Gloom and doom, fie on thou!! For, December 24, 2012 is shaping up to be a beautiful and eventful day on planet Earth.

Granted, not eventful everywhere, for it is Christmas Eve, and many establishments are closed for business. The Beaverton Area Chamber of Commerce has no events scheduled for that day; likewise the City of Olive Branch Mississippi; and UC Davis simply lists it as a Winter Holiday (same for that date in 2013, 2014, and 2015, as well.

But.... WNYC 93.9 FM has a full day of programming scheduled, including multiple doses of BBC World Service, Morning Edition, Marketplace, and All Things Considered, along with editions of The Brian Lehrer Show and The Leonard Lopate Show. Sansur Paradise Plaza Hotel must be expecting some big business on that day, since they picked it to kick of a few weeks of jacked-up prices. The Philadelphia Cathedral plans on that day to hold Diocesan Initiation Rites -- and for the Protestants, there will be a nifty Evangelism Committee Meeting at Rich Spath's House!! (I anticipate cake and pie). In Indianapolis, Sean Baker will be taking a day off from his usual Monday night Open Mic Piano Bar. Down in Brantley, Alabama, WAOQ-FM 100.3 MHz will have to hurry up and finish construction of its tower in Goshen, because on that date their Construction Permit Expires!!

What else? How about loads of fun stuff in Louisville, Kentucky, where on that date Mike Veach will be hosting the Filson Bourbon Academy program, to teach bourbon appreciation (and now I know where I'll be on that date); elsewhere in the city there'll be a free "Yoga for Athletes" Class; and other classes ranging from "Introduction to Playing the Mandolin," to "Toddler Hip Hop" to (I kid you not) "How to Write Vampire Stories". And elsewhere still, and most importantly of all from the party dimension, Ryan Seacrest will be sharing his 38th birthday with Ricky Martin (turning 42) and Alabama Republican senator Jeff Sessions, who will turn 65 and thus be eligible for social security. Is that ironic? I don't know.

It had been, all agreed, a busy week.

It was December, 2012, and despite the almost hopeful declarations of doom by the Mayan calendar enthusiasts, the world did not end on the 12th.

It ended on the 16th.

The doom sayers clung to hope on the 13th, putting the distinct lack of annihilation down to cosmic lag. By the 14th, nobody was paying them any mind and was instead doing all the Christmas shopping they'd neglected when they thought the holidays had been called off on the count of oblivion. Nothing was particularly amiss on the 15th, save for an increasing number of store riots, but that was only to be expected when WalMart declared buy two get one free on all electronics.

The meteors hit sometime around ten in the morning. They fell from the sky in a curtain of fire, raining down into the sea. Some meteorologists worried about adverse effects this might've had for the shore: tidal waves, tsunamis, the rains of fish that turn up every once in a while, but other, more sensible meteorologists called them out for catering to the media. Most of the rocks were disintegrated in the atmosphere, and the ones that did make it were the size of baseballs. There was a bit of infighting over this until the leviathan rose up from the deep and everyone forgot about the argument.

Satellites watched it happen, as did two cruise ships, a fishing trawler, and a castaway on a raft. Only the first ones, however, managed to catch it on camera.

The leviathan rose up from the waves. Water cascaded down its shoulders, its many eyes glowing yellow in the dim light. It opened its mouth to give out a roar when-

Dink

One of the meteorites hit it. The small rock bounced off the creature's shoulders. The leviathan shook its head, fanned out its fin-like wings, drew in a breath and-

Dink dink

It swiveled its massive head around to see what had happened, only for-

Dink dink dink

A tentacle came out from the water and tried to shield the creature's head.

Schrreeeesh

A chunk of flesh was torn off the tentacle as a particularly large rock hit it. For the next twenty minutes, meteorites fell from the sky and tore at the leviathan. They might have killed it, eventually, if one hadn't hit it squarely in the temple. Many yellow slitted eyes rolled back in their sockets, and the beast tumbled backwards into the sea, unconscious.

The resulting wave carried all three ships and the castaway several miles west, where they immediately began corroborating their stories and started calling news stations.

The hundred or so videos taken on all the cell phones were up on Youtube within the hour.

It was all over the news the next day. It had been all over the internet the day before, but news stations and papers were a bit slow on the uptake. Everyone was giving their opinion on the matter; scientists, theologians, zoologists, conspiracy theorists, politicians, Crazy Street People Who Shout Things- everyone.

The next day with filled with earthquakes. Reports later showed that there were no casualties. Buildings collapsed, roads cracked, hundreds if not thousands were left homeless, but no human life was lost.

People were still reeling from the shock of it all, but managed to scrape together a few relief efforts. The various governments set about getting medical aid to their constituents, only to find that very few people were actually hurt. Instead, focus was put on getting people places to stay. In smaller towns and villages, people opened their own homes up to their neighbors until something more substantial could be done. In bigger cities, temporary shelters were built for those who couldn't gain admittance into one of the overstuffed regular shelters.

The four horsemen of the apocalypse showed up on the 20th, followed closely in suit by an army of angels. Below, in the center of what remained of New Jersey, a large crack opened up and the forces of hell rose up.

One of the angels managed to blow on his trumpet, only for a giant wolf to come seemingly out of nowhere and eat him in one snap. Both armies froze, wondering what was going on. The horsemen, however, were rather single minded and kept on trotting, expecting the wolf to get out of their way. They were promptly eaten. Fenrir then found himself with a bad case of food poisoning and had to go have a lie down.

The forces of heaven and hell shrugged it off and took to the sky in a clash of flaming steel, feathers, bat wings, and arrows. They were almost immediately felled by bolts of lightning as Zeus -who had been in the middle of his nap- took offense to the noise. They tumbled down to Earth, the bolts striking them indiscriminately. By the time it had ended, only a handful of each army was left, the others having died or teleported back home. The remaining angels and demons weighed the benefits of continuing their own dispute while dealing with the Greek pantheon, found it ultimately not worth it, collected their wounded and went to go sit out the rest of Armageddon in a local Starbucks, where they shared mochas and pastries and complained about both of their bosses.

The second coming of Christ corresponded with the arrival of not one, but two different alien civilizations. The Centaurians from Beta Centauri and the Kthlg'har'har'akth'javal from the planet Tizzlef@r'zll%Kthlr^y, the first being stereotypical laser-wielding little gray men most people had come to know and love, and the second being horrendous, many-eyed, twelve-foot-tall tentacled monstrosities composed entirely of fire and scales. Both alien races had come to enslave Earth. The Centaurians because they had mistakenly interpreted various signals sent out as some sort of declaration of war, the Kthlg'har'har'akth'javals because they perceived humans as a species of adorably clever hypoallergenic pets that came in a wide array of colors and shapes.

The Centaurians, being as they were prepared for battle, saw Christ descending from on high and naturally assumed him to be some sort of weapon. they rammed him with one of their ships. The Kthlg'har'har'akth'javals, seeing what they thought to be a vile act of animal abuse, called them on it. Before any sticky green bloodshed could occur, Christ managed to talk them both down and invited them out to Denny's for lunch. They accepted and parked their armies behind the moon out of sight. The Centaurians because they thought there was some sort of official peace talks being held, and the Kthlg'har'har'akth'javals because- Aww look at da wittle hoooman! He's eatin' his foods wiff his wittle pawsies.

By the end of it, all three representatives had gotten thoroughly drunk and were swapping stories of their misadventures in the various dimensions.

By the 22nd, the hangovers had worn off and they all went back to their respective homes, having totally forgotten why they had come to Earth to begin with.

The only human beings who noticed were a handful of astronomers who'd watched in fascination as a fleet of starships swarmed around the moon like tiny bees, a few conspiracy nuts who were certain they saw little gray men staggering out into the parking lot, and the staff at Denny's, who were so jaded that they couldn't care even if you had paid them.

On the 23rd, a potential cure for cancer inadvertently created an army of zombies intent of devouring the flesh of the living. The outbreak was stopped by rednecks with shot guns within twenty minutes.

On the 24, every household, shelter, hut, tent, and cardboard refrigerator box in the world woke up to a small, festively wrapped box waiting for them. if there was a Christmas tree, the box would be sitting beneath it. If there was a Menorah, the box would be sitting beside that. If there was no holiday icon at all, the box would simply be sitting someplace where nobody could possibly miss it.

Inside the box was a note that simply read: "Have a nice holiday."

On the back was a forty-seven digit contact number. It could be dialed into anything phone-like - pay phones, cellphones, little toy plastic phones- and the call would go through without a hitch. When people called it (which they inevitably did), they would first be directed to an operator. The operator would ask them if they were sure they'd like to proceed. When they said yes (and most did say yes, eventually), they would be directed to Human Resources and someone would begin to speak to them. After the call was made, nobody could remember what had been said, but they did remember it as being the most wonderful thing they'd ever heard.

The number stayed active until midnight on the 25th.

The rest of the month when by quietly. As did the next. And the next. Despite claims that "everything had changed" and "the world would remember," people let things get back into a semblance of normalcy. Cities were rebuilt, the Simpsons still came on every night at six, the internet was thriving. Things were, for all intents and purposes, back to normal.

It had been, all agreed, a very busy week.

Please scroll down to a new December 24th node by me. This is something I wrote last year as a noder challenge about Christmas Eve a year from then.


Today my daughter gave me the greatest gift for which a mother could ever wish. She gave me a grandchild. My first and long awaited. I was beginning to worry that I would never have grandchildren in my own lifetime. For so long, she felt no urge to have a baby, that tug and pull which kept me distracted for years, brought tears when I saw other mothers with their offspring, their progeny, being pushed in prams, or strollers through green parks and flowered gardens in foreign cities. Cherub-faced toddlers pushed by young nannies on wooden plank swings.

For years she felt no reason to pack trunks full with baby dresses, bonnets and bibs to be tucked away in the dark recesses of the half-basement beneath her California bungalow, awaiting that blessed day when she could play dress-up with an actual baby instead of a cloth and plastic doll a flesh and blood baby which would be a part of her–a part of him, that young man who makes her heart sing like no other could.

For æons it seems, she had not felt, the way I did, a child gathering itself to be born, could not picture herself with a daughter at her breast, as yellow sunlight slants its way into her darkened room. Had no wish to feel its gentle sleeping breath upon her own skin. Did not long to hear the fractured words, skipped syllables, the lisp of phrases…the name that is her own from the soft lips of a child which bears my DNA. She had no urge to give birth to my grandchild who would also be a part of him who made me sing as no other could.

And now, on the night before Christmas she has given me the end to all my dreams.

One shopping day until Christmas, and the Secession reared out of nowhere and fucked an enormous percentage of the global economy into a cocked hat.

Nobody knew who had propagated the virus. They all fell to it. Cisco and Juniper, Foundry and Lucent, Nortel and Cabletron. 4space and 6space alike, the packets went in, and the Message came back.

The Ouroverse is upon you. Claim your place.

The U.S. blamed China. China blamed India. India blamed a mysterious cabal of global businesses, and everybody else sneered. The routing was fucked, and DNS wasn't working; the Message was all that came out of the whirlpool of packets that the network had spun into.

The Message, though, wasn't just the words. It took all of six minutes for some clever person to realize there was a binary payload hidden in the frame headers, and that although parts of it changed, a big portion remained constant every time the Message came back. It took another four days for the community of obsessive hackers who had avoided the global panic and associated gymkhana to isolate the message hidden in the constant frame strings.

It was a cryptosystem.

The first person to figure that out, six seconds after they posted their results on a Darknet from whence it would spread around the broken sweep of the world network, encrypted a BGP update and fired it into the whirlpool.

It didn't result in sane routing. But a message came back, encrypted using the same key.

That produced a constant routing table, at least - and the more encrypted messages that went in, the more pieces of a global routing infrastructure came back out, encrypted.

Two days later, the Global Reconnection Network - built by the unknown code structures inside the whirlpool, and pieced out in encrypted packets - was mostly complete and had taken up residence inside the chassis and virtual machines and appliances and OS based routers of the now-defunct Internet.

By the New Year, 2013, the Glorynet was operational.

By January 31st, the first tile of Downtown was up and running - and Entryhedron was available to all comers.

The celebration lasted a mere few days.

Then Downtime came.

Bragging rights?

My 2012 seems to be ending quite nicely.

I have received 2 more nominations for the Pushcart Prize for Poetry. That brings my overall total to 7 nominations for this prestigious award. My prose piece Murmur was nominated, as was a newer poem El Norte. El Norte tells of the hard life of illegal immigrants in the US.

3 of my poems will be included in two separate anthologies of ekphrastic poetry. The first is Art and Alchemy (Inspired by the Art of Stephen Linsteadt). After hearing that 2 of my poems had been accepted, Everything I had was blue and Beach Music, Stephen asked me if I would submit for Woman in Metaphor: An Anthology of Poems Inspired by the Paintings of Stephen Linsteadt], an art/poetry book he is preparing to be published by Natural Healing House Press. One of my favourite contemporary poets Lois P. Jones is writing the foreward. So it feels especially good to be included.

The poem they accepted is called Heartbeat. I wrote it on the plane on the way to Tuscany in November. It begins:

I slip in
between the water
and its reflections
the way I slipped
into bed beside you

I had a request for my poem Desert Nights for George Harrison. This poem will be included in Newspapers Taxis – Poetry after The Beatles to be published by Seren early in 2013. Royalties are being donated to Claire House Children’s Hospice in Merseyside. Some unknown person saw the poem on the internet and mentioned it to the editors, who wrote to my e-zine editors requesting it. George and I were at music school together at the Kinara Institute, and I was a guest at their Benedict Canyon home every night during their first Los Angeles tour. The first words I ever heard George muttter were: "ooze ga th p new burr" which means "Whose got the peanut butter?" in Liverpudlian speak. The first song I learned to play as a raga or ragini was This Bird Has Flown (Norwegian Wood).

6 of my poems have been published in Little Eagle's Re/Verse since February. The first one they published was I Said Coffee which was the first writeup I submitted here, way back when…

Lastly in April, I answered a call for submissions for An Anthology of English-Language Haiku by Women. I had a note from editor Aubrie Cox last week saying that 2 of my haiku have been accepted for her Anthology of Haiku and Senryu by Women. This is one of the chosen haiku. The other is about a lace wing butterfly.

Our Anthology Cradle Songs: An Anthology of Poems on Motherhood has been a block buster. We have sold over 400 copies since it was published in May and we continue to get orders. The book sells for $18.99.

I was guest speaker in Texas at Abilene Writer's Guild. They paid well and put me up in a very nice hotel. I put the money back into the economy by visiting all the local thrift stores and pawn shops.

I am purchasing a beautiful 2 story home with a guest house in Taos, New Mexico. It is adjacent to the golf course, and was the first house built out there. I have all the same views of the Sangre de Christos and the southern mountain ranges, as do the homeowners on the actual golf course property, without the HOA dues.

I first saw the house when I was on tour in the southwest this summer to promote Cradle Songs. Fellow poet James Navé was house sitting for the owner who lives in Colorado. We have agreed upon a price, now we need to do inspections and get all the legal stuff out of the way. The house sits on 1.25 acres. I love the fact that my nearest neighbours have a tipi in their front yard. There is a glassed in porch on the entire front of the house which I plan to turn into a greenhouse or orangerie.

My grandson got his vision back today.

As his facial bones began to grow in preparation for adolescence, as so often happens, the shape of his eyeballs changed. It happens gradually; one does not notice it. But eventually he could not see much of anything at any distance at all.

This feature was discovered by his father and his other grandparents as they drove through Scotland. The adults remarked upon the sheep on a distant hillside. The kid could not see the sheep. They got closer, and then he could discern black dots. Of course he thought that's what everyone could see.

Promptly upon their return home his father took him to an optometrist, and glasses were prescribed. We picked them up today. They are very attractive, and make him look vaguely older than he is (he's now 11).

He told me privately, "The difference is startling!" He keeps looking around at distant objects with a kind of wonder on his face. He can't get over it.

I love him so much it hurts.

He's a fantastic upper just to be with today. I was blind (well, not entirely, but..) and now I see!

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