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Archive: 24 August 2005

Storm Warning

The last 36 hours have been filled with extremes.

In the wee hours of the morning yesterday, after many weeks of work and rework and extra work, A List Apart was launched in its new incarnation.  The community reaction was very strongly positive, with the strongest initial complaints being the lack of DNS switchover and the missing print style sheet.  There were other criticisms, of course, but nothing that I honestly didn’t expect from the outset.  Taken as a whole, the feedback was so much better than I’d hoped it would be.

Mid-afternoon that same day, I listened to voice mail from a recent client informing me that, due to a catastrophic misunderstanding, I’d be paid what they had understood the fees to be, and not what I had told them the fees would be.  This would mean the paycheck would be smaller than expected.  Like six or seven thousand dollars smaller.

(And don’t bother to tell me that I should have gotten it all in writing beforehand: I know that, okay?  Now I’ve really learned it, and double-hard.  Leave me in my misery and idiocy, and learn from my mistake.  That would at least confer some small bit of good.)

In the early evening, Carolyn picked up one of her letter-blocks and said enthusiastically “beee!” as she held it up toward me and used her other hand to sign “B”.  The block she held was a block with the letter B on it.  I put it in a group with a bunch of others and asked her to show me the B.  She did.  She did it twice more.  Then she did it for the letter E.  I was astonished, stunned, inexpressably proud.  It isn’t reading, but it’s a recognition of letter forms, and that’s where it all starts.

At Carolyn’s bed time, as I was searching for a book to read to her, I came across my copy of “Are You My Mother?”.  This is the book with which I taught myself to read.  It had gone missing three or four years ago, and I had searched through all our children’s books three times to try to find it.  My mother died thinking she’d accidentally given it away, or packed it into the wrong box during one of her spates of house cleaning.

It sat on the shelf as if it had never been anywhere else, and I was almost afraid to touch it, for fear it was an illusion.  The superstitious core of my soul wondered if Mom’s spirit had found the book and returned it to me.  A pivotal touchstone of my childhood, long absent and once mourned and inexplicably restored.  I couldn’t choose between elation, gratitude, and grief.

This morning, as I spun records on what could be the second-to-last radio show I ever do, Kat called to tell me that one of her best friends had disappeared, along with her money and passport, while on vacation.  From all indications, it is a purposeful disappearance, but not much less worrisome for being so.

Sometimes, I think it would be nice if life’s rich pageantry could tone things down just a shade or two.

August 2005
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