Holiday 1999
                                      Y2K Happy New Year!
If you are reading this we didn't go up in a ball of apocalyptic fire!  I guess that is motivation
enough to "Thank God."  So, I hope she is listening… God, Thanks!  Oh, and while I have your
attention, can you do something about AIDS?  Also, I'd like to loose a few pounds.

You can see that I have decided to send a Y2K update letter and continue my holiday self-lesson
from last year.  I'd like to say that a Christmas card was passé or that I just couldn't find the time
to do it, but the plain truth is that I was lazy.  Yes, I decided to slack and enjoy the unseasonably
warm weather we have had this December.  Besides, I can only usher in "my" new Millennium
once in a 1000 years, so what better way than to pontificate (or linguistically masturbate) in a
letter. (Sorry for any images that created!)  Regardless, I hope the New Year finds you well.

What started off as a rather uneventful year for me has turned into quite the party.  As it is 1999, I
guess I inherently wanted to take the 90's out with some pizzazz.  I met many of the goals I set
last year, so the brief skinny on my life is, as follows: I graduated from Cal State Hayward with
my MPA in February, Chris and I set a September wedding date (pending the results from
Vermont's support of Gay Marriage), I left Catholic Charities and AIDS ministry to join the www.
com mania as a business consultant for AT&T (money and cool colleagues aside. I like the
change), vacationed with the in-laws for the first time (great people and very affirming of us),
started writing my first book, Getting AIDS, flew my parents out for a week at Thanksgiving and
started a certificate program at Stanford University (yes, I'm going BACK to school for three
months.)

Between all this, Chris and I have vacationed in Florida, Canada, northern California and
Boston.  Over this year I have discovered a deeper understanding of myself through the ways in
which Chris and I love each other.  The reflections I find of him in me and me in him provide a
glimpse into the future of our partnership, and quite frankly into my own soul.  Simply put, in him I
find the many blessings of a full life and realize my full potential as a loving person.

Life lessons this year came from my work transition, my cats and my parent's visit (among many
others).  Leaving CCEB was a very difficult change to make; however, it was for the best.  I
completed a 5-year strategic plan for the AIDS Services and brought in lost of money to fund
programs.  My new life at AT&T has shown me that not all of corporate America is evil.  I am
able to work at home, spend work time volunteering for AIDS organizations and bring an "AIDS
Awareness" to a new work environment.  We had an "AIDS death" at work and I was struck by
how familiar and foreign AIDS was simultaneously.  The experience helped me pause in thanks
for what I had been through and pause in wonder about where I am going.  Hopefully, not crazy!

Speaking of which, every day that I work in the city my cats hear my return and me coming up
the stairs.  Crazy Josephine and Ella usually look at me through the front window and run to the
bedroom when I open the door.  They throw themselves on the floor and meow at me until I join
them, rub their bellies and give them kisses.  It has become a ritual I look forward to as much as
they do.  What a way to unwind!  Today I tried it on Chris.  When he walked through the door,
he found me lying on the floor smiling up at him.  Sure enough he rubbed my belly and gave me
kisses.  

I think the cats are on to something!  Try it, you might like it.

Clovis and Lillian (my mom and dad) spent a week in our home for Thanksgiving.  Many
blessings were counted that week (including the blessing that I live in California and they live in
Massachusetts.)  Absence does indeed make the heart grow fonder, so I remain fond of my
parents so long as they are absent.  Actually, I continue to relish how close I am to my parents.  
Over they years we have become friends, and I loved having my friends visit in our home.  They
were such good in-laws to Chris that I couldn't ask for nicer parents.

As their visit continued, however, I came to understand the aging process at its best and its
worst.  At its worst, elder age is like Alzheimer's in slow motion.  Every time I see my parents
(usually after about 6-monts away) it is like meeting new people again.  I see new traits
developing and old-habits that help me define them slip away.  

At its best, each time I meet them in their aging they are much like eager children enjoying,
relaxing and living in each moment.  During their trip to California they discovered the joys of
eggnog lattés and I discovered the joys of buying them for my oldest friends.  Mom and dad
would light up and almost shake with anticipation for their sweetened beverage.  I have this lasting
image of my mother grabbing a "Venti Eggnog Latté"—which she can not pronounce—from
Starbucks (my dad calls it "Warbucks") and taking her first sip.  She paused, grinned and looked
around a local shopping area and sighed, "Ahh, this is beautiful."  She is often selectively deaf as a
post, so when I said, "Yes dear mother, you are" and she didn't respond, I stepped back further
to capture the moment.  I had to, because not soon after I had to resist the compulsion to grab a
tissue and wipe her nose and face: she was getting the foam mixed in with her snot-runny nose
and not pay attention to either.

At its worst, aging is doing funny things to my parents.  Dad is an avid news watcher and over the
years has found a number soap boxes he likes to crow about.  Somehow my dad found it
appropriate to share his feelings about the Chinese making Christmas ornaments, abortion, and
OJ Simpson in public settings (restaurants, trains, movie theaters, the MLK monument and so
on.)  I watch him try to make sense of the complex world around him all the while getting more
and more angry.  I told him, only half jokingly, that he often sounded like a bitter old scarecrow.  
My mother crossed a busy street without looking and nearly got smeared across the streets of
San Francisco.  She said, "I figured they'd stop." All the while I kept figuring, "I love them too
much to kill them!"

I mention this because everyone that met my parents would step back and comment, "My God,
you look so much like your father.  You are just like him."  Of course I would then focus on the
hair coming of his ears or the way he clicks his dentures and say, "No, I'm more like my mom."  
Truth is, though, I am a lot like both my parents, and can't thank God enough for that mixed bag
of blessings.  Participating in their aging has reminded me—much like participating in AIDS with
those I love—that my own days are special and need to be fully embraced.

So, what's next? AIDS–and the ballooning world pandemic—reminded me that I could always
be a better person and motivate others to do good just because.  Chris reminds me that growth is
less scary when motivated by love.  The babies, Josephine and Ella remind me to seize the
moment to cuddle, and my parents, Clovis and Lillian have reminded me that the blessings of
living can be as complex as raising 8 children or as simple as a flavored, boutique coffee.

I asked my parents what they hoped for in the year 2000.  My mom said "I want to see the
people I love" and my dad said, "I want to tell people that I care for them."  During the next year I
have made a commitment follow their wishes and appreciate the people who have helped shape
my life.  My resolution is to start doing that by remembering special dates better.  In this envelope
you have a return post card.  Fill it out if you would like.  You are special to me, and I want to try
and remember the moments that are special to you.  Mail the card back and I'll see what I can do
to pay attention!

May the discoveries of the new Millennium be as intriguing as aging parents, as familiar as purring
kitties, as exciting as a new chapter of discovery and grounded in a life of love.