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Snow day!!!!

Twenty below and blowing snow drifts equal a city-wide shut down today. Couldn't have made it into work if I had wanted to -- my car doors are frozen shut.

I love winter Up North!

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New favorites:

1. Coming home smelling like bonfire, not bar.
2. Big hugs while wearing puffy winter coats.
3. The crisp-cold October night sky.
4. People who still have their docks out this late in the season.
5. Sitting on said docks to watch shooting stars.
5. Grilled eggplant with melted fresh mozzarella and heirloom green tomatoes.
6. Watching my cat nose her way into my guitar case so she can nap inside with only her tail sticking out.
7. New friends that make me feel alive.
8. Old friends that make me feel loved.
9. The autumn muse.

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Tastes of the good life. Wild weather this weekend; bonfire on Elk Lake with Sleeping Bear Brown from the tap and wild Alaskan salmon (caught the day before and ice-packed for the plane ride home) grilled to perfection, eaten with fingers off paper plates while still steaming under the stars. The only thing better than new good friends are good friends who like to eat super fresh food cooked next to a bonfire.

And Maine was everything I wanted it to be. September color, day hikes, mountains, beaches, pines everywhere, wild roses, blueberry muffins, maple syrup, really good coffee with milk and a little froth. Lobster for dinner every night. Popovers and strawberry jam. A full moon. Tides.

The weather has been bizarre. Yesterday it was October 7 and the beaches were packed; I went swimming in Lake Michigan to cool off, and yet there were fall leaves drifting around me in the water. It was insanely beautiful and slightly unnerving.

Guitar is going really, really well. I might have to record again soon.

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Christmas this year was sweet, snowless and a little bit sad. I've always loved going to our Catholic church on Christmas because the songs and incense always created an emotionally charged timewarp, taking me all the way back to my own begining. But this year the sermon was dry and uninspiring, and I spent the entire hour trying to avoid eye-contact with a former grade-school classmate of mine sitting across the aisle. Sometimes it just takes too much energy to do the "hey-how-are-you" bit. Isn't it saving us both a lot of time and breath if we just skip it all together?

My charming boyfriend gave me Poetry on Record (which I had been lusting after and not told him about), a monstrous orange body pillow made to look like a giant package of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, and red cowgirl boot SLIPPERS. With cursive "E"s on the side, which he had drawn in with a Sharpie, to make sure no family member or future roommate would accidentally mistake the slippers for their own. Because so many people have red cowgirl boot slippers, obviously.

Also, my dad bought me the cheeky crochet primer The Happy Hooker, which was adorable because (1) I don't crochet -- I knit, and (2) if you've ever seen my father, it is simply hilarious to picture him (a smallish, bald-on-top, soft-spoken, bespectacled older man) stepping up to the Border's checkout line with a book titled "THE HAPPY HOOKER." I'm keeping it and have added another 2007 goal to my list: learn to crochet.

Donnie and I are heading Up North tomorrow to close with a bang the beast that was 2006. I have a pretty strong list of Goals for 2007 (I don't do New Years Resolutions, because Resolutions are easy to break whereas you cannot "break" a goal). The list is long, but I've whittled it down to a few that I think are realistic and manageable:

1. Make yoga a daily practice, even if it's just ten minutes of sun salutations each morning
2. Reduce my "ecological footprint" by consuming less, buying local, etc.
3. Continue to slowly phase out meat from my diet, with the eventual goal being total vegetarianism (another way to assist #2)
4. Volunteer my time or services to a charity or cause (other than a one-day juvenille diabetes walk)
5. Plan another at-least-one-week vacation somewhere, like my trip west this past September. No phones, no computers, just unplugging and unwinding and exploring somewhere new. So far, taking our respective finances into account, Donnie and I are considering an early-summer tour of the Upper Peninsula. And then, who knows, maybe I'll fund it by writing about it... we shall see...

Happy 2007 to everyone reading this. Hope your New Year's Eve is exactly what you want --



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Just comment to be added. I'm a nice person. Shanks!

it's hard to find the news in poems, but people die daily for want of what is found there -w.c.w.

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The Man in Black was back again this week - my marvelous Marv, with the breathmints tin of guitar picks, his diluted blue eyes the only hint of color on his entire body. This week he was wearing a sharp black leather jacket, which astounded me because "sweatbox" is the first word that comes to mind whenever I walk into the cramped instruction room. I leave every week with wet palms and pit stains - I can only compare the 30 minute lessons to playing guitar in a toaster oven set on high. With an audience of one sitting a foot away from your face.

Seven years ago, inspired by my high school obsession with Joni Mitchell, I decided I would teach myself to play guitar. I unearthed my mom's old acoustic from the basement, awkwardly figured out how to put new strings on it, tuned it to the Crosby, Stills and Nash song "Teach Your Children," and used mom's yellowed "Modern Hits!" fake book (circa 1970) to learn A, C, E, G and D. I made up my own finger-placement for more difficult chords like F and B7 and was soon faking my way through Joni's "Urge for Going," "Circle Game," "Carey," and "California." Intimidated by picks, I strummed with my thumb and developed a lazy, half-assed form of finger picking. In all that time, I never played for anyone but myself.

So last night, when Marv set my Joni Mitchell songbook on a music stand, opened it to my first learn-to-play-the-right-way lesson (Free Man in Paris," per my choosing), handed me a pick and asked me to start playing, I absolutely froze. "Do I have to sing it, too?" I asked. "Well, yeah, that's kind of the point here," he said, tapping a pencil on his knee as a makeshift metronome. "Ready? One, two, three..."

And it was awful. Absolutely awful. This is the girl who had never played guitar for anyone but herself, who fakes chords and learned to strum with her thumb so parents and roomates wouldn't hear her beyond her bedroom door. This is the girl who has no problem singing the national anthem at a Pistons game, but falls to pieces if asked to perform in front of any audience with less than a dozen people. This is the girl who at that very moment, was sweating so badly that she could barely press the strings, much less hold a pick between her fingers.

Somehow I survived. Barely. "Not bad," Marv said, thankfully stopping me halfway through what was quickly becoming the most torturous two minutes of my life. "Now here's what you can start working on." And he showed me what to practice, and how to hold the pick, and how to make a "real" F chord which, as much as I hate to admit it, sounds so much better than the version I've been faking for seven years. And we played it through a couple more times together, and each time it got easier, and we ended up laughing at the end. "See? I'm just here to take the fear out of it," Marv said. "Once you get over that, you'll be great."

Yeah, well, only time will tell.

In other news, I'm going kitten-shopping tomorrow. No name ideas yet, I figure I'll wait to meet the creature first. And I'm thinking of getting a screen-printed shirt to play off all those Urban Outfitters "Everyone Loves A (Fill-in-blank with ethnicity here)" t-shirts. You know, the ones like "Everyone Loves An Irish Girl" and "Everyone Loves a Jewish Girl." I want mine to have a picture of a glucose meter, or maybe a little vial of insulin, and say "Everyone Loves A Diabetic."

Hey, why not?

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Marv is tall, chunky, pasty and dressed entirely in black shapeless clothing. Black shoes, black pants, floppy black t-shirt. His hair is so blonde it's almost white, so thin as to be just a short step away from bald. He has terrible breath and he can barely see without his thickly-rimmed black square-framed glasses, which make for a most unfortunate combination. The bad eyesight makes him sit uncomfortably close to me, causing his mouth to be just inches from my nose. Every time he speaks I want to jump off the metal folding chair and cling to the ceiling, where fresh air is sure to be in more ample supply.

But then he smiles a really genuine smile, smacks his fleshy palms together and (finally) sits back in his seat. "Well, Emily, I sure am glad to be working with you. I think we're gonna have a lot of fun."

Marv is my guitar teacher. And I love him.

He looks and acts nothing like how I imagine a 40-something-year-old guitar instructor should look and act. I had pictured an aging hippie-type, maybe with a bad combover, a nubby cardigan with big wooden buttons, and little Lennon-esque spectacles. Nope. I was more than a little surprised when I walked into the music school Wednesday, clumsily toting my guitar case, trying to keep it from whacking the tiny MusikGarten tots scampering around. Standing there in the hall was Marv, grinning wide, waving at me, and not an ounce of what I had expected. He ushered me into the sweatbox-style instruction room (so cramped it brought to mind visions of airplane lavatories) and proceeded to tell me about his teaching style while quizzing me on tuning and chords. Having played (badly) since high school, I knew most of the chords and Marv seemed pleasantly surprised. And when he picked up his guitar and tossed out a stylized little blues progression, I was pleasantly surprised as well. Appearances (and breath) be damned - I'm excited to learn from this guy.

Speaking of pleasant surprises. this week was full of them. I finally met with my new general practitioner, who I'll call Dr. Awesome because she is, in fact, awesome. She is an absolute dream physician, kind and thorough and REAL, which is a pleasant surprise to me after going through my six-month Medical Nightmare, which featured characters like Dr. Bling Bling who wore huge diamonds everywhere and charged me an arm and a leg for a misdiagnosis that actually made my condition worse, and Dr. Cold Heart, who booted me out of her office because it was lunch hour and made me wait for my ride in the blistering July heat at a time when I was so sick I could barely stand. I am almost as excited about Dr. Awesome as I am about Marv, except visiting Marv is mostly painless and all subsequent visits to Dr. Awesome will probably involve poking of some kind.

More pleasant surprises this week included unexpected mailbox correspondence from some of my closest male buds (rarely the letter-writers), catching not one but two movies at the Maple Art Cinema ("goodnight and goodluck" and "pride and prejudice"), and getting a "perhaps" instead of a "no" from my dad on the subject of me getting a pet. Not a full "yes" yet, but at least a step in the right direction.

All in all, a pretty good week. No more doctor visits until the 18th. Oh, and I got a library card to the Rochester Hills Public Library, which is beautiful and quiet and allows me to focus on the freelance work.

My next session with Marv is Wednesday, at which time we'll be reviewing pick control. And guess where he keeps his picks?

In a breathmints tin.

as if i needed more on my mind

in the past week, i have grown all too familiar with the sight of my own blood. the sounds of doctors' offices. the sensory experiences of more lab work: the awful snap of rubber gloves, the crumple of plastic-wrapped syringes, the squeeze of the tourniquet on my upper arm, the gentle tap on the inside of my elbow as the nurse locates a vein. the pinch. the sting. more cotton.

i have dropped from 137 pounds (my average) to 114. in the last three weeks alone, i've lost more than 10 pounds. and i've been eating like a horse. at my birthday-present spa retreat this weekend, i put on my bathing suit to sit in the hot tub, and it practically fell off my hips. because i don't have hips anymore. because i'm one hundred and fourteen fucking pounds.

this has been the most terrifying experience of my life.

also. please note. i hate needles. i hate needles. i hate needles. and then i found out today that i better get used to them. because i finally got an answer: i have diabetes.

at least i have an answer. at least i'll be able to start gaining the weight back. but this whole fucking thing is so fucking overwhelming, i don't even know what to do. apparently the wicked infection i had this summer triggered the diabetes by causing my pancreas to shut down. they think. but what the fuck? how does a pancreas just decide to shut down? hello, mr. pancreas, i thought we were part of a team here. lazy fucking bastard.

so, tomorrow, the onslaught of more doctors' appointments begins. i have to see an opthomologist (because diabetes can cause eye failure), a general practicitioner (so i can have one doc keeping track of all this), a registered dietitian (for my special diabetic diet) and an endocrynologist - for the possibilty of daily insulin injections.

i just finished emptying my kitchen of everything with refined sugar in it: ice cream, cookies, jam, fruit juice, syrup, popsicles, the works. turns out everything i love has refined sugar in it. sweet. (no pun intended)

i get a sexy little "diabetic" medic alert bracelet to wear, too. so stylish!

and, finally, my new best friend is a glucometer. five times a day i get to prick myself with a needle (remember how much we LOVE those) to test my own blood sugar. awesome! i named it Rhonda, although I'm open to suggestions. remember though - it has to be a good name. this puppy is going to be with me at all times for the next... well, forever.

after such a wretched summer, it's hard not to feel the "why me" factor. but i'm trying. just keep your fingers crossed for me that i won't have to give myself daily insulin injections. this is already way more than i feel like i can handle.

please, can i just rewind the last five months and start over?