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Tuesday, December 17, 2002

Maybe I was better off when I was stranded at home in the dark all weekend. At least then I wasn't out in holiday traffic, bumping up against other clueless part-time shoppers in the mall, and getting caught in sudden showers with only a sweater.

Today I found myself wandering around the mall, dodging and weaving and wondering where all the stores went. When you don't get out much, a little change can be bewildering. I'm almost sure Coddingtown used to have a Hallmark shop, and more than one bookstore. Where did everything go?

I know, I really do, how lucky I am that I didn't have to go out when the weather was so punishing. If I could barely get around today, when it was relatively calm and visibility was good, I'd hate to have been trying to make my way through the slick and unlit streets during the heart of the storm. I've commuted, did it for years, and escaping from that version of hell has probably added years to this end my life.

The list I made last night of what I wanted to do today is still pretty much intact. The things I didn't do are probably more important than what I did, but if the reports are correct I still have one more day of good weather to get to the rest of the list. One more day. That's really heartening. One more day.

Whenever I get a haircut these days, it's an adventure. I never know how it's going to come out. I don't even know what I want in a haircut any more, except that I want to be able to do the least possible work to keep my hair from looking as if I've slept in it. I won't know about the haircut I got today until I actually have slept in it, but my cutter seemed unsure of herself. Maybe that's why she was free on a busy day in the mall.

Other than the inevitable post-storm ants that I had to clean out of the bathroom, the highlight of my day was another trip to the post office. The Boss had a package he wanted sent to one of our subcontractors, and in these paranoid times you can't just slap postage on a large package and leave it. You have to hand it to a clerk, so she can look in your eyes and ask you if it's a bomb.

For some reason, they never bother to ask me. They just weigh my package and take my money. I guess I don't fit the profile. Maybe it's the haircut.

While I was waiting in line, I was standing behind a woman who was lost in some kind of argument with herself. She was definitely not paying attention to the line as it moved, and she kept leaving long gaps between herself and the person in front of her. I really, really wanted to give her a little push (and I suspect the folks behind me would have approved).

As the line slowly moved, she muttered to herself several times, but I couldn't make out what she was saying. When she was second in line, she gasped out loud and pulled out her cell phone, but she just stared at it and didn't make a call.

When she was first in line, she stood against the wall, well back of the little red "please enter here" sign. This meant the people behind me were strung out well beyond the lobby door. When it was her turn, she hesitated and then made her way to the window. I made a big show of taking giant steps to the front of the line, so that everyone else could move up. I'm not really proud of that instinct, but I couldn't help myself.

All she wanted was one stamp, but it was apparently a very important envelope going someplace where special stamps are required. I can't think of any other reason she would have put herself (and others) through such torture.

The holiday spirit is something that I start with a big fuzzy bundle of, and it gradually gets worn away as I get closer to the day itself. As soon as I think my shopping is done and I'm completely ready, it all comes back in a shower of confetti and candy canes. But right now I'm at the lowest ebb of the process, and it's hard to see how I'm going to get to the end. There are more demands on my time than I want to deal with, when I'd rather be out celebrating the season.

I go through these phases where I think, Gee, I'm doing really well. Everything's coming together. This is great! Then reality slowly sinks in, and I see the long road ahead, or the short road with so many bumps and so many potholes. Then I don't feel so good. It takes some time to lull myself back into the right mood.

As I was hyperventilating this afternoon, I sort of wondered if maybe I shouldn't push myself to get so much done so soon. Most of the work I have to do can wait until after Christmas, and obviously I have more than enough other matters to keep me occupied between now and then. I was just thinking it might be better for my health to take it just a little easier for awhile.

 O Christmas tree

Which is more impressive, the tree or the full-bloom amaryllis?

Since I was already frustrated, I figured I couldn't make things much worse by stringing the lights on my tree. It wasn't too bad, but I did forget that I'd dropped the end of the light cord (you know, the end with the plug) into the water under the tree as I was trying to maneuver around in circles. I forgot and plugged it in anyway, but as you can tell I survived. Didn't feel a thing, in fact. Another narrow escape.

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Latest recommendation:

Sasha, I'd Rather Eat Glass, December 10, Dog vs. Devil

Recent recommendations can always be found on the links page.

One year ago: Altered Course
"I can live with that, as long as no one calls me on it. We're in a war, you know."

Two years ago: Higher and Drier
"I was slightly dismayed to discover that I had to do my own grading."

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And man, at war with man, hears not
The tidings which they bring;
O hush the noise, ye men of strife,
And hear the angels sing!