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.