This is a post about death and dying. "There's nothing to see here, folks. Move along, move along."

I didn't plan on looking at the body, but when my sister and mother did, I had to.

It wasn't him. He was done with that shell. The body that had betrayed him. He had left already, with his last breath — that had been hard to witness, had left me kind of numb. Exhausted. So seeing his body now, in the casket, was more abstract. My sister was crying. My mother silent. I was watching myself in that room.

The crematorium was a bizarre mix of French Rennaisance architecture and well-worn industrial utility. Ornate gothic arches, carved doors, steel platforms, and the cremation chamber. The low, faint rumble of the furnace behind the wall.

The attendants closed the casket, rolled it to the conveyor platform, engaged the electric lift up into alignment, and rolled my father's body in its wood-and-silk container through the double-double doors, into the furnace. The casket clunked down before disappearing inside.

We walked outside and watched the black and gray smoke, streaked by tears, drift up into the sun.

Hat brain

illustration of brain processes, by Robert Fludd circa 1619

Do you ever get hat hair? You know, what happens when you've been wearing a hat or visor and you take it off and your hair is all dented and messed up?

I get hat brain. It comes from having to change hats so often during the work day. Designer hat. Project manager hat. CEO hat. Coder hat. Community member hat. Marketer hat. So many hats! And I have to wear many of them each and every day.

And that's hard. It's especially hard when jumping from a designer or coder hat, where I'm deep in flow puzzling out something, experimenting, totally immersed, to a project manager or CEO hat, where I'm stepping back, looking at the big picture, strategy stuff, people interactions. Each hat leaves dents in my brain. It takes a few minutes to let the dents fade, a few minutes before I can realistically and effectively wear a different hat.

Right now I see timeboxing as an answer. I'm tempted to write a quick app to facilitate it, since I haven't seen anything too useful so far. But of course that would require changing hats.

The great pumpkin, etc.

So it's Halloween time. People don costumes and mock scariness in the face of a world full of scary things.

I should be blogging more. I should be publicizing more. I should be marketing more.

Time, alas, is a limiter. And my energy. I've had a flu shot. I eat not enough enough vegetables. I will on occasion have more than 1.5 glasses of red wine. I eat red meat and watch, now and then, R-rated movies. I don't exercise enough. Cherry pie is my downfall.

Am I scared? So?

Hurry hurry hurry hurry stop! (Did you get all that?)

So by the time the party started, I was totally and profoundly exhausted. Kate and I had done our best to recharge with a yummy Thai dinner following a brisk walk up Market Street, which had been just the trick to recover from the way-too-dance-clubby music and the way-too-comfortable comfy chairs in the W lobby, where we had been attempting to relax after a several-hour client meeting where I had walked client and web developer through the web design process I was envisioning, which, in the end, was the reason I was even in The City -- not for the party.

But here I was at the party, not quite awake, not at all alert, and, among all these brilliant, beautiful and oh-so-hip and in-the-know BlogHers, feeling like a total dork from the boonies -- and probably acting like a pod person. And this was not good, considering that the celebration was for the official beta launch of the BlogHer website, which was designed and developed by yours truly.

Beware that stomach flu

It hit me on Christmas Day, and for the next week I was either emptying myself or green with anticipation. Never mind that it's only 2 days after Christmas -- that first night felt like a week!

Now I'm drained and a few pounds lighter -- not a recommended regimen, it's not worth it! -- and rather disoriented. Today I celebrated surviving Christmas by eating a bland meal ... and keeping it down. I suppose that's enough. It's a good time to be alive.

Not much of a Christmas. It wasn't for my mother, either, who, as it turns out, got the same bug. My sister has taken her to the emergency room because, while she's otherwise much better, she now has a terrible rattling cough. I wish I could be there. But I'm here, and I don't think I'm going anywhere soon.

Holiday stress 2.0

This has been a strange holiday so far. I've been stressed, but not in the usual holiday way.

The usual holiday stress would be all wrapped up in gift idea angst, anticipation of extended family gatherings, air travel butterflies and a general sense that I should be happier than I really am (which, of course, would not bring much joy).

This year's holiday stress is all about work, and feeling not really able to truly justify just taking some time off and enjoying myself. Rather than offer up a list, I'll just put down a ramble:

Escape from Wal-Mart

So on Saturday, I went with my mother to Wal-Mart to look at their microwaves.

On just about any day, a trip to Wal-Mart can be a sort of modern anthropological excursion: you see a cross-section of the community you never knew existed. I mean, sure, the preponderance of clientele lives in the lower and lower-middle classes of our economic strata. But everyone, it seems, goes to Wal-Mart at some time or another -- especially on Saturday, when people are off work.

In this store, situated in a rather red county (where regular letters to the editor of the local paper decry the evils of yoga, pagan holidays and liberals) in a rather red state (where Democrats sound more Republican than many Republicans), we saw punks and gay couples and super-successful yuppies who've already made enough money elsewhere so they could buy Gucci bags and Neiman Marcus clothing not available within at least 100 miles, probably 200 miles.

The parking lot reflected the same, from rusty old pickups coughing grey and blue smoke to glossy urban assault vehicles driven by soft-bodies.


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