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Phantom, Sticky and Lamar

While I was leaving IBM one of my previous teammates threatened me that if he ever came up against me in a competitive situation he was going to spill the beans about Sticky, Phantom and Lamar.  To take a proactive approach on the situation I figured I would air my dirty laundry here beating him to the punch.

I am an only child. (I know, I know, shocker, huh?) Only children have imaginary friends.  Sometimes these friends follow us into adulthood. Sometimes (as it went with Lamar) our real friends are forced to acknowledge our imaginary friends when they almost sit on them in the cab on the way to the airport.

Phantom and I have been friends since I was a kid. Phantom is a hand puppet so he is naturally very expressive, wearing his heart at the end of my sleeve so to speak. With Phantom I always know where I stand. I can tell when he is happy, when he’s sad and when he is uncomfortable. Phantom can bite and pinch too – a presumed quality of the hand puppet.

Sticky, or ‘Msr. Stick’ is French. I think he used to be American because I found him in Texas in ’99 but when I took him to Paris in ’03 he fell so in love with the city that he asked to become a citizen of France. (Finding him a birth certificate and social security card was a real b!tch!) Sticky is very pretentious and incredibly aggressive. He went after Mr. Engineer Boyfriend once – I think it was partly jealousy. Sticky and Phantom DO NOT get along, as Joger can attest to.

Lamar is the baby of the “family”. Joger insists Lamar is African American because of the name but being that he is invisible I don’t think race really applies. Lamar has no arms and no legs. Lost ‘em in the War. (Not sure which War but hey, I’m just repeating what he told me.) His lack of mobility makes him very needy but also really easy to take care of because I can leave him places and know he will be there when I get back. Lamar is Joger’s favorite. Joger used to let him sit on his lap when we would fly to Sao Paulo.

I personally see nothing wrong with hob-knobbing with the invisible.  And to be honest I don’t think Joger sees anything wrong with it either. If you haven’t noticed he is all over all three of my imaginary friends. He knows their name and will oftentimes ask how they are doing. (He used to keep in touch with Lamar over e-mail but since Sticky refuses to help him type anymore that has all fallen by the wayside.) So maybe Joger and I are like two peas in a pod. So take that as a warning my dear Roger (I mean Joger) – you spill the beans on P, S and L to a potential customer and I will make sure to bring up you and Lamar’s little “relationship”.

And yeah, I still believe in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny.

*Name changed to protect the innocent.

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Christmas in July

*** In honor of the 4th of July I figured I would post an abridged version of a Christmas Letter from back in the day when I actually wrote them. 170 days to go!!! ***

Dear Family and Friends,

So it is finally that time of year again and you should feel quite honored to have made the cut and become the proud recipient of the second annual Christmas Letter. Will there be a third? Will you still be on the distribution list might be another question – and honestly, would you be that offended if you weren’t?

This past year saw the passing of Bill. As a result I felt it was only appropriate to begin by dedicating this years’ Christmas Letter to the memory of our dearly departed brother, Bill. (No tears please, he is in a “happy place” now) Bill was a good dog – obedient, polite, accepting of others…sigh, Bill and I got along so well. But time heals all wounds and even while I am still continuing to pluck Bill hairs out of my wool sweaters and distributing him in IBM offices all over the country (as Ma Self says, “he always loved to travel”) he is being replaced with another sibling – a cat named Pippy, Floissa or Marge. Hmmm, I wasn’t allergic to my last sibling – I wonder what Ma Self is trying to tell me here. So anyway, like have a moment of silence for Bill or something but remember I was their first child and he was always stealing my thunder!

Before I really get into my year in review I just want to clear up a couple of things. For one, I think it is perfectly normal to have imaginary friends – I myself have three. “Sticky” – who is currently living in England after a brief stint in Brazil, “Lamar” – currently studying “law” at Harvard, and “Phantom” who happens to be sitting in the seat next to me which was luckily empty. It is perfectly normal to talk to people that may or may not be there. I think so at least. Okay, let’s move on then.

This was undeniably the year of the “Wawa Pretzel”. I am addicted.  Having such a discerning palette it is oftentimes difficult for people like myself to make such bold statements but then again after coming clean about Sticky et al. exposing you to my unique eating obsessions just seems to come with the territory.  It has been years since I labeled a food a “favorite”.  1998 was the year of the “Potato Leek Soup”, the “Pop-Tart” graced to coveted title in 2001, “Italian Wedding Soup” in ’04… but this year, after one bagel (a favorite that has spanned many decades!) too many, our friend the bagel was “retired” into the “Hall of Fame” alongside  “spaghetti with anything” (‘99), “scrambled eggs with hot dog” (‘90), and the “toaster strudel” of 1980-1985. In search of a replacement “carb” I came across the twisted breaded beauty known as the “Wawa Pretzel” while working in Philadelphia. What a culinary masterpiece! If you are not from Philly (which after consulting my distribution list covers every single one of you!) you may not be familiar with “Wawa”. Think “Sheetz”, “Stuckies” or  “Luckys”?  Still lost?  Well, Wawa is just a gas station with a really “sweet” convenience store with a computerized sandwich maker – it doesn’t get much better then that! Being a local institution and the pretzel being like the state flower or something (where do pretzels come from anyway?) it all just fits.  The pretzel itself is seasonal, I mean it is available 365 days a year but the summer month pretzels are way better – the oppressive humidity keeps ‘em soft to the extent that they almost melt in your mouth. Wintertime can often produce a sub par pretzel with a hard outer skin and dried out insides. The pretzel itself does not fly well as they seem to harden up from the altitude and become as difficult to eat as those rice krispie treats or fat-free chocolate chip cookies that I am so famous for. In all seriousness I can’t say enough positive things about these pretzels; you just have to try one for yourself. In fact next time you are in Philadelphia (and you won’t have to look far as there is a Wawa is on every corner) stop in and grab a pretzel and a computer generated sandwich – tell them Angela sent you, I mean they will have no idea who I am but they will probably be nice about it at least.

Eating habits and intangible friends aside, you are probably beginning to wonder if I actually did anything this past year. I did, I mean I think I did, I just have to consult my blackberry – give me a minute. What a delight that toy is by the way!  I mean it is a tossup between it and the iPod for things I couldn’t live without but that again that would just be a whole other pointless story.

IBM is still the same – still solvent. I think I was home about fifteen days this year — maybe sixteen if you were to count that day I didn’t have to fly out until after eight.  All the traveling has been tiring (and often frustrating) but I have had the opportunity to travel to Brazil and Argentina several times (leaving Brazil with my watch and my passport which is always a good thing), spent a whole lot of time in Las Vegas for better or worse (ooh, that reminds me of a story… cue “Ma Self”, Aunt Norma, Aunt Judy, Cousin Jen, Cousin Rhonda and “Fremont Street Experience”), Philly (yes, the “Wawa”), and San Francisco.  I still don’t really know what I do there but I know it has to do with computers and that I make a difference because every December I get an email from Sam Palmisano letting me that he couldn’t have done it without me and my 300,000 closest friends/co-workers. (By next year it will only be 280,000 I’m sure as there are plans for another “Operation Breakaway” in the New Year! ) As much as I joke, I did really like my team this year and the work so working for IBM isn’t the worst.

And so once again we say goodbye to another year and get ready for new one filled with endless possibilities and limitless material for next years letter – lucky number five.  I wish you all the best this holiday season and in the New Year and hope that you remember to leave cookies by the fireplace for Santa and carrots for Rudolph (he’s a vegetarian) because they have a lot of work to do this Christmas.  Feel free to drop in on me this year, you are always welcome. Take care, be safe and have a Happy Holiday and Happy New Year!

Peace and Love,