Aries Moon

As the year draws to a close the only people who phone the travel agency are our families and friends. It's typical in this business; after all, our clientele are mostly on vacation, not booking new ones yet. Agents in the back put their feet up on their desks. Agents in the front spend all day chatting on Instant Message to their friends or browsing the Internet on the theory that a client may walk in so we have to at least pretend to be working. We aren't. I've sold one trip to Maui which was noteworthy only because the client overheard a side conversation I had with our receptionist who let me know a regular client, Ms. Rosenberg, was leaving me a voicemail while I was busy.

"She must of had a really good Christmas, she was very cheerful," said Virginia unthinkingly.

"Except for the part where she doesn't celebrate Christmas," I said, joshing her while typing up the invoice for my client.

"She doesn't? Oh, that's right, she's Jewish!" Virginia belatedly caught on. When work slows down our brains go on vacation early.

"Jews don't celebrate Christmas?" said my client. I looked at her ready to laugh but she was serious. Virginia and Ruth had to look away. I carefully explained the Jews didn't believe the Messiah had arrived yet. She was astonished. I'm not sure she believed me. I think I should have won an award for best sangfroid in the face of jaw-dropping ignorance. A classic, seasonal, wacky client story to end the year on.

That took a whole hour. Plenty of time to enjoy the entries over at the clever parody of Bridget Jones' Diary known as The Very Secret Diaries of various Lord of the Rings characters located at Cassieclaire's site or at the official archives. Read the ones for Legolas, Boromir, and Aragorn at the very least. She started these last year, so you'll have to jump back several pages as LiveJournal only keeps 20 entries at a time on the page.

I am now prone to saying things like, "Still the prettiest," and "Still not King" at inappropriate moments. My love for all things related to the Lord of the Rings movies continues unabated. I have been able to indulge my curiosity about various actors and unused scenes and the wholesale rewriting of The Two Towers with all this spare time on my hands. I've also been dissecting the movie with anyone who will let me: friends, relatives, and unsuspecting strangers who admit to having seen it. With Trish, who has not seen it yet, I am reduced to speculating on the sexual orientation of the various actors.

In exciting post-Christmas news we have returned the inexpensive DVD player I bought because it didn't work properly, and spent twice as much on a decent player. I have more faith in JVC than in Best Buy's in-house brand so I think we're set. John managed to destroy his new phone through pressing some wrong combination of buttons and has already got a replacement. Technology 2, us 0. But hey, at least the new ones work just fine. Ignoring that ominous trend with tech toys I have decided to give myself a graduation present and ordered a 5 GB iPod yesterday. I'm looking forward to owning an mp3 player that holds more than 10 songs, doesn't run through a battery a week, and works with both my G4 (OS 9.2) and my iBook (OS X). I'm tired of being tentative about how much memory or storage or power I need. I'm going to head straight for the top from now on. I'd have gotten the 10 GB model except it doesn't work with anything less than OS X. Besides, going from 32 MB to 5 GB is like going from a 33.6K modem to DSL. I'll be thrilled with it.

All of this inspires me to acquire more CDs and DVDs although since I'm so picky about what I listen to and watch it's kind of hard to go wild. For instance, I am annoyed to discover that The Legend of Fong Sai Yuk, my favorite Jet Li movie, is out of print on DVD. Man! How can that be? I guess if I want to watch it I'll have to get out my videocassette. But the third season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer comes out next month, and when it does I'm going to have a marathon Buffy watching session because that's my favorite season. Xander is still slim and naive, Willow is a sweet computer nerd, Buffy isn't a stick figure with a yen for rough trade, Oz never fails to steal every scene he's in, Giles doesn't look like a flabby and tired middle-aged man quite yet, Wesley is a wet and a weed, Cordelia confronts real life, and the Mayor just plain delights me. And there's Faith, of course, and Jonathon who I always liked. Angel is about to go away for good with his wooden acting so I can mostly ignore him. And Spike, good old Spike who went from a two-bit hood to a major character because of audience response, is not yet taking his clothes off every episode. There's a lot to love in Season 3.

As for music, I think I'm going to try to keep replacing my vinyl versions of classical music favorites as well as listen to a lot more new stuff. Since I drive more often I listen to the radio more often. I may be able to keep up with rock and pop again. Also, since we got expanded cable service a couple of months ago I can watch VH1 Classics and MTV2 so I'm seeing more music videos. Not that I've found anyone new that way. Mostly it's simultaneously sweet and terrifying to see how everyone dressed in the early 80's. I think the best way to locate new music is to go to Tower and other CD stores and visit the listening stations. That's how I found Medieval Baebes and Emiliana Torrini two years ago.

The weather resources all say this is an El Nino year, and it's certainly wetter than the last four winters. We've got a soaking rainstorm visiting from Alaska right now. I haven't been out for a couple of days, but last time I checked the backyard my bulb containers had several inches of buds showing. As always I can't remember what's what, though I do recognise daffodils and scilla. Winter in Northern California is so confusing with autumnal red-gold leaves still on a lot of the trees, spring bulbs pushing through the soil, and Christmas lights everywhere. At least the rain is right on schedule.

The pets are healthy and happy and going slightly nuts because they're spending more time in the house now that it's raining practically every day. Natasha is in love with the velvet seat covers and leaves a visible layer of fur behind her. I have to remember not to sit down on them while wearing black pants. Keiko is a lovebug this winter, always wanting to be on me no matter where I am. I don't think she's cold, I think she's a little bored. We try to let them out for a while every day, but if it's raining they won't go. And it's hard to believe we've had Jasper for a year now. He's a relaxed and easy-going beast except when someone comes to the closed front door. The mailman must get a terrible fright every day; Jasper goes into full watchdog barking mode. He's very territorial until you tell him it's okay and let the person in. He's smart, too, he remembers who's a friend and he is perfectly happy for them to come in the house even if I'm not right there to greet them.

He gets along with the cats although he disapproves of them roughhousing; they, in turn, treat him like a baby brother to be played with or disciplined depending on their mood. John is his god. He follows him everywhere, and his safe place is upstairs in John's tv room even when John himself is not there. I'd feel bad about it except Jasper clearly loves me as well. He's a part of our family, he's a sweetheart who's fun to have around, he obeys me and comes to me for comfort, but the truth is I don't feel attached to him the way I did to Dixie. I think that's why I haven't written about him much over the last year. I didn't even notice this until someone else pointed it out. Anyway, Jasper's an indispensable part of the clan now.

Speaking of which, the Faithful Defender Alarm System tells me the mail has arrived. Excellent, it's an envelope full of fanzines. Here's the second issue of Chunga, edited by Randy Byers, Carl Juarez and Andy Hooper. Here's a British fanzine, Floss 3, expected a couple of months ago but better late than never as it contains my con report (reprinted from Aries Moon) of ConJose. And here's a couple of issues of a fanzine by someone I don't know at all. I'll look at those later. I want to read Chunga.

Oh, hurrah, it's egoboo for yours truly! Carl has reviewed Kim Huett's collection of my fanwriting and he not only likes it, he is specific about why he thinks it's good. I must distribute my egoboo in return, for this is a terrific fanzine with lengthy, thoughtful articles by the editors and outside contributors entirely about science fiction. This is exactly the kind of fanzine that got me excited about fanhistory when I first began hanging around fans.

It's been so pleasant today to sit inside writing while rain beats at the window. The long hours of peaceful solitude have gradually created a deep, healing stillness. My mind and body are fully relaxed. The season proceeds gracefully as the earth dances her slow, stately gavotte with the sun. My life is my own again. No, my time is my own. Not wholly, I must earn a living and that means giving up nine hours to someone else, and I must sleep at least seven hours, but that still leaves me eight hours left over to do as I like. The years stretch in front of me in an endless horizon, a field of freshly fallen snow, white, unmarked, sparkling with possibility. My years are not endless, but I have no way to tell when they will fail so I do not fear setting out on the unseen path. I will continue to pursue what has interested me all my life: music, writing, language, travel. I have paid for earlier mistakes. I have made good on my debts. I have time to spend with John again, time to catch up on projects, time to make sure my friends know I still love them and think about them, time to lie on the sofa reading with one cat in my lap and another at my feet.

Time is the great luxury I've been craving. This is the gift I give to myself: time.

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