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Here we are, another Christmas Day. I hope you're in a safe, warm place today, especially since there is a widespread cold mass pressing down from Canada to the lower US states. I also hope you have a nice meal tonight in the company of friends and/or family if you can swing (or stand) it. 

For those of us who are spending another holiday alone, here's to hoping 2018 will be a better year. 

I will be going outside today to feed my pet opossum and feral cat in eighteen degree with a slight wind. Then I'll have lots of fun looking at my pumphouse to figure out why the temperature goes below freezing despite having a heater in there. It hasn't frozen yet, but I need to make sure it doesn't during the rest of the week-long cold snap we'll be experiencing.

Ah, life in the boonies...

Again, hope you have a warm and safe holidays. My chinchilla also wishes you a Happy Christmas. All my friends have fur coats.

1. There is no such thing as a healthy obsession:

For months I had been listening to her talk about this guy. We had worked together for a while, but only recently had we become better friends. When I first met her I didn't see what the fuss was all about. Sure she was cute and fun, but she seemed wrapped up in herself, I am too, but it felt different. I couldn't figure out what she did with her time outside of work. I liked working with her, she was easy to talk to, I have a deep mistrust of women in general, I was cool toward her for a while having learned the hard way that some of the women you work with will be the first to throw you under the bus when they need a whipping girl. Listening to my friends and their guy problems went way back, I hadn't done that in a while or maybe I should say the majority of my friends complained about their husbands, and I had done the same when I was married. You can only take so much before one day you snap. Our break periods were fifteen minutes long, I could put up with just about anything for that length of time. I love sitting out on the terrace, I didn't care if we weren't talking about anything. It was peaceful out there and this was a time in my life when I desperately craved peace and her birdlike chatter became part of my ritual.

2. There is no such thing as a healthy obsession:

A woman we work with had told this guy my friend liked him. I had heard this story so many times I could probably recite it word for word. I came down on our fellow employee every time, but I also advanced the theory that maybe this woman who had overstepped her bounds had done my friend a favor. Not far from my place is a small grassy area with playground equipment. I like being outside so I took my phone and strolled over there thinking it was a shame so few children played here. I laid back on the slide and contemplated the clouds. I could hear her voice, but since the tale was a familiar one I was zoning in and out, I like to think that I'm a good listener, but I also need a reason to be paying attention and she wasn't giving me one. I was about to tell her I wanted to take a walk when I heard something I hadn't before. I asked her to repeat what she had just said. Before then I thought I had gotten the full story from her, but it turns out she had skipped over the very key part where she pulled him aside, told him she didn't like him that way, she just wanted to be friends, and she wasn't looking for a boyfriend either.

3. There is no such thing as a healthy obsession:

Once I had that fact I immediately went into problem solving mode. First I went back and had her repeat what she had just said. Then I asked if there were any other really important details or interactions she had left out, she said no and I told her to think again. I had her run through the entire thing, from the moment she first laid eyes on him to the time he waved to her and started coming up front. She was convinced that he was just being friendly, and I argued that if that was the case he would be chatting up the other cashiers and he wasn't (side note - another woman we worked with was seeing a guy who was a player and he did do this so I used him as a point of comparison). The one time I had spoken with him in person he had been polite, friendly, and interested in trying to help me find someone who would help me with my jaw. Her claim that he was deeply complicated and mysterious had always seemed inaccurate to me. Our conversation was short, when it was finished we both turned back to her. It was an awkward moment with the three of us standing there, she said after that he was extra nice to her for some unknown reason. I told her I had given him a reason to talk about his job in front of her and he liked being seen as a competent and caring professional. Mystery solved.

4. There is no such thing as a healthy obsession:

I will probably always remember June 2, 2017 as the day I hurt my back at work. I was cleaning in the morning and made myself stay through the end of the day which was a very stupid move on my part. I kept trying to tell myself that things would get better if I kept moving. When I started working where I do I had tried out a new chiropractor, I left because I didn't care for him, but this was an emergency and I doubted they would turn away a last minute patient who had excruciating pain, especially if they thought this might be an ongoing thing. The moment I met the new guy I could tell that he was trouble with a capital T. I hate it when people can read my feelings, I loathe their pity, I despise their concern, and I reject their attempts to comfort me. Even when I told myself to stop being such a bitch to him I couldn't force myself to be nice, even going so far as to snap at him when he offered to carry my bag. One day I asked my friend if she wanted to come with me to my appointment. She agreed and that's when I found out they knew each other. Formerly he had shopped where we work, just from his voice I could tell that he liked her, she greeted him, he was more cautious and I knew then that I had the upper hand for a change. After that appointment he treated me very differently, apparently having learned how to treat me from my conversation with my friend.

5. There is no such thing as a healthy obsession:

Hurting my back gave me an opportunity to go back to PT. I stopped by the clinic where my friend's crush worked to talk to him about becoming a patient. He told me what I would need to do and I went about getting the paperwork I needed together. The first appointment went well and I left feeling impressed with my friend's choice in men. He wasn't anyone I was ever going to fall in love with, but he was great at his job and I made a point of communicating that. About that time he stopped coming up front and then people started asking my friend if I had said or done something to drive him away. I want to give her the credit she deserves because she was very loyal to me and that is probably one of the main reasons we are still friends today. She did ask me, I said no, I couldn't think of anything, I felt very respected and thought that he had a similar regard for me. It was confusing until we learned that the same woman who had told him she had a crush on the guy said that my friend had quit and had asked her to pass along that information to him. I was furious with this woman, but my friend said it had been her fault, she had joked around about quittting and this woman went too far with a joke she thought might be funny, but obviously wasn't. Eventually he stopped being icy and resumed his normal routine.

6. There is no such thing as a healthy obsession:

One of the things that bothered my friend was the fact that this guy wouldn't hand her his keys with the store card on them. I went through this with her numerous times, he could easily have avoided her line and sometimes did, I thought it was a sign of respect and told her to either make a joke about it, or simply tell him it was okay for him to hand her his keys. In my opinion he was respecting her personal space and was waiting to be invited into it. Most of the cashiers at work are women although occasionally we get a man, the kicker for me was when my friend told me that her crush handed everyone else including the guys his keys, I rolled my eyes and explained that the men were no threat to him, and then she came back with the theory that maybe he really was gay. Let me back up for a moment and explain that for a brief period of time we had a male cashier who was in a wheelchair. He was a great guy and I still miss him. I said it would be cruel to drop a set of car keys out of reach of a handicapped person and that had absolutely no bearing on anyone's sexuality if they handed this person their keys. She remained unconvinced despite my explanations and eventually I quit trying to show her how things looked from my point of view. A cashier had told me it was easier to scan the store card, previously I had given everyone my number, and it was then that I realized how keys and the store card could create problems for people.

7. There is no such thing as a healthy obsession:

My friend is an article reader and one day I told her that I wasn't going to listen to her talk about any of these articles unless she was going to share them with me. I'm also a reader, sometimes I disagreed with what she was claiming these articles said, I told her she had to be open and honest with her Romance Coach, and I think it may have been then that I said that most of these articles were written for most of the people and applied most of the time, but there were bound to be exceptions and I felt like this guy might be one of them. The term emotionally unavailable wasn't new to me, but I hadn't thought a lot about it. I didn't think that the guy had commitment issues, but I also don't have a lot of experience with that. The things he was saying and doing indicated to me that he was either in love or thought he might be, he definitely liked her, and he was searching for a way to make her a larger part of his life, but was going about it in a way that she didn't understand and didn't make sense to her. I have no idea where I came up with this idea, but one day I told her to be the map instead of mirroring whatever she felt he was feeling back at him. I told her she had to be consistent with him, one day she was sweet and friendly, the next she was cooler and hurt, no wonder the guy was confused.

8. There is no such thing as a healthy obsession:

We were sitting upstairs in a booth, the sun was pouring through the windows so I had my sunglasses on, I like them and wear them whether it's actually sunny or not, but in this case it was legit. We were talking about the day and he came up in conversation, but this time there was a twist. One of the guys we work with had told her to go see him at work. I had suggested this months ago, but he had more credibility than I did, and part of me understands that a strategy coming from a man was going to carry more weight than one a friend had recommended, my feelings were hurt, but I was so impressed with the fact that she was actually going to do something instead of talking about it that I went along for the ride. When I had been at PT he had made a comment about the bands he had given me. He told me they were mine to keep and anyone I worked with could get one, he even went so far as to say he would drop something off, I trust my intuition and at that moment I knew he was telling me that he remembered my friend asking him about the bands and him telling her she could pick them up anywhere, even somewhere like Wal-Mart. She had been trying to initiate a conversation, he had taken her question literally and I felt bad for him because I do this frequently and it leaves people feeling like I am more socially inept than I really am at times.

9. There is no such thing as a healthy obsession:

Along with the back injury I had sprained my ankle this past summer. I got through by limping around and taking time off work, but the joint remained weak and unstable. I left work one day, went home, and called PT the next day to see if I could return as a patient. I wasn't going to tell my friend that I was going back, then I decided I could. Her feelings were hurt, we fought about it and I told her to tell me right then and there if she wanted me to find a different therapist. We got through the disagreement. She apologized, I had a difficult conversation with him and didn't know how things would go when I went back. Here is where he deserves credit and I'm going to give it to him. Without saying more than the routine greetings and farewells he made it clear to me that I was not only welcome back, I was going to get VIP treatment from everyone who worked there regardless of how well they knew me. He left me alone, I gave him space, there were some barriers between us, but at no point in time did I feel disrespected by him and that is a very difficult thing to do when you're not talking to someone on anything other than a very superficial level. I've written elsewhere about the trouble I got into back in September. I probably would have treated him very differently had I not just been through a very hurtful episode. My heart went out to him and I resolved to do what I could to keep the peace at his clinic.

10. There is no such thing as a healthy obsession, but you can learn a lot from it:

The other day we told a new cashier that I was my friend's Romance Coach, she had been my one and only client, and that I had driven the guy away, but he was still my PT. We were both laughing about this, and now that I look back on the past year and a half, I can laugh. We did have a lot of good times. She's obsessed, we made some mistakes, but we really learned a lot about ourselves and other people and now we're at a point where we're making better mistakes than the ones we made before. Before my therapist got a hold of me I was the woman who would ask a guy if he wanted to go out and walk away if he said no. I put very little time and effort into getting to know him, or perhaps that's what he thought. I'm generally pretty good about identifying who trips my triggers and I trust my instincts. Everyone has issues, I do, and I didn't see a lot of point in these relationship rituals other people were going through. Now I've learned that it isn't really fair to someone I like to try and learn as much as I can about them while trying to withhold information about myself from them, and it has made me a more approachable person (I think). Flirting is fun, I've always known that, I think this experience has humanized me a great deal. I've been hurt and wanted to treat relationships as transactional and sexual rather than transformational and sensual. There isn't much I regret, who knows where this will go, but I'm along for the ride and having fun.

11. There is no such thing as a healthy obsession, but you can remove or reduce the obsession portion and keep the health.

When my friend joked that I had driven away the guy and wanted to fire me as her Romance Coach I told her that she had misunderstood my role. It's never about the other person, it's always about you. A coach wants you to succeed and do your best, and the best thing for you at any point in time may not be that guy with the midnight blue eyes. I told her she had to change and then he might reappear, particularly if I was a patient at his clinic and had opportunities to go in there and talk about my friend who was trying to improve herself. We want to see other people trying. We don't care how good they are at something, we are the people who see your effort and credit you for that. She has come a long way, he has, and I have too. We have all learned some very valuable lessons through experience. She's fortunate she fell for a guy who has my personality type. I'm fortunate she knew a great PT, he's fortunate that I didn't march in there and deconstruct where he went wrong with her. I'm fortunate a woman at work helped me when I had serious trouble, and that guy is fortunate I didn't go off on him because rarely is the burnt bridge solely one person's fault. Nobody got much romance out of this whole thing, but I think we are all in better places than we were previously so maybe there was value in The Romance Coach persona after all. I guess only time will tell, this is just my version and how I see it, doubtless others have theirs.

Merry Christmas,

Jessica J

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  1. Experts say that there's no such thing
  2. as a healthy obsession, but now that
  3. you're near, maybe we
  4. could ask ourselves,
  5. who these experts are,
  6. and why we're blindly
  7. trusting them when
  8. there's a lot of holiday 
  9. food on the menu, but what
  10. I'm craving most is a second, 
  11. third, fourth, fifth, sixth, 
  12. and seventh taste, of you... 


Happy holidays!

We are out with my son for the week, in Maryland! I was planning on working this week, but got tireder and tireder this month. We decided on emergency visits only on Thursday, and then my daughter said, "Let's fly back east." She found us a direct flight from Seattle to BWI. We were supposed to fly out at quarter to midnight on the 23rd, but the plane was an hour late. I slept the whole way: spartan plane but full and very quiet.

Be careful out there and may your pump house remain unfrozen.

It is Christmas and I am in the ER with my mom. She's been having weird chest shit lately (mostly coughing stuff) and she's gone to the docs a couple times to get checked out. They gave her Prescription Kick-Ass cough medicine and an inhaler. She has an appointment with the pulmonologist tomorrow. Then, yesterday, she complained that her wrists and ankles were starting to ache. She guessed it was from a fall she had a couple days prior, as that was the only "weird" thing she did that could cause it.

Today, her ankles had swollen to the size of grapefruits, she barfed a lo, and after a few hours of feeling well enough to teach me how to prepare turkey and stuffing and open gifts, she got worse and my dad (who was spending Christmas with us) drove her to the hospital. She went to urgent care, and then was sent to the ER. As I type this, we are waiting for them to see her (it's about a two hour wait) and my dad has run off to do the Christmas errands he was going to do earlier before this happened.

They admitted her for the shortness of breath she's experiencing rather than the ankle swelling, which is concerning. I was going to write more about other stuff that's happened recently, but I am all worded out. Update to follow, probably.

My paternal grandfather died this morning at 05:00, aged 87 years. He flew a Douglas DC-3 during the Korean War for the United States Air Force. When he could still remember me, he called me his doll. The last thing he was doing, before the nursing home staff found him, was listening to Jackie Evancho singing a Sarah McLachlan song. For more than a year, now, that singer has been the only music he can stand to listen to, the only music he enjoys, without growing agitated and angry.

His memories were trapped in 1996, when I was a tiny blonde tot who sang all the time, and not an auburn-haired grown woman who teaches piano but sings very little. He hadn't been able to communicate coherently for several months, but he pointed to the screen and told the orderly, "I have a wife, three kids, a grandson, two granddaughters. That one, the little blonde doll. She sings."

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