I slept well. The first night in four or five nights, maybe. I woke yawning, but clearer than I’ve been in a few days. This morning I noticed I put last night’s pork chop leftover in the freezer not the refrigerator. I also can’t find my nifty hole-punch pen. My first thought is that Leonard took it and hid it, since it scares the bejeezus out of him. It makes a horrendous “thwop” sound when I pull up on it, let go – and the coil slams the metal pieces together to drive a hole into the paper (and into the wood slab under the paper).

Yesterday when I was using it, he crawled up in E.’s lap – all 35 kilo-or-so of him curled up awkwardly in a rocking chair against the man he’s barely trusted for two-and-a-half years. I think E. secretly liked it.

Still, I doubt Leonard absconded with the thing. I should check the freezer.

It’s Easter vacation, but everything seems quiet. A friend sent me a photo of flowers blooming. She’s in a town a few hours south of here. Here it’s raining. The magpies are monopolizing the seeds we leave out for the finches. And I saw what I thought was a next while we were running on Monday, only to have E. point out that all the feathers were from the dead goose lying in the center of the “nest” in the reeds.

Mink have to eat, too, I suppose.

We’d stopped for a few minutes about 500 meters before the end of our run to watch two squirrels – playing? fighting? mating? I have no idea. But they were loudly chasing each other around the trunks of trees, and hopping from tree to tree. Flashes of deep russet in the otherwise gray day.

When I first began running – more than ten years ago – the flashes of the white tails of deer were my reward for getting out there. I took it very personally. A nod from the universe that I was doing well. But there aren’t really deer here where we run. In five years we’ve seen three. And worried about the unleashed dogs we know are there in the mornings. Dogs will go after a deer. But I am pretty sure the geese and the swans can take on any dog.

Now I wait for the cows to be let out of the barn every spring. I stop and talk to the heifers that wander near the fence next to the trail. Take their pictures, while the matriarch scolds them for whatever… I imagine they’re being called “attention-seeking” or “flirt”. At any rate, they are beautiful creatures. But I think I’ve written about this before? The under-appreciated beauty of a healthy cow.

When I lived in Kentucky the boys in high school called girls heifers. I swear, heifers are downright charming animals. In England, of course, “cow” is a common insult. What the hell is wrong with cows? Sure, there are ornery cows. But there are ornery sheep, and goats have devil eyes, and cats? Cats can be downright impish. Nudging things off counter tops while they stare you square in the face. I had a cat once, given to me by a boyfriend, who peed all over my new boyfriend’s things. But the cultural norm is to use “kitten” as some kind of sexy term-of-endearment. What is wrong with people and their relationship to animals? And maybe baby animals in particular?

For the record, I do not want E. to begin calling me a cow as a term of endearment either. At least not in public. I am not confident enough to be the vanguard of bovine re-branding.

I think our relationships with animals are as bizarrely “branded” as our relationships with people. We are all ugly messes – some of us are just better at public relations than others.

Stuck in a story
from a single perspective
– bite for bite – we eat
the elephant in the room
never apologizing

I don’t usually write on Mondays, so I am not feeling that guilty for spending the morning painting and the afternoon sewing signatures.

This is a dream that has been on the back burner for years. Fifteen years, at least. So it is both exhilarating and terrifying to be following through. I have so many plans.

And weirdly, I think that actually doing this instead of dreaming about it, will free me up to relax more, read more, be more generous in general.

Eh, could just be the medication kicking in.

Either way, this is me: warts and all – and I can accept the world, too – warts and all, because this is real life and this is what we get and it is … wonderful, really.

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I know people who write a poem-a-day no matter what. People who do things like “running streaks” (not to be confused with streaking). But I think I have a rebellious nature that throws blocks in the road when I become conscious that I have been holding to a pattern. I don’t think of it as self-sabotage, as much as a kind of reassurance of personal agency. Though to be honest, it is probably a bit of both.

I’ve stopped considering my life as a state of “normal” that is interrupted with periods of exception. That is an illusion. I can break my own timeline of experience into chapters, into periods of shifting themes – and there are leitmotifs that surface often. But there is no normal.

We’ve started running again and there is a huge temptation to describe it as “getting back to normal”. But that would mean someday I won’t be able to do that – and then what? I will never be my “normal” self again?

This “I”. whatever it is. likes running now. Misses it. But there may well come a day when “I” don’t enjoy it anymore. And there is a part of me that fears that I will lose myself, my very identity, instead of losing a habit or an affinity. I find this fascinating since I have often accepted the idea that our habits shape “who we are”.

Who are we? For the most part I don’t feel like the same person, the same “I” I was as a kid, or even as a 25-year-old. I barely remember those lives, separated and entirely discrete in terms of personal and (sub)cultural ties, even languages. I never claim her (or her) as a part of my current identity now. Even when I do bring up experiences of my childhood as explanations for personality quirks or foibles, it is more of a rationalization. An intellectual exercise in storytelling according to the rules of twentieth-century cause-and-effect psychology’s narrative templates. I have no idea if they are true.

It makes a good story. Often one that lets me off the hook for harm I’ve done to myself or to others. I was that person, then. But I’ve changed and I am this person now. And every time thinking that this person now is the authentic version of me.

At any rate, something new is beginning. But this time, instead of picking up and moving to start fresh, I am digging deep into the ground here and blooming. I am changing in a way that will rub hard against how other people see me. And that is okay. I’m going to be hard/giving like a rubber mallet. I’m going to walk a perimeter, put down stakes, and cage the overly-enthusiastic oxpeckers who claim to be doing me favors by keeping me in check – doing what they think is their duty to keep me humble. Realistic.

I am sick of realistic. It’s nothing more than a common story.

I am literally moving into the attic this week. E.’s oldest daughter has moved out and I am moving my studio space up to the loft space. My old, huge dining room table is the mono-printing/painting/charcoal area, my old desk space is dedicated to sewing signatures, and the kitchenette space is for paper-making. I couldn’t be more excited.

I find myself thinking how spoiled I am. And I am lucky – privileged – in so very many ways. I’ve never even dreamt of this kind of life. And yet I have also worked hard for years to make this happen.

I even have one of those five-year plans now.

We’ll see how well I can stick to that with my rebellious nature. Or maybe that nature is just something that used to define me?

Sunday ritual –
her back to the bathroom mirror
Grandma holds a small
hand mirror to see her own back
– reflections bounce forever

A deep breath this morning as I sit down. Salted coffee, and blackbirds outside the window. I didn’t write yesterday, but spent a full day with a new printer: learning to adjust for paper weights, manual feed, and double-sided pages. A lot of trial and error. Small steps forward. Or sideways.

No: I am moving forward again.

I don’t remember exactly how old I was when I got my first pair of glasses. But I remember looking at a tree and realizing that you are supposed to see the individual leaves on trees. My eyesight had deteriorated so gradually I hadn’t noticed what I had lost of the world.

This week I feel like I can see the leaves on the trees. It’s not that life is less crowded, but it is more vibrant. Distinguishing the foreground from the background, wresting meaning from it all is easier.

There is a saying that things having gradually then all at once. But these past years, things happened all at once, and then so gradually that I thought changes were improvements, or at least adjustments. I didn’t see the signs of depression because the everyday problems were so tiny compared to the crisis that began it all. How could I be having trouble getting through the day when the worst was over a long time ago?

My world is popping back into three dimensions. Other people seem more substantial. I realize how odd that sounds. I don’t mean that in comparison with how I perceived myself, I have been insubstantial, too. That is what depression does. In my case the desperate search for meaning and pleasure can look like business, like creativity or a “spark” of joy. But the spark is just me bumping against the metallic edge of panic. Wheels spinning, and life is just so much harder than it needs to be. Pinched.

When the doctor asked me if I was depressed, I said I didn’t think so. I said I was overwhelmed, hypomanic. But now I see.

Now I feel like crying. And that is a very good thing.

Last night walking Leonard in the dark, I heard the wheeeEEE of the pterodactyls lapwings. They are back, so it is officially spring. Officially a time to mark new beginnings.

under the streetlight
wet paw prints, footsteps glisten
like loved ones gone by morning
after a crossing over