Alright, alright... I'm sorry. I've been way out of touch. I do appreciate all the email :-) I am working on a story. I hope that I get it online by this weekend, because if I don't, it probably won't be until the New Year. (New Century / Millennium, too, depending on how you count such things. Personally, I think we should celebrate Jan 1, 2000 and Jan 1, 2001 alike :-)

I've been so insanely busy with this beta release that I have had virtually no time for the site, and what time I have had I've put into the new story. I figured y'all would prefer that as a priority.

We're done, though. As of today, all changes are committed, all code is reviewed, all programs are tested, and we're through. I've been helping out with some coding, which wasn't what I was supposed to be doing, since I'm not really a programmer... but I took some of the grunt work away from the developers, who were happy to lose it.

Tomorrow is the Christmas Party, or we would have been having a release celebration party. What we've done instead is extended the hours a little, contracted with a taxi service for the night (getting people to the party as well as from, so they really don't need to drive), and shortened the work day tomorrow.

After that, Brian and I have decided to spend Christmas at his grandparents. Short notice, but we really didn't know whether it would be possible until early this week. I'll keep my phone with me, Just In Case... and any work I need to do I can probably do remotely. It will be a couple of weeks before any problems start showing up, and the holidays would be a good time to take a needed break, for all of us.

Well, I'll get back to my new story, tentatively titled "Infidelity", and with luck it will be online in a couple of days.


Have a few minutes free here, since things have calmed down. A couple of things I meant to add yesterday, but got caught up in trying to get caught up :-)

I went to the court last week and got my paperwork for taking a defensive driving class. I have a couple of months to take the course.

We did a little late Christmas shopping yesterday. I guess the local school district finished within the last couple of days, because the food court was full of teenagers. God, was I really one of them once? :-)

They do seem different, especially the girls. They're *perfect*. If you see what I mean. Perfect in a very limited sense... they're matchstick-thin, dangerously so. Anorexics with smooth, unblemished skin and big breasts. Some of them *have* to have had boob jobs. White, black, hispanic, asian, they just all look and act identical. Tight jeans, tiny tee shirts which exposed stomach and bosom alike.

I know we aspired to sameness when I was a high-schooler in this same district, but I don't recall it being so overt an obsession. Somewhere along the way, this also became a district having one of the highest teen-suicide rates in the country... and one of the nation's highest heroin addiction rates. No prizes for figuring out whether I think these are all connected.

Brian took the teen invasion like a man... by which I mean he contrived to peer down as many low tee shirt tops as possible :-) He was certainly enjoying the view, and seemed to have no qualms about the kids' conformity.

But then, he's closer to that age than I am. Perhaps things changed even in the years between us. Or perhaps I'm just getting old.

Time to finish. I'm going to go home and take a nap before the taxi arrives.


Owww, my head hurts.

Expected, I guess, Deserved, even :-)

What was not expected nor (I hope) deserved was the nastiness with Darrell.

The first couple of hours were great. We drank, danced, ate hors-d'ouvres. Played party games, one of which involved couples manipulating a small ball from toes to neck without using our hands... and they wouldn't let me partner with Brian, I was paired with his boss Andy, who is over a foot taller than me. Needless to say, we were far from being the fastest, but I think we generated the most entertainment. Brian thought so, too :-) (He was partnered with Kelly.)

It was about eleven o'clock that Darrell cornered me. He seemed pleasant at first, then started making snide remarks about my relationship with - of all people - Andy. In his drunken state he must have read something into our cavorting with the ball. Though he didn't make much sense, and I wasn't so drunk that I wouldn't have understood. I finally just walked away from him.

I immediately went to talk to Susie, who says he has been getting increasingly weird around the office. Making off-color comments - not serious enough that individually they would be grounds for a harassment complaint, but disturbing in total, and upsetting. And apparently I still come in for the occasional insult, though I have had no contact with Darrell for weeks. He seems to have something of an obsession with me.

That was borne out later, when Brian found me. His face was red, tense. I didn't realize how angry he was until he spoke.

Apparently when I had left Darrell, he had gone straight to Brian and done much the same to him as he'd done to me... starting off pleasantly, dropping me into the conversation, then getting increasingly personal. What TV shows I watch. Whether I participated in adult chat rooms. What I liked to do in bed. God, it gave me the creeps. Brian stopped answering the questions when they became weird, but he didn't stop asking. Brian came very close to punching him, and damn the consequences. Instead, he just walked away, as I'd done earlier.

I have a feeling that if Darrell were made to pee in a bottle, the tests would show some interesting substances. We don't have drug testing at the office, though.

Brian hasn't calmed down yet. He's now in something of a quandary, he says. Partly this makes jumping ship more attractive, because he doesn't see how he can work in the same environment as Darrell any more. But at the same time, he doesn't want to leave me around a creep like that.

I think he should put it out of his mind. I can take care of myself, and he doesn't have to work closely with IT anyway. The last time he worked with any IT person, come to think of it, was me, when he was trying to kill our network :-) He needs to make the decision on leaving with no reference at all to what Darrell may be doing.

I want to talk to Terry about this. But I don't know quite what to say... the rudeness was outside of the office, and we were all drunk. And the harassment of the IT women, well that's hard to pin down, and it isn't my department. I'll think about it while we're away.

When I can get my head to stop hurting, I'll pack. We leave for Brian's grandparents tomorrow morning.


Our flight was supposed to arrive about six yesterday afternoon. With holiday delays and cancellations, we didn't get to the airport until nine, and it was after eleven that we finally arrived at Brian's grandparents' house. His grandmother, Martha, met us at the door and ushered us into the living room, where there was a hot fire. She made us cocoa and took our coats.

I decided instantly that I liked her :-)

When we were warmed through, she showed us to our room. I was shocked... without asking she had given us a small room with a double bed. I'm sure if we had wanted to sleep separately, she wouldn't have been at all offended to find something else... but she assumed, without any apparent censorious motives, that we'd be sleeping together.

Totally unlike my mother. I wonder if Brian's parents will be so liberal?

Today she made us a late breakfast and we talked until noon. She - both of them, actually, her husband Bob is as sharp as she is - has a crystal clear memory way back to the Depression. She says that the Depression taught her to value what she has, not merely possessions, but people; that if you find love, you treasure it, and what I have with Brian is more valuable than anything we could own or anything we could do. I think she's right.

She also told me that she's almost ten years older than Bob, and that I should never feel bad about loving a younger man. Bob isn't Brian's grandfather, her first husband died not long after Brian's mom was born, and in fact Bob wasn't much older than her oldest son (now also deceased) when they married. But, she says, she's been in love with him for a generation now.

Bob, for his part, wasn't at all embarrassed by her recounting their history. Instead, he interjected rude comments - the kind of teasing remarks that Brian and I often indulge in.

The rest of the family arrives tomorrow, and I know things are going to get crazy. The house isn't really big enough for as many as will be here, though Martha says she's used to it. I'm pleased that we've had this day with them before the crowds arrive, though.


'Twas the night before... Hmph. Don't you hate that poem and all its variants? By the time Christmas arrives I'm heartily sick of most things Christmas.

Maybe I'm just a humbug.

But I'm looking forward to the day itself.

I like Brian's family. I've offered to trade it for mine, and he reminded me that one of these days I'll be officially part of it. Besides, I wouldn't trade Rob.

His mom (Cathy) took a while to warm up to me. She was a little taken aback to find that her little boy was sleeping with his fiancée - and that her mother condoned it. But we seem to be doing fine now.

Brian's a lot like his mother, intelligent and articulate. His older brother (Patrick) is more like his dad (James), taller, with stronger features, and quiet. His dad works in defense systems in the Chicago area. He wouldn't give any details; Brian said even he doesn't really know what his dad does.

Patrick's wife, Ann, seems a little out of place. I think it's simply that she's working her tail off looking after their three kids. She just doesn't seem to have a personality apart from them. The kids arrived sick, two of them with high fevers... Patrick had just gotten over a nasty flu, so they probably caught it from him.

The other relative is Brian's sister, Jill. She's single, still in college, and about Brian's height. She's like Brian and her mother in looks, except her skin tone is lighter, and her hair is a very rich brown. She makes her face up to emphasize her dark eyes, and she has an almost-teen's slender figure.

If Cathy can be surprised by her son being being sexually active, in a monogamous relationship even, she must be turning a blind eye to Jill's activities. Admittedly she didn't bring a boyfriend with her, but she made reference to a couple of guys she was obviously very close to, and she hasn't been making much effort to hide her birth-control pills.

She's sassy, smart, and much like Brian must have been at that age, or would have been but for his then-girlfriend's manipulation. I like her a lot.

Since all the family arrived, of course, I've barely had time to think, certainly not to write. And the kids' flu may be catching. The third developed a fever on Wednesday, and today Brian and Jill both started coughing. Time for a trip to the grocery (not an easy proposition in this weather, but Bob's used to it) to pick up extra flu medicines and vitamin C... just in case.

We had snow before today, and below-freezing temperatures today. It looks like I'll see my first ever white Christmas. I don't know what the big deal is, it's just cold :-)


Brian, Jill and Ann all succumbed to the flu. Yesterday morning (Christmas Day) Brian had a fever of almost 102. I dragged him out of bed to exchange gifts, but he slept most of the rest of the day. (He gave me a lovely black high-necked blouse and belted skirt which I intend to wear to see in the New Year. I gave him a color Game Boy, a silly gift, I know, but something he has been wanting.)

Fairly liberated Brian's family may be, but it's the women who make Christmas dinner. With Ann and Jill both sick, that was Martha and Cathy. I dove in and worked with them... Cathy tried to tell me I was a guest and didn't need to do the work, but it was obvious that she appreciated it, and I think she decided then that I was part of the family.

Christmas dinner was well received, in spite of sickness, but it was a tiring day.


Brian's still fighting the flu. He's up and about, and his temperature's pretty much normal, but he has a cough that won't quit. Jill seems recovered, but Cathy's down now. Jill's helping me and Martha keep the house working.

Jill seems to see me as a kindred spirit, much as I do her. She confided that she always assumed that Brian would get less than he deserved in a partner. Someone like Ann, she said.

"You don't like Ann?" I asked. I was surprised, she seemed okay.

"I like her fine, but she seems very... traditional, when it comes to, you know, sex."

"You don't think she's an experimenter?"

"I won't say she doesn't enjoy it," Jill said, "but I know I'd be bored with her choices. But then, you decided to settle down, too."

"I'd have to say I've... sampled the alternatives," I said. "I guess you're saying that Ann hadn't."

"You've played the field," she said.

"I wouldn't put it as bluntly as that, but yeah, I've got some experience to bring with me to a monogamous relationship."

"Sounds like Brian struck gold," she said, "and I'm glad for him. He deserves it. But you, though, how can you tie yourself down? I can't imagine doing that."

"To be blunt," I answered, "I don't know. When it happened I was more surprised than anyone. Love is the main component, I think. No matter how much fun I could have playing around with anyone else, it doesn't beat how much more precious an experience is when you're sharing it with someone who really cares. So I wouldn't fault Ann, if that's all she knows... but there's nothing about being in love that stops you doing all the exciting things you'd do with another single partner. And that can be... whooo."

"You're saying that one day I'll meet a guy and want to settle down?"

She was not being bitter, more making a tongue-in-cheek sarcastic comment, but I treated it seriously. "No, I'm not. I'm saying that if and when you truly love your partner, it's an option. You don't have to give anything up, and you can add to your depth of experience. But I'm no expert on monogamy, I have maybe eight months' of practice."

"And Brian is really all you need? I'm surprised he can keep up."

I lowered my voice, though there was no-one else around. "Brian has been a very good student. I've no need to look anywhere else."

"One-stop shopping?"

I laughed with her.

When Brian came into the kitchen a few minutes later, Jill said "It's the grocery", and we both laughed, and then refused to explain ourselves. I told him I couldn't let him in on the joke, because it would make him laugh, and laughing makes him cough himself sick.

He didn't believe me, but he didn't press the issue.


Something Jill said about a camping trip she took as a teenager gave me an idea for a story. It needs some fleshing out... and the story is in no way related to what she told me, just the basic idea. As uninhibited as Jill may be, I don't see her as the girl in my story...

Brian is miserable. He's coughing so much on a night he's keeping both of us awake, but himself especially, so he's tired all through the day. Still, we're going to do the New Years' Eve party.