One more item on my wishlist.

I didn’t do the live site countdown this year – mostly because I don’t need to be reminded how few days I have left to finish all these gifts, distribute them, and get my house clean before Mom and Dad show up. A little mental math tells me we’re getting pretty close, though.

It’s not too late to pick me out something off my wishlist, you know. If it arrives the week after its festive deadline it will still buy you another whole year of my love.

I picked out a couple nice things from my bank today, as well – don’t worry, they weren’t off the wishlist. Citibank is awesome and awards me points all year for doing things I’d do anyway – paying bills, depositing paychecks – and then I spend them on myself every December. I ordered a sweet poker set and blew the rest of the points on Shell gas cards – who says I’m not practical?

There’s one more item unofficially on my wishlist, too, after my visit to the gym this morning. I want hot water in the shower. I don’t think this is a lot to ask, you guys. It’s supposed to be one of Allstar Fitness’ “premium” locations, 14 floors up in the Seattle Municipal Tower with a sweeping view of the city, mountains, and harbor from any of the cardio machines, the pool, or (oddly) the men’s locker room. It’s twice the price of Pure Fitness, supposedly due to the caliber of the facilities and equipment, but I bet Pure Fitness doesn’t surprise their members every few days by blowing out the pilot light on the locker room water heater. A member I met in the elevator told me it’s been a problem for years (not encouraging) and despite that I’ve been complaining about it every time it happens, it still happens. I’m not a plumbing expert, but I think I could fix it.

My ironclad contract is up in January – ironically, the only way a gym will guarantee your loss of a pound of flesh in writing is in their early-termination clause – and this will definitely affect my decision to renew. Unfortunately, I’m equal parts lazy and habitual, so I’m dreading finding a new gym, learning my way around a new gym, and potentially having to walk farther to/from a new gym, especially in the wee hours of the morning when I’m already cranky and easily confused.

While I was toweling away the hypothermia in the locker room this morning I crafted this limmerick that, had there been a sharpie in my gym bag, I would have written across the bathroom mirror:

There once was a gym in a tower;
It was no place to spend your lunch hour.
The management’s cheap,
The tile floors all leak,
And every third day a cold shower.

Six more days until Christmas, everyone. Be merry, be blessed, and may all your showers be hot ones!

I know how ugly hookers feel.

A quiet evening at home listening to Christmas music, wrapping gifts that i bought yesterday (and one that was waiting on the doorstep when i returned), and doing some light reading by the glow of a twinkling plastic tree. I did very little actual work at work today, between meetings down the hall, meetings in the corporate building several blocks away, walking to said meetings, and kicking into party mode at about 3.30 with the rest of the building for the second day of “slush week”, the official unofficial Christmas party. Each day is themed – today was gin and tonics. Monday was beer – several of the crew actually make their own, so it was a very involved affair to start the week, tomorrow is scotch, i think, unless scotch is thursday and tomorrow is vodka, leaving friday for wines. As my department is lazy and not actually sponsoring a day (which is too bad, since i have an iPod full of great Christmas music and party provisions just begging to be shared), i’m really not sure of the schedule until the last hints of daylight depart the conference room windows and the merriment begins appearing from desk drawers and mailroom cupboards. Unlike for real life modern pirates, there is no shortage of free booty at the office this time of year.

My whole world seems a bit upside down this week. After several years of alternating between admitting i’m broke and living accordingly, or denying my lack of funds in temporary (and usually oft-regretted) splurges, i’m finally looking down the barrel of a comfortable salary after the new year begins and that combined with prodigous Christmas money stockpiling has me purchasing gifts based on other criteria besides sale price this year. It’s a great feeling, and the festive – and larger than usual – pile of paper-wrapped good intentions accumulating around the concrete-filled terra cotta pot under my plastic evergreen has me in a perpetual Christmas mood.

My garage is empty. I tromped in there this evening in search of empty boxes to contain my purchased expressions of merriment and, like i always do, took a large step straight in and then turned quickly on my heels to avoid hitting my car that – ack! – was not there this time. I stood silently aghast in the empty concrete space, momentarily concerned that i had misplaced something large and automobile-shaped, then concerned for my own sanity, and finally prodded with a twinge of guilt for forgetting already, as my poor Z – out of sight and apparently all too quickly out of mind – sleeps in a strange, lonely bed tonight. I delivered it to the body shop monday morning, where it’s panels will be exorcised of the ghost of garage doors past. The logistics of the hand-off involved reviewing my two-page typed list of quirks, repair guidelines and operating requirements with both the service manager and the lot attendant – including a copy for each of them and another in the car – and then walking a few blocks to alderwood mall to catch a bus home, to fetch my pathfinder and expend a half tank of gas driving downtown to work, alone, so that i would have transportation to the doc in bellevue after work and then back home again, in order to complete the most inefficient commute cycle possible. Apparently community transit did not receive that memo, however, and felt it would instead be an opportune monday morning to test the “random chaos” theory of bus scheduling and completely disregard any printed timetables in favor of buses driving haphazardly around snohomish county wherever their drivers felt would be scenic for the passengers, or wherever discounted breakfast specials could be combined with unfiltered tobacco. After waiting 30 minutes on north hwy 99, feeling what ugly hookers must feel when they stand on hwy 99 waiting for a ride that never comes, i finally gave up and walked the last two miles home in disgust. I kept my unused transfer ticket, though… so i can staple it to the flaming bag of canine excrement that community transit will be receiving for Christmas this year.

I went skiing on saturday. The Summit was a bit crunchy compared to what i’m used to and i worked my body really hard on some tough runs, but it was sunny and fantastic up there and i had an incredible day. Other than a couple of freak days out in Europe in 2003, i hadn’t skied – or physically engaged any snow that wasn’t at the business end of an ice scraper – since i was in college, and never in a west coast climate, so i had no expectations and figured on being a total noob; finding that some semblance of confidence and ability still lingered was a welcome surprise. Driving up by myself and spending the day following my own desires and energies on the hill took me back to MSU, to the days of decade-old gear and “HHD 161 – Alpine Skiing”, except this time my gear is all new (save the sticks) and a season pass hung around my neck. I felt like a king. The king of the mountain.