December 2000

A weekend of accidents

ah, tired. The good tired that comes with visitors and much talking and staying up past your bedtime to catch up on stories that are much more reluctantly told over the impersonalizing medium of the 'net.

Andy toddled off to bed just after midnight; good and tired, I would think. He's had more of an interesting day than any of us bargained on. Accidents are, by their nature, unscheduled. As I was driving Kat's car back from the airport, the transmission gave out.

This, of course, is a bad thing to have happen when you're barreling down a highway at 75mph. To look down as the car starts shuddering just in time to see the tachometer spike to nearly 60,000rpm and feel the accelerator fall to the floor is a frightening experience, especially if you've been rear-ended less than three months before.

A missing isolation of geekdom

It's such a pleasure to have friends here. I do still sometimes wish that all of my friends lived in one place. It would mean that the times between talks such as these would not be so long and so quiet. Instead I find myself the occasional Gertrude Stein of the geek community, bringing them together and letting contacts go as they may.

To quote Stein, we geeks are ourselves something of a lost generation. We are geographically isolated from each other, yet depend on our electronic boxes for our socialization, our information, our friendships, our world. We are minorities in every community, and the majority in a few shockingly-priced communities that are out of the reach of those of us bright enough to master our trades but not to be the shockingly brilliant wunderkind that brings out the mega-funding from corporate America.

A pink tutu!

One of the problems in life is that I'm fat enough that I don't fit into fairy godmother costumes without a lot of uncomfortable poking, squeezing, and pinching. But every now and then it seems like clambering into one of those costumes is the right and necessary thing to do.

It's been a wild weekend. Looking back, we managed to do almost none of the things that I'd promised Andy that we'd do this weekend. Because we got stranded outside of Birmingham on Friday night, we didn't get to go to the art exhibits. Because of a particularly nasty car fire (someone else's car, not ours) on Saturday night, we opted not to go to the Christmas event on the mountain. But I think the actual events of the weekend made up for the planned events that didn't happen.To say that Andy and Heather hit it off well this weekend would be a bit of an understatement—especially considering that he didn't even come back to our house to sleep on Saturday night.

Repeat after me: I will not whine

Repeat after me: I will not whine. I will not whine. I will not whine. I will not whine.

Since the wondergeeks invited me over to watch Dune and try to eat some soup, I thought I'd take them up on the offer. The movie was excellent—this miniseries looks like it will be miles better than the previous attempt to bring Frank Herbert's novel to the screen—but I think it would've been better for me if I could've managed to keep down some of the soup they fed me.

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Searching for the end of the road

It is so quiet here in the house. It's just after eleven. Jeff still isn't home. He called the apartment while I was over there, watching the second installment of Dune with Heather, Jess, and Kat. Something about a paper—or a test—or something. I don't know; he spoke to Heather and not to me.

I feel better than yesterday, but that's not saying much. The muscles in my stomach ache, and I'm still finding the idea of food more appealing than its actual counterpart.

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Stomach flu, it seems

Be impressed—I was seen by a doctor today. There was rejoicing in the streets, especially where my friends were concerned. The medical consensus is a well-known little bug known as "stomach flu." I was given phenergan to help combat the nausea I've been having, and told to go home and rest.

I took the medicine soon after I got home. I ate two pieces of toast, drank four ounces of juice, and settled in to read. I woke up nearly five hours later, desperately groggy, warm under my quilt, and with two purring cats nestled along my left side.And I was hungry. Tonight's supper is a bowl of soup. With crackers. And juice. It tastes warm and comforting and heavenly. It's Tuesday evening. I haven't been actually hungry since Saturday night. Jeff is eating pizza in the living room and the smell doesn't nauseate me; this is great.

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Another day, spent quietly at home.

I'd planned to try to go back to work this morning, but I realized this morning that I still needed to be on my anti-nausea medication. Since the pills make me sleep for an extended period of time, it really wasn't worth my while to go in to work for the short amount of time I would have been coherent.

By noon I was curled up under my favorite quilt in the guest bedroom, cats stretched out along my side. I slept for nearly five hours. I'm not sure what's in this medication, but it's the best sleep aid I've ever found.

I've tried to keep the day a quiet one. Some reading, some kitty-spoiling. I'm starting on Saul Bellow's Henderson the Rain King as my next literary read; it looks good so far.

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What calls out the writer in us?

What is the purpose of writing? Moreover, what is the purpose of the writer when they are not writing? I've been asking myself these questions for six years now, and I've never been satisfied with my answers.


Dear God, I hope that's just about everything, because my eyes are about to cross with tiredness.

As you can undoubtedly see, I've posted the bits-of-changes to domesticat. Yes, the header's a graphical one now. It's approximately 31K; I wanted the filesize to be smaller, but I haven't found a compromise that I like just yet.

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If he could see me now

Talk about interesting—I just emailed my mother with a slightly condensed version of the events of the past ten days. I've had this urge to sing the events in order, in the style of "We Didn't Start The Fire."

Rather appropriate, given that a burning car was involved. Well, if nothing else, a nasty bout of stomach flu would explain to my mother why I haven't written her yet this week.

A fifth attempt

Funny; this is the fifth time I've deleted a paragraph and started over. It's not that I don't have anything to say tonight. It's that my mind is tired and whirling and thinking about many different things at once.

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Destination: dragon*con

It's official—we're going to Dragon*Con 2001. According to Kat and Heather, we will be working as part of the TechOps crew that helps run the Con. Eeep. When I talked to the hotel today, they said they were mostly full. Hard to believe when the Con isn't until Labor Day weekend of 2001, but then again, this is a huge convention.

Dad, again

Sigh. Time for one of those moments where I look up and say, "Not again. I'm not laughing, dammit."

Another email from Mom tonight. This one had words that I've known that I would hear someday: "The doctor told us yesterday that [your] dad has some spots that have shown up on his lungs, so we are scheduled for more surgery Dec. 26 for [a] biopsy on them."

Both of my parents are heavy smokers, and have been so for as long as I can remember. It's not necessary for me to say the word; you undoubtedly know what I, the nonsmoking child of two chain-smokers, have on my mind.There are other things this could be. It is true that my father has had pneumonia several times, and this could be scar tissue resulting from those illnesses. He was also exposed to asbestos during the 1960s; this could be a reaction to that.

I am, yes, a dork.

A sign of how my day is going to go today, and a quick flash of dry AndyWit[tm] to boot. I had a coupon for $50 off of a large order at That, and free shipping. I only had a few days to do it before the coupon expired. So I was going to order myself a Handspring—because, quite frankly, if there was a person with a busy enough life and enough to-do and to-purchase lists that could use a PDA, I'm that person.This morning, I had a flash of insight:

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The arrival of winter

Looks like my wishes for a quiet weekend are probably not going to be granted. I was thinking that this weekend might, at last, be the quiet one I've been wishing for. Kat will be in Atlanta, Heather in D.C., Jess in England. Jeff will be recovering from finals, Andy and Sean will be out of pocket, and everyone else could just heed the N/A sign on ICQ.

Then, of course, tonight, my computer decides to throw out signs of impending doom. I know it's time to do a wipe and reinstall—it doesn't mean that I have to like it. I think I'll be using the laptop for computing until I can get my main machine sandblasted and reorganized.Sigh. But, it happens.

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The hottest job on Earth

Stare at the clock in the left hand corner of my screen. 3:25.
Stare at Photoshop. Try to coax out ideas that won't come.
Stare at clock in left-hand corner of screen.
Continue staring. 3:51.

Open Illustrator. Actually listen to lyrics coming through headphones. Wonder how Paula Cole got so damn weird. Realize that you're opening a program but don't know what good you can do with it when it opens.

3:52.This is what it feels like to be totally overwhelmed. This is what it's like after you've been here for seven hours, having only stopped for five minutes to eat a burger. This is what it's like to have come in, worked all day, and done nothing but fall further behind than where you were at the end of the day before.

Thus, the journal entry. It would be delusional of me to think that the next ten minutes I give up to organize my thoughts would have any chance of me getting caught up on this day.

The computer returns—albeit slowly

The good news is that I'm almost entirely back up to speed. I lack installing a couple of small utilities, getting my webcam and scanner working, and then reinstalling my HTML editor, and then I'm totally back up. Pleased, yes, I am. This has been a quick wipe-and-reinstall.

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'Cold,' said my fingertips

Jeff awakened me from a sound sleep at 8:30 this morning. He shook my left shoulder until I opened my eyes and glared nearsightedly at him. Even without my glasses, I could see the grin spreading across his face.

"Get up. I think you need to look outside."

The cooler air came as a shock as I threw the down comforter back. Cold. I'm always cold, except in blistering midsummer, but this morning's chill air came as a shock to my bare legs. The double window is only a couple of feet from my side of the bed. I stepped over to it, avoiding dirty laundry and already-read books, and slipped my fingers between the slats of the blinds.Cold, said my fingertips. I fanned my fingers apart and squinted through the blinds. My eyes were dazzled for the briefest of moments before clamping shut to deal with the extra light.

Snow, said my sleepy brain. White. White everywhere. About an inch of snow.

The lessons we teach our children

Tonight I saw an interesting article on slashdot, soliciting comments on how to teach a child prodigy. I read the responses with a surprising degree of nonchalance, given my feelings on the subject.

The spectre of childhood intelligence is one that's haunted me throughout my life—and yes, continues to do so today, but in ways I never expected as a child. It's not a question, or a mindset, or anything in between. It's not even easily described. It simply is.

It can be summed up by a set of deceptively simple questions that have held the capacity to upset my world for as long as I can remember: "What are we going to do with you?"
"What made you what you are?"

This is me, trying to make sense

Welcome to the psychedelic end of the rainbow. I ask that you pardon my incoherency and just roll with this for a day or so; it'll all make sense in a moment. This is me trying to make sense, and something tells me I'm not doing a good job of it.

I started feeling very strangely this afternoon; my throat felt like it was trying to close up on me. Then I was tired, very tired. I listened to the changing weather reports throughout the day. Snow? Sleet? Rain? Ice? No one seemed to know.After work, I went over to Heather's. She drove me to the surprisingly-empty mall, where I picked up a badly needed new pair of jeans (medium blue and utterly boring) and finished up all but one last gift on my Christmas shopping list.

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"This planet has billions of passengers on it, and those were preceded by infinite billions and there are vaster billions to come, and none of these, no, not one, can I hope ever to understand. Never! And when I think how much confidence I used to have in understanding—you know?—it's enough to make a man weep. Of course, you may ask, what have numbers got to do with it? And that's right, too. We get too depressed by then, and should be more accepting of multitudes than we are.

I am not laughing, and this still is not funny!

Obviously, I stayed home from work today. My fever dipped to 99.x for a while today, but it's gone back up to 100.3 again. That weird queasydizzy feeling is back again, so I'll keep this short. Same symptoms—sore throat, tiredness, stiff and sore neck, headaches, lightheadedness, fever.

I'm having trouble concentrating on things for more than a minute or two at a time. I have to point out, though, that some of my friends would probably say that this is beneficial for a worrywart like me, and not something that could be classified as a symptom of something wrong.

I'm trying to decide what to do about work tomorrow. If I'm still running this fever I have no business sitting in the middle of a cube farm. But I'm desperately needed there right now, and no kidding on the desperately part. (I have two major deadlines looming on the 29th that must be met.)

Here we go again.

It certainly seems like I've written this entry before.

Kat tells me that my feverish and slightly nonsensical journal entries from this week are greatly amusing Sean. Just think, Sean—you could be here, putting up with my grumpy, feverish, utterly charming self in person, but instead you're in snowy Atlanta.

(Please raise your hand if you find that statement to be as utterly screwed up as I do.)

Basically, it's the same damn rigmarole that I've been living with since Monday evening. Sore throat, stiff neck, fluctuating fever, exhaustion. Blah blah lah dee frickin' blah blah blah. Hey, at least the fever makes me easy to entertain…not only do I have the attention span of a goldfish, but my cats find me equally as fascinating.

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Come home, out of the fog.

I told Jeff on the way home today that it felt like Tuesday. Most of this week vanished in a combination of sleep and fever. But I have answers now.

Jeff wasn't able to go in to work at his usual time this morning; the truck just wasn't able to make it up the ice-covered hills this morning. So he came home to me sitting in my overly-plush terry bathrobe. We talked. I mentioned that I wasn't sure if I'd be able to make it to the doctor's office because of the ice.

He offered to check my throat to see if he could see anything. In retrospect, it bothers me that neither of us thought to do this sooner. After a couple of mishaps and me nearly gagging on a soup spoon, Jeff says, essentially, "What are these white spots on the back of your throat?"

Amidst the season of listmaking, my list

My favorite Christmas carol is still "Carol of the Bells."

I still have no memories of a white Christmas. Looks like this year won't be the year I get to make those memories. Perhaps another year.

I have come many miles to visit...

After a long and exhausting day of having all three nephews over at the house, I told my mother what Jeff and I have been quietly discussing for some time: the fact that unless something strange happens, that we won't be having children.

She says she's not disappointed. I hope that she's telling me the truth; it's hard to tell. But I know that she's not surprised. She mentioned that some of my relatives have started asking her when Jeff and I planned to start having children, and that her response has been that she's never been too sure that we planned on having any at all.

Welcome home, Amy

Welcome home, Amy, I say to myself. Look around. This is where you belong, whether or not you want to admit it.

From the hotel: stupid ice storms

This won't get posted until after I get home.
Whenever that is.We woke up this morning to the beginnings of a freak ice storm. As we checked the weather, I began to panic. From what we were reading, this was going to be a monster of an ice storm—with the roads becoming impassable until around Thursday, or so people were guessing.

From the hotel: geek, stranded

Well, that answers that question. The Little Rock Airport is, effectively, shut down. No flights will be entering or leaving. I will be here another day. So I've done what every stranded geek would do: get a long shower, watch a couple of sappy movies, and fired up the laptop and started writing.

Looks like I'm getting an enforced vacation. Looks like I'm going to have plenty of time to write tomorrow.

From the hotel: can I please leave this room?

I've had another flight canceled out from under me today. The airport is still shut down. I've been rescheduled on another airline on Thursday evening.Cabin fever is starting to set in. I had to go out to the other hotel for lunch today. My hotel is midway up on a hill, and does not have a restaurant. The next hotel over…er, well…UP…had a restaurant. Normally, going from one hotel to the other would take maybe twenty seconds. Today it took twenty minutes.

From the hotel: strange, glacial beauty

More television. During one of my restless moments, I opened the curtains to look outside. It was the first time I'd looked outside since twilight fell. I forget the eerie beauty that comes with ice storms. My window has icicles that vary between six and eight inches long. The asphalt parking lot twinkles in the light; there is at least an inch of ice there. I cannot even imagine what the roads must be like.

From the hotel: cabin fever

I don't want to go downstairs. I want something to drink besides water, though. I just finished watching an episode of "The Operation" about hair transplant surgery, and I really need something else to think about. So I've fired up the mini coffeemaker provided with this room, and made a tiny little pot of coffee. I poured myself a cup of the stuff, and dumped eight packets of sugar and three packets of creamer into it.

From the hotel: stark raving mad

Damn that stupid coffee. Not only did I stay up until two a.m., I slept through breakfast. I am really starting to lose my temper here, and being hungry doesn't help. But I did have fun watching contestants get manipulated on The Price Is Right. Great. So I wandered downstairs and raided the vending machine—again. They're out of Pop-Tarts and all of the good chips. It's me and Mr. Goodbar dining together again. When I get out of this sterile carcass of a hotel room I'm going to have a real honest-to-God meal with minimally-processed food. I'm craving vegetables.

From the hotel: a ray of hope?

After several phone calls with Jeff, I'm packing up in hopeful preparation for leaving this place. He's apparently as twitchy as I am, and he's going to get all the concrete blocks he can from my parents and is going to try to drive the truck out to get me. If he can get out here to the hotel, then we can go home. I think they left about an hour ago.

Meanwhile, I'm just going to pace around this room. I won't look for him for another half hour, at least. Maybe he'll manage to get this far so we can go home.

A present—of entries

Okay. At last, I present to you, my entries composed on my laptop while I was stranded in Arkansas during the ice storm. Enjoy. Laugh. I'll get back to my regular commentary soon; I just thought you guys might find it amusing to see some snapshots of what my mind was like as I was cooped up.

It is good to be home

A joyous season to you, reader. It's good to be home.

I woke up this morning with a maddening snippet of lyric in my head. Somewhere in the last dream I had before wakening, I heard the song phrase, "Every time you walk into the room…" Some quick googling told me that what I was hearing in my head was a snippet of the chorus from Stevie Nicks' "Rooms On Fire."

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Tired. So tired.

I really shouldn't have taken that nap earlier this evening, but it felt wonderful to lie on the couch with the cats stretched out on me and drift quietly to sleep while Jeff was watching Iron Chef. I vaguely remember opening my eyes once and seeing something about an unusual preparation of fried rice, and then sliding softly back into sleep.

This was a good thing; I think I need the rest. My concern over my general health is starting to nibble at me a bit. First, a serious bout of stomach flu and strep throat within a six-week period, and now a week after finishing up my medication to treat strep, I appear to be coming down with a cold.I rummaged through our horrendously messy kitchen table this evening and found the cold medicine Jeff bought a few weeks ago. It seems to be helping a bit. If nothing else, it will probably help me sleep—once I get sleepy, that is. My nap has thrown my internal clock for a bit of a loop.

A surprise visitor

Well, I certainly got my Christmas present today.

I should've figured out that something was up when Andy wasn't on ICQ last night. I know good and well that the only time he completely shuts down his computer is when he's not at his house.

You can probably guess who, along with Heather, showed up on my doorstep this morning. With the Christmas present (a signed copy of Orson Scott Card's book, Ender's Game) of course.So much for a quiet day of getting the house clean. Instead, we went grocery shopping, team-cooked a nice dinner, and socialized. We watched the Penguins game. I didn't do much, but I'm still wiped out.

I'd write charming pithy commentary, but my brain's starting to fuzz over from the antihistamines that I took. Hopefully they'll help me sleep, too.

The solitude of the morning

As I grow older, I find that I prize my time alone more and more. Thus, here I sit at six a.m., tapping away at a keyboard. The computer room door: open just a crack. One of my curious cats could use an inquisitive front paw and a quick headbutt to open the door if they really wanted to, but this way Jeff won't be disturbed by the light coming from this room.

Henderson the Rain King

The urge to wrap up the year is a persistent one in humanity. Send out the old, send in the new, remember who we were, make plans for who we want to be. We're sentimental calendar-based critters. Even the most jaded among us tend to take stock of their lives in late December.

I might or might not post that sort of thing today. I haven't decided.

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