October 27, 2000
Gathering Gloom


"You're probably used to this, aren't you?" said our pal Oz at lunch yesterday. And she gestured vaguely toward the windows of the Mexican restaurant. By "this" I knew she was referring to the relentlessly wet, pukey weather we've been enduring here in the Bay Area, the past few days.

I get asked that question a lot. I suppose most Pacific Northwest *transplants* do.

(I've been listening to the jokes, here at the office, for a year and a half now. What do you call two straight days of rain in Seattle? A weekend. What do you call two straight weeks of rain in Seattle? Indian summer. What did the Seattle native say to the Pillsbury Doughboy? "Nice tan.")

"You know what?" I said to Oz, pausing over my cheese enchilada. "I'm actually a lot less 'used to it' now than I was two years ago."

I was astonished to hear myself saying this -- I think David was, too: his fork actually halted in mid-air -- but it's true. I lived in Seattle for the first thirty-nine years of my life. I topped that off with a year and a half in Oregon City (*Inside-Out-Umbrella* Capital of the World) before transplanting here to the Bay Area. I used to love the rain. I used to miss the rain. But sometime between getting off that airplane two years ago and now, I seem to have morphed into a California Girl.

Almost against my will.

(And before you start composing that cranky e-mail all about how "if you're not born on California soil you're not a true Californian," I simply mean I'm morphing into an HONORARY California Girl. OK? Through the process of osmosis and stuff.)

I've been here long enough to not only grow accustomed to the lack of rain, but to prefer it.

And the fact is that I've hated the weather this week. An occasional Lullaby Rain is one thing. This chilly, unpleasant pissing-from-the-sky stuff is another thing entirely. It has played havoc with my 'do, with my sinuses, with my mood. It has interfered with my sleep. It has melted my Maybelline and obscured my view of the Tribune Tower.

And it has definitely contributed to the growing cloud of gloom hanging over the Totem Pole Company.

One of the nicest things about moving to the Bay Area -- besides the near-perfect weather, the incredible scenery, the Chinese food, the world-class sex -- is finally having the chance to meet some of my online pals, face-to-face.

Like meeting Ozarktalk and OldeRocker, yesterday at lunch.

Nobody from the Boom Room lived in TicTac during the years *I* lived in TicTac. All the groovy chat room people lived in more exotic locations, like Kansas. Or New Jersey. Or New York. Or Loo-uh-ville.

Or California.

The truth is that even if some of my online acquaintances had lived near enough for us to get together for lunch or a cup of coffee or a quick sneaky fudk at the TicTac Holiday Inn, once in a while, I probably would have resisted the idea. My self-esteem in those days was piteously low. I may have been a total attention whore online, but offline I wasn't ready to present my true face.

But now -- two years of sobriety, two years of California, two years of Ю僱êrvØ¡, two years of *FootNotes* later -- I am lots more secure. Admitting to the world that you pee when you cough will do that.

Technically, Oz and OldeRocker are more Ю僱êrvØ¡'s "acquaintances" than SecraTerri's. Secra exited the chat room in a blaze of drunken glory sometime in the fall of 1996, never to return. Ю僱êrvØ¡ stayed behind and cultivated a following. He is far and away the brighter star in the Boomer Universe, these days. But I read over his shoulder a lot ... whenever he pops into the chat room for a few minutes of weather chat, whenever he i.m.'s with a friend, whenever he composes one of his weird and wonderful missives all about his "mighty python of love" for the message boards ... and I know who's who and whut's whut in BoomerWorld.

And Oz and OldeRocker are two of the groovy people.

(I don't have either one of them filtered, for one thing. And neither one of them has ever written to correct my spelling, for another.)

The four of us enjoyed a leisurely two-hour lunch at Jack London Square in Oakland yesterday. Over iced tea and combination plates, we talked about Jerry Brown and South Park and the message boards and the Hayward Fault and our kids and web browsers and rock music and labor unions and Boomer gatherings and weather. Bill and Brenda are fabulous. I hope we get to see them again ... soon.

And it was a definite bright spot in a week of what can only be described as *gathering gloom.*

The sun is shining in Oakland this morning, once again -- I can see it glinting off the Tribune Tower -- but the mood around the office is dark.

It has grown increasingly somber as the week has progressed.

On Monday we were having pizza delivered and listening to "Bohemian Rhapsody" on the office intercom. Some of the engineers and I spent Monday afternoon in the hallway, bowling with tangerines. On Tuesday we were all taking extra-long lunches and e-mailing George Bush jokes back & forth. On Wednesday, three-fourths of the office called in "sick." The rest of us played DoomBall.

Yesterday we were still taking two-hour lunches and smiling at each other in the lunch room. But a chilly wind had begun to blow up and down the hallways of the Totem Pole Company ... literally and figuratively.

Today -- Friday -- nobody is smiling. Nobody is laughing. There is no music playing, anywhere in the office. Doors are closed. The hallways and the lunch room are deserted. We're all closeted in our offices and our cubicles, furiously attempting to catch up on all the work we've sloughed off for the last ten days.

And everywhere you go, you can hear it whispered on the wind ... like rumor of impending plague:

Franz comes back next week.

What can I tell you? Two years in California and you stop missing the rain.

Two weeks without Franz and you stop missing the Excedrin.

Stay tuned.

p.s. thanks again, Brenda and Bill, for a lovely lunch yesterday!

two years ago: dark days
fourteen years ago: life without father

throw a rock