31 December, 2013

The Turning of Another Page

Well, folks, it's been a year.

Personally, it's been a busy one, as expected. Two French courses under my belt with a third to start in a couple of weeks. I have rediscovered a love for the classroom, long dormant and thought to be dead.  After a couple more of these courses I am going to join my local French association, which will get me much needed practice actually communicating. I don't want to join just yet, because I'm still a rank beginner and I have a horror of looking foolish. But I will.

The highlight of the year was of course Eva's surgery, which has so far been an unqualified success. She drank some water too quickly yesterday and bitterly regretted it...yes, even water can cause problems now...but overall I have to say she's done exceptionally well making one hell of an adjustment. I can't imagine having my diet so radically restricted, but she's done it almost without complaint. She has lost almost a quarter of her body mass, her diabetes is cured, and she has a good deal more energy than she used to. There's still a long way to go, but I couldn't be prouder of her.

Work for me has improved beyond measure. Going on nights, surprisingly, was part of the improvement, but even coming back to days I have been made to feel like I'm a valuable member of the team, and there are team-mates I bound out of bed in the morning happy that I'm going to see.

My niece, Alexa, has grown so much in a year that it's hard to believe she's the same person. Here's a girl, not yet two years old, who knows and correctly uses several gestures of sign language; who can pair most of them with the correct English words, and who is, to boot, one of the best-behaved toddlers I've ever met. If I could have been guaranteed a baby like her, I wouldn't have had *any* hesitation. about having one.

I've reconnected with a long-lost friend this year, and hope to do the same with a couple more in 2014. I continue to be eternally grateful for my friends, including of course the one I married.  Every one of you enriches my life more than you probably know.

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We've engaged maids here in the Breadbin. This was a decision not lightly made -- it costs -- but everyone we've talked to has told us that once you insert this particular item into the budget, you find money to keep it there. And everyone's right. Given the level of clutter around here and the fact that I can't bring myself to care about cleaning things that refuse to stay clean, yes, I have to say everyone's right.

Of course, this past week they only managed to get the main floor of this place up to spec, but such is life when you try to burn the house down. Yes, 2013 will go down in history as the Year Ken Summoned The Firetrucks.

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The wider world has seen its share of scandals; every level of government I look at seems beset with them. I haven't written about them near as often as I used to, partly because my readers have expressed a preference for the personal side of this blog and partly because it's all just noise. Politicians are dirty, right? I can't bring myself to care to write about things that refuse to stay clean.

I still believe the economy to be a LOT more wobbly than our minders in Ottawa and Washington are letting on. I won't out-and-out predict a crash...let's just say I wouldn't be surprised.

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Pop culture. The best movie I saw this year, and one of the best movies have have ever seen or will ever see, was GRAVITY. And I am not a Sandra Bullock fan. But she had better get an Oscar for this, and if Cuaron doesn't land at least two, you know the Academy was bought off.
Music:  I'll give you my two favourite songs of the year, one in English, and the other en français.
Novels: The best book I discovered this year was Patrick Rothfuss's Kingkiller Chronicles.  I am currently reading NOS4A2 by Joe Hill which was actually published this year, and if it sustains this level of horror it'll be right up there.

I want to wish everyone reading this a happy, healthy 2014 full of love. Here's some to start you off.







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24 December, 2013

Merry Christmas, One and All

I think -- I hope -- Stressember is over. This year was probably the hardest lead-up to Christmas I've had in a decade. I can't talk about the issues I have faced and (mostly) faced down. Oh, the things I'd say if I could. I am Oh-eff-eff OFF for three whole days now, although I do have to go in briefly on Friday.
It still doesn't really feel like Christmas. (I'm sorry, I can't write that without thinking of my dad's local (by which I mean 45 minutes south) radio station, which used to be called CKLP-FM. Every Christmas, amidst all the cheesy carols, you'd suddenly hear a glorious upswelling choral announcement: "IT FEEEEEEELS LIKE CHRISTMAS!"...and immediately a DJ would echo the sentiment in the kind of husky voice designed to peel clothes off women. I couldn't hear that without laughing like a loon...it became one of eleventy dozen catchphrases that have kept our marriage fed and watered over the years.

But it really doesn't. Feel like Christmas, I mean. Maybe it's that I'm no longer sure what Christmas is supposed to feel like. I mostly tune out the carols--I can't help wanting to poke my ears with a screwdriver whenever "Last Christmas" comes on, which is ALL THE FREAKING TIME, seriously, woman, how DO you have your heart back to give to somebody special when somebody else gave it away last Boxing Day? And I've given up on the whole 'war against Christmas' thing at this point: seriously, if you're offended by people who do or do not celebrate this holiday, take an icicle pill. (Holiday--comes directly from Old English meaning 'holy day', so if you hate holy things that much, enjoy working every day of the year, okay?)

Part of it is definitely that the routine has been altered. I won't see two thirds of my family until some time in the New Year--between Eva's surgery, downtime,  and subsequent appointments, it was just pointless to even try to match schedules with anyone. (Family reading this blog: please know I'm missing you and can't wait to see you.)

Christmas, and especially New Year's, around here has always been a time to release the inner glutton. That won't be the case this year, again because of Eva's surgery. I still feel bad eating anything at all around her, much less yummy tasty delicioso bad for you crap. This is a good thing, really...it will keep my pants from exploding and my stomach from doing the turkey-lurkey all over the place. Unrequited love isn't just for people, you know....there are various foodstuffs, like m(mmmm)ozzarella sticks, which I love with devotion, but which persist in hating my ass. I know this because they HURT my ass mere hours after consummation. Oops, I mean consumption. Christmas Eve dinner was a toss-up between burgers and Kraft Dinner. Burgers won.

It IS Christmas, no matter what it feels like, and I hope your Christmas makes you feel like a child again. Those are the best kinds of Christmases, after all. May you keep the Santa myth alive for another year. And if you don't believe in Santa, consider the mythologist Joseph Campbell's definition of "myth": "something which never was, but always is."

Merry Christmas, one and all.

21 December, 2013

Fire in the Breadbin

It was a typical morning until the crackling noise.

Maybe a little more rushed than some, but nothing too out of the ordinary. Breakfast had been gulped down, Georgia-Ball had been played, and it was 7:30...just about time to go to work. Eva was going to head out on my heels and run some errands, and so, following the routine to the letter, I put the kitchen garbage can on the stove, out of reach of Mr. Tux.

Don't get ahead of me, now.

So, as I was saying, I put the plastic garbage can on the stove, the way I have done literally thousands of times before. I came out to sit with Eva for a couple of minutes--7:40 is my cut-off time if I want to get to work for 8, and every minute with Eva counts, you know? We're sitting there talking about something or other to do with the upcoming day, when we heard a riffling, ruffling crackle coming from the kitchen. It sounded like a fireplace, except fireplaces are nice soothing things. When a fire is in a place that is not a fire's place, it doesn't sound soothing at all. It sounds ominous.

Out I go to the kitchen to discover -- surprise! -- a fire. The garbage can was surrounded by flames, and the smoke! The amount of smoke was...

Have you ever read Watership Down? Wonderful book, highly, highly recommended. Richard Adams creates a whole rabbit-world, and makes you care about the rabbits in it. He gives them a language, and one of the words in the rabbit language is tharn. A rabbit goes tharn when a predator approaches, whether that predator be a cat, a dog, or a car. In fright there are supposed to be two responses: fight or flight. Then there's the response of rabbits and Kens: paralyzed, frozen. Tharn.

Eva does not go tharn. Ever. I announced 'it's a fire' and proceeded to turn into a  useless block of uselessness. Wait, that's not redundant enough. My uselessness was so useless that when Eva told me to open the doors and the windows, at first I couldn't. You open doors by punching holes in them, right? Or do you lift them, twist them, stare at them and think about fires? I couldn't seem to remember. Eva, meanwhile, remembered the fire extinguisher next to the stove, and moreover, she remembered how to use it. How she even managed to find the goddamned thing through the thick, billowing smoke is beyond me. But then, at that point, everything was beyond me. Without a wasted movement or moment, Eva has found the fire extinguisher.  Fwwooosh.

Mid-fwwooosh, the smoke detector finally goes off. It's probably been thirty seconds since I was seated on the couch talking to my wife about mundane quotidian things that did not involve smoke or fire trucks or anything of that nature. It feels like thirty forevers. We have Direct Detect, which means when our smoke detector goes off, the fire department is notified automatically. By the time they called  to ask if it was a false alarm, the fire was out. We went outside because the air was completely unbreathable on the main floor of our house, and visibility was next to nil. Eva told the fire department that it was not a false alarm, but that the fire was out.

Didn't matter.

What is the collective noun for a group of firetrucks? Oh, yeah, that's it...an embarrassment of firetrucks  parades down our street and sets up the shame-shop all around our house. This is a particularly large embarrassment of firetrucks...I count five. No sirens, thank goodness for small mercies, but enough lights to thoroughly illuminate the guy who put the plastic garbage can directly on the stove element and wedged it good and tight, somehow (he notes in his weak, weak defence)  for the first time EVER managing to jiggle the element on in the process.

Tux and Peach are in the car with me, because the firemen have set up shop in our house with giant fans and are blowing the smoke out. We do not know if Mooch and Bubbles have blown out with the smoke. We do not know when we will be able to get in to our house again, because the carbon monoxide and cyanide gas readings are too high. I know two things: one, I am late for work, and two, everyone's going to laugh at me when I get there. Deservedly, of course, but there's a part of me that will beat myself up about this for who knows how long to come.  Once again I owe my wife for pulling my ass out of the fire, this time literally.

Several blasts of mega-fan later, we're given the all clear.

I find Mooch before I go to work. Perhaps fittingly, he's downstairs, in the fireplace. Bubbles appears a little later in the day from somewhere, and so we're all present and accounted for, unhurt and with very little damage--just a hell of a mess from fire extinguisher goop and an unusable element on our stove.

We are very, very lucky. I have learned some things from this experience. Besides the obvious (don't put plastic garbage cans on stoves) I have learned that a very small amount of flammable material can produce a hellacious amount of smoke. About half of one side of the garbage can burned away. That was enough to fill the house with smoke to the point that you almost couldn't see. I can now just begin to appreciate how in a REAL fire, people lose their sense of direction and crawl deeper into the house in an effort to escape.
We have also learned the value of a fire extinguisher. In all seriousness, dear reader, if you don't have one in your kitchen...get one. Nobody plans to set their kitchen on fire...as I say, I have put that garbage can on that stove countless times without incident. You may never need to use it, but if you ever do you'll be bloody glad you have it to use.


19 December, 2013

Drive, He Said

According to the most recent forecasts, my area will be hit this weekend by some sort of storm. I say 'some sort' because the temperature is supposed to be somewhere right around zero, and the exact track of the storm is impossible to predict even a day out.
Aside: So many people bitch about how the weather forecasters can't ever get anything right...anyone who knows weather at all marvels at how often they nail the forecast, especially around here. The Great Lakes region is among the most difficult on the entire planet to forecast accurately. The jet stream rides right through here much of the time: one little bubble or dip causes drastically different weather. What's more, there are a myriad of microcurrents off the lakes that cause all manner of weather havoc. My father lives almost within sight of a weather radar tower that was placed where it is because his weather is decidedly crazy. Storms either split north and south of him, leaving him dry, or they actually hit him, then seem to circle back and hit him again.
Anyway, back to this impending storm. It could be rain, snow, ice pellets, freezing rain, or any combination thereof. The odds are very good, we're told, that there will be a significant period of freezing rain causing ice accretions of 20-30mm. That's only a fraction of what came down in 1998...but it'd be enough to ensure widespread chaos. 

Our Weather Network, which in recent years has been treating anything worse than a passing cloud as a MAJOR WEATHER EVENT and which actually issues 'snowfall warnings' when white stuff is going to fall from the sky in Canada in winter, has yet to issue any official warnings about this coming storm. This, quite frankly, shocks me. Southern Ontario is under s special weather statement as I write this, but I've yet to see the WeatherEye icon on my desktop flashing doom at me. 

Come Monday, we may be without power, living in the middle of a vast skating rink. Or we could be buried under 30+ cms (a foot or more) of snow, with the snowsqualls that always set up in the wake of systems like this adding to our misery. In that case, I will understand if people stay home.

But I read something in this morning's Globe and Mail that really rubbed me the wrong way. It's in the Drive section--for a guy with no license, I really do spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about cars--and it's one of those fluff pieces about good, bad and ugly winter drivers.

Here's what it has to say about the good drivers:

"There are some great drivers because they know better. They're at home, watching news reports and while wondering if it's a case of a forecaster crying wolf, they're glancing at their schedule and removing anything that doesn't involve delivering meals to shut-ins or performing a life-saving transplant. The Good stay home.  The chances of being involved in a collision are greatly reduced if you don't leave your driveway."

Do you see how this works? Good winter drivers don't drive in the winter. Remarkable. Most skills require you to practice them for you to become proficient. Here's someone telling you if you want to become a really great winter driver, you should throw your keys in the first November snowbank you find and then retrieve them when that snowbank melts in April.

Some of us don't have the option of telecommuting. If we don't show up at work, we don't get paid; we may even face disciplinary action. Since 'staying home' is not a feasible option, perhaps we should concentrate on something more constructive, such as actually teaching people how to drive in the winter and making that driving proficiency a requirement to get and keep a licence.

Yes, I said 'keep'. I think licenses should expire every 52 or 64 months--every four and a third or five and a third years. To renew, you'd have to take a road test. And the odd timing ensures that sooner or later you'll have to take that test on ice. As it stands right now, you can actually CANCEL your test without penalty in cases of snow or freezing rain. Tell me how that makes sense. 

Now, I don't drive. But I am a keen observer of drivers, over decades, and I can tell you the paranoia about winter driving is a relatively recent phenomenon. They never used to pull the school busses off the roads unless things were really dire; on multiple occasions over the past five years I've seen entire schools, including colleges and universities, SHUT DOWN without any precipitation of any kind having fallen, simply because somebody said it might.
Once upon a time, when you found yourself in a ditch, it was clearly your own fault. Today the entire concept of 'fault' is foreign to many people, especially many young people who have been raised without fault or consequence. 
I can tell you this push for mandatory snow tires is also fairly new. I'm not going to tell you that snow tires are unnecessary. Fact is, given the quality of drivers on today's roads, they're more necessary than they should be. And while they really do help you control your vehicle in winter conditions, if people actually drove according to those conditions, all-season radials would be sufficient for all but the worst winter could throw at you (in which case, yes, you should actually stay home anyway). 

This reminds me of the way hockey has (d)evolved over the last thirty years. Helmets are mandatory, all manner of padding is mandatory, and there are more injuries today than there ever were. I think it's at least partly because of all the protective equipment. People think they're invincible on ice.But ice remains slippery, and if you play hockey, or drive, on it without respect for the people you're sharing the ice surface with, sooner or later it's going to come back to bite you in the ass.

17 December, 2013

Crying

There's a thread on Reddit right now: "Men, what have you cried about?"

I can't read that question without reading a subtext into it: and why did you cry about that, you pussy?

That probably comes from my childhood. Did anyone else ever get 'quit crying or I'll give you something to cry about'?  Yeah. I'm what you'd call a sensitive soul. Can't watch people being hurt without feeling hurt myself, to say nothing of animals. Friends of mine insist on posting horrific stories of animal abuse where I can see them, "to raise awareness". I applaud the sentiment, but I don't need my awareness raised any further, thank you.

I've cried over movies (this one reduced me to a blubbering blob for over an hour), more books than I can count (most recently at the end of The Lions of al-Rassan, which bothered me a little since it's probably my fourth or fifth time through the damn book and it gets me every time; life situations, either mine or those of friends and family...I cry fairly often, and I'm not ashamed of it.

I bawled at the end of Les Misérables, play and movie both, and I defy anyone to watch that and remain dry-eyed. The woman I saw the play with somehow did--I think hers were the only dry eyes in the Pantages Theatre that afternoon--that alone should have convinced me we weren't right for each other.
But you know, some people seem completely unaffected by fiction no matter how intense it is. If something isn't "real", they're completely isolated from its emotions.  Even hypothetical 'real' situations don't seem to do it. I'm not like that. Call it a vivid imagination, call it an overdeveloped empathy gland, hell, call it insanity if you must...but my emotions are easily manipulated and easily expressed. My heart is on my sleeve. Occasionally it flutters away like a butterfly, only to return when I don't expect it.

The gender stereotype that tears are somehow unmanly is pure bullshit. There are two unmanly emotions--jealousy and schadenfreude--and both of them are also unwomanly, which is to say they are inhuman. I will stand by that characterization of happiness at another's pain (monstrous!) and pain at another's happiness (also monstrous!) no matter how much society tries to tell me both emotions are part and parcel of being a healthy human. But sadness? It's universal, it's necessary if you ever want to experience its opposite, and expressing it is absolutely essential. Have you ever cried hot tears, the kind that burn lava tracks down your cheeks? Imagine what those do, suppressed.

Sometimes I'll even cry for no reason I can readily discern. I woke up one morning recently in tears. If a dream prompted them, I couldn't recall it at all.

Sensitive. That's me. There is, of course, such a thing as taking sensitive too far. See if you can watch this without cringing.



Amusing movie, incidentally.

Funerals. There's another instance where I don't know how people *don't* cry. It's not so much the death, at least for me...I consider death to be part of life and I also believe in something beyond this life (paraphrasing Jodie Foster in Contact, if this is all there is, it's an awful waste of time). But the grief of others is overwhelming. Free floating pain is very hard for me to process, even when it's not the pain of someone I care about...add in emotional closeness, and I'm a basket case in short order.

I cry internally sometimes, Yeah, I'll admit it, even though it gives you mean people power over me. There's a part of me, buried very deep, that assumes anything ambiguous you say about me was intended to wound me..and it does. You'll never know that from my reaction, of course. It took a long time for me to learn that some tears are better not shed where people can see them, else they breed more tears...but I've learned that lesson well...




16 December, 2013

Facebook Friends

are real friends, at least in my case.
I met up with a former co-worker last weekend. Hadn't seen her in either 21 or 22 years, I'm not sure which.
When I worked with her, I couldn't exactly call her a friend. A friendly face, sure--her free McSmile was genuine, all-the-way-through. I didn't know much about her back then, but I sensed plenty, all of it good.

She hasn't changed. She's lived a few lifetimes in the last two decades (haven't we all?) but she still greets life with a smile that's almost unshakeable.

I would never have met up with her if it weren't for Facebook.

I can rhyme off any number of other people, some of whom I haven't met yet but sincerely hope to, who have enriched my life thanks to Facebook. Among them:


  • the woman I first 'met' in alt.horror in '91. I lost contact with her for much of the time between, but found her again a couple of years ago (and thank you, all you folks who include your maiden names in your Facebook monikers!)
  • her husband, who I heard about even back then, but with whom I never had any contact until, again, a couple of years ago. I would say they are worthy of each other, and that means both of them are great people
  • the high school friend who I inexplicably lost contact with after grade 13. We've renewed the friendship and though I don't see him (or his wife, also a high school friend) anywhere even near enough, I am very happy he's part of my life again
  • another former co-worker of much more recent vintage whom I fear I might have lost were it not for Mark Zuckerberg's site. She spent the better part of a year on the other side of the planet recently and I was still able to chat with her almost daily, for no more money than I was paying anyway. This was a Good Thing (tm). I would have paid. I missed her. 
  • The girl who graduated high school a year ahead of me--I worked with her, too, at a store my mom ran for a little while--and who remains the only person I've met who can outpun me
  • The woman I first met through a friend's blog; she became first a reader of mine, and then, over time, a dear friend. She's everything I look for in a friend: intelligent, compassionate, and funny, and that's just three qualities among many. Unlike too many others, I've actually met her. More than once. And I wanna meet up again. Soon.
...There are more. Come wade with me through the thicket of friends and parentheses. The cousin I-don't-know-how-many-times-removed who, let's be honest, I would probably walk past in the street (but then, don't feel bad, C, I've done that to Eva...) If you were to pssst me and say 'hey, Ken, it's me!--and chances are you would, I seem to be insanely easy to recognize by people I can't recognize myself--we'd then spend a day yakking at each other (and probably listening to heavy metal). Another high school friend (who knew I had so many?  I didn't, not until my OAC year) who I have just started to reconnect with. A friend from all the way back in third grade. A person I first noticed playing clarinet in a rival band (gorgeously), whom I have since discovered is a prodigiously talented, insanely talented person at any craft you can name...it goes on. I don't know how many of my Facebook friends read the Breadbin...writing this blog has never been about readers for me, though I'm very happy to have you...but if I haven't mentioned you above, please don't think that means I don't care about and for you.
I'm just amazed at how easy it has been to rediscover people from various parts of my life, even parts lost to memory (or at least mine: there's a woman I went to school with in grade five who remembers more about my grade five year than I do...) Seeing what these friends are up to morning and night enriches my life. The woman I just mentioned, for instance, has a pair of precocious kids who really should have their own Twitter feed, series of novels and probably movie by now.She's on my 'close friends' list for two reasons: one, I care a whole hell of a lot for her, considering I haven't seen her in so many forevers, and two, I want to know the instant one of her kids says or does something remarkable, which is several times a day.

Several times a day is how often I get on that damned site. Between the bevy of friends, the news updates that beat traditional media sometimes by hours, endless revolving Scrabble games, and that damned Candy Crush Saga, which isn't a game so much as it is a #%&*ing obsession--Facebook is one of exactly two sites on the Web I'd be willing to pay for. But Facebook friends...they're priceless.


01 December, 2013

Why Don't Special People Realize How Special They Are?

I decided long ago--back in high school, actually--that one of my purposes in life, insofar as I could be said to have any, was to remind people how wonderful they are.

I hope I can be forgiven for focussing on women. I have what I feel are good reasons for this.

 Men have absolutely no idea what to do with that kind of information. The saddest thing is that there are more than a few men out there with no self-esteem and no confidence and if you try to nurture either, you're likely to be told off in no uncertain terms. Then there are men out there who know how wonderful they are. Most of them, contrary to whatever their inflated egos may tell them...are anything but.
And then there are the men who really are wonderful. I count a couple of them among my friends, and both of them have a kind of quiet, easygoing confidence that needs no nurturing, or at least none from me. That said, I love them. You're not supposed to say that about your male friends, for fear of free-floating gay cooties or something, and I say: whatever. If you're my friend, I love you. Simple like that.

But women, now. Even women with conventional beauty and brains to burn are all too often paralyzed by self-doubt and intimations of worthlessness. Think how the average woman feels, and then imagine the woman who is overweight, hirsute, riddled with acne, or otherwise falls short on some mythical physical beauty standard that is sadly the only way too many men know how to gauge a woman.

I think it's fair to say I can count on the fingers of one elbow the number of women I have met in my life who are fully at home and at ease within their brains, their souls, and especially their bodies. This is, as far as I'm concerned, a tragedy and a travesty both.

(travesty: a fake, absurd, or distorted representation of something. An often misused word, that.)

Now, going around uncovering angels is all well and good. But it's rather fraught. First of all, there is a high likelihood my feelings themselves will be misconstrued. Sometimes even by me. It has been hard to come to terms with my own loving nature, believe it or not. I used to fall head over heels at something as innocuous as a fleeting smile, and God knows I used to chafe against societal restrictions on that love's expression. Most of that has abated today: being married to a woman as multifaceted and fantastic as Eva is tends to have that effect. But I still count a number of women among my close friends, and yes, I love them too. (Love: that condition where another's happiness is essential to your own, in Heinlein's definition.) Not for the first or last time will I lament we have one word in this bloody language for such a nuanced and complicated set of emotions.

If I'm not the one misconstruing my feelings, she might, That's because (he said, humbly) there don't seem to be too many people out there like me. There are men who will flirt, and I'm not above a little healthy flirtation now and again provided everyone involved knows the boundaries of it--but the kind of things I'm apt to say to the people I care about are a little deeper than casual flirting, and I think sometimes I unwittingly scare some people. Dear god, please don't let him feel THAT way about me.

Rest assured, folks, for the most part I don't. (F-f-for the m-most p-p-art?!) Well, yeah, for all the times I think I'm from some alien planet, I am a human male and I do have occasional crushes, occasional rogue and roguish thoughts. You'll never know about those, though, because I keep them locked in my cranium...the only person who gets to hear about those is Eva, and that, folks, is one working definition of a happy marriage. We have about thirty others that apply to us.

But to this day I often must restrain myself from giving hugs, for example...not everyone wants a hug, no matter how much they need one. I just hate to see people in pain, and you know? there's an awful lot of pain being carried around by an awful lot of people, many, perhaps most of them women who deserve none of it.

Never mind a hug, take the next best thing, a word-hug. I specialize in these things. I think I'm able to get across, most often, that I care immensely about someone without scaring them too much, but then you run into a bigger brick wall, which is that so many people have trouble with compliments.

One of my friends--and I haven't actually seen this one in, get this, thirty years, and it doesn't matter--said last night that "it's funny...you always hear 'you have to learn to handle criticism' but never 'you have to learn to take a compliment'". I started thinking about other things you 'take'. Punches, for instance. It almost seems as if compliments are punches instead of verbal caresses. The reaction is kind of similar, most often: a bit of a flinch and a 'what'd you say that for?!' Because I FELT like it, that's why!
There are some women who, I think, discount my compliments and words of encouragement because I seem to offer them so freely: he can't really mean that, I heard him say something similar to somebody else once. If they do that, I wish they wouldn't. My love is free in that I give it without expectation of anything in return, but I hope it's worth something anyway. And love is one of those things that defies the laws of mathematics: the only way to get it is to give it away.

But all too often it just seems like I'm not getting through.   Another dear friend suggested that until you change your perception of yourself, nobody else can do it for you. That brought me up short...in fact, it's not too much to say it provoked a mini-existential crisis. Because she is, of course, right: only you can change you. I can give you all the words of help and hope I know, and if you're not willing to believe any of them, there's not a whole hell of a lot else I can do.  So what am I doing then? Is it pointless?

I choose to think not. I choose to think that even if my words go unrecognized and unheeded, I must keep sending them. Partly because it feels so good, partly because I'm not one to keep silent when I feel something needs to be said, and partly because love really isn't love unless it's expressed.
It's true that love can be expressed in comfortable silences.....after thirteen years of marriage, Eva and I can go hours without a word between us; I call this the warm shoulder.  But that's Eva, and she is, for obvious reasons, the first of my loves. She needs no reminder, though she gets many daily. Other loves need to be reminded how loveable I find them, so they'll know. Loveable means you can be loved. There's nothing else required, if love is what you're looking for...