I finally tweaked my website into a shape that I really liked. Then a widget went wonky and the support person tells me my theme has been retired. No fixing the wonky widget. I need to choose a new theme.

I have a new boss at work. We have new routines. I will have another new boss in August and I am sure they will bring their own tweaks to the routines.

They are interviewing new colleagues. They’re looking for someone I will likely be working with for the next decade (we tend to sit tight on these jobs). The devil you know, the devil you don’t? Rumors abound.

And I am thinking… whatever.

I’ll live. I will set off an afternoon to redesign my website. I will follow the new routines. I will work with the new colleague. These things are out of my control. I can accept that and set those facts aside: “Move on!

It’s this new medication. My jaw isn’t clenched. For the first time in several years, I don’t feel like I have to control everything. Set all the stories right.

I am not filled with disappointment and shame when I look in the mirror and see all the changes I haven’t been able to stop. I don’t feel that I have to justify the space I am taking up while sitting in the lunchroom with other people. I don’t feel like I have anything to proveGood enough. And even a bit of “so what?

It is frustrating that a little pill can accomplish in one week what I have been trying to will/exercise/force/meditate my way to all this time.

My head is quiet. Not numb, but rather as though it’s safe to be quiet because there is something else good just up ahead. Worth all the energy that I have been wasting. In the meantime, I go for a walk and do yoga on my lunch break. Laugh at E.’s dad jokes.

I do have a tiny worry in the corner of my mind. Will I crash? Is this lightness and this quiet “normal”? I ask E. We fall back into that truth that we can’t really ever know what is going on in someone else’s head. What something is “like” is still only relatable to one’s own experience of the metaphor’s vehicle. It is like we are all closed loops when it comes to language. We try. We make theater. We write poetry. We paint images.

But facing this sense of the futility of trying to communicate exactly, I am feeling puzzlement instead of despair. Being puzzled is kind of fun.

The effort is fun.

I had forgotten that while chasing something I was trying to make meaningful – a durable artwork. What a waste of energy.

Saturday I will revamp my website. I tend to curse a lot when I start messing with code and tweaks. I also enjoy it a lot, when it all fits together like a solved puzzle.

It’s Mental Health Awareness Month in the US. Statistically, I am rising now in terms of the great U of happiness. I hope so.

Bipolar, CPTSD, likely ADHD (no childhood data for a definitive diagnosis). No shame.
On and off medication as necessary these past 35 years. Functioning member of society: teacher, artist, mother, wife – with all the normal strife. It’s not all good, but it is all worth it.

Or formal verse, at any rate. Button up to see what needs to break out.

I have no idea where the phrase “at any rate” comes from, but it is one of the musical aspects of language that annoys the pedants: a phrase unnecessary if one “writes well”.

But the music matters. I was listening to a Penteract podcast episode with Ian McMillan (of The Verb). They were discussing the beauty of dialects. The perception of what is appropriate to discuss in a dialect, and what is not. That same classist rot is in the Norwegian language, too, I think. And here extends so far as to embrace English as a kind of dialect for the elite. The academics.

Literary writing isn’t part of the academic system here. But it still seems ironic that I can’t apply for most government grants because I write in English rather than Norwegian, while the majority of the visual art projects that are awarded grants have English titles.

The government wants to protect the status of a national “culture” by prescribing a standard language. For literature (and for stage). But not for use in the overall arts community. It is interesting. I keep thinking if that means that they see literature and drama as elements of the culture rather than a commentary or response to the culture?

Or I may be overthinking this. Restrictions on languages aren’t remotely new. But neither is it remotely appropriate in terms of “art”. Part of me thinks it turns all literature into nationalist propaganda. And another part of me thinks I am sucking on sour grapes.

At any rate, my dwelling on it is entirely unproductive. I get wound up.

A man I admire wrote yesterday that Good Friday was actually the best day to begin new resolutions, to make fresh starts.

I am lifting my bicycle pedal up with the top of my foot, to the apex of the arc. And I move my foot around, up and over, and I step down on the pedal. I stand up to push with the whole weight of my body, hoping to get enough momentum to make the forward movement easy.

I could make a poetry video. And not give a damn who “gets it”. Who pays for it. But I can’t seem to find the path from the idea of the metaphor to the actual, physical implementation of real-world objects. I can’t translate the poeticized, empirical knowledge back into the real world.

I am wound up. But bound.

I think this inertia is one reason I am drawn toward formal verse when I feel hopeless. Formal verse is somewhat effortless. The poeticized knowledge is guaranteed to translate into something acceptable on some level. There is a sense of sureness in a slavish execution.

I had a graduate student years ago who turned in a draft all too light on research, in which she postulated that a particularly adventurous painter would have (not) accomplished his modernist work had his teachers been prescriptive in terms of his art training. Ah, but the truth is: they were. They were naturalists. His training had been as rigid as a tongue with no familiarity with curse words.

I figure part of the draw of the rigid framework is to discover what really needs to escape from it. Otherwise, we are simply working within the contemporary frameworks we think of as “new”, but are actually familiar enough to give us that sureness of execution. We want the pedigree. It has a purpose, too, beyond the name-dropping.

But maybe the tighter the restrictions, the more meaning can be brought into view? In this same podcast this morning, Anthony Etherin talked about only having written sestinas that were also anagrams, explaining that he didn’t think he would write a good sestina without even more demanding constraints.

There is something fascinating about this idea. I can’t help but think that the attention to conscious constraints is what allows us to bypass our linguistic and cultural, unconscious constraints.

Right now, I am going to pour another cup of tea and write a sestina.

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?