be seen. (How do I know you’re moving? I don’t, I guess. I guess; I hope?)

No dodging. No flinching.

It’s a still-life. It’s a mirror.

Did I see you wave your hand? Is that a white flag?

No. It’s just a trick of the light. These are all tricks of the light, and I have been so long staring ahead that your outline might just be burned into my vision, a ghost from last year’s sight.

What would a head-on collision destroy? Do it: let’s see. I won’t turn, haven’t turned away.

Turning away might have been an option, once. We could have moved ahead on our own paths, unobstructed. But there was always the smallest magnetism, a pull, a needle always righting itself to pierce true north.

It will be over, eventually. One day I’ll look up and you won’t be there, or you will be one millimeter forward. Either way will come as some relief. Neither way wins.

check-up

Zen talked a lot as she popped right out of the carrier and scoped out the new vet’s office.

“Amazing,” Dr. Mark said.

“She’s not exactly shy,” I replied, watching her sniff the underside of the examination table, stretching out as if to display her unusual, bright orange markings in her dark coat. Show-off, I thought.

Turns out this show-off is 11.5 pounds of preening kitty. No more unlimited food supply for any of us anymore, now that we’re all getting older and spending more time curled up and napping than we are chasing after catnip mice.

I lost all my mice, anyway.

there is no try

Sometimes, when it’s late, I pretend it would make any sense to call someone up and start telling them everything I never told someone else.

In the mornings, I tell myself this is what therapists are for, and now that I don’t have one of those, I tell them to the plastic Yoda head on the dashboard of the Jeep on the way to work.

It is important to have understandings like these with your inanimate objects.

tonga to tango

Kim happened to be in town from Seattle last weekend, so on Sunday night we had a lovely first-meeting dinner at the Tonga Room in downtown San Francisco.

After countless meetings of net.friends I still try not to imagine how someone I know online will be in person. It’s not that I fear I’ll be disappointed; I simply want to cherish the first offline impression. Too often the first online one is lost, in email exchanges, muck conversations, IRC chats or ICQ logs. And after all, it’s the person behind the words who matters.

I arrived late to Kim’s scene, only reading a few episodes of her well-known journal before it ended, but I’m truly enjoying getting to know her in real-time. I had such a good time Sunday night I’d even forgotten to be paranoid about what kind of impression I made on her. Well, there goes that …

the gadget report

All right, all right. Everyone is talking about this Ginger thing. I can’t see the big deal, really. Whatever happened to walking your own sorry butt around?

Of course, I could say, “Whatever happened to singing your favorite songs softly to yourself?” but I won’t, no no no, because I too would love an iPod in my stocking this year.

At least I’m not whinging about the latest and greatest PDAs. No, I’m not, and please note this bit of restraint on my part. cough Handspring Treo cough I am, however, going through batteries on my Palm m100 like crazy, because a certain monkey queen I know has introduced me to BeBops. How many times have I mentioned Little Computer People or The Sims in my various and sundry journal-like beasts? Many. Too many. And now I have BeBops.

Speaking of PDAs, three Christmases ago, all I wanted was a Palm Pilot. Because of a wonderful surprise orchestrated by Chad, I got my wish. I keep thinking about presents, the perfect ones, for friends and family as the day approaches and I am reminded exactly why I love this season so much. It’s truly about other people, and making them happy. It’s especially about that look on someone’s face when you’ve gotten them exactly what they wanted. Although I’m too far away to see most faces this year, I still hope they get just what they want … and if I can score that for them, all the better.

I am grumpy about one thing, though. Every single time I try to load my LiveJournal friends page, I get a “timeout rendering” error. So much for catching up with my peeps over there. I haven’t forgotten about you!

relaxed

Brian the massage therapist arrived right on time, and brought in his table and CD-player and other goodies. Zen was very interested by the whole thing, and had to be scooted out of the way several times while he was setting up. I had no idea what to expect from a professional massage, and said as much, as well as requesting “medium” pressure from a selection of medium, firm, and deep – much like Thai food, only the “deep” in Thai means “deep damage to mucus membranes”.

Time slows down, speeds up, line-dances in the Moose Lodge of my soul whenever I am required to Relax and Take Deep Breaths. That’s when the inner cinema starts, too. This time, I had a vision of myself sitting in a very small movie theatre, watching a grainy black-and-white film about redwood trees. I can only assume this had to do with my phoon in the redwood grove that I submitted to phoons.com earlier today.

There’s this whole gentle rocking motion I hadn’t expected, which sounds odd but feels very comforting and good in practice. I remember something about it being called “trager” but as I was hallucinating at the time I can’t be sure. The lower-back pain is gone, at least for now, and my legs feel all interesting and muscle-happy. Not to mention my hands: I had a distinct sensation of my forearms being squeezed like old toothpaste tubes so that my fingers would at first curl inwards and then stretch outwards. Weird. Great. I love this stuff.

It ended with a lovely head-neck-scalp massage, at which point we had to laugh at what seemed like Zen’s horrified curiosity. “Put the foodgiver’s head down now!” I think she was just jealous not to be the center of attention for an hour.

drano smells good

There are few things more surreal than waking up to a Russian-accented voice announcing in your bathroom, “Drano smells good, yes, I will give you that.”

Vladimir the plumber arrived this morning. Chad and I were still crashed from D&D the night before, so I’m not exactly sure what he did to our bathroom, but I hear it cost $200. (That our landlord is going to pay, thank goodness.)

The game last night was great, and I’m more than a little sad that we won’t be playing again until 2002, and maybe even February. It’s not easy, coordinating so many folks’ schedules. We all seem to have Lives outside of D&D. Amazing.

I’m headed into The City tonight, on my beloved public transportation. I’m turning my study upside-down looking for my favorite pocket map, a copy of the one I envied from Jen’s purse, over a year ago now. It’s teeny-tiny and perfect and makes sense to me, which is more than I can say for some of my other maps. Most of all, it’s teeny-tiny! Where is that confounded map?

Since I’ve been in varying degrees of back pain for the past six months, I broke down and made a massage therapy appointment with my coworker’s massage-therapist boyfriend. I’ve saved my pennies and tomorrow I will receive a whole hour of pain respite. At least I hope that’s the end result. I’ve never had one of these.

At least it’s cheaper than Vladimir.

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I acknowledge that I live and work on stolen Cowlitz, Clackamas, Atfalati, and Kalapuya land.
I give respect and reverence to those who came before me.