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Saturday, December 26, 2015

Closing Time, 2015

These holidays are going about 50/50, but the good parts are just as good as the lousy are lousy. Which is a rare thing. Usually everything puddles in the middle, or the lousy outweighs all either by frequency or importance of the said suckage part.

Not that there's a lack of suckage, from relationships to health, there's plenty. But there were some really cool moments through it. Billy and I had a chat about the first time we each hit someone, inspired by last Sunday's football schoolyard fights. The surprise, the adrenaline rush, all of it. I can't think of any time before when we shared something like that.

And I realized that every time I got in a fight, it was because some ass was bullying someone. And always being the biggest girl (and with 3 violent older brothers) I was ready to go, and stupidly fearless. What's some kid my age compared to any of my almost full-grown brothers? Johnny was teaching me karate when I was 4 fergodssakes. So not a lot of fear. I subsequently had my ass handed to me several times because I never backed down. It's a Brooklyn thing. With all the changes and places in life and people I've been, I'm so that Brooklyn girl at war with at least 1 brother at all times. And I could never win, up against them. JesusH, nothing can drive you crazy like family can.

And every time my ass was kicked it was always by a guy. I never lost a fight with a girl.
Not that any of the above is to be proud of.
Just very Brooklyn.

Billy surprised me with a new Dell computer for Christmas! Hooray! Then Fedex and UPS kept delivering more things. It's like an appliance store in here. Billy was on the phone trying to straighten it out for an hour with people he couldn't understand. Finally he got some help. They're supposed to come get them...

There's a saturation point thing happening. I have so many people in my life, and that's a curse and a blessing. I also have a nasty health issue going on. And I'm getting anxiety about not working on Beestbook for 2 weeks now while this has been shitty. I'm supposed to not get stressed, my ass. It's the once-a-damn-year holidays and I'm eating buttered white rolls, water, clear broth and yogurt. Again, my ass.

Oh right I had 2 hard boiled eggs today too.
Well, maybe I'll get down to a size 14 again.

See? Not all bad.

Beest understands Brooklynese. Must've got it while living with my father's family in the '20s. I hear it in her accent. She's icy cold at times and then the sweetest, most loyal cat other times. She's never really bad. In fact, sometimes her sweetness annoys me. She's working out her PTSD just like me, is all.

It's been a year of finding truths. The DNA tests Billy and I took showed I'm Irish, we both extract from the Melanesians way way back, and we are not Native. Billy is almost entirely British (we had different dads) and I'm more Western European and British than Scandihoovian. So all the stories and even the family trees are wrong. Our great-grandfather wasn't half Mohawk  But I'm 5% Irish! Woohoo!

VT foodstamps sent me a letter. It arrived the 24th and said I had to call and be interviewed by the 27th or lose my foodstamps. I got thru in time, but if others weren't home in time to call, or their letter was delayed, they're going to have to go thru the whole process again. The office was closing from the 25th until Monday the 28th. Low, sleazy trick, Shumlin. And a third time, not get stressed, my ass.

I'm so happy to say that the coffee table is getting outta here. There'll be a bench with storage, that's an inch higher, a slim rectangle instead of this huge oval and peep can sit on it. Finally! Yay for function!

In all the days alone, I can't bring myself to work on the book, but I'm still writing.
Writing a lot tends to make one think a lot. Trying to get to the heart of matters is a slow, clumsy process. But if you take deep breaths and forgive yourself sometimes, it gets better. Nobody's perfect.

My New Year Resolution is Have More Fun. That's been my resolution for decades, and too many years lately I've broken it. Not this new one. Dammit.

Next year, Christmas in New Jersey!

I wish you all the best you can stand, that at least one big dream comes true, and that you give and get all kinds of love.
Happy 2016!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Come Softly, Darling

The gastro guy was not the ogre I'd feared. In fact, he was quite intelligent, quirky and efficient. And I say that because he was nice, and came to the same conclusion I did. It's diverticulitis. 10 days of antibiotics and antifungals and this infection should be done. It's a bit miserable that it comes at the holidays, but such is life. I'm just happy to know there's an end to the pain in sight.

I began the Cipro and Flagyl today. They are vile and pure chemical nastiness. I've heard stories of what they'll do to me. But the last day of them is New Year's Eve and 2016 will, with luck, be chemical-free. 

Diverticulitis usually leaves diverticulosis in its wake. Not an infection, but a finger-wagging nun of an issue. Diverticula stay riled, once riled. Dietary changes should become permanent, with rare excursions into regular food. No more nuts, seeds, berries, beans, peas, corn or anything small or hard that can become stuck and start irritation that leads to infection again. Goodbye to many things I've enjoyed cooking, or eating raw. No high fiber stuff, no bits of dry herbs floating in things, just what's smooth to the system so the little easily-offended buggers don't wage war.

But there is still much that's okay. Ice cream, yogurt, any soft dairy, really. Meat, fish and poultry that's whole and cooked to softness. Veggies and fruits cooked to softness, or pureed. White bread, macaroni, white crackers, noodles, mashed potatoes. Even cheesecake (sans crust) and smooth puddings. I certainly won't starve. In fact, this may be a good way to lose the dozens of pounds I've gained over the last 15 years of gimpdom.

There is a chance it's not diverticulitis, but the only way to know that is to do the course of drugs and see what happens. If it's not gone when I see him on January 6th, further tests will be done. I'm trying to not think about that.

The good thing is that I'm a cook. This is going to stretch my skills and imagination. I can't lazily throw a handful of dry herbs into a pot anymore. Fresh herbs will have to go into a bouquet garni. No more quick stir fries, no more refried rice. No more beans on toast. I'll miss crunchiness in general. Food will have to be cooked slowly and thoroughly. But that shouldn't be a problem once I don't feel like the Wreck of the Hesperus. As a bonus, I got to give 4 shopping bags of food to my Gal Friday, who can certainly use it now that Christmas has wrung her purse dry. And there'll be more when I get into the sideboard where the dry stuff is stored.

I'm also pretty delighted that the last two encounters I've had with medico types have been good and productive. My gastro guy is a little weird and his office looks like a college dorm room, but he's bright and engaged. We even bantered a bit of Python. I can work with him. That's a rarity in my life experience.

So for now I'll just go with the flow. It's not so bad. Lasagna is still on the Christmas menu; so long as the tomato sauce has no seeds it's fine. If I couldn't have cheese I'd be much pissier about it all. :)

Friday, December 18, 2015

Guts and Glory and Lessons Learned

At the beginning of November, my guts became hinky. Hinkier than usual. I stopped taking the Aleve and turmeric that were making my joints bearable, stopped drinking coffee and tea, and thought that giving my GI system a break would resolve whatever was making them angry. They weren't having it. 

So on Pearl Harbor Day I finally went to the ER. A pair of very nice young men took samples of all my bodily fluids and solids and asked a hundred questions. It was determined that I had an acute UTI affecting my kidneys, but that didn't explain why my guts were rejecting all but broth, soft white bread and yogurt (which had been my main diet for over a month, excepting Thanksgiving dinner, which left me crying in pain). An ultrasound and blood tests told us that my other organs were functioning as they should, so not the usual suspects of liver, gallbladder, etc. This is intestinal. They gave me scripts for Keflex and omeprazole and told me to see the gastroenterologist for further investigation, since their job was to hospitalize peep in crisis and they couldn't go further. To watch for a fever over 101 and return immediately if that happened. To rest, avoid stress, stay on the mostly-liquid diet, and not take NSAIDs or turmeric. It's known that using turmeric and NSAIDs together causes ulcers. Okay. I'd already been doing that and learning to live with the pain. So just wait for the gastro guy to determine what the hell's going on. I see him on Monday.

The Keflex course presumably did its thing. I don't know. As I told them, I can't tell kidney pain from the rest of the pain. It's all pain, all the time, everywhere. The omeprazole has calmed down the burning in my stomach and that's very good. But the intestinal pain/swelling/dammitwhatthehellwiththisshit goes on. And so does the broth-white bread-yogurt diet.

Which brings me to the super whining part of this missive. It's the holidays! I can't eat the good stuff! Waaah! I hosted friends last weekend for the tree trimming and laid out a smorgasbord of things I love- herring, meatballs, gravlax, cheeses- and couldn't have any of it. And everywhere, it's about holiday food. In media, in song, in people rushing around the Shire with bags of groceries, in my email inbox, in conversations, in my mind. Food food food. I'm not a wealthy person, so keeping the tradition of special and dear foods I love is the biggest part of holiday celebrating now. And that won't be happening this year. It's white bread, broth, and yogurt, holidays or no holidays. Oy vey iz mir.

And then I think of all those who don't know where their next meal is coming from, and am ashamed.

And those who only wish they had a home and tree this year...

And I even have a new understanding of diabetics who post sugary recipes nonstop on Fecebook. We always want what we can't or shouldn't have.

And I give myself a head lecture on being grateful, staying in the moment, and what really matters. I have family and friends, a warm home, a crazy cat, a pretty tree decorated with vigor by people who care about me.

That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown. And all by itself, that's glorious enough.
Happy Holidays. Peace, love, joy.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Christmas Present

Thanksgiving is done and the calendar has turned to the last page for 2015. I've done much of my holiday shopping ahead of time (a habit I mocked my Mom for having), and now turn attentions to decorating. Billy took the Chair home so there is space again for the Tree. Billy also brought me one of the many wreaths Mac had bought when she was loopy. A huge riot of greenery with a sled, ice skates, and various other Wintery symbols. It's the one they used to hang on their front door. He doesn't decorate anymore. The over-the-door wreath hanger plays music when its motion sensor is turned on. Silly, but sweet.

Over the next 2 weeks the boxes will emerge from storage. The fake pine bough to hang over the arch between the kitchen and front room, the garland for wherever sparkle is needed, the little Santas, snowmen, choir children and St. Lucia will take their places. I'll hunt out the holiday books- Dickens' Christmas Stories, the carol book, the Goldenbooks and my Dad's trade magazine with nostalgic illustrations from the '50s- that I read every year. I'm having friends over for St. Lucia Day to help me trim the tree, a job that's come to take me a week to do alone. We'll have cocoa and Swedish foods, and play the Christmas television specials from childhood, now on dvds. Lights will shine. Songs will be sung.

But I'm not feeling it.

In years past I've gotten merry way too early and by the time Yule was here I was over the whole thing. I don't think that'll be the case this time.

This year there are friends who are making what will likely be their last Christmases. So there's the Ghost of Christmas Future lurking in the dark corner, waiting with his sickle. Who knew this time last year that Chiefy wouldn't be here for this year's edition, or that any others we've said a final goodbye to in 2015 wouldn't be around to lift a glass? People die, it's part of life. It just gets tougher as the years go by and there are fewer to share the memories, fewer to smile with us. People move far away, too. We can call, we can message, we can mail them. But it's not the same. Presents are called such things for being presented, for presence. Absence doesn't get a bright ribbon, it's just a void.

So we carry on, make new traditions, new memories, fill the voids, tell the stories. We keep what old traditions we hold dear that won't hurt too much. We let go of what we can't do anymore and focus on what and who we still have. Chase away the dark with bright lights. Realize that all we have is right now, this minute, and make the most of it. It's better to light a candle than curse the darkness, they say, and it's true. Once again, we strike the match and hope for the best.