"Madame, bear in mind That princes govern all things--save the wind." -Victor Hugo, The Infanta's Rose

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Ghost of Christmas Future

I hope everyone had a happy yet suitably spooky Halloween. We had perhaps fifty or so trick-or-treaters stop by our house last night, and although they laid siege to our stockade of candy, there's more than enough left over this morning to guarantee that I will gain a minimum of ten pounds unless I exercise extreme self-control. Unfortunately, this has never been one of my strong suits, er ... excuse me while I go grab a Snickers.

In the course of wandering the net yesterday, I came across an intriguing article entitled Ghosts In The Machines at the New York Times Op-Ed site by Neil Gaiman, the noted British author of numerous science fiction and fantasy works, including the dark comic-book series The Sandman. It gave me goose bumps; here's a sample:
There’s a blog I don’t think anyone else reads. I ran across it searching for something else, and something about it, the tone of voice perhaps, so flat and bleak and hopeless, caught my attention. I bookmarked it.

If the girl who kept it knew that anyone was reading it, anybody cared, perhaps she would not have taken her own life. She even wrote about what she was going to do, the pills, the Nembutal and Seconal and the rest, that she had stolen a few at a time over the months from her stepfather’s bathroom, the plastic bag, the loneliness, and wrote about it in a flat, pragmatic way, explaining that while she knew that suicide attempts were cries for help, this really wasn’t, she just didn’t want to live any longer.

She counted down to the big day, and I kept reading, uncertain what to do, if anything. There was not enough identifying information on the Web page even to tell me which continent she lived on. No e-mail address. No way to leave comments. The last message said simply, “Tonight.”

I wondered whom I should tell, if anyone, and then I shrugged, and, best as I could, I swallowed the feeling that I had let the world down.

And then she started to post again. She says she’s cold and she’s lonely.

I think she knows I’m still reading ....

So are there any ghosts living in your computer?

Of course, now that Halloween is over, the holiday countdown has officially begun; Thanksgiving will be just a temporary bump in the road in the headlong rush to Christmas. We've already received a ton of Christmas catalogs in the mail, and I expect retail advertising will kick in full-force shortly. My sister-in-law has already put up her Christmas tree.

Bah, humbug. Excuse me while I go grab another Snickers®.

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