Yesterday was the one year anniversary of my pacemaker. Stayed in pajamas all day cooking, cleaning, and decorating for Christmas. Had to wear a Holter monitor from Monday to Wednesday for 48 hours, bit of a fiasco as the tech wired me up so that it was impossible to take my bra off; I ended up cutting the bra off. Was required to keep a journal of activities and events which consisted mainly of leads falling off while I slept or watched TV. Took 2 walks despite very cold weather, big heavy coat over pajamas, just to get some activity to report.

Younger son and girlfriend bought a live tree from the mens' group at the Methodist church we used to attend. Dollar store decorations on a $50 tree, looks beautiful plus saved me from having to set one up with ornaments from the past. I expect to feel some sadness but have been too busy or too tired. We watched Muppets' Christmas Carol, the new remastered version. Forgot how perfect Michael Caine is as Scrooge.

Went to my second meeting of WomenHeart on Wednesday after dropping off monitor, talked first with the group leader about her experience with cardiac Sarcoidosis then enjoyed a dietician/chef show us how to make heart healthy snacks. One recipe I already tried and it was not as easy as she made it look although very yummy.

Called my mother that night to see what her Assisted Living was doing for the holidays, had heard her describe their Hanukkah tree at least 5 times. I know her routine but she had not taken her 3pm nap because there had been a presentation and celebration in remembrance of D-Day she attended. God bless her. This led to emails from me to family insinuating she is converting to Judaism and probably has a Jewish boyfriend.

Due to increasingly poor balance, I finally went to a neurologist and will be having an MRI of my brain on Tuesday. Because I'm allergic to the dye, I'll need to pre-medicate with my least favorite drug, prednisone, starting the night before. Probably not much sleep that night! Because of pacemaker, there needs to be a pacemaker tech who will put it in "sleep mode" during the MRI. I'm slightly worried but hope this gives the doctor more information.

My older son helped put up white icicle lights on the front porch which look lovely. We had our first snow. The girlfriend will be working Christmas Eve plus Christmas Day so Christmas will happen when it happens. In cleaning the parlor so we can use the woodstove, I've been assembling a box of things to mail to my husband's daughter in Colorado whom I reached out to and got a considerate reply. So, all in all, life goes on. Happy holidays to all!

I have spent all my screen time on e2 for weeks now, and I just realised that means I also haven't spent any time crocheting. This is startling. For the past few years I have crocheted at least an hour every day, and seeing as crocheting in silence is boring, I put the TV on in the background.

This is potentially a problem. I decided to crochet a big lacy scarf/wrap thing for my Nana, who tells me every December that we are not to give her presents. Of course I ignore that, but I try to at least make her a present rather than buy one. It's always the cost she objects to, and if I can honestly say, "I had a ball of yarn leftover from that cardigan I made myself, and you really liked it, so I used it up!" she will be happy. But in order to give it to her, I'm going to have to finish making it...

The dogs are also looking a little rough. I usually brush them in front of the TV, and that hasn't happened either. The elderly papillon is fine, he hates being brushed and has a friendly habit of letting fly with a sbd whenever he sees the comb. He is apparently happy entering summer while still carrying an extra 25% of his volume in loose fur. The young papillon, however, has never had a matted ear fringe before, and he is Not Happy. He is sitting next to me scratching it in a suggestive manner, and attempting to help me with my typing.

The Italian Greyhound is hiding under a blanket, oblivious to combs, tangles, loose fur, or the perils of having very long butt hair. It's only 25oC out, so she's still a little chilly, poor darling. 

I am also planning my cooking adventures for the next couple of weeks. School is finishing, so I am having some friends over to build and decorate gingerbread houses. I need to make sure I leave enough time to bake them, mess a few up, bake some more, realise I haven't got enough chimney bits, bake extras...

Then it's my birthday. I like to have my birthday at home so I can cook. Partly because I enjoy showing affection by feeding people, but let's be honest, I also like to show off. My birthday can be a little tricky these days, because I have a few family members with food intolerances, diabetes, heart problems, etc. I like all of them, so I need to, you know, not kill them. But it does mean I have to figure out a menu that is gluten free, casein free, low sugar, low salt, low gout-triggering, sulphite free, seafood free, stone fruit free, yellow colouring free and isn't heavy on the red meat. At least we can all eat nuts.

And dammit, it's my birthday, so I'll make whatever cake I please and if nobody else can eat it - good. I'm more than happy to provide alternative desserts that suit everyone. But I refuse to un-gluten and un-sugar my cake. I think I want to do an icecream cake inside a regular cake, and use jam to 'glue' thinly sliced fruit to the outside right before I serve it. Strawberries and starfruit. That will be pretty.

And I will take that very pretty and very selfish cake down to the nursing home and feed it piece by piece to my darling aunt, who hasn't recognised me for months but at least doesn't have any food intolerances, and pretend that being with her doesn't make me want to scream and run away and throw a tantrum. I am her niece, and her guardian, and a responsible adult. Therefore we will eat cake.

Dear Abby:

Traditionally people turn to you for advice, today I want to share some of my thoughts and feelings with you. Last night I had a dream about someone we know. This person has helped me in the past, someone else we know loves him, you once told me that she needs reassurance. You like secrets, I thought that writing this might be a way for you to get to know some things you didn't before. Another friend of mine once told me that my heart was like an orchid. I laughed at the idea, and a part of me does dismiss that idea as romantic and fanciful, but on a much deeper level I know that this is true. Perhaps some people think that the person I'm writing about and myself are hiding a deep, dark, black secret, the truth is much less intriguing than that although it's always possible I am very wrong.

I think our friend would be stunned to find out that behind his walls of uncommunicative ice there is a a tiny flickering flame that he keeps burning. There are two ways to his heart, you can connect with him on an intellectual level, he recognizes and appreciates intelligence in others, but to capture and hold his interest you need to make him feel the things you aren't saying to him. I accidentally stumbled across a secret of his and I was surprised that he shared it with me at a time when we didn't know each other as well as we do now. Our emotions and feelings are the secrets in our lives. You are much more likely to hear us tell you about the terrible things we have said and done than to hear about what we long for before we go to bed for the night.

As soon as you tell someone not to worry they wonder what there could be to worry about, the same applies to safety. If you feel threatened, anxious, insecure, or come across as emotional and needy, we are going to limit contact with you regardless of how attracted we may be. We know we are often these things too, that bothers us and we work hard to appear cool, calm, confident, and collected when we are anything but around you. We don't know how you are feeling, but we will sense that something is off and that instability will scare us and drive us away. Believe me, we know how to cry. Pain is familiar to us, we accept that it is a part of our lives just as we recognize that the crowning glory of a hard won achievement soon wears off when you don't have a partner who can laugh and make us smile when we are feeling down.

We will do a lot of crazy things to keep people from seeing our soft and tender sides. We'll pretend we don't have them, build walls that are higher, thicker, stronger, wider, and seemingly impenetrable, but everyone has a chink in their armor and the people who have figured out how to bypass our defenses by sensing what we feel terrify us. We really do want the simple things in life, we aren't nearly as complex or as mysterious as we seem to be, but we've spent most of our lives trying to keep people out while getting where we want to go because life has taught us that it's better to travel alone when you want to get there fast. We're excited when we arrive at the top and then we have to spend some time dealing with the fact that once again, it wasn't quite what we thought it would be, there's always a new challenge.

Our friend thinks that all men want is sex and attention in the form of an ego boost. I think there's more to it than that and I want to explain why. When you have a very active mind it becomes a trap for you that you can't easily escape because it always goes with you. People recognize that we are problem solvers and coaches, we have a strong work ethic and can do most things better than most people until we run into something that we can't do at all. Sex is a physical release and we'll take that if it's the only thing we can get, but what we really want is to lie next to someone who can help us escape, relax, and unwind. There's a switch inside of our heads that we're trying to access. It turns off the mind and turns on the body, it lets us share our primal lovestruck feelings and that's scary, so the person we love has to be able to make us feel safe and grounded.

Her arguments that he's looking for someone who is just as in shape as he is rings false in my ears. He wants what he is not because there is truth to the statement that opposites attract. We know that there is a world of feelings, of sensory delights, of picnics beneath blue skies on a partially cloudy day. Every once in a while we want permission to lay in bed for a few more minutes because we didn't sleep well the night before, or we're feeling especially vulnerable, probably because we overexerted ourselves in some way the day before. We crave that oh so special someone who makes us appreciate the fog, rainy days that would seem dreary without the company of a lover, we don't mind wasting water if we get to play with the bubbles cascading off of someone else in the shower we know best.

Just like trying to tell us to relax won't work, trying to tell us anything at all when we want to sit and admire your incredible beauty isn't going to register. We get an idea of how things are and that's generally good enough for us. We have a figurative spreadsheet dedicated to you and we're frantically trying to fill it in so we can figure out what it is you want and how to keep you in our lives even on a very minimal level. We're used to not having quite enough, we've paid the price of indulgence. It may be what we think that we want, but when you give food to someone who is starving, you have to start small and go slowly as they will fill up fast. Give us your emotions in doses that are small enough for us to handle. We have a hard enough time with our own without you adding yours to the mix.

You can't make us feel things by talking to us about our feelings. Words are never going to carry the same impact that your actions do. You could tell us you love us via letter, you could say it to our faces daily, text us, we like to text because it gives us a barrier to hide behind, no matter how many times or how creatively you say you love us, the words will rarely convey the meaning that you want. A much better strategy is to ask yourself, how would I act if I was madly in love with this person and let those sensations wash over you. We won't be able to tell what you are feeling, but we will notice that something has changed and if you give us some time, we might slowly begin to trust that what you're offering is real and lasting since we're used to having people trample our hearts, and leave without warning.

We are stupidly loyal people. Even if we aren't on speaking terms, we will remember the best things about you. Our anger is often closer to the surface than we would like it to be, it's typically a protective mechanism, we're more sensitive than you would think, we've learned to absorb arrows and disguise daggers, sometimes we don't believe that we are really worthy of love, and we really don't think we deserve something as miraculous and as healing as yours. Everything is a game to us. Too serious is our default mode, we play to win, however, we don't take a lot of things seriously that others do. This makes us come across as very impatient, we wanted things done yesterday, and now we're scrambling to make it bigger, better, more efficient, less costly, and most importantly, more beautiful.

We love pretty things and we're not afraid to spend extra to get what we really want. We don't have a lot of friends, but those that we do are representative of how we like to live our lives, with the very best quality at the compromise of very little quantity. We tend to be busy people, we can always find something to do, most of the time when you think we're mad, we're just thinking. We like to contemplate the abstract and the theoretical, we need you to pull us back to earth and give our minds a break, this is one of the greatest things you can do for us. Sit there and laugh with us when everything seems bleak, hopeless, pointless, and we despair that things will ever change because historically, we feel that they haven't.

You can break our hearts so it's going to take a long time before we start to trust you. We might give you small tests, you won't realize that you're being tested, but that's what we're doing, gauging your level of interest, trying to figure out if you respect us because we have no time for those who don't, and we're smart, but we've been fooled before and those lessons stuck with us. Once we start to trust you we want to build on that, but again, it's going to be a very slow process. We might tumble into bed with you, we know that about ourselves which is why we have these rules in place. We know that we have many weaknesses, we've thought long and hard about each and every flaw we have, let us know that you see them and forgive us for the times when we wrong you or others. We need that badly.

Because our lives are governed by these rules we tend to be strict and hard on ourselves and others. This is why we need you more than ever because we think that denying ourselves even more is somehow going to punish us adequately for failing to understand you. We want to give you what you need, we don't want anyone to think we have needs of our own although you know that we do, you probably know more about our emotions than we do and that is the scariest thing of all to us. We don't want to be understood, or maybe a better way to say it is we want to be so well understood that you can pretend we are still unfathomable because it would hurt our feelings to have to face the fact that we are at heart, incredibly emotional creatures.

Perhaps none of this will make sense to you, but since we are solution oriented we will never stop trying to find an answer to a question you have asked us. We will try to help you understand us, the first part of that is we don't think that we are hard to read or figure out, and to be fair to us, sometimes we aren't. We have layer upon layer of defense mechanisms, but the right person will walk into our lives and uncover them so quickly it makes us nervous and awestruck. We really think you deserve to be worshipped for your unique gifts and talents. Tell us what you want, we can't figure it out on our own or we would be doing our best to try and make your life as fabulous as we know it can be.

We need encouragement, we need reminders to take a break, to step back, to stop when things are 'good enough', we need to see that our strengths are valued, we forget that we are tremendously capable and competent because most of the time we focus in on how we need to improve. We will gladly spend long hours with our enemy if we think that person has one idea that will make us better inhabitants of planet earth. We will change because you have shown us that our emotions can be faced, they can be named, we can get to know them, and even eventually get to the point where we will share them with others, but it isn't going to be a natural or fluid process. We fear being socially awkward and we really don't care what others think of us when the truth needs to be spoken. This makes us unpopular, and sometimes, that hurts.

We're tired, we're lonely, we might be depressed, we get stuck in ruts, and then we want to go out and change everything when it was really just one or two items that needed attention. We'll throw away anything and everything that has the slightest bit of sentimental value until we come across the one thing that we would run back into a burning building to save. We have no fear of that kind of fire, the warmth we fear is the type that slowly and steadily starts to thaw and melt the ice chamber around our hearts. We have a fiery side and it makes us sad to know that we've burned others as badly as we've harmed ourselves. That makes us pull back, question what we were doing getting involved with dangerous people in the first place, but the craving is always there.

We aren't going to play it safe. Danger is exciting and we want that in our lives. We know we shouldn't be doing some of the things we do, we justify our vices thinking that this makes us more human when it really doesn't. We're not perfect, sometimes we are true rebels that can't find a cause. We're stubborn, opinionated, and need people who can gently remind us that diplomacy and kindness are far more effective methods than reflecting an ugly truth back at someone we think is being dishonest with themselves. Tell us whatever you think about us or anyone else, we can handle the hurt much better than any type of dishonesty. We won't lie to you, if you think that we did, confront us, it probably means there was a breakdown in communication, as a rule we won't do it intentionally.

Falling in love with us is not going to be a very fun or simple process. We'll send you mixed signals because we're confused ourselves. One day we'll seem overly friendly and exuberant, then because we've convinced ourselves that you were repulsed by that we'll try being very polite and ready with an apology that we might think you need. We know when we've screwed up and we aren't very forgiving of ourselves, we're great at punishing ourselves and accepting more than our fair share of the blame. Don't ask us why we are the way that we are, we don't always like it either. We want to know that we are loved, but since we don't trust the words, you'll have to find ways to show it to us and make us feel that we are somehow special when we know deep down that you could do so much better.

We need second, third, fourth, and fifth chances. Just when you think you have us figured out we will change. We will argue for the fun of it, not because we disagree with what you're saying, it isn't personal and if it is, we typically won't try to convince you that you are wrong. We are experts and gurus, but we have our limits and appreciate an honest forthright challenge. We see you as a guru and expert too, so please don't put yourself down in front of us. This is very distressing since we want to comfort you and have very little idea how to go about it in a way that you and society will understand. We are there for you no matter what you did, we don't care whose fault it is or who started it, we just want to arrive at the most perfect and elegant solution possible.

We will notice the smallest, most insignificant detail and attach great importance to things that other people will explain away as not mattering. Everything matters to us until it doesn't. We won't make sense to you, and you don't make sense to us. This is why we need each other no matter how frustrating the alliance can get. At our best we will tell you every wonderful subtle, nuanced thing about you. We are your biggest fans, your greatest cheerleaders, we think you're tremendously talented, and we're deeply offended when others can't seem to see what is so obvious to us. Be that person in our lives and you will never have to worry that we're going to cheat on you. If we cheated in the past it was because we felt unloved, unworthy, and didn't know how to end things privately so we did it publicly. We're ashamed of that now.

Our hearts are there and much easier to win than you think. Be yourself, that's who we love. We'll keep improving ourselves and hope that you want to accompany us on that journey, but we don't go into relationships with the idea that we can change other people. We really do love you exactly for who you are at this moment in time regardless of the vision in our heads that sees you tomorrow, a week from now, a month, a year, two years, five, ten, twenty, we have that capacity and we'll share it if you ask us, but be prepared for heights and depths you may not want to hear. We're trying to be the best versions of ourselves, we are unfinished products that can be molded and shaped by you. Love us the way that we are knowing that tomorrow you could wake up to us wanting to change everything about ourselves.

That is just who we are. It's not pretty, it's not emotionally stable. If you need emotional stability in your life you're going to have to walk away from us. We might leave, but once you have made an impact on our lives, we aren't ever going to forget you. Ten years from now you could reach out and we would instantly travel back to a particular moment in time that will be as fresh and as vivid as it was a decade ago. Our memories are good, but we like to enhance them so they are even better in our minds than they were in real life. We see you for who you are, we don't imagine you are perfect or that we will never fight, we trust you to hold us accountable and be with us when we're weak and frail. We'll do that for you too, once we make promises, we rarely break them.

Everything seems to be about us because we have learned to be our own best friends. We need time to adjust to a new voice inside of our heads. We will do things for you that you don't know we're doing. You are an external motivator and you are very powerful. Be gentle, be soft, give us hints that we're doing the right thing at the right time because we question everything. Validate us emotionally, tell us what you need and want, we will try to give what we can. We can take, but we will be very careful about doing so, we need nurturing and that makes us feel inadequate. Feed us well, hold us tightly, kiss us with the repressed longing and hunger you have and we'll return that favor because we crave intimacy too, it may take a while to get into our world, but the view from the top is spectacular. You've earned it and that's our reward.

Much love,


P.S. You don't have to say anything, we can tell when you feel good, and when you feel good, so do we. Be the map in our lives. Show us where you want to go, if we're invited along, we'll make sure that trip is a memorable one.

Sure is a lot of cooking and baking going on. I made some cherry cream cheese pies using my wife's recipe. First time I've used it, and the results were satisfactory and delicious. It was a tradition when we lived together. She was out here so we could both go to a convention and then got the con crud, so she stayed over Thanksgiving. First time I had a human in the house over a holiday in years. Usually it was just me and the chinchillas, now down to a single one, Silent Bob

I already ate one of the pies and watched my glucose numbers go crazy. Still have one more to go so let's see if I can get it over 400. My record was 960 when I was hospitalized five years ago. I think my blood was replaced with corn syrup.

Anyway, my MFA classes end next week, so I need to finish up a couple of papers and send them in. In January, the next quarter ramps up with a poetry bootcamp, a fiction workshop, and a nonfiction essay class. I expect to post a lot of crap on E2. Waste not, want not.

Hope your Sunday went well and your workweek is productive.

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