Halfway through April. But this isn’t the present tense I expected.

I don’t believe it was not without intention that Shakespeare wrote “To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow […], rather than today, and today, and today. In the same short speech he writes of yesterday – but never of today. Never the present. And wasn’t that MacBeth’s problem? He desired a future, he feared a future, and he never settled into the moment. It was for him – is for me – always about tomorrow. Where “what-is” is defined: as concise as a definition, as solid an object. There is no bleeding at the edges, no messy liminality. And unlike the past, there are no unintended repercussions.

The future is a clean concept.

MacBeth’s reign as king signifies/will signify nothing because he never actually inhabits the real world. The wicked sisters lead him away from it. His thoughts are on tomorrow, which will then slip from his sight as he focuses on the next tomorrow. At a petty pace.

Until it is suddenly mid-April. And there is still no present significance. Everything is still in the to-do column of the list.

The garden is still untended. The books, not yet written. The past is an emotional soundscape. And we know – from history – that it will always be interpreted by fluid, random signifiers.

Maybe the real mistake is just craving significance.

Knowing that tomorrow will be the past is probably part of the reason I struggle with procrastination. It’s not my future present that I am pushing ahead of me with every breath, it is the weight of the future past.

So much unnecessary effort. So much sound and fury.

No – I don’t really think Shakespeare (or Fletcher) intended all that can be extrapolated in a close reading of any of the plays.

All poetry is part Rorschach, part prophecy, isn’t it?

The more difficult things become – subjectively – the more I want to make beautiful things, and the more frustrated I become with my lagging craftsmanship. I spend evenings in the studio staring at the paper. Judging. I should have invested more time here. Been patient with myself. I understand now the absurdity of impatience.

M. writes about her diagnosis in a chat message. B. talks around hers over the phone, but on social media, she writes amusing anecdotes about chemo and radiation therapy.

And I find myself separated by one more degree from other – more sudden – death. My brother’s chosen brother, whose parents watched the coffin being carried out of the church yesterday. Put in the ground.

There are places we don’t want our minds to go.

I pull back and assess an angle from which to offer… what exactly? There’s no comfort to offer M. and B., so I offer attention. And I try to comfort the grieving along that chain of sorrow. The people whose pain I understand. Whose helplessness I can relate to. We can choose our connections, but we cannot choose our losses.

I can at least relate to loss.

Yesterday I dug out the last letters to and from my mother. And to and from my grandmother. All the pain came rushing back very unexpectedly. The anger. Fury. Clicking and popped in my chest like a wasps nest as I told myself to keep breathing. To let go of the tightness. There is nothing to brace myself for. It’s over. I copied them and tore them into strips and began the process of making something.

Beautiful is absolutely the wrong word.



The odd thing is that sorting through this single box of the artifacts of my life, I also ran across love letters from my ex-husband. I couldn’t bring myself to read them but I glanced at some of the phrases on the brittle paper. I’d forgotten the sweetness. The openness. And I mean forgotten in the sense that in reading them I experienced no recognition whatsoever. I am glad I didn’t see these during the divorce process, it would have overwhelmed me to see the whole of what was lost over the years. What good I needlessly let go of. Why can’t I look at these and just think: how lucky we were for that span of time? Without running a post mortem on those twenty-two years. Appreciating, but not clinging, to the people we were.

Nothing is permanent and, for me at least, life has been a series of small but absolute endings that are metaphors for death itself. My mother used to practice for her own mother’s death. That seems superfluous.

Some holy people meditate on their own rotting corpses. But new life begins in the decomposition. The ripping up of the old constellations of parts, making something new of the elements.

For right now: I choose to focus on that. The ripping-up. The making-new. One true thing from all of the lies.

I think that the more I do it, the better I might get at it.

I forgot to hit publish yesterday.

And that’s the way the day played out. The minutes and hours slipped by unattended to. I try to tell myself a day lost is not really a problem. That there was some meaning in it – a justification of some sort. But no. I wallowed in a kind of neutral existence. Distractions. And though I know there’s no point in feeling guilty about it, and that regret is an absolute waste of time and energy. I regret. I lost something that never was.

A chat message from a student popped up in the afternoon. And I made the mistake of reading it. Sometimes giving in to what you don’t want to do is easier than breaking the inertia to do what you want to. To do what is actually, personally meaningful.

Instead, there is this thing forced upon you that allows you to be passive and still feel useful. But it’s just the illusion of something meaningful. A conscionable time-suck.

And what popped up was one of those messages that brings with it frustration and inconvenience, and the desire to shake someone by the shoulders. Metaphorically. And as always with teaching, it brings with it a mirror revealing one’s own bad habits, excuses, and cowardly aversions. And it takes conscious effort to sort out who and what I am honestly frustrated with. Who needs the metaphorical shaking.

Is it possible to stop overthinking time? Is it necessary? Is there a way to channel this aspect of who I am into something worthwhile? Because, at this point, I am done trying to change who I am. Or find excuses for why I am not perfect. Rationalizations, and diagnoses.

Besides. On a very basic level: if I change who I am to be happy, I won’t be the one being happy, now will I? A diagnosis doesn’t point out what is wrong with me. It points out what society doesn’t want to be bothered to deal with. At least without getting brownie points for going the extra mile.

Who is perfect? And why does anyone need to offer up explanations for their “imperfections”? Enough self-development. Enough growth mindset with Dweck’s schadenfreude for celebrities and the arbitrary, questionably “chosen” goals we are all supposed to aspire to.

I honestly believe that one of the most important differences between pain and trauma is that the latter is entirely the result of an ongoing social response to a past event. The culture’s clinging to expectations, and models and categories that demand a rationale for why you don’t fit into the damn box. Exceptions are allowed. Under prescribed circumstances, and according to prescribed forms of variation. Cultural tropes. The bureaucracy of it is like some kind of virus: the more we break out of a norm, the more codified variations of the norm will develop. And under our expert, discerning eyes: a blossoming of diagnoses like bacteria in a petri dish.

Control. Sovereignty. Govern(ance). Govern(ment). Command.

It is what it is. And I’ve no words that can accurately describe it on its own terms. It being why my dog won’t eat today. Why the kale is still alive in the garden after two years. Why I am frightened.

Beginners mind. That’s all we need. Look. Listen. Touch. Taste. Breathe. Move on.