Welcome back
Happy, happy reunion at the airport. Giddy weekend spent watching movies, talking and eating chocolate, and then out to the country, where in the sunlight we fling ice shards onto Concord's frozen ponds. Listen to the drifting singing noise as the shard skates further than we could ever throw, seemingly propelled by its own sense of motion. In bed at 2:30 this morning, my eyes jolt open with a raw and aching throat. Come downstairs, make tea with homemade honey, watch the last twenty minutes of Broadcast News. Holly Hunter is so tough. Fall asleep hours later. Finally call the doctor today. "Oh, come on in for a strep culture!" she says cheerily. "We can fit you in today!" Sigh. Vacation ends.


It's Like Thunder
I'm leaving work, on the Friday before Christmas, in a downpour. I love the sound of rain on the roof. Here we go: off to nearly a week with family, hoping for my dearest friend's arrival in town, and missing my boyfriend, who puts stars in my eyes, I swear. The simple act of waking up with him makes me all light-headed and happy.

No more gushing. Everyone should see L of the R; by the way. It's required viewing. I'll be thinking about it plenty tomorrow, on my long, solo drive to Upstate Elsewhere. And tonight, on the drive home, watching the December rain run down my windshield, pouring into the reservoirs along the road, washing away all the beautiful fog that gathered on the water at sunrise.


Gandolph: The New Santa
Woo hoo! Off to see Lord of the Rings tonight! I feel like Gandolph and I are old friends, out of touch for too long. It's such a great holiday treat. Last night Chinchy and I drove around Somerville, gazing at holiday a-go-go. Watertown has nothing on Somerville in this department. We got out of the car in front of a 20,000,000 watt house, draped in plastic Rudolphs and sparkling lights. Small plastic santas lined the carport. While we were standing there, admiring the zombie-like plastic child angels in each window as their arms and heads moved in stilted form behind the glass, the owner pulled into the beaming driveway in a blue muscle car. He looked tough and hungry. I got so giddy I felt drunk. We left.

Sometimes you feel like getting a compliment from the Surrealist Compliment Generator, and sometimes you don't. Do my hands really do the work of 10,000 lesbian jumping beans? Not today, at least.


The Sound of Data
Did you know that you can now listen to the Internet? (At the Whitney Museum of Art, no less!)
A strange long day, a lucky day according to my online astrologist, who predicts a sort of sadness this season for some of her female Cancers. She apologizes and hopes she's wrong, but she predicts it nonetheless. I have started writing a new course, "Negotiating Technology Contracts," and by the time our 3.5 hours of meetings (!!) started this morning, my head was lost in the sort of endless lawyerly reasoning that occurs in these courses. "Do not accept their terms!" the instructor insists. "He Who Drafts, Sets the Agenda."
Ah, yes, the key to life is to be the drafter, right? Or not participate in the agenda at all. But my parents tried that and I'm not sure it really works. Who doesn't subscribe to someone's agenda? Small-time militia members? See, that's not for me, I don't think. I could stockpile plenty of weapons, but I'd get tired of canned food. Oh, I'm so witty.

Salt is corroding my car
in anticipatory gasps imagine the rust already
flaking gold around the edges the car falling apart before it's been paid off, pieces of the car
all over the road, the lot, puddles of rust from an owner who
can't seem to get to the car wash

and now interest grows on loans and in the sunlight, like flowers,
just drive fast enough
so that the rust flies off in glistening rhubarb streams
I'd step back
but moving around you is almost impossible i have put you in my way
just outrace the interest
speeding on CDs by central federal trust and ideas
publish a book maybe
get a big advance
destroy the loans, the salt, the sun

running as hard as i can from the season and my great and uncapped flight for you
snow and ice on the road, patterns of icicles
green trappings and lights desperate for meaning
what is anything without anticipation, love i feel fine
there's nothing and reject me all time, all light

on the floor alone by the tree,
it's over kick red holly stab


While in New York for the weekend, I crossed the Brooklyn Bridge on foot with Blue's family and my aunt and uncle, who were unexpectedly kind and helpful last weekend. Sometimes family can surprise you. His mom saw the Statue of Liberty for the first time and was thrilled and in a way I saw it for the first time too and it was good. We stayed in the loft of one of my dearest friends, a cool brick interior shaped to create layers of rooms within one room. We slept on a futon and though I woke early each morning, I was happy to lie in bed watching the cat play, leaping through the big green plants on the sill. Through the windows I could see the wintered Coney Island against the sea; the Wonder Wheel stilled and carrying a neon pink cross on top; the crickety wooden rollercoaster The Cyclone; and a myriad of smaller rides, each one guarded by a lonely rottweiler. One morning we took a long walk on the boardwalk, and the wind was cold, but the ocean was beautiful.

During goodbyes at the Met, his family gushed and laughed about the fun they would have over Christmas and I felt startling pangs of sadness. I think if they were not followed by awkward silences in deference to my presence there, I would be better able to move away unaffected. He has talked so much about seeing his friends there, but is slow to initiate a conversation about me meeting them. Even if we are together next year, it is a second choice. I wish this Christmas could just be about love and family for me, but instead, it's just about uncertainty. I have wished more than once that I had made plans to travel on my own this year, and go somewhere wonderful and absorbing.

Last night, however, we curled up with my godson, all of four months old now, while he was separated from his parents for the longest time ever. For five full hours, he laughed and cried and ate and played and cooed and even watched his Baby Mozart video (yes, there really is TV for four-month-olds). He is goofy and fun and endlessly cute. Plus, I think he recognizes me. When I spend that much time with him, he permeates my dreams. This morning, I woke up happy.
SOME Rights Reserved
NO Rights Reserved

From Creative Commons comes this new presentation, complete with an explanation of what happened when the White Stripes had their record edited by a fan, and why CC [Some Rights Reserved] can work just as well as C [All Rights Reserved]. Also available is Jonathan Zittrain's very interesting analysis of that Australian libel suit against Barron's. All links thanks to Donna.


And How Was Your Day?
This morning. Mean email from my dad and immediately, tears, nosebleed, like I was a kid again. Flee the office, leave the car keys behind. Out in the woods, snow up to my ankles, on the cell phone with my boyfriend. Snow falling on my hair. Reassurance that I am my own person. Digging in my heels about going to my parents house for Christmas. Furiously brainstorming something else I can do that will make me feel alright. Refusing to accept the terms and conditions of my visit to Rochester.
Call my best girl friend, mother of a newborn, but she's sleeping, and I walk inside and sit down to calm down. Time passes. Long stretch of bare trees outside the window. Trucks pass. Snowfall lessens. Finished with being run by my parents. Through the window, the cold clouds begin to lift. Return to office. Sit down under field of flourescents. Face computer. Face of steel.


The Spring is Looking Beautiful
I got good news this morning. I very gingerly approached my manager and asked for her permission to work from home on Wednesdays for about four months this spring. I have been asked to assistant teach a course at Harvard called "Emerging Technologies in Educational Contexts Outside the Classroom." Me! Assistant teach! And my manager said, "Absolutely!" That is the first time that this management has really come through for me, and I could not be happier. And now I'll be back in the classroom! My old prof whooped at the news over the phone, and proclaimed herself thrilled. I am too.


Last night I was talking to my best friend from high school who recently moved to New York City. During the process, she has slowly reconnected with the crowd we used to know in high school. Some of these renewed friendships have been wonderful, and some not so much. But last night she told me about the dropped hint by one of the members of this crowd that they were talking about her...negatively. Apparently, she has not been as prompt at returning phone calls as one of these characters might expect. And that, of course, got her a less-than-subtle comment informing her that she was being Talked About.

There's a saying that suggests that all of life is really about what happened in high school. That who we are and what we do is totally reliant on the way we acted and were treated as adolescents. I find that perspective wholly depressing and generally absurd. But for some people, I think it's actually true. When Blue and I fled the midwest this summer after a bad funeral, we found ourselves shuddering with gratitude that we didn't live in a world in which we peaked in high school. So many people we encountered out there clung to their rural church communities in fear of the world and reminisced about being 16. But here we are, with a cosmopolitan and educated crowd that still talks like it did ten years ago.

But this isn't just about adolescence. When we were in our teens, J & I would roll our eyes at comments like that, and refrain from the whole cruel-gossip circuit anyway. It never seemed like a great idea. And the group-enforced hand swatting that happens when one person is "bad" never struck me as particularly attractive, not even as a child. I think more than youth, it's the phenomenon of groups that most restricts the development of personality. Not goal-oriented clubs, mind you, but clusters of people that rely on the shape of each single personality as it was exactly when the group was formed. If one mind grows and changes, the whole "team" is thrown off balance, and it cannot continue to function. The members will destroy the possibility of change; I know because I've seen it happen.

Even more important, how can any person continue to evolve and develop if they are not exposed to new and interesting things? Don't get me wrong; the new and the interesting can most definitely reside in the same face you've woken up to for years. But I think one-on-one relationships are far more conducive to finding the hidden and unexpected---and the different and/or unwanted---than groups are. The relationship does not have to depend on a suspended and proven dynamic; it can just depend on the desire of two people to keep coming back to each other.

I do like having parties, hanging out with more than one person at a time, and introducing friends to one another, etc. And it's a great blessing to have and keep old friends. But the faintest hint of reliance on a molded group and I run in the other direction.


So it Sparkles
On Saturday my beloved hair stylist greeted me with a big smile. "So today's the big day!!!" she said. I wanted highlights to be dyed into my hair, and who better to do it than Jen? She was on fire, as usual. Her short, punky hair was dyed black and she wore gorgeous eyeshadow in a color I would never be creative enough to consider. We're both 26, and I found her when we were both 22. Now my friends go to her, and one friend managed to get every woman in her workplace to become Jen's regular. I sat down in the swingy barber's chair and looked at my suddenly scruffy-looking brown hair in the mirror. I told her I wasn't sure what to do, but liked the natural gold and red highlights in my hair. Jen was looking at me intensely. "I have a vision!" she said.

Two hours later, she was razoring into my hair with shiny cutting implements as sun bounced off the powerful red streaks in my hair. "That's so bold....don't you think?" I asked her, gazing at the clown-like rows of color along my center part. "No, " she replied. Jen is one of the most self-assured people I have ever met, and it's not an act. "I have been waiting to do this for years, and you are going to love it," she said. "I have given you red and blond layering, cut so it almost sparkles."

In the entryway of a Stop N' Shop, I stared at myself in the security monitor. There was a brassy redhead looking back. At home, I began to panic. I loved it, but I hated it so much. When Licky got home, he calmed my fears. "Do I really NOT look like a clown?" I asked incredulously. Still, when I ran my hands through my hair, it sparkled.

It's become a luscious surprise to catch in the mirror.


Yesterday I was downtown, hopping from Macy's department to Macy's department as I did my Christmas shopping. Shopping which, curiously, entailed spending more on myself than on others. Yes, I feel guilty. But now I have Clinique lipstick. There was snowfall, and a huge green Christmas tree tied snugly to an overhang on the building. The tree's swath of colored lights had a hushed glow in the storm. For lack of chairs inside an Au Bon Pain, I ate my gornozola and pear salad outside in the snow with a pigeon perched on the chair opposite me. Everytime I ate a walnut, I could feel his steady gaze.

That morning on the T, I picked up a pair of fuzzy black earmuffs from my seat before sitting down. I asked the other riders if anyone could claim ownership, but the 'muffs were orphans. I put them on the floor under my seat. At the next stop, a woman got on the train, sat down across from me, and began pointing her finger at me as I read the free subway daily. I looked up from the 3-question interview with Rob Schnieder. Why was this person pointing at me? Ah, and then she would point down on the floor, at the fuzzy black earmuffs. Maybe she was mute. "Oh, no, they're not mine," I said. "Oh, OK!" she said, laughing. "Thanks, though," I said, as I turned back to my paper. "No problem," she replied. I read the paper's Strange Animal Story of the day, about an artiste who paints words on the sides of sheep and then watches their movement to see what kind of poems they create. I could feel a man eyeing me. "They. Are. Not. My. Earmuffs," I wanted to say, but remained silent. I don't even wear earmuffs. That's not to say that I don't have a certain level of admiration for those who can pull them off, but a ball of fluff on each side of my head? Why not just wear clown shoes and a propeller cap? I scanned the horoscopes and got up to get off the train. As we all stood there, collectively waiting for the train doors to open, I felt a tap on my shoulder. A young woman held the earmuffs in her hand. "Uh, are these your earmuffs?" she asked.


Sex Columnists, Political Columnists, and Black Widow Spiders
Oh, man, another great Savage Love this week. This guy is really so, oh so, funny. And speaking of funny columns, have you read Maureen Dowd's Op-Ed on the Kissinger appointment yet? Hoo boy! “Who better to investigate an unwarranted attack on America than the man who used to instigate America's unwarranted attacks?”

Oh, and good lord, read this true Boston tale of a Black Widow surprise in a bag of grapes from Star Market that were minutes away from being eaten by a set of 3-year-old triplets (truly the best part).

I like this winter sunlight. It makes me think of the middle of January, which always seems so desolate. I love times of the year that seem desolate.

I got an urgent communique this morning to speak about writing, and it left me happy. I honestly do not know why, but there are people out there who want to write with me, and it's so nice. Now if only I had some good ideas.


Just Call Me Yr Honor
I am a judge in the 2002 Council for the Advancement and Support of Education Web Site Awards. The other two judges and I got together last night to run over each site (with a truck) and determine which websites were still visible through the tire tracks. It was a wholly good experience; in fact, I couldn't have asked to work with two fairer, nicer or more qualified people. But three and a half hours of straight assessing permeated my brain and required a glass of wine to thoroughly dispense. Entering my apartment, I immediately informed my boyfriend that his mouth was very well-proportioned to his face, and his freckles very evenly dispersed. The kitchen lamp was taller than ideal and lost points on innovation; the kitten had a beautiful set of colors but her torso was a little long, especially when she stretched to full capacity.

Despite this aesthetic assessment affliction, however, the judgeship has been a great learning experience. Rule #1: Nothing is more important than navigation. Too few or too many links is bad, bad, bad, but menus that change throughout a site? That's even worse—unless, of course, they are expanding subcategories, which is great. Color scheme matters, but what matters more? Content. There must be substantial content. If the site is just an online brochure, then it's not a great website—even if it is a great brochure. Also, innovation is important. It should represent what the web can do, and hint at what it could do in the future. A solid website is good, but only an exciting, compelling website wins awards.

We can't say who won yet; that's a secret until all the results are into HQ. But I hereby award us a gold for judging.


Buzz Words
Other people in the office, people whose names I can't even remember, continually walk up to my desk, make the obligatory small talk about the weekend, and then talk at me about "the industry" as though I might actually be interested. Conferences happen, articles get written, businesses develop, and over what? Over what? What IS "e-learning?" As I felt in my graduate program, I am working on a job which is one of many small developments due to the Internet, and yet people insist on making an intellectual field out of it. I don't see how or why this is done. Education is education; it spans many media, ages, and contexts, as it always has. It is different every day, for every person, in every situation. Too much talk is usually my cue to mistrust; I see rhetoric as cover for something that lacks substance.

So, when they relate excitedly the latest article on what appears to be the one single topic that gets constantly rehashed, I only nod and smile politely. It's like they are speaking some other language. When their mouths open, I become transcendent. I have out-of-body experiences. I leave the office while what once was my body sits in front of a computer, incessantly smiling, nodding, smiling, nodding, lost in a sea of politeness. I do not even try to understand the meaning behind the code they speak in this world.
My little cat has a soft face, with fur that gets easily mussed when she runs it over your pants leg. She has her own chair at our table, and has learned to hop on up there at mealtimes. Her own food bowl is in the next room, but she still wants to participate. When she's not in her chair and we're eating, she is often messing with her bag of catfood, trying to tear it open so that she can eat with us.

Thanksgiving went well, despite the snow/rain mixture we got to drive through—both there and back. And by the end I was tired. It wears me down to intermesh my own relationship with that of my parents, and now even of my kid brother. All those hopes and mistakes, there in one room together. But, of course, terribly glad to hug my mom and dad, and college-bound bro. I might have found him a couple of schools in the books I brought home, and now all he has to do is apply. I have my fingers crossed.