It's 3 AM in the morning where I am. I've been surfing the net on and off for about 4 hours now. Where I live, no one celebrates chirstmas, but still I have a feeling that when I will look out of the window it will snow (it never snows here) and there will be tiny blinking lights on my neighbour's roof, and when I wake up in the morning I'm gonna go downstairs and we will all open up our x-mas presents. We will not.

This is the strength of the internet. This is why globalisation is just a question of how long will it take for every person in this world to have an internet connection.

Memories of Christmas:

- My grandfather, who gave me a hand-held baseball game when I was nine or so, hours before he died.

- Having a little black kitten placed into my hands by my mother, while my eyes were closed.

- Playing Ultraman on the SuperNES with my little brother, when I was twelve.

- Having the Hell's Angels donate food, a tree, and gifts to my family when I was about seven, and we didn't have enough money for Christmas.

- Christmas dinner in Alberta, with Amanda Gear and her father, who had to wear his RCMP uniform and gun to the table because he was on-call.

- A vague memory of my mother and her then-fiancee having a screaming match, the tree falling over, and writing in my diary that it was "the worst christmas ever."

- Sitting with Jessica and Gav at a coffee shop, laughing and talking.

- Eating turkey at a drop-in centre for homeless youth.

- Waking up before everyone else, every year, and sneaking downstairs to stare at the christmas presents, full of wonder.

Christmas Eve 2001, 12:06 am.

My father's voice reached me in the kitchen at the other end of the house. "Lisa, could you come into our room for a second?"

I turned off the double boiler, ran through the hallway, and bounded onto their bed. My kitten licked the chocolate, still soft, inadvertently left on my hands from making Christmas candy.

"I know Christmas is not until tomorrow - but we wanted to give this to you tonight." He hands me a simple piece of 8.5" x 11" computer paper with these words on it:



Dear Lisa,

From this day forward, on Christmas Day, you will find an envelope resting in the branches of the Christmas Tree. Inside the envelope will be a money order that you will use as a donation to the charity of your choice. We feel that you are provided nearly all you need or desire throughout the year. We feel this is the most appropriate and special gift we can give to you. You have proven over the years that you care more about those in need than you do of yourself. However, this gift does come with one string attached. That is, the donation must be made anonymously. May God guide you as you choose the deserving charity.

Truly with all our love,

Mom & Dad





I truly could not be more blessed.

I haven't written anything in a long time, so I haven't had a chance to thank you all for all of the support, all of the concern, and all of the kind messages. It really means a lot, especially then.

Since then, I've gotten a new job, moved into a new apartment in a brownstone on Jones Street, still in the West Village, between Bleeker and W. 4th. I've decided on a new career, and have a new boyfriend.

A lot of things change in New York City, which would not be significant if they did not also stay so much the same. Typically, when one opens a new chapter in life, it is accompanied with a change in scenery or acquaintance-- something linear, clean cut, like t approaching infinity.

The procession of time reminds me of a curtain in a theatre that has fallen off the rod into a pile on the floor, intersected with objects that pierce multiple folds of the cloth like long steel needles . You travel along the cloth in some vector of x, y, when you randomly come across one of those needles, and the past hits you like a sack of bricks-- you don't just remember, because of course you remember. It's like that object, smell, or sound suddenly robs you of the time that's passed.

Like Marcel Proust's most famous tea-soaked madeline in Á la Recherche de Temps Perdu, the past is often hidden in some everyday material object which we never suspect when we merely think about them, but reveal themselves when experienced. As for the object, it usually depends on chance whether we ever come upon it or not. Lately I've been coming across these more and more.

I was in my boyfriend's shower in his apartment on 9th street and university place, and borrowed some of his camphor-scented facial scrub. Suddenly I was 14, painfully shy, in Pasadena, using the same facial scrub, as it had just come out that year. At the time I was pining after a certain tennis-playing, Australian-accented neighbor. I never even got up the nerve to speak to him.

4 months ago I was a man-killer. I finally dispatched a certain Brazilian ambassador's son. I never did get to see his Rio or the official residence Palacio Pereda. His uncle was assassinated 2 weeks ago (Jan, 2002)

The week after that, I went to Whiskey Blue, a lounge at Union Square in the W Hotel that always attracts the cosmopolite gold-digger women from the midwest or Queens, attempting to find rich investment bankers so that they can quit their marketing jobs or move out of their studio apartments. One can usually tell these women by their wearing of the cheapest of the expensive designer clothes, so painfully of-the-minute. So they can move up a notch to the more expensive expensive designer clothes and get a white picket fence house in Connecticut, or a brilliant Cinderella story with a fabulous wedding in East Hampton.

I was there with 2 of my investment-banker friends from UBS and CSFB, sooner or later this group of 3 women zeroed in on our de-rigeur graduation-gift-from-daddy rolex watches and initiated a conversation with them. In crowded-bar loud conversations like this it is usually a matter of under 2 minutes before they cut to the chase. "So, what do you do for a living?" (How much money do you make?) Without missing a beat, my friend from CSFB (the man in tower 2 that has been relocated to 23rd street) replied, "Well, she's unemployed, he's unemployed, but I just got a great job as a sandwich maker downtown.."

And he goes on to ramble about the great upside opportunities, and the synergy and stakeholder value that he is creating. "Right now I am the turkey guy..the sandwich comes down the conveyer belt and I put the turkey on it. Maybe in a few years they'll promote me to the guy who actually wraps the sandwiches." Of course the women hang around for a few minutes after that, because they are unsure of whether he is serious or if he is just fucking them around. In the first case out of a sense of pity, in the second case maybe an attempt to save face.

Of course he is just fucking them around, and for a second I feel a twinge of pity: they found the target, launched conversation, yet targets pretended to be sandwich makers. So then I went home, alone, in my designer shoes to my studio apartment. Skipped breakfast the next morning, because I was too lazy to cook and too poor to go out or order in. Such are the decisions of independence.

It's like the Manhattan in Sex in the City, but actually fucking having to live in it.

That was my 20-second train of thought, the proverbial 'needle' through the velvet upon using that camphoor-scented face wash. (and if that use of the word 'proverbial' sounds a little pretentious, dear reader...I am well aware of it;) Anyway, so I'm in this man's shower.

He is a '98 double major from Penn, in double E from SEAS and management from The Wharton School. He looks somewhat like Matthew Broderick, only taller and younger, maybe from the 'Ferris Bueller' days. He's a wearer of french-cuff shirts with monogrammed cufflinks and hair that always sticks up. Knows every Doctor Who episode and Maxwell's laws by heart, but can still take him out and cut in front of everybody in the line at Lotus. Rescuer of kittens and procurer of crucial study materials at the last hour. There's really very little else I can say without getting all emotional.. You know how it is.

Speaking of The Wharton School, I do not attend it, which is probably bad for my chosen future career (awkward segue, I know). I've decided to go into strategy consulting, more specifically, McKinsey. Known as simply 'The Firm' long before the Grisham novel of the same name. They're looking for people with 'raw mental horsepower', polish, and persuasive people skills, with a desire to take over the world. I determined that it would not be wise to embark upon a graduate degree without a better picture of what I want in life. The interview process is grueling, and I can't get in without using contacts, but I think I can cut it. It's not what you know but who you know-- or rather, what you know is taken for granted, who you know is the differentiator. I do have the contacts, but all I have to worry about is measuring up. I've always had a tendency to be unable to deal with failure. This time I must not fail-- but in this economy, it's difficult.

Last night, it was raining in Manhattan, and I was leaving town at 5:30 AM. The wind whipped the dirty rain into my mouth, rendering useless my non-waterproof tweed hat. It reminded me of the 5:30 AMs of when I was cox of men's crew up on the East River-meets-the-Bronx, with the debris-filled whitecaps flushing into the Long Island Sound. One would see the sun barely rising behind the Throgs Neck Bridge, gleaming off the World Trade Center and the Chrysler building like golden monuments to stability, constant monuments to us in the wave-tossed shell.

But such is life.
Twice now we’ve broken up. Twice we’ve gotten back together. This is now the third round, and I think this time I’m going for a knockout. It’s over. I can’t ride your goddamn rollercoaster any more, and I’m getting off. I’m really glad, too, but I wish the timing was better. I’ll be breaking up with you today.

Christmas.

Yeh, that sucks. Don’t I know it. But fuck you. We’re both still alive, and that’s a better record than I’ve had at times. You don’t have any idea who I am anymore, and I sure as hell don’t know you. Holding your hand is dragging me down the road, down the track, and I’m hitting every tie on the way. My heart got snagged on a railroad spike a little ways back, and now I’ve got to run back and grab it. I’m not sure, but I think I saw some girl run off with it. When I catch her, I’ll find out. I hope it’s still there somewhere.

But anyway...

Yeh, it’s most definitely over between us. And God knows I still love you, and I’m going to have to be apart from you for a while in order to not fall back into love with you, but right now I’m standing here with a gaping hole in my chest while some other girl runs around with my heart, and I can’t take it anymore. This is over. I love you. Goodbye.

It is cold outside, and I am on the train platform. I do not like being out in the cold, and the Medical Center Station on christmas is the sort of place which makes you think Babylon 5 is a social commentary. I am carrying two gifts and a toothless woman has, after much inferrence on my part, been told that in order to go southbound she must get on the other side of the platform. I am going north. Before I entered the station one man looks at me oddly and says, "Merry Christmas." Merry Christmas indeed. My father is recieving a slightly damaged book on Yachts. My step-mother is recieving a wonderful set of stationary. I am recieving a sweatshirt. Indeed one of the joys of emancipation at 18 is the fact that you will no longer get really nice christmas gifts, but this is the way of the world.

I am thankful that I have escaped the clutches of my mothers family, arguing over what remains of a two pence estate, the legacy of my grandfather. I want to sit down, but it is cold. To the south of the platform, where my train arrives, I see nothing but the cold cement of a subway tunnel. Northward the winter foilage of evergreens reminds me, in my ocassional shaking and shivering, that maybe a white christmas is a bit over rated.

Nobody else believes it is christmas. It is the First Christmas of the new millenium, that, for whatever reason, is dispuitable. It is the first christmas of the new millenium that has been hallowed with the sorrows of war and anguish on the soil of my nation. This is indispuitable.

"It just doesn't feel like christmas.", Jeremy said to me. "I am incredibly happy, and my brother is twirling around outside, but its not christmas. I don't care what the calendar or anyone else says." But, this is just something he says. It is christmas, it just lacks that certain spirit for seemingly everyone. Christmas was preordained to be ruined for some, but not for all, it just turned out that way.

But even from the ashes the phoenix of christmas spirit rises again. Whether it be that spirit which arises from helping those less fortunate than yourself, or the spirit which is created from seeing ones son scream in joy at the sight of his new bicycle, or the knowledge that despite everything, you are in fact alive.

I do not know much about the civil war, but I recall the words of one general after a bloody battle, "God has been kind to us this day."

Merry Christmas

Today Was a New Day

Waiting For Change

On December 15th, I received a worried call from my girlfriend 2,000 miles away. It was during this call that I broke up with her. Rather, I told her, "I need to take a break." She was worried before she heard my voice because I normally call every day. But because it was finals week, I was stressed over my trip to Hong Kong, because of family problems, and because of serious prior communications problems I was having with my girl I decided to cut one responsibility from my life and I picked her's.

She begged. She promised she would do whatever it took, to help in whatever way she could...to change, to stop being so demanding, to stop whatever it was I did not like. That is not what I wanted, I wanted simplicity.

Like some other noders--Jennifer and nocodeforparanoia--on this very day I had been waiting for a change or to make one myself. I did. Now, I must walk a new path.

Something was bothering me, however. When I said goodbye to her I did not know how she felt outside of the words she last spoke to me. A constant mantra of, "but I love you...but I love you...but I love you..."

And it bothered me.

Change Happens

I tried to purge her memory from my life. I took down all the pictures. I packed away all of the "I love you notes." I took back her Christmas gift. I sent her Christmas card to somebody else. And today I received her's in the mail.

In it was change, finality, and reassurance. And her is what it read:

Hope that when you receive these few words, you're found in God's most loving care...
If your happiness means my suffering, then I guess I've got to let go of you and suffer...
I have loved you yesturday, I love you today, I will love you tomorrow, and probably always will love you. But I have to say goodbye for now...not because I want to, but I need to...if to show you how much I love you and care for you, then let me prove to you my love...

Love, Ally
12/20/01

An ultimatum upon her suffering. Let it be the worse she must suffer and I will have done her a favor. Finally, some finality.
What I Have Received This Christmas

A chapter in my life just closed this evening. The last fourteen months have just finished. After I lost my job, after school was over, and now after my relationship I can start anew. I could not have wished for anything greater.

Merry Christmas

Just some random thoughts as my Christmas draws to a close. I don't care for Christmas, there I said. But before you rush and call me The Grinch or Scrooge or some other type of anti-holiday name. Give me a chance to explain.

To me, Christmas no longer means anything really special. It means that I don't have to work, that I get to sleep in, a little if I'm lucky. It also means I get stuff and give stuff. I brighten someone's day a little bit by giving them a gift even if they don't deserve. Because thats what you do on Christmas.

But the biggest thing is that it means that I get to go visit my extended family. It means that I get to deal with family squabbles over little things that don't mean much to me but are oh so important. It also means this year dealing with a grandfather that had open-heart surgery and how he worries too much over his wife, my grandmother who has Alzheimers which means she doesn't even remember who her husband is. It also means that everyone in my family worries to death over her.

Merry Christmas to Me

This holiday was one of the best I've had in ages. Wonderful presents and good times with family for a change.

None of my family asked me what I was going to do with the rest of my life, nor did they express subtle disapproval of my lifestyle as they have in the past. It was quite a refreshing change.

I received many gifts, the majority of which are useful (kitchen things, calendar, food) and not just for entertainment or filling my shelves with stuff. My mother gave me a new copy of "The Bell Jar", which I am thrilled about. I finally read the book as part of the E2 Book Lotto, but wanted to have a copy to read again. Now I have it. :) My husband gave me a great translation of Anna Karenina so I can finally explore that novel. He also gave me a new stereo to replace my dead one. This is wonderful wonderful wonderful. Music and books are my keys to staying sane. Listening to music through good speakers is very good for my mental health and my creativity. Plus, I get to reclaim shelf space since its so darn small!

We received lots of edible treats from my mother-in-law, my stepmother, and my sister-in-law. I am almost sick of cookies. We got some yummy fruit though, and that's a good thing.

Only drawback this year - I was given some lavender sachets by my mother-in-law, and my father-in-law sent some nice lavender drawer liners and bath stuff. My husband and I are allergic to lavender in a big way. I spent a lot of the day snuffling and sneezing, and the lavender things from my father-in-law were banished to the garage until they can be returned to the catalog company he bought them from. I feel bad about returning a gift. Its the first time I've had to do that in a long, long time.

Best gift(s) of all - spending lots of time with my husband enjoying each other's company and seeing my sister-in-law in good health and good spirits. She has been undergoing chemotherapy for the last four months for a rare form of breast cancer. She seems to be doing quite well, and it was great to see her today with a lot of her old energy back. :)

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday!

I had the longest Christmas ever.

It started at Level 7 of Hongkong airport. Sitting on a blue chair between boarding gates 60 and 61 in my blue jeans and blue sweater waiting for morning I realized at 12:00 am that my Christams has started already and will last for a fairly long time.

There are no transit hotels at Hongkong airport1 ... so too bad I arrived there at 10 in the night from Delhi and had to be around till 2:00 PM next day for my flight for San Francisco. I have to just be around the vacant airport.

Hongkong airport shuts itself down and goes to sleep at 11 in the night. This was rather surprising to me, I assumed all international airports open 24 hours a day. I looked around to see every shop, every TV, every escalator, every elevator shut down. People started vanishing too. Soon I was the only soul around ... I could yell and run and sing songs loudly and no one would be disturbed.

Instead I just silently sat in one of the chairs motionless, thoughtless. For a few moments there were no thoughts, I was blank. Then they came ... like a flood ... like rioteers. The past month passed before my eyes in a zip with some faces, some sounds, some moments, some laughters, some sights more visible than others, more familiar, more registered, more tangible than others. Like the life before the eyes of a dying man, last 30 days of my life passed before my eyes, like a life lived and ended. Like I've died and am travelling to another world, the afterworld. Is this how it actually happens? Is this how one dies? Have I been a good man? a good son? Have I been just? never broke a heart? Have I been honest? Would I go to heaven? ...

When you are this self-reflective and tired and confused and lonely, everything is a metaphor. Everything - your self-reflection, your tiredness, confusion and loneliness. 'There should be a reason I'm undergoing these silent lonely hours standing in middle of my origin and my destination', I thought to myself...

Is that how we are born? Tired, confused, with fading memories of our past lives...?

I spent my time writing for a minute or two, then reading - a newspaper left by some passenger on a seat, a couplet by Rumi from this book I was carrying with me. And walking. Walking all around. Walking like I'm going somewhere ... ('You walk too much', one of my buddies told me over a coffee during this trip) ... walking like I'm searching something. After a while I got too tired and slept on one of the chairs.

The morning, and people and shops and life with it, came and I saw it was time for me to board the 11 hour long flight to SFO. It'll start at 2:00 PM on 25th from here but reach at 9:00 AM 25th morning California time. My Christmas will rewind when the plane crosses the international dateline.

The plane got off the ground at the right time ... I looked at the Hongkong city skyline at a distance - life goes on as usual for hundreds of thousands of people living here as I transition back to my life in west ... as I change back to this guy I am in west ... taking Credit cards, Wide roads, hot water for granted.

The bottle green ocean seemed lined carefully with straight lines by expert hands where it met land. The small islands in the ocean seemed lined with a nervous dynamic white thread of sea froth.

The ocean was covered with a layer of something thick ... like cream covers milk after boiling. You could see tracks of ferries ships boats waterscooters long behind them and while the cream covering the ocean tried to reclaim these tracks it seemed to have formed a wedge in the water, like tyre tracks in sand ... 'what is this?', I wondered, 'froth? oil? something natural or man made? Did man do this to ocean or is it something natural?'

The downtown came in view behind the mountains ... the tall buildings looking like architect models, COSCO building, then an all glass building loosely looking like empire state building, that building which looks like its made of triangles ... roads shining like fresh snail tracks. Artificial beaches were visible at lands end - the nets fitted a little distance into the sea to limit the span of these places were clearly visible too. Man has done the stragest things to this planet...good ones, bad ones ... sculpted it, damaged it...

I closed the 2 window panes besides my seat and closed my eyes to adjust them to lesser light inside. The glare from view outside had blinded me.

'Merry Christmas', the stewardess said and handed me a tiny 'Party Mix' pouch. I took Apple Juice with it. I do it everytime I fly, take apple juice as my first drink ... for no particular reason, its a practice I have subconsciously imbibed. 'The Princess Diary' starts playing on TVs ... it's based in SFO ... I smile like it's 'my' city they are talking about ... I don't even live there ...

Take a little star and keep it in your pocket ...
Never let it fade away ...
Take a little star and keep it in your pocket ...
Keep it for a rainy day ...

After lunch (What is this with plastic knife but silver forks? sheesh), I looked out and we were flying over the castles of clouds. Deep blue pacific ocean peeked from below them ... I'm returning 'home' ... from 'home' ... I close my eyes. Everything is alright ...


1: There is a Shower/Nap place though, but it closes at 11 in the night and then reopens only at 6:00 in the morning...go figure.
mmm, yummy, overnight french toast;

Behold the loot! (most of which I picked out myself)

Books DVDs CDs Other
  • More or less complete darkroom which I've been using for about 3 months (got it early)
  • Latin Phrase Calendar
  • Non-denominational bouncy ball from radlab0
If I could give E2 a present...I'd buy you all a pony
Merry Christmas!

Addendum:
What was better than everything that I got was what my cousin got, read December 26, 2001
Hiding from the world today.

Early in the morning there was a completly unseasonal shower of rain, but by noon it was hot, the air and ground moist from the water.

Not much to do.

Did a foolish thing on E2. I was in a mood to make nodes, part of my resolution to reach level 6 in the next few months. I saw that virtual function was a new node with only one writeup by insanefuzzie. I felt that I had something to say here, pulled up a page and blazed away. A few minutes later I had a decent exposition up on the page.

I debated waiting until the previous writeup was off the new writeups list, but it was a slow day and I might not be online that long, so my options would be to save the text for later (and thus maybe lose my window of oportunity) or post now. I posted, hoping it would go down OK. insanefuzzie was polite, but I still feel bad that they asked for thier writeup to be nuked. Of course, now today ariels has gone and made an even better writeup than mine. What goes around comes around.

In the evening I went over to my brother's place. S- and L- were there and we made a fire and sat around it and drank wine until after midnight. Both of them are strong Tolkien fans, and we dicussed the arcana of the movie. I brouhgt my last bottle of backsberg sparking wine, and L- had opened a bottle of Villiera sonet.

J- had come back from some other event of hers. She was dead drunk, as per usual, and admitted as much. I told her that this is no handicap in a journalist, which in my experience is the case. SHe started bahaving badly, but my brother thankfully managed to put her to bed early.

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