Wednesday, January 31, 2018


I’ve been working with my door closed for about a week so I can focus on Henry’s proposal. Today I started to feel like a shut-in. I left it part way open while I ate my lunch. Eve noticed and came in. She saw me staring at the computer. “Are you working?”

“No.” I turned my chair so I was facing her. “Reading an article about space law and asteroid mining.” She looked at the screen to see if I was joking. I’ve been focusing on one subject for so long that I’m craving new information, and space law is cool.

Eve asked,  “Do you and Blaine spend all your time talking about torts and motions?”

“We did discuss tortes once but decided against dessert.” I laughed. She laughed.

“Hey, did you tell him to bring me Diet Coke when I was taking care of Izzy?” I don’t know what made me blurt that, though I’ve always wondered.

She looked surprised. “What’s this?” I told her about that afternoon. She said that was all him, except she had probably revealed that I liked Diet Coke. I wondered why that would have come up but didn’t ask.

“I think you told him a lot more about me than you told me about him. You owe me.”

She smiled and sat down. “What do you want to know?”

I asked the only thing that came to mind. “Is he real?”

“Real and the real deal.”

“Is he asking me out because of me or you?”

Her smile was kind. She doesn’t know a lot about the me I prefer not to share but I suppose she has put together enough pieces. “It’s you, I promise.”

“Thanks for being so tenacious.”

“Two years!” She stood and left my office. “I could have mined an asteroid in less time.”

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Monday, January 29, 2018


In the car I’ve been listening to audiobooks that I download from the library. I’m still on a romance kick and that limits the selection. I download some I typically wouldn’t read. That’s how I ended up listening to one where a woman goes to the airport knowing she wants to go somewhere but can’t make up her mind where. She meets a man at the airport bar who, after he soaks her blouse and determines she’s braless, tells her to fly to Rio, Brazil. She does. He’s the pilot.

It’s one of those where the attraction is so strong they’re just going to have to sleep with each other immediately even though he’s an ass. Since I’m driving and my mind wanders to other things, I don’t mind listening, but you know what you don’t want to do? Roll down your window at your favorite drive-thru to order a Diet Coke just as there’s a pause between chapters and when the audio kicks in again, it’s a male voice talking about sniffing panties.


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Saturday, January 27, 2018

Innocent observation

Blaine and I went to the historical part of downtown to a new bar that is trying to establish itself a venue for local and regional bands. A Facebook friend had posted about it, and when I checked the website I noticed the band tonight was billed as Chicago blues, jazz and swing. When Blaine came to the bar on my birthday he mentioned liking blues and so I thought it might appeal.

The band had a couple of blues influenced songs that I liked a lot. Otherwise, it sounded like good musicians who didn’t quite grasp the soul of those musical styles. Blaine wasn’t into it either. We left in the second set and went back to my house.

I had bought a bottle of Cabernet that Blaine likes and put it into a one-bottle wine chiller so it would be the proper temperature when needed. This particular chiller can be plugged into a wall outlet or a cigarette lighter, so you know it’s a high quality device. Blaine laughed when I pointed out its adaptability. He commented that, chiller aside, I was surprisingly well equipped for someone who doesn’t drink wine. He was holding the Rabbit corkscrew and also was referring to the wine glasses, which are pretty good quality.

I explained that years ago I had a friend who schooled me in the relationship between quality crystal and flavor enhancement. He also gave me the Rabbit after watching me accidentally push corks into too many bottles. Blaine closed his eyes and shook his head at that.

“Was this a boyfriend?”


“Still around?”

“No.” He glanced at me to see if I would offer more. “He started dating someone and when things became serious she told him she wasn’t comfortable with him having a close friend who was a woman.” Blaine’s eyebrows rose. I shrugged. Long time ago. Water under the bridge.

It occurred to me we were getting dangerously close to the territory of past relationships, a topic I am in no hurry to cover. I suggested looking for something on Netflix to watch. We only got as far as turning on the TV and loading the app. Blaine was in an exploration mood and moved around the living room, checking out what I have hanging on the walls. Most are framed photographs taken by me so not high quality but of meaningful places. He checked out the photos that sit on top of the bookcases, too. One is the last formal portrait taken of my dad, my brother and me.
“How old were you here?” he asked.

“College. A junior or senior.” The photo was taken for the church directory so it isn’t a great. The color is off and we’re all a bit sallow. But I was young and it was a happy time in my life.

He continued to look at the photo but it seemed like he was thinking more than seeing. “When this was taken I had been married for a year, maybe two.” He looked at me, but I couldn’t read his expression. “I wouldn’t have…” he pulled his shoulders up, “noticed you because of where I was in my life.” I don’t know if we were thinking the same thing just then, that if his wife were still living we would never be standing here together. In some part of my mind I’ve thought about that before, but just then -- after having so much fun last night and looking forward to tonight -- the recognition of it felt like ice spreading through me, slowing everything down. Some ghosts from my past rose, reminding me my natural position in life is distant second or third.

How could one innocent observation make such a difference?

I didn’t know what to say. I summoned my no-worries-here voice. “Timing is an interesting thing.” It was the best I could come up with. “Refill?” I reached to take his nearly empty glass from his hand, wanting a chance to walk into the other room for a minute.

He let me take it but then caught me around the waist before I could walk away. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean for that to sound like it did.”

“It didn’t,” I promised, although I wasn’t sure how he thought it sounded. “You didn’t say anything wrong.” And he hadn’t.

He let me have a few seconds in the kitchen. I refilled his wine glass, and I filled a tumbler with ice water for me. I couldn’t drink anymore Cabernet, and my mouth was especially dry.

We never did get to Netflix. Blaine detected a change in me and seemed genuinely worried that we were in a bad place. He talked me through some things about the loss of his wife and his life in the six years since. I understand loss and losing someone to illness long before it should be their time but I have no idea of the emotional complexities that come with losing a spouse, let alone establishing a life they’re not part of. I appreciated that he talked to me about it.

He said that a couple of years ago he decided to try dating, wanting conversation and friendship rather than romance. He went out to dinner twice with a woman, waiting a month between invitations. I was glad when he poked fun at himself about waiting so long because I was having trouble suppressing a grin.

“Right around that time Eve started talking about this woman she worked with who was funny, smart and sweet with an amazing smile.” I rolled my eyes. Blaine pointed at me “She mentioned, too, that you have no idea those things are true. She kept hinting that she was going to invite you when a bunch of us got together. As you know,” he nudged me, ”that didn’t happen for a long time.”

In between he met a woman he thought he could like and they went out a few times before it ran its course. He said that had seemed like enough for him, and he didn’t know if he would bother again. “You came to [The Bistro] that afternoon and when you didn’t stay for dinner, I was disappointed. When I said I wouldn’t have noticed you back when you were in college, I was thinking, ‘Boy, I notice her now.’ I said the wrong thing out loud.”

We continued to talk into the early morning but it was simply conversation between people who find lots of the same things worth talking about.

As he was leaving, Blaine put his forehead against mine. “Will you go out with me again?”

“This is rather sudden,” I teased. “Wouldn’t you rather get back to me in March?” I felt him chuckle.

“Nope. I always ask you at the end so you won’t have time to think it through and decide you can do better.”

“I haven’t come close to thinking that, so yes, I will go out with you again.”

“Great. March it is. The weather will be nice and we can walk that river trail we talked about.”

“Next week. I will go out with you again next week.”


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Friday, January 26, 2018

A little interaction

Yesterday Henry sent the eight-page outline for the next section of the proposal and just as I was trying to sort out how to write it I found out that several of our people received national awards, so I switched gears and spent a good part of the day writing news releases, getting photos and updating websites and social media. I stayed late to get a start on the new section.

Today was equally exciting. I spent the morning writing fiction, which is what my approach to the proposal has become. I take the outlines and my limited knowledge of the subject and then make up details. Before I send it to Henry I mark it up with notes that say things like “I added this; is it possible?” and “I changed this because I couldn’t source the other; advise if it’s off base” and “I moved this from third year to first, OK?” In the email that accompanies the attachment I use capital letters. “Please read very carefully; SOME OF IT IS MADE UP.”

I do it because it’s more efficient to give him something to respond to than it is to ask him every question I have as I go. For the most part what I create works.

Eve came in just before lunch and asked if I had plans after work. Since I didn’t, she asked if I wanted to go out for a drink. I said sure. Awhile later she came in with her phone. “Paul’s going to be home early so he’ll go over and get a table before it gets too crowded.” Paul’s been working out of town all week. “I thought I’d ask Blaine, too.” She hovered her finger over the phone, presumably above the “send” button.

“Wait,” I said. “We’re getting together tomorrow so I’m not sure that’s a good idea. It could be overkill.”

“Oh I think he’ll be fine with it,” she said. “If not, he can say so.” She waggled her finger, waiting for a go-ahead. When I didn’t respond immediately, she said. “OK, I’ll revise this. At the end of ‘Want to meet Marcia, Paul and me for drinks at 5:30?’ I’ll add…” She read as she tapped it out, “Be advised this is not to be considered a date and should not interfere with previously made plans.’”

“Oh, don’t do that.”

Too late. “Send” had been tapped. Great.

An hour or so later she came back in laughing and showed me Blaine’s response. “Before I accept these terms I require additional information regarding the nature of this assignation. If it is not to be considered a date, how is it being characterized?” I smiled. I like him.

“It is simply a…” I didn’t know.

“Engagement?” Eve suggested.

“No, that implies preplanning.” She looked at me and blinked. I explained, “Like a formal invitation sent in advance.”

“Ohh-K. Appointment?”

“Too clinical.”

She was starting to giggle, which is usually when we both go off the rails. “Tryst!”

“Don’t even think about it,” I warned. “It’s a social,” I waved my hand in the air, “interaction.”

She laughed. “That’s what you’re going to go with?” I shrugged.

Blaine’s text arrived shortly after. “Interaction implies reciprocity of actions taken. As it does not limit which party may initiate a social action upon which reciprocity is expected, I am willing to accept these terms. Advise all parties that I’m looking forward to it.”

Later, Eve, Paul and I were settled in a booth in the bar section of a restaurant. Blaine slid in beside me. “Is this where a guy can get a little interaction?”
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Wednesday, January 24, 2018

At present

Henry wasn’t blunt about it but he said something to me yesterday that makes me think he knows my position will be cut in this next round. In a roundabout way he also said that if this project proposal is accepted, he’ll have some latitude to keep me around to work on it. It would be temporary, part-time and I doubt benefits would be offered, but it would provide some income while I look, and I’m grateful for that. I didn’t post anything last night because I was feeling pretty low and needed to put it out of my mind.

Mica asked me to meet her for lunch at a Chinese restaurant. I didn’t mention any of the above, again not feeling like talking about it. We talked about the dogs―Little White Dog is getting depressed by Shadow’s presence, and Shadow is acting out to get attention during the day when Mica is working. Dogs have more in common with kids than non-dog people know. 

She carefully approached something that has been bothering her, which is that she doesn't think I’m confiding in her like I usually do when I’m dating someone. I think I am. I tell her what Blaine and I do and talk about, although there are a few things I don’t share because some things should remain with the person you choose to share with. I acknowledged it is different this time but only because I don’t want to repeat mistakes, and one mistake I always made was to let things get too big, too important too soon.

I only think about the present, without comparing it to the past. At present I’m having fun getting to know someone new, someone interesting who likes thought provoking conversations about all kinds of things, someone who is quietly funny and sometimes makes me laugh in a way that leaves me at the mercy of spontaneous giggles for minutes after, someone who seems to find me interesting and, somehow, attractive enough.
At present I’m enjoying the uncomplicated reality of looking forward to seeing someone, feeling butterflies when he puts his hand on my back or bends down to say something into my ear, anticipating what new piece of information or touch will be revealed when we're next together.

She said she understood. I hope so. She's the most important person in my life. We transformed from friendship to family years and years ago. I think I just need more time to find a comfort zone.

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Monday, January 22, 2018

Work from home

The weather was bad all day. Freezing rain this morning; sleet, snow and wind all afternoon.

I really hate being on the streets when it's slick. More than that, I hate the possibility that I won't be able to make it into my driveway. The last time I couldn't make it up the slope, I had to park on the street and got stuck against the curb. I tried to dig myself out but ended up having to wait for the snowplows to clean the street.

The morning commute was slick but manageable. I was grumpy by the time I got to work and decided I was going to do something I've never done before: Ask to take the afternoon off.

My boss was fine with it. I went ahead and brought my computer and files home so I could work on Henry's proposal. I sent him my phone number so he could call and talk through the changes he wanted made. The afternoon was as productive as it would have been had I been at the office. I just wish I could do it again tomorrow.

Eve decided to work from home, too, and she and I instant messaged for awhile. It was like whispering in class. She doesn't ask about Blaine directly anymore. She knows we have been seeing each other because on Mondays we talk about what we did over the weekend. Blaine is part of a large group of friends who get together for lunch on Sundays. Maybe he's filling her in then and she doesn't need the details from me. I doubt it though. Blaine doesn't strike me as the type to go all teenage girl about a date. As for me, I stick to generalities -- went to the symphony and had drinks afterward.

Anyway, I'm still cold from shoveling. It's early but I'm going to bed to get warm and to read until I'm ready to sleep.
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Sunday, January 21, 2018


I've been trying to work on Henry's proposal today, and I am not far enough along with it. My fault. I can't get motivated.

Since failing to get much work done is all I have to say about today, I'm sharing pictures a few pictures.

Might as well begin with George (pardon the glare, reflection and lack of contrast). I took this photo for the 7 days of black and white photos meme that was going around Facebook awhile back.

Mica's Little White Dog. Love of my life.

Chloe, Sophie's dog and Little White Dog's best friend. She's sweet, feisty and 100 percent princess.
This is Shadow. He belongs to Mica's brother and sister-in-law. Mica is taking care of him while they're out of town so he'll likely get mentioned at some point. He's well behaved and sweet, but he's twice the size of Little White Dog and can be a bit of a brute.

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Saturday, January 20, 2018

Breaking protocol

I’ve gotten into the bad habit of staying in bed on Saturday mornings and reading until most of the morning is gone. That’s why I was still under the covers after 10:00 when the phone rang. I assumed it was Mica. I picked up without checking caller ID and answered it with our customary, “Allo.”

There was a pause followed by a chuckle. “Uh, allo.” Blaine. Blaine! Blaine?

I explained I thought it was Mica calling. With a tease in his voice he asked what I was going to tell her about our date. All I’ll have to tell her is what he wore and she’ll know my feelings about the evening. I didn’t share that with him.

Later in the call he said, “I know I’m breaking protocol. If it’s too intrusive, tell me.” I smiled and wondered if his word choices become businesslike when he’s nervous. “Or you might already have plans,” he offered. “If not, would you like to see “The Post” this afternoon?” It’s the movie we were going to see last weekend. We changed our minds when we discovered “Darkest Hour” was showing.

A few hours later we were settled in the movie theater recliners. As last weekend, we raised the center armrest and settled the container of popcorn on the seat between us, our thighs stabilizing it. New this weekend was how our shoulders touched and, after the popcorn was gone, our hands interlocked.

When we got back to my house, Blaine came in for a minute. As we were saying goodbye, he asked if I was getting tired of him yet. Even though our body language shouted that the answer should be obvious, I crinkled my nose in contemplation. “Hmm...Not yet.”

“I’m willing to push my luck. Should we try again next weekend?”

And so we shall.
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I need to know

It’s an extreme understatement to say I have a thing for men in nice quality, well cut suits. Keep your tight t-shirts or bare whatever—I don’t even recognize what’s considered sexy by most women. For me it’s a tailored suit, crisp shirt and sharply knotted tie. When all the pieces come together, I can be shameless. I’ll stop dead in my tracks. I’ll run my eyes up and down their bodies. I’ll turn around as they walk past so I can view from all angles...

When Blaine slipped off his overcoat at the coat check tonight, I dissolved. Charcoal suit, monochromatic shirt and tie. Damn. At intermission I was able to admire him again while he was at the bar getting us glasses of wine. It doesn’t hurt that he’s built well and a suit accentuates all the good parts.

I suppose I should say something about the concert. Three pieces were performed, one by Tchaikovsky, which I assumed I would like and did. The others were nice, too. The program said the three were selected for their beauty and romance, so no marches or screechy strings. I didn’t sleep well last night and after a long day at work, I grew sleepy a few times.

I perked up afterward as we walked to a bar a few blocks away. The temperatures are back to seasonable and we were both starved for fresh air so the walk was nice.

We went to a small bar that’s been around forever. The entrance is part way down an alley. Way back in the day it was a side door for a theater. The bar shares one wall--the stage wall--with the building next to it. All the gears, pulleys and chains that facilitated moving scenery around are still there.

The place is intimate but the lighting that was once provided by candles on the tables is now provided by two televisions mounted on walls. Change with the times, I guess. Tiny two-person cocktail tables still fill part of the space. We stood for a short time until one opened up.

Blaine admitted his favorite part of the symphony is going once every five years or so. I laughed and agreed. I didn’t say it was worth it to see him in a suit, but my dress seemed to go over well, too, so I’m guessing he would have agreed on attire being a high point.

After covering how our weeks went (I didn’t bring up the budget cuts), he slid his hand overtop mine. “There’s something I need to know about you.” His tone was serious but his expression less so. I think I held my breath. “Why do you have a large portrait of George Washington?”

It took me a second to catch up, then I laughed. I didn’t realize he had seen it, but I guess it is visible when you come into my house through the front door. It hangs in the room just off the living room. It’s been part of my life for so long, I forget it exists. “The short version of a long story is I inherited it when I was three years old from a friend of my mom.”

“Hmm mmm." He absorbed the explanation. "I’ll need the long version to understand why a three-year-old needs a portrait of our first president.” I provided it. And with that we were off, trading stories about favorite possessions and people we knew as kids. He’s able to tell an awfully good story, a skill I do not have.

It’s very easy to spend time with him. It is becoming easier to relax around him, too. I don't want to get used to it, and yet that's exactly what I'm hoping for.
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Thursday, January 18, 2018

Warm cookies

This morning the CEO met with staff. He brought warm cookies and hot chocolate, making it the best meeting ever, never mind the main topic of conversation was upcoming budget cuts. Final decisions haven’t been made but the estimate is that 30 positions will be eliminated. The announcement is likely to occur at the end of March.

Three years ago I was laid off from a job. It was a horrible place to work so the layoff was a blessing in disguise, but at the time it was only demoralizing and scary. I suspect that everyone who has experienced a layoff always anticipates the next one. That's where I am now. If it happens, I won't be leaving a dysfunctional environment. The term they use now for a layoff is "separation." That's what it will feel like--a separation from work I like and people I respect and enjoy.

Speaking of...

Henry called this afternoon to talk about his proposal. “How are you doing? Are you fed up and over it yet?” Actually, yes. The outline I’m writing from is so vague it might as well say: a) blah, blah, blah; b) yada, yada, yada. But it’s for Henry so I reassured him that it’s coming along.

Three years ago, Henry hired me, you see. He had been put in charge of a strategic planning initiative and wanted to bring on someone temporarily to produce the document. He mentioned what he was looking for to someone who knew me, my work and the situation I was in. She put me in touch with him. He and I exchanged a couple of emails, he brought me in for half-day interview and offered the job the next morning. That was nine days before severance ran out. I didn’t care that it was a temporary; it was a reprieve.

From the start, Henry and I had an excellent rapport. He’s extremely professional and serious but he has a terrific sense of humor and is able to joke around while he works. He expects a lot and in return his support is unwavering. He quickly trusted my judgement and began to rely on me to contribute to more than the strategic plan. My role within the company expanded rapidly. I was asked to do a lot more than write. Most of the time I felt in over my head, but Henry’s confidence in my ability to make things happen remained, and on the whole I succeeded. After the strategic plan was finished, a permanent position was created for me.

Henry not only saved me by giving me a job, his belief in me from the first day helped me rebuild the confidence I’d lost in my last, very dysfunctional position. These are the reasons he has my loyalty.

Although Henry holds a high position and has influence, he isn’t going to be able to save me this time. Still, he’s trying to help behind the scenes by making me more visible to potential employers. He’s included me in meetings I have no business attending, and I’m convinced it’s so he can introduce me and tout my skills.

Tonight on the way home I tuned into the Symphony channel on XM. When I realized what I’d done, I thought what great timing it is that tomorrow I will be at the symphony. Let’s hope the relaxation properties of classical music are enhanced when it’s live.
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Wednesday, January 17, 2018


I’ve been digging around in my closet looking for all the pieces to an outfit I last wore four years ago. To explain why, I have to go back to last night...

“What are your thoughts on the symphony?” Blaine called to talk about what we might do this weekend. “I’ve been offered tickets. If you’re interested I’ll accept.”

When I’m extremely stressed about something I’ll find the Symphony channel on XM and listen to it while in the car. If the selection isn’t some kind of a march or something with lots of screechy strings, I’ll instantly feel my shoulders relax and my racing mind slow. That’s the only time I listen to classical music.

“Sure, let’s do that.” He wouldn’t suggest it if he wasn’t interested, and I don’t mind the idea.

Back to my closet... I don’t exactly have a section of symphony wear in there. I was afraid I was going to have to make do with  revamping something I wear to work, then I remembered a dress I wore to a wedding. I broke into the garment bags that have been shoved to one end of the closet for so long there’s a layer of dust on them. Inside one I found the dress and, amazingly, the bra that works with it. It’s simple with a nice cut, and I’d had it altered so it fits well (and still fits—score!). Midnight blue, knee length, V’s just deep enough to be interesting in front and back. The shoes may kill me—I haven’t worn heels regularly in years. At least if I do die I’ll already be dressed for the funeral.
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Monday, January 15, 2018


Someone who is with the dog rescue I used to volunteer with reached out to ask if I was interested in purchasing tickets to a fundraiser that’s being held in a few weeks. It’s a Valentine’s Day dinner with a fancy-dessert auction, general silent auction—the usual. I went ahead and purchased three tickets, the other two for Mica and Sophie if they want them. If not, it's a donation to a good cause.

Susannah appeared in my doorway on her way to lunch. "So. What did you do this weekend?" She had the look of someone who knew something. 

I opened my mouth ready to say something vague but decided there was no point. I told her I'd had a date, who it was with and that I'd like to keep this part of my private life off the office grapevine. 

"OK," she said. "But the three of us are going to lunch. How's Thursday?"

I had to dash her plans to get the dish. I'm behind on everything and will likely need to work through my lunch hours. 

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Sunday, January 14, 2018

Sunday morning at the vet

Little White Dog had to go to the vet this morning. He woke Mica several times throughout the night needing to go outside, then he began throwing up. She called me so I could meet them at the veterinarian.

He’s 100 percent her dog but he and I bonded early on. A condition of his adoption was that he not be left home alone all day. At the time Mica still worked in an office and couldn’t make it home and back on her lunch hour. I could, so I promised to go over and walk him every day. I did that for five years until she started working from home. I love him as if he were mine, and Mica and I sort of “co-parent.” He always seems happiest when she and I are in the same room with him, so I try to go to vet appointments in case it helps reduce stress (most likely it’s only my stress that’s reduced).

It appears this is a pancreatitis flare up. There hasn’t been one since he was diagnosed with it four years ago. Fortunately, he didn’t have to spend the night. They gave him subcutaneous fluids and medicines for the other symptoms and let him go home. It was a relief not to have to leave him. I hung out at Mica’s for a couple of hours while he napped between us on the couch, worn out by the stress of the morning.

While we were in the exam room waiting for the results of his blood work, Mica asked how last night’s date went. I’m finding I don’t want to talk about Blaine very much. Not to my friends, I mean. Here, he’s the only thing on my mind when I sit down to write. Here, I want to itemize everything, all the little things I like such as how when we’re waiting to cross streets he positions himself so his body blocks the wind from hitting me. I want a catalog of the good, for what purpose I'm not sure. Away from this page I keep busy with the rest of life and try not to think or talk about him.

When Mica asked about last night’s date I spoke broadly, sharing a few things I learned about him. I told her his sense of humor is coming out more and he’s proving to be a good banter partner, something I love. She has known me long enough and been privy to the details of every date I’ve ever had to recognize I’m approaching this differently. I want to let this unfold however it will. I don’t want to over-examine it.

Ridiculously, I’m disappointed that last night he asked if we could do something again (yes) next week (yes) because now there’s no reason to hear from him for a few days.

I’ll survive. In the meantime, I’ll make do with the season premier of “Victoria” and the return of  Lord Melbourne (Lord Mmm). Rufus Sewell is a most excellent distraction.

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Safe and Sound

I thoroughly enjoyed “Darkest Hour,” in part because it has a substantive plot and characters that don’t require CGI, and in greater part because it was nice to experience sound, courageous leadership for a couple of hours.

When the idea of going to a movie came up, Blaine warned that he never went to one without getting popcorn. If Eve had told me that tidbit about him, I would have agreed to meet him much sooner. He doesn’t kid around either—large popcorn and large drinks. It would have been perfect if the theater offered Coke products (or iced tea, at least). At the drink bar, I prepared Diet Pepsi the only way I can stand it—with a generous amount of lemonade mixed in.

Obviously dinner was unnecessary after eating our weight in popcorn, but we wanted to do something after the movie. With it being so cold again (single digits, this time with wind), we opted to walk to a bar located around the block from the theater.

This bar wants to resemble a private club so instead of a traditional setup, there are padded leather chairs and loveseats arranged around end and coffee tables. While they want to give the impression of cozy privacy, you end up seated with other people and can’t help but overhear conversations.

We had side-by-side chairs and shared a low table with a twentysomething couple seated opposite. They talked to one another about their friends, in particular one guy who was probably going to be fired for showing up to work hungover too many times. Blaine and I started out talking about the movie. When the couple left, we talked about how they reminded us we are no longer young enough for downtown nightlife. “Well, I’m not anyway,” Blaine said, which opened the door to some math. The year Blaine graduated from law school, I graduated from high school. “I may need another drink to take the sting out of that,” he joked. I couldn’t tell if there’s genuine concern over the difference. I’m not bothered by it.

I told him that when I was about to graduate from high school I was set to pursue an associate’s degree in paralegal studies. “If I hadn’t changed my mind at the last second, I could have worked for you,” I grinned. The remark may not have made him feel better, but it did open a new avenue of conversation, and we talked about careers—those we’d followed and those we wished we had.

A couple of times he did the thing I’m now calling the Blaine Move: Draw in a long breath, let it out slowly while steadying his eyes on me. It always results in the Me Reaction: Self-conscious eye darting and a need to check my teeth for spinach.

At the end of the evening, as we were approaching my house, I noticed there wasn’t room at the curb. I told Blaine he could drop me off at the end of the driveway. He asked if he could pull in. I share the drive with my next door neighbor but there is room for a car in front of my garage. Once parked, he turned slightly toward me. He seemed to tense. “I’d like to walk you to the door.” From the driveway, the back door is about five steps away. I have no lights in back so it is dark but not treacherous. Even as all this filled my head, I recognized his intent may not be to ensure my safety.

“If you’re sure you don’t mind the cold.” It was 2 degrees out. Inside, I cringed at myself.

“I’m tough.” He hopped out, so did I and we ventured across the patio in the darkness.

I’m safe and sound. In one sense, anyway.

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Thursday, January 11, 2018

Good news, bad news

Good News
  • The significant “winter weather event” fizzled. No snow shoveling needed. Now my friends can delete the Go Fund Me page to support a spine transplant.
  • Although the streets were slick on the way to work, none of the invincible all-wheel-drive motorists slammed into me while trying to stop, although one nearly fishtailed into my lane.
  • Henry’s meeting was well attended.
  • My house didn’t burn down (see below).
Bad News
  • I thought Henry was drafting the proposal for me to edit. Instead, he fleshed out his outline for me. I’m not confident my understanding is deep enough to produce a solid justification. I’ll have to write fast so he can improve it.
  • I’m grumpy (see above and below).
  • I ruined my microwave. Without checking a bag of chicken fried rice for microwave compatibility, I stuck it in and hit Start. Within seconds there were flames. I was still standing there and was able to move the bag to the sink and douse the flames with water. I’m not certain the microwave is ruined but there’s a scorch mark on one wall. I’m not going to risk it.

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Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Stapler massacre

Eve stopped by my office…

How many of my posts begin this way, or at least contain the sentence, I wonder. Quite a lot, I’m sure. It’s usually where fun in the workday begins.

So, Eve stopped by my office to ask for help. There is someone who comes to her when he needs assistance with anything--usually unrelated to her job. Today he wanted to know how to perform the equivalent of aerial acrobatics in Word. Excel is Eve’s bag, so she came to me, asking if it was possible to accomplish what he wanted. “I already told him no,” she said flatly but with a sparkle in her eye that meant she was still going to try to help.

There were two things he could not do, no matter what kind of devilish deal he tried to make with Microsoft. I began to explain how to do one thing. She sat down to take notes. There’s nothing amusing about any of this, yet within a minute she had her head in her hands, laughing so hard there was no longer sound with it, and I was practically in an airline prepare-to-crash position, laughing the same way. We cannot get through anything without this happening. It’s almost like we go into an improv state of mind. No matter what non-sequitur is tossed out, you run with it.

A couple of hours later, I was in the copy room duplicating handouts that Henry wants for a meeting tomorrow. (I have a rule against people using me as their personal assistant, but Henry is an exception.) I was using the electric stapler to slam through a 36-page document. Turns out, that’s about the limit the stapler can handle.

A staple released but the paper stuck. Since paper still covered the sensor, the stapler continued slamming staples. There’s not much in the room to absorb noise so sounds double in intensity. It sounded like a tommy-gun massacre was occuring.

I couldn’t yank the paper free. I couldn’t stop the staples from coming. Finally, I pulled the cord out of the wall, realizing too late it was the cord was to a powerstrip, which had a printer (in use) plugged into it. Oops. I shook and pulled and yanked at the paper but couldn't release it. I finally a button on the stapler that freed it.

There was only one person who was going to appreciate this. I walked into Eve’s office and broke into laughter. She joined in, not knowing why. In short bursts, I said, “The electric stapler stuck.” And I handed her the document that had a quarter inch of metal piled in the upper left corner.

“Damn. That’ll hold.”

That leveled me.
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Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Early bird does nothing

I poked my head into Eve’s office on my way down the hall this morning. “This is me coming in early to get a bunch of stuff done before 8:00.”

She gave me a funny look and checked the time on her computer. It was 10 minutes until 8:00. “I believe in you!” She gave me a thumbs up.

We talked until 8:10, so….

I used to make it in by 7:00 easily. Now, even when I get up before my alarm, I cannot make it happen.

Mica, Sophie and I met for lunch. I haven’t seen Sophie in ages. Mica has kept her filled in on the Blaine situation so I only had a couple of questions to answer. When you don’t date for 12 years and have been clear about your lack of desire to ever date again, people become pretty interested when there’s a status change.

It’s supposed to snow 3-5 inches here tomorrow night. My friends are very concerned about my ability to wield a snow shovel now that they believe my back will snap at any moment. I’ll be fine. I’ll dig out the winter boots that have the best traction. Keeping my footing was the problem last time. Eve is the one in trouble; Paul is out of town until Friday.
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Monday, January 8, 2018


Blaine called a little while ago. After the preliminary niceties (is this a good time, how did Monday treat you, etc.), he said, “In the interest of full disclosure...” Definitely an attorney.  “I consulted Eve on how many days I should wait before contacting you.” Although engineer works, too. “You may hear about that at work tomorrow.”

I wouldn’t be surprised if my smile was audible. “Yeah?”

“She told me to Google it. I decided to wing it.”

“You have good instincts.”

“I'll take that. Is it too soon to ask if you would you like to get together this weekend?”

“It isn't, and I would.”

“Uh, for a date?” He chuckled.

I clamped my eyes shut, glad he couldn’t see me. “Eve mentioned that, huh?”

“She did.” At least he sounded amused.

“I didn’t want to jump to conclusions,” I said lamely.

“I understand. She only wanted me to know there may be crossed wires. Whether it’s a date or not I’d like to get together. If you’re open to it being a date, however, I’d like that a little more.” My stomach flip-flopped.

“I’d like that too.”

I’m running out of ways to deny this.
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Sunday, January 7, 2018

Old love

Never has a day at home doing laundry been more welcome. Or welcome at all, really. I was ready for a normal day.

Late in the afternoon I went out to fill the car with gas. Next to laundry and grocery shopping it’s my least favorite chore but I’m a lot more disciplined about it than the other two.

A car pulled up to the pump opposite the one I was using. A woman in her eighties was driving. She opened the door, got out and went to the back of the car. Before she could remove the gas cap, the passenger door opened and a man got out. He worked his way around the back of the car.  "Here, give me that," he reached for the pump handle. “Go get in the car. I’ll do this.” His tone was irritable but it seemed like it was more habit than heartfelt.

“Now why did you get out of the car? I’m already here,” she groused.

“I said I’ll do it. Go sit down. Stay warm.”

“Well, we’re both cold now.”

“Let me take care of my wife.”


"Oh, honestly." She let him have the pump and walked to the car door. Before she got in, though, she gave him a list of directions—pick the cheapest grade, don’t overpump and hurry up.

I laughed softly, my day totally made.
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Saturday, January 6, 2018

The wine

One of the couples we were seated with for the tasting told us New Year’s resolutions are passé, according to their daughter. Now the thing is to create a bucket list for the year. Twelve things, all new experiences, that you want to have. Their daughter started them off with a gift certificate to the winery.

Since we were the near the end of the tasting, I asked, “Are you enjoying the experience?”

The man kept his voice down. “I’m more of a beer guy.” I wanted to fist bump him.

I want to learn to like wine especially the reds, but I’m ready to admit defeat. At best I’m going to be a white wine drinker. Many serious wine people would consider this a slippery slope toward popping the spigot on boxed wine.

The truth is I’m not much of a drinker, period. I’ve consumed more alcohol in the last couple of months than in all the rest of 2017 and possibly 2016, too. There are times I really enjoy beer (at [The Band Bar] where it’s always ice cold) or mixed drinks (rum based generally), and occasionally I get a craving for single malt scotch (thanks to a friend from forever ago who introduced me). Mostly, all I want is perfectly carbonated fountain Diet Coke over crushed ice, preferably served in an insulated stainless steel glass.

At the end of the tasting everyone was invited to a private room where any of the featured wines were available by the glass or bottles of any wine could be purchased. Many people left, and we had no trouble getting a table for two near the windows overlooking the vineyard. This winery is near a once-river (now barely a creek) so the landscape is rolling. The vines and open fields beyond are snow covered. Beautiful.

When we arrived at the winery we had to wait a few minutes to get inside. There was a bottleneck inside the door as people crowded around the bar or stood waiting for a table to open up. We worked our way toward the back where there was a small check-in area for those who had reservations. I was glad we weren’t going to have to battle for a table. The private room with it’s own bar and table service was a really nice bonus.

Blaine asked if I would like to try a glass of something. I couldn’t go the red route. “Would you mind picking out a Riesling for me?” I’ve liked Rieslings well enough in the past.

He smiled. “My pleasure.” I may have dissolved just a little when he smiled. Wine is not good for my defenses.

He ordered a bottle and we agreed a bread and cheese plate was a good idea, too. “We don’t have to finish the bottle,” he told me. “This wine isn’t available by the glass but it’s very good.”

“Is it German?” I asked.

He shook his head. “Alsatian.”

“Oh, Alsace.” I smiled.

His eyebrows went up. “You like wines from that area?”

My brain doesn’t always stay on topic, which can be embarrassing. I shrugged. “I have a soft spot for Alsace. I once read that its location caused it to go back and forth between Germany and France so many times that Alsatians finally refused to identify themselves as either German or French, opting instead to call themselves Alsation, period. I don’t know if it’s true, but I want it to be. Resistance and resilience all at once.” Blaine didn’t move, didn’t change his expression, but didn’t take his eyes off me either. He seems to do that, and it makes me self-conscious. “I’m sure the wine is excellent, too.” I shifted in the chair, glanced out the window.

I changed the subject. “Had you heard of the New Year’s bucket list?”

“That was new to me. Interesting idea, though.”

“It is. Give me one off the 2018 Blaine List.”

He drew in a breath, squared himself in the chair and considered it. “I’ve always wanted to go up in a hot air balloon.” Nice.

“What else?”

“No, no, no. Your turn.”

I went with the first thing that came to mind. “Watch the Cubs play in St. Louis.”

“Not in Chicago?”

“Yes, actually, but I’ve been to Wrigley. I’d like to visit more ballparks, preferably National League.”

And so the conversation went on. I’ll have to remember how handy this New Year’s bucket list thing is for getting to know someone, should I ever meet someone in January again.

Honestly, the wine was really good. Not too dry. Crisp. I felt like I could actually taste different flavors, although I couldn’t identify them. We didn’t finish the bottle, but we did stay until it was close to closing time.

The drive to the winery had passed quickly. We exchanged basic information, mostly. I didn’t know what Blaine did for a living, for example. He’s an attorney. I hadn’t thought about what his profession might be but once he told me I kind of wanted to say, “Are you sure you aren’t an engineer?” Don’t know why. Maybe engineers are less intimidating than attorneys.

On the way home we talked about books. We both like history. He’s working his way through presidential biographies. He’s on James Monroe.

He had wanted conversation, and we definitely accomplished that today. I had wanted to become more comfortable around him with the hope that it will be easier when we’re brought together by Paul and Eve. I think we accomplished that, too. He asked if I was interested in doing something together again. I said yes.

Now I need to let the wine wear off because I don’t want to like him and right this second I’m in danger of that.

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Friday, January 5, 2018

The D word

My workload became crazy today. My favorite person to do work for—Henry—was in my office most of the day talking to me about a new project he wants to launch. He needs help putting together the proposal that is needed by the end of the month. It’s large, complicated and will require the input and cooperation of about eight people, some from outside our organization. I’ll have to work weekends if I’m going to help him and stay on top of my regular workload. Fortunately, I don’t mind working extra hours when it’s for Henry. We work so well together, it’s always a pleasure. Plus, he makes me laugh. And since Christmas he also comes with puppy pictures (he gave his wife a yellow lab).

Before all that happened...

First thing, Eve appeared in my doorway. I was just hanging up my coat. “Good morning!” I chirped. I walked around the desk and Eve made herself comfortable in the guest chair. “What have you got going on today?” I asked.

“Not a lot. Did you and Blaine stay long at [Sports Bar]?” OK, then. Right to it.

“Hey,” I said with exaggerated concern, “how was Izzy when you got home? Did she make it all three hours OK?”

“Why, yes. Yes, she did. And thank you for asking.” She laughed.

“No ulterior motive for inviting Blaine, huh?”

“None.” A canary-eating grin betrayed her.

“We didn’t stay long. Finished our beer is all.” That was true. I was having fun making her work for it, but I was also deciding whether sharing would complicate matters. It probably would, but not saying something at this stage would too. “We might get together Saturday at a winery if Blaine can get a reservation for a tasting.”

Eve’s arms shot into the air, the sign of a touchdown. “I knew it! I knew you two needed to meet.”

I couldn’t help but laugh. “Don’t get carried away. It isn’t a date.”

“What do you mean it isn’t a date?”

“We’re just...doing something.”


“Of course.”

“With anyone else accompanying you?”

I wasn’t going to bother answering that, but she rolled her hand to mean out loud, please. “No.”

As if she were breaking a hard truth to me, she said, “That’s a date.”

It isn’t.

After lunch my cell phone buzzed with an incoming call. Henry had just gotten back to my office to continue the morning meeting but he was still unpacking his laptop. I asked if he minded me taking the call. He offered to step out but all I wanted to do was ask Blaine if I could call him back.

“Sure,” Blaine said. “I did get reservations for the afternoon. I’ll give you the details later.”

It was 4:00 when I was able to call him back. The winery is about a 40 minute drive from the edge of the city. Automatically, I calculated the 80 minutes we’ll have to fill with conversation. Before I could say anything, he offered, “We can stay closer to the city if you prefer.”

“I trust your choice, and I’ve never minded a road trip.”

Once the details were worked out, he said, “It’s a date.”

It isn’t.
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Thursday, January 4, 2018


One thing I found out tonight is what happened to the screen contraption that Paul and Blaine built to prevent Izzy from leaping out of the loft, down to the living room below. Eve made them take it apart the same night they built it. Paul, then, enlisted their daughter’s help to pick out and order an attractive room divider and gave it to Eve for Christmas.

“It’s perfect,” Eve said. She gave Paul a sidelong glance. “A huge improvement.”

Paul crossed his arms and shook his head, still disagreeing with her about the importance of aesthetics.

“You should patent your design,” I told him. “Have the last laugh when you and Blaine sell it for enough to fund your retirement in someplace warm.”

Blaine said, “Now that’s an idea. Your next drink is on me.” It was, and in the end so was my meal. He covered it with the waitress without my knowing.

Eve and Paul decided to leave before Blaine and I finished our final drink, giving the excuse that Izzy would need to go out soon. Their departure wasn’t awkward at all. Oh no.

Over dinner we had covered Christmas and New Year’s highlights. We’d talked about my back and all agreed I was much too young (ha!) to hire someone to remove snow for me, but I should do it anyway. I’d learned that Blaine’s daughter and her family may move out of state if her husband gets a job. We’d discussed what’s happening with the football program, as is our duty as citizens of the state. We’d speculated on a couple of significant local events that have fallen out of the news even though there must be things happening in the investigations. There wasn’t a lot left for conversation.

I was desperately avoiding bringing up the weather when Blaine placed his forearms on the table and leaned in. “Eve has mentioned you to me a lot since you started working together.”

Hey, how ‘bout that windchill today, huh?

“And you to me.”

“She’s, uh, doing some matchmaking.” He tried for nonchalance but it’s pretty hard to pull that off when you’re pointing at a potentially dangerous elephant in the room.

“I suspected,” I smiled.

He steadied his eyes at me long enough that it set off a flood of nervousness. Something must have entered my expression because he said, “I’m trying to tell what you think about that.”

Play it off or get down to it? “I’m never comfortable being set up. I don’t want anyone to feel obligated…” I waved my hand in the air in lieu of words. I didn’t know a concise way to finish the sentence. If I were speaking my mind I’d have said I don’t want anyone to feel obligated to give me a second thought. I don’t expect to ignite a fire in anyone. I’m embarrassed that someone is inflicting someone with limited attractiveness on someone they like. However, those aren’t things that can be said. A person can’t go around flinging their Samsonite at people’s heads like that.

He took a drink of his beer. When he set glass down, he kept his eyes on it. It wasn’t a comfortable silence. My stomach knotted. How have I not learned how to better handle these situations? “Now I’m trying to tell what you’re thinking.”

He looked up, smiled, shrugged. “I don’t want you to feel obligated either.” I shook my head in a way to mean he shouldn’t give that another thought. “Look,” he said, “I don’t how to approach this any other way so pardon me if this is too blunt, OK?” I nodded, felt my blood ice over. I prefer bluntness but that doesn't mean it's always easy. “I enjoyed our conversation that day at Paul and Eve’s. I’ve seen you since but haven’t had another chance to talk to you, and I’d like to if you are amenable.” I nodded. “That day, you indicated you were interested in going to a winery. We could do that.” I nodded.

My brain was part way down the road to Dead Endville and had to backtrack and catch up on the road to Huh, Whaddya Knowtown. Also, the formality of “amenable” and “indicated” amused me. Words, I thought, words are needed here. “I would like that,” I said. “That was a good conversation, I agree.”

It felt like we should sign something and initial it in two places. Instead, we agreed to get together Saturday. Winery and time to be determined based on the ability to get a reservation for a tasting.

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Wednesday, January 3, 2018

New Motto

Before I left work last night, I started downloading a couple of video files that are huge and drag down the performance of my computer. This morning I went in early with the hope of editing them before interruptions began at 8:00. One video downloaded OK but I had to restart the other. While I waited, I wandered into Eve’s office to find out what she wanted to talk about yesterday. As I suspected, it was about Blaine, but it wasn’t a big thing. Every couple of months, she and I go out for drinks after work, and Paul usually joins us. We’re planning on getting together tomorrow night for burgers at their favorite sports bar. She wanted to know if I’d mind if she invited Blaine too. “I don’t have ulterior motives,” she promised, then hedged, “Maybe an ulterior hope.”

After a night’s sleep, the curiosity that was getting the better of me last night had subsided. It swelled again, though. My mind was telling me to walk away. My legs weren’t getting the message.

What, exactly, do I want to know? If he’s interested? I don’t know if I’m interested.

This whole thing has awakened something similar to a muscle memory. In this case, it’s overthinking, overanalyzing every single thing. Just as I haven’t missed dating, I have not missed that whole craziness.

Finally, my legs understood the mind’s directive, and I went back to my office without asking anything. My new motto: Move along, there's nothing to see here.
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Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Back to work

Going back to work today wasn't as difficult as I expected, not after I stopped on the way in for a giant Diet Coke. I know the stuff is terrible for me but under the right conditions it's also ambrosia.

Eve stopped by my office in the morning. I was in the middle of adding a bunch of information to a website and couldn't talk long. She seemed disappointed but said it wasn't anything that couldn't wait. I was going to look for her when I finished but before I could I was called into a meeting that lasted into the lunch hour. Eve had already left for home to let Izzy out. When she arrived back at the office, I was walking out to go to another meeting which lasted until the end of the day. Maybe tomorrow, if whatever it was is still on her mind. I wouldn't bother mentioning this except I'm wondering if she wanted to talk about Blaine. I may be projecting. There's a part of me that wants to ask what's going on there. There's another, stronger part of me that wants to hang completely back and let it lie. It's just that my curiosity has awakened. Historically, curiosity is not a good thing in my hands.

Is there an age at which a person is no longer in touch with their inner ridiculous self? I should be there by now.

I'm about to crawl into bed so I can finish a book before it's time to fall asleep. It's Unloved: A Love Story. When I stopped reading this morning, a plot twist had just been revealed that left me discombobulated. It has been rolling around my mind all day.

One last thing, a guy I went to high school with posted on Facebook that he's starting a program that will help him fulfill a career dream. I remember the moment in high school when he first talked about what he wanted to do with his life, because it was the moment I knew he was...unexpected...special. I moved into his corner that day and since then have been a far-away, totally secret cheerleader. This sounds like I had the hots for him. I never did. But I've always thought he was one of the best guys out there, and I'm thrilled that he has a wonderful family and is on his way to realizing his dream. I wished him the best of luck on Facebook. Here, I'm doing the Snoopy dance for him.
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Monday, January 1, 2018

Enraged sputtering stage

No spoilers ahead...

Before I watched the latest Star Wars movie yesterday, all I’d heard about it is that people either loved it or hated it. I expected to fall in the middle. I was wrong. I hated it, am disgusted that the franchise was put into the hands of people who have no understanding or appreciation for what was the heart and soul of the original, and am angry that whoever wrote the script is allowed to use a keyboard.

I’d spew about it longer but am still in the enraged sputtering stage.

Had a quiet NYE. Sophie opted to stay home and out of the cold so rather than playing cards, Mica and I binged on Blue Bloods and Longmire, alternating between the two. The Little White Dog slept between us, waking every hour to wave a paw, the universal canine sign for Belly Rub Needed.

Great houseguest that I am, I stayed in bed until mid morning. I lingered because Little White Dog had opted to sleep with me and was cuddling. He isn’t a cuddler so when it happens, you go with it.

[As I typed “cuddler,” autocorrect suggested “cuddle tsunami.” WTH and where do I get it?]

Mica and I went out for Pecan pancakes, thus concluding our New Year’s tradition.

Eve called midafternoon to ask if I wanted to come by and help eat leftover NYE snacks. Tempting as snacks are, I passed. I had a bad case of nap hair, plus I didn’t feel like layering up to go outside. “Someone was disappointed you couldn’t come last night,” she said. As far as I know there were only three people I would have known, and two were Eve and Paul.

“What makes you think that?”

“He asked if you were coming, I said you had other plans and he said, ‘That’s dissapointing.’”

Guess that’s clear.

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