2010. The last year in the data centers that ate my world for three, four years. Still relying on melatonin to sleep and having wild mood swings from lack of sleep. I say I'm saner here, and in some ways I am - fewer panic attacks, more driving instead of being driven.

This was a few days before I finished really putting together what kind of shit my mother put me through, which was one of the major victories of 2010.

I vacillate between feeling guilty for being depressed on Christmas Eve when I'm better off, actually, than a lot of people, and just kind of being thoughtlessly lost in unthinking, tired malaise or keeping my cool during brief moments of crisis/not crisis at work. It could be worse, this year, I think: last time this year, Dad was just out of the hospital, and it was colder, and everyone was on edge at work, and there was no end in sight. I doubted myself a lot last year. I was a lot less sane last year.

Also, I think I was broke, mostly. Too much drinking.

This year, Dad's a lot healthier, and I have money, and I'm in this really nice diner where I can afford corn beef hash and spend large swathes of the night on the MUD and writing crappy poetry. I have the apartment to myself, and if it's cold out, I've got a nice warm hoodie to wear under an even nicer and warmer coat. My friends are okay, if not exactly ecstatic, and I have the option of school, of better work, of a happy future all of my own with friends and a cat and low expenses.

But I guess what I'd like to say is that I'm lonely without people around, these same people who irritate the shit out of me and make too much noise. The streets are all empty and cold and rimed with treatments against the ice, and it's actually too quiet now that the pagers have stopped going off for Retailmas. I'm working today and Christmas - well, being oncall in case a switch or something goes down - and I can't really alter my schedule, so it's a very diluted sort of Christmas without, well, much more family than my father around.

Which is enough. And it isn't, because it's still tiring, because I want to be cooking for friends, and there to hand them presents, and to drink eggnog or tea with them or something. I can watch through Amazon as the packages are delivered, but it's not the same.

I don't really have a tree, and yeah, the blinkenlights are pretty, I guess, but they're not a tree. Tonight, when I wake up, maybe, if the pager doesn't go off, I'll drop some LEDs into my Arduino, red and green and white and blue, and program them to blink in patterns that remind me of Christmas. Maybe I'll still feel sorry for having a job or a roof over my head or enough money to be able to take care of my friends at all, and still complaining. Other people everywhere have it worse.

And maybe I'll just shut off the lights in one of the rooms and sit down in front of the networking row, and watch the flickering green of active links, and the million-dollar glow of the Nexus or the 6509E (fully loaded), and think of fiber-optic trees and all our thousands of elves who made everything come true for hundreds and millions this year. One million dollar vision thing.

One very tired and lonely tech and the machines she loves.

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