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East of Lake Merritt
December 22nd, 1999

Already Tomorrow
It is 55 degrees here at seven in the evening, the high today was in the 60's and they say the low tonight will be in the 40's. Blue sky, no clouds, warm sun lasting through the weekend. I would like to say this is OK. I can live with this. It's OK there's no snow. It's OK there's no rain. OK the air is just crisp enough to require a light jacket. It turns out Christmas lights look nice at 55 degrees, a fine start to a four day weekend with no plans or goals or list of things to do and, but for one small glitch, it might be perfect: I have not the least idea of what to write tonight. Life. It's a wheel and this is the deal tonight writing in Oakland.

The push at work has been the preparation of the Y2K command center for the New Year marathon. Seven people representing our various business functions (only one of which is IT) will be manning it 24 hours a day with support staff and backup people in their respective offices by their phones just in case. I am one of the just in case boys, computer ready, brain on stun. McAfee has been sending me automated telephone calls warning of viruses here and viruses there: Low risk, medium risk, no risk with the occasional high risk cutie bubbling up from under. Naughty, naughty. Step back. Relax. Take a longer lunch. Shoot some pictures. Think about something else. Go home early. Write, um, well: this.

My Christmas shopping has been minor. I once sent out Christmas cards every year and spent An OAT at lunch. time searching through small stationery shops in San Francisco to find something unique. I enjoyed it. No great aesthetic statement, there really wasn't all that much available, but something a little different. Not cute, cute was the enemy of my generation, cute was the unspoken transgression, but different. Funny, but with an edge, not too sharp, not too dull. These cards were a normal outgrowth, I suppose, of growing up in a family that sent out a bundle of cards every year at Christmas, most of them keeping contact from our new home in New York with family and friends back in Seattle. There were cards sent to business friends for business purposes. Our cards were reasonably nice, special ordered through one of the high end department stores, often chosen by my father (an architect, so the card design mattered) with my mother having the task of writing the notes and sending them out, but I had the feeling over time they'd become a task, a good idea gone dying and dead that is hauled out of the grave and propped up on the mantlepiece every Christmas. A vestige of an earlier age? Cards as women's work? Or part of the social glue that holds it all together, something you lose as a bachelor who no longer seems to bond with the people around him.

That was fun, but it stopped, as I said, two decades ago. No cards since, with the exception of one to my mother and one (occasionally) to my sister. I have fallen into the habit of exchanging presents with my sister, I buying something for her son and she buying something for me. That is the extent of my gift exchange during the holidays. There is some thought this is not quite right, but it seems to work and other than writing this paragraph right here and right now, I don't usually think about it. This is not, as I read other journals and as I talk with friends, the way of the world. Or is it? People still send cards, I think, and, I think, some people send cards every year because they enjoy them and it gives them a necessary mechanism to make contact with friends and family, distant and close. Perhaps my thoughts here are just one of those traps you fall into with time and sloth. Maybe I shall regret this last twenty years without Christmas cards and I maybe I'd change my abysmal behavior if it weren't for the time and the cards and the mailing lists and the buying of stamps after standing in line at the post office. I told you I was dry this evening. So dry it's already tomorrow.

The banner photograph was taken last weekend at a Starbucks. Not what I was looking for, but I followed on with some black and white shots that I haven't gotten developed yet so maybe one of those will work. I'll try again, maybe tomorrow. The color is a little weird and the shot was hand held under existing light on a slow film, but the lady always looks good.