Nearly twenty years ago, the front desk bring the phone to my nurse and me in a panic. Holding it out at arm's length.

An elderly woman is on the phone. Her voice quavers. "My husband is asleep in his chair. I can't wake him up. He is cold." pause. "What do I do?"

"We will send an ambulance. Right now." We keep her on the phone while we call 911. All activity ceases at the front desk and with my patients while we wait. Some of us cry.

He is quite dead. He is the one who did want to be resuscitated so he could keep taking care of his wife: here.

He can not be resuscitated.

The family comes, scoops up his wife, and for all I know she may still be alive, with "end stage COPD".

This is a good time to update wills as well as living wills and POLST forms. My father had a will but it was from 1979. He dies in 2013. The Executor gets sued. I updated my will last year after a decade. My children are both nearly 21, they are responsible, I feel so lucky. One is executor and the other is the medical power of attorney. Also, my sister was my medical power of attorney: I know from experience that physicians find it difficult to ask the dead for guidance.

And all of the people named in my father's will except me were already dead when he died.

During the years of my time spent in the NOC, I wrote feverishly. Part of it was isolation: I spent my time on night shift waiting for the pager to go off, which meant that the sometimes long, tense in-between times needed filling. As the only person awake watching twenty buildings for twelve hours at a time, I needed caffeine to keep me awake, and a habit to fill my time.

I've always been a prolific reader and writer: at twelve I was already online, chasing plotlines in play-by-email games and reading as much fanfiction as I could get my hands on. But on the night shift, I regularly consumed the equivalent of two twenty-four packs of Mountain Dew a night in Penguin Mints. Possessed by a twitchy, blinding need to do something I produced a whole lot of cut-rate fairy tales and fantasy.

When I went west, my writing slowly dropped off as I cut back on the caffeine dose. I stopped having as many anxiety attacks, and I stopped needing the outlet as much.

Some time after that, I picked up technical writing, which turns out to have been the nail in the coffin for any aspirations towards publishing short stories. While I've produced some fiction since I left that career, it's nowhere near the visceral level of satisfaction or output from before.

This is not uncommon. Steve Brust is said to have struggled coming back from heart surgery. Those undergoing treatment for mood disorders struggle when put on meds for the first time. Over Christmas, a fellow fanbrat told me about her father, who stopped smoking only to discover that he needed to light something on fire before he could even begin to tap out the merest introduction.

But I am a writer: a writer writes. And, as one of the editors in attendance at Christmas told me: "you can learn to write again".

So, having had a very sharp, very thin blade, and a way of writing that I used for 20-odd years, I find myself with a broad, ill-formed blade with notches knocked out of it and no handle.

This is not an excuse. This is instead a new year's commitment to myself: write what I can. Write what I like. Write what I see and think. Sharpen the blade until it's once more a usable thing.

Twenty years ago tonight, New Years Day, New Years Day also happened on a Tuesday. It happens on the same day of the week every year (much like Thanksgiving which seems to have the unfortunate luck of always ending up on a Thursday - this is bad for business and businessmen because it breaks up the work week and profits fall like shit out of a dying man's womb and that Friday is a complete wash). 

That was the day I came home after convincing nearly a dozen investors to invest in a plan to manufacture Civil War Action Figures and found my mother in the bathtub. The tub had been filled with Soviet-type acid and her entire body, save for her head had been dissolved. As I walked in, that head of hers, which was ugly as sin, rolled off the edge of the tub and down by my feet. Because one of Baltimore's infamous minor earthquakes happened just at that moment, her head rolled across the floor, smacked into the vanity, then back against the open bathroom door, and then like a pinball, ricocheted (word I don't know how to spell frankly) all around the house and eventually demanded a meal it could not eat (dissolved stomach).

It was a difficult day and the cleaning bill set me back. We had to decide not to manufacture the Civil War Action Figures and instead merely convince people to invest $70,000 each ($140,000 for families) in the idea of manufacturing these figures. It increased our profit margin quite a bit.

In life we undergo changes that are difficult, such as having your hideous mother dissolved in a tub of acid (Soviet style), we adapt and adjust. If it wasn't for my mother's awful demise that day, and how her head bouncing around the house really freaked me out (internet kiddie slang), I wouldn't be making millions from business ventures today and I never would have had the self-confidence to walk into that for-profit university and demand to be made a fully tenured professor of ethics (pat on the back - I got the job).

The FBI agents are calling me back in. There is this room where they ask me a lot of questions about my friend Dale and his dead wife, my trip to Wichita in the 2000s, my behavior in Walmart bathrooms, and my association with Brandon Hitler and the Straight White Men's Cultural Center. There is nothing to link these things together at all so I know they are on a witch hunt and throwing darts wildly at the chalkboard hoping they can get some fake charge to stick because they don't like my kind.

My friends.

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