Renting: America's Sweethearts, Legally Blonde, and Billy Elliott. Cute, cute and hilarious, completely fabulous, in that order.

Watching: Old Buffy episodes on F/X. God help me, I'm taping them now, but I feel entitled, as I really haven't seen much of the first four seasons.

Listening: The Trans-Siberian Orchestra's Christmas Eve and Other Stories. I love this Christmas album. I would be listening to George Winston's December by now, but I can't, not when it's so bloody hot outside.

Not listening: To Barbra Streisand murder "My Favorite Things." Honestly, I heard it in the car the other day on the 24-hour Christmas music station and it was all I could do not to drive into an oncoming bus. First of all, it isn't a Christmas song. Second of all, could she have made it sound any more depressing? Honestly.

Sending: Christmas cards. Send me your address, and you'll get one too. Reciprocity not required, so no pressure.

Questioning: Whether people who do not celebrate Christmas are offended if they get a card saying "Merry Christmas." If you are, I'd be interested in hearing why. Would you prefer to not receive a card altogether? I'm really not trying to be snarky here, it's an honest question. I, for one, would not be offended in the least if I got a card wishing me a "Happy Hanukkah." I'd just be happy someone was thinking of me.

Legal Quote of the Day: "We are more casual about qualifying the people we allow to act as advocates in the courtroom than we are about licensing electricians." -- Warren Burger, Chief Justice, U.S. Supreme Court.

Man. I'd hate to be the lawyer that inspired him to say this. But speaking of the Supreme Court, one of The Firm's lawyers just argued a case in front of the Supreme Court, which is pretty incredible considering that he is thirty years old. Like, the thought of me arguing a case in front of the U.S. Supreme Court right now, or at any point in the next year, makes me laugh and laugh.

Yes, we're back to this. I was kind of hating the new design. I'd like to tell you that I'll keep working on it, but I probably won't. (If someone would like to make me a redesign for Christmas, I would be eternally grateful, and I swear I'd send you cookies or something.) Anyway, how about I start with Thanksgiving, and work forward from there?

The holiday was very, very nice. I was, of course, deliriously happy to be with my family again. My brother's computer taught us how to play cribbage, and I'm completely addicted now. I showed him the Sims, which he immediately bastardized, much to no one's surprise. (I didn't even know you could reach a point where one of your options was to slap another person, but leave it to my brother to figure that out.) We rented The Grinch (the live-action one), which was disappointingly horrible, Shrek, which was absolutely hilarious, and Disney's The Kid, which may be the cutest movie I have seen in a long time and damn, Bruce Willis is hot, even if that's not his real hair. My mother watched an entire episode of F/X marathon Buffy with me while I tried to explain to her what everyone was about. We ate turkey and stuffing and mashed potatoes and drank Beaujolais Nouveau (it's very good this year, by the way) and at the end of the meal, Derek put his arm around Elena and said those magic words: "We have an announcement."

So yay, my brother is getting married, and much sooner than anyone expected, probably in January, although not for your normal shotgun-wedding reason. Elena is from Venezuela and is here only on a work visa. Nowadays, with the government being all extra-strict about immigration, it could take up to two years for her to get permanent resident status. During that time, there is a small but definite possibility that she could get sent back to Venezuela until her paperwork goes through. If that happened before she and Derek were married, it could be another year after her resident status is approved for her to get back in the country, but as a spouse of an American citizen, she would be able to come back almost immediately. The likelihood of her getting sent back at all is very small, but three years apart is something they don't want to risk, so they're getting married by a judge in January and will have a church ceremony sometime later in the year.

But anyway, I'm totally excited about having a sister-in-law. I can't say enough about how completely sweet she is, but she's not so sweet that she doesn't stand up to my brother when he's being incorrigible, which is very good to know. And I signed up to take a Spanish class in the spring. I always figured I should learn Spanish anyway (fat lot of good seven years of French does you when you move to Los Angeles, for example) and now I have a good excuse.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Then, there was last Tuesday. Last Tuesday, I was sitting at work, still wading through the piles of paper that accumulated on my desk while I was on vacation, trying to get everything done so I could get home in time for Buffy, what with her having sex with Spike and all. It's 5:15, I am working working working when the phone rings.

It's Mary. "Want to go to the U2 concert? A guy at work is selling his $130 tickets, half-price."

The U2 concert was due to begin in approximately one hour and forty-five minutes. Me being the unspontaneous broke girl that I am, I told her I'd love to, but I couldn't afford it.

At which point she said: "Happy Birthday... and Merry Christmas, if that's okay."

Well, it was fine with me. Two hours later, I was sitting in a second-row seat (on the side, not directly in front of the stage or anything, the floor was all standing) approximately thirty yards from the end point of the heart-shaped walkway that extended out from the stage, looking around at all the other people who were there, and realizing that they were probably the same people I saw there in 1987 at The Joshua Tree concert, because we were all so... old. I didn't see one person I would have classified as a teen-ager, unless they were there with their parents. It was bizarre and not a little bit frightening for someone who is about to get bitten by the Y30 bug (two weeks from today, for those of you keeping score at home).

And then they all came out playing "Elevation" while the house lights were still up and it was cool, because you just really had the sense that you were in the room with them. And they played all the good old stuff and about half the new album, and it was fantastic. And during the first encore they played "One" while the names of everyone on the four flights and all the lost police officers and firefighters scrolled up a screen behind them and onto the walls and ceiling. I'm not sure it would have come off so well had anyone else tried it, but we know they know a little something about the violence that comes from religious fanatacism. During "Sunday Bloody Sunday," Bono took an Irish flag from one group of fans and an American flag from another and held them together, pressing his face into them for a long time. I was surprised at my decidedly uncynical reaction to that moment, but it seemed real, it really did. I wondered if he wasn't praying.

And it was over way, way too soon. I'm sure it sucks for them, because they have so much material and it's all so good, that they could play for five hours and people would still feel like they weren't ready for it to be over. But they played for two, and it was great, and all us geezers got home at a reasonable hour.

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And that, my children, is really all I have to report. Work has been insane and I may be going to trial in Trenton, New Jersey in about three months, which will be cool as it is a mere hour to Philadelphia, which is where you can find many people that I love. Otherwise, it is business as usual, trying to make my Christmas presents and write my cards and not get freaked out about my birthday and wishing it would snow or at least get mildly cold outside.

And keep your fingers crossed, kids, as I may even update again this month.

I know. Try not to fall out of your chair.

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