It’s a religious holiday here. I slept late and wasted the morning scrolling. I breathed through yoga but still haven’t run. And I had plans for the day.

I hope this isn’t an indication of how this summer will pass. Haphazardly. Regretfully. I am already beginning to regret all the time I have spent on social media over these past years. It seems that being there creates needs that didn’t exist for me before. It plants “should”s in my mind. I should feel this way or that way, or tolerate what I would never tolerate from someone were they sharing a physical space. Or argue knowing there was no hope to convince anyone to change their mind. Or allow people to bombard me with unsolicited advice. It is possible to just leave the room, and close the door.

Stop comparing. Needing validation.

It is funny. I think I tend to hear “needing validation” and think of someone with low status, low self-esteem wanting a pat on the head. But really the leaders, who do have a measure of status are constantly seeking validation of their superiority or their expertise. They continually test their influence. I think of the American radio personalities who seem to be throwing out the wildest theories (which they sometimes admit they don’t actually believe) just to verify their power over the perceived truth. A series of little exhilarating trips for the ego. What can I get away with? They can take up so much space in a room – how is it they can also take up so much space in a virtual reality? How can untruths in a virtual world hurt so much in the real one? We are way beyond the beautiful lie, Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words –

There is more to all this than I want to think about right now. Maybe because we all exist bouncing along the continuum of milksopping and dictatorial? We are validated as something by everyone really. We are validated as all kinds of somethings simultaneously.

I think I have always known this, but what is said behind closed doors matters more to me than it once did. Somehow it seems like much more of a threat. What will come barging through if I am not listening? A war, a mismanaged pandemic, another bloody piece of evidence that we are a destructive species? An accusation. An intentional misunderstanding. An unfair observation that will cost me.

I wonder if it matters at all to anticipate the worst? If it really armors us when it hits, or if it just prolongs the trauma with a kind of pre-traumatic stress? What if the traumatic event never comes to pass?

These past two years I have felt the piano wire in my thigh pull taut again. And a piano wire in my chest, incrementally tightening and winding with every perceived slight, threat, loss. I am not sure what it is going to take to find calm again. More than ujjayi breathing, more than morning runs in the rain, and daily meditations.

Maybe if I make room for it, whatever it is will come. Maybe it will validate all of the facets of me at once. The Authentic Me’s that have no place in a metaverse at all.

Shifting towards summer now. Three weeks of classroom teaching left, a week of meetings – then a wedding to kick off seven weeks of vacation.

I haven’t worked on the wasp project for two weeks now. It is in my head, but I have not put in the work. Today I will pick up some parchment for the flexagon poems, though. Tomorrow, I will make the paper for the corsets and hives.

Last week on Instagram I saw something freakishly similar to what I am working on. It was well-executed, too. It has taken me a while to remind myself that there is nothing new under the sun and that the existence of something similar out there doesn’t discount the authenticity of what I am doing. I might keep my head down a while. I have a feeling if I go looking for it, I will find more similar work. And really, that is a good thing, right? It means there is something – if not universal – then relatable. Something that is a successful expression of human experience. So what?

Too often I am my own gatekeeper. That little voice. That bird with the sharp beak that keeps wounds open and blood flowing out of habit.

Not working is not humility. This assumption, belief, and self-deception that eventually I will turn out something stunningly, unequivocally unique is a kind of arrogance.

When I read Bastard out of Carolina, I wondered if I had ever met Dorothy Allison. If I’d drunkenly told her my stories. I felt seen/exposed/plundered/included all at once. I was grateful/angry.

We think the minutia of our lives is so singular. While simultaneously praising the “universal” that reveals truths. There is a tension in the arts that has to do with this contradiction.

I am not going to try to speak for a universal – or for anyone else. But I will say this tension is the tension of being a woman viewing a painting of a nude. Artemisia’s “Susanna and the Elders”, for example. Because there is also the tension of knowing the story of the artist who created that painting. Who dared to expose herself through the same motif that nearly every painter of the era was using.

Not arrogance. Not humility. But overcoming the fear of exposing oneself and trusting the power of the truth of a singular perspective.