9/13/01, 12:49 p.m. - When I got home last night, I received my fourth great surprise related to my birthday.

It was something that was VERY needed, to take my mind off the world events, and bring things back to some semblance of normalcy. Well, what passes for normal in my life. I had my 26th birthday on August 30, 2001. Shortly before my birthday, my mom and stepdad Jim did the unimaginable: they bought me a car. No, itís not a 2001 top-of-the-line car, and I donít think I could handle one. Itís a 1988 grey Ford car. (Those of you who know me well know that itís a shock that I know that itís a Ford. Weird, huh?!!) The surprise and shock still hasnít worn off, and Iím just delighted that I am able to drive places now. Itís been nearly a year since Iíve had that option; instead, I walked or took the bus everywhere, except in the rare circumstances where I could get a ride. Now, I donít have that worry.

The second great surprise came from Sherrill. Sherrill is, or rather was, a co-worker of mine. She is a beautiful person inside and out, and deserves only happiness in her life. When I got to work the morning of my birthday, Warren came outside. Warren actually said "Happy birthday, Mitch!" - Warren NEVER says "Happy Birthday" or acknowledges things like that. I knew already things were strange. So I came inside and from across the room, I could see a huge purple star balloon at least 3 feet across, surrounded by several smaller balloons with various messages on them, and backgrounds of Star Wars, Dinosaurs, and others. I had no idea at all what to think, or who would do it (at least, at that point). I went to clock in, them came to my desk to find not just the balloons, but a videotape (itís French!) and a box of bite-sized frozen chocolate cheesecake. The best part of all was a dozen roses. Iíve never been given roses, and only twice in my life have I been given flowers of any kind (funerals donít count, cuz thatís just morbid). A dozen roses ... If that doesnít tell you what kind of spirit Sherrill has, I donít know what would. I thanked her over and over and over again, and had a huge smile on my face the rest of the day.

Number three was from Dave. Dave is a really cool guy (and cute too!) and you can find his website on my Links page under Phunk_King. Weíve known each other for a little over a year now, I think. We met at ReplayTV (same place I met Sherrill at, though Sherrill and I had started months before Dave came on board). I had set up my wishlist on amazon.com, just like I had done the year before, and told him (and everyone else at work!) about it. He bought the coolest thing, and something Iíd been wanting ever since I first heard about it. "Interacting with Babylon 5 Fans" is a book that was actually written as a thesis for a college student down in Texas. It has interviews, pictures, website info, everything, all in one volume. It is a tribute to Babylon 5 fans, and their ingenuity in the face of too-often limited information from Warner Bros. and jms. He actually bought it like 3 weeks before my birthday and had it sent to my apartment. Can I tell you how hard it was to resist the urge EVERY SINGLE DAY to open that package up and find out what was inside? I know that he thought I couldnít do it, but in the end, I did resist, and brought it with me to work. I opened the package up in front of him and Sherrill ... and found out it was gift-wrapped inside, so even if I had opened it up, it was still wrapped. His gift-card read "I hope that nobody else gets this for you" Enjoy! - I have, David, I have.

Yesterday brought something that was just too cool for words. It is the 2002 Writerís Market. Itís a book thatís well over a thousand pages detailing how and where to submit short stories, novels, how to get editors, guidelines, pay rates, and more. This is a treasure trove of information, and I donít know who sent it. It just showed up, and it came with a card that read "To my favorite Star, may your dreams of being published come true - love, your biggest fan." It came from Olathe, KS, but the name and address werenít shown, and nobody has said anything to me. Whoever you are, thank you! This is a beginning writerís best gift imaginable!

Last night I also went through a box of things that were packed up when I moved from my last apartment to this one two years ago (so I donít do things immediately. Itís mundane stuff, ya know?) and found a box of pictures that had survived The Fire. I had forgotten about them, and memories came flooding back. There are four pictures that had been taken on my trip to Washington DC during my Junior year. During that trip, I was able to see the original Enterprise model from Star Trek at the Smithsonian, and the bell from the war ship Enterprise (there are 4 pictures total of that). Other pictures are from the convention with Michael Dorn, I think in the fourth season of TNG. They are Polaroidís. Still others are from my trip during the third season of TNG to Des Moines to be at a convention that Nichelle Nichols was supposed to appear at. She didnít arrive. We found out later the con lied to us, and Nichelle had never even been contacted to come. It was at that convention, only my second, that I discovered Jean Lorrah and her writing. No, Jean was not there, but I found a box full of her fanzines from the 70s and early 80s, mostly revolving around Sarek and Amanda, Spockís parents. At the time, Sarek and Amanda had only appeared twice. Once on the series, and once in the cartoon version (which I had not seen yet). Reading those, and falling in love with those characters and Jeanís writing style, may at least partially explain my fascination with "minor/background" characters, such as Alyssa (tng), Guinan (tng), and Jane (b5). Well, itís as close as Iíve come to an explanation yet!

Where was I? Oh, yes, the pictures. So I found these pictures, and I think when I get home tonight, I will scan some of them and put them up under the "pix" section. All thatís there now is a recent pic of me, with Londo Mollari standing over my shoulder. Iím not sure yet whether I will or not, but the probability is there. Iím also going to be surfing various sites for more news about the attack, to see if thereís any new information. Letís hope.

"But I can hope" - Sheridan. "Hope is all we have" - Lorien

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