Raw, adjective: 9. disagreeably damp and chilly, as the weather or air: a raw, foggy day at the beach.

And somehow, unbeknownst to me, it turned into winter, because here we are on a Wednesday with faraway talk of snowblowers and shovels and snow days and my oh my, am I glad to have moved westward from that frozen heart of the country that many of you still call home.

The low here last night was a brisk 32 degrees, practically unheard of in these parts, and as I walked through the quiet Financial District coming on to dinnertime, the air was new and cold and different. December is my favorite time for late-night walks through the deserted downtown streets; everything's white lights and sparkling sidewalks and unexpected red-wrapped pillars around unpatrolled corners, and I wrapped myself more tightly in my fluffy winter white and pulled up my Audrey gloves and felt awake and alive on tucking in to a secret side street en route to another more secret speakeasy. Vodka tastes better when wrapped in shearling and sporting rosy cheeks, accompanied by an old man tapping out "Sleigh Ride" on a baby grand behind you.

In the midst of all the glitter and defrosting, though, it's easy to feel some guilty kind of obligatory cheer here in this more obligatorily-cheery time of the year. And for those of us in search of some measure of holiday authenticity, well, eh, let's be honest: we're not always feeling it. Garrison Keillor speaks to that sense in his classic only-Garrison-Keillor kind of way in this morning's Salon column. His paean to New York at Christmastime celebrates the fact that "Christmas is a joyful time, or so we're told, but a person gets tired of enforced joyfulness, especially when it's WalMart and Amazon doing the prompting, and you sort of appreciate a little anger to season the season." Amen.

I love it. Read the piece. And then stick around for Mary Elizabeth Williams's equally adroit takedown of the ubiquitous emoticon. Her essay on "Why Emoticons Need to Die" made me laugh, and nod, and growl. She asks: "Why...do I feel all stabby when I get a message that ends with three short marks: a colon, a hyphen and a parenthesis?"

The smiley challenges my own attempts at holiday cheer, stifling any urges toward magnanimity. Seeing one in correspondence, I wince, I cringe, I inhale with that most silent of judgmental inhales. Williams puts it best:
Whether they're humble punctuation marks or shape-shifting, animated gifs matters not -- I loathe them in all their forms. I see a face at the end of a sentence, I start lopping off IQ and attractiveness points for the person who wrote it.
Hilarious. Pointedly observant. Check it out. (And stay warm, all yous Midwestern types.)

Tis the Season to Be Grumpy (Salon)
Death to Smiley: Why Emoticons Need to Die (Salon)


AnnMarie said…
I guess you've never experienced the failed communication that can happen when someone misreads another's attempt at humor? I am a professional in online teaching. I recommend profs encourage their students to use emoticons.

But then again, I like them so much I was captain of a broomball team in college called :-) We were all computer geeks; we only "won" one game, the other team forfeited to attend a wake. I don't think that really counts.


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