It’s been a minute. I do find that sometimes, when journaling, there is simply nothing to report. The neighborhood is peaceful, the house is quiet, and the slope seems too gentle for that mad acceleration into a new piece of fiction or a poem or a post. At other times the opposite is true. So much is happening with the family and in the wider world that I find it hard to get a toehold, to pause long enough to reflect and form an opinion, let alone sit for a few moments and write it all out.

This is where I am. The new puppy has sucked up most of my attention of late, due in part to the amount of care and training a little one requires, but also because with a creature so ridiculously adorable, it’s hard to look away. She’s a joy machine, truly. A worry-killer with velvety ears and a palm-sized post-lunch potbelly. I probably don’t need to explain further. We’ve all seen a puppy, yes?

I did tear myself away last weekend and drove down to Portland to trade in my old car for an electric Hyundai Kona. This was not a necessary purchase; the Mazda was ticking along just fine. The sensible thing would have been to wait until it conked out before trading it in. But my god, seeing the rate of global warming, the trajectory of climate change and its effect on some of the world’s poorest countries, on the wild lands, on the seas and polar regions, on the motherfucking state of California, which now seems to burn to the ground every summer… Well, it’s not good, is it? I’ve been vegan for a dozen years or so at this point, and I believe that this is the best thing I could be doing for the planet, but it’s not enough. Clearly, not enough. And as I started investigating electric vehicles, I discovered that the government and car manufacturers are doing their level best to encourage us e-ward. There are rebates and tax incentives, low-end commuters and electric Porsches and giant trucks to tow a load, with charging stations going up left, right, and center. There are YouTubers demonstrating how to take your EV on a road trip. Techie discussions about how to maximize your rate of charge and your driving efficiency, how to plan a route, how to use the apps and find a charging station, how to choose “the right car for you.” A culture has grown around the ownership and evolution of EVs, and I want to be part of their increasing demand for infrastructure and renewable energy. I don’t want to wait years to make this change. I’m ready to get started on another path, right now.

I know this change is a small thing, an imperfect solution as most solutions are. But it’s something I can do, beyond hand-wringing and doom-scrolling the skinny polar bears. And to be clear, it’s no hardship. The car is lovely, comfortable, full of bells and whistles, cheap to operate and fun to drive. I parked it at a Walmart charging station and read my Agatha Christie for an hour while it did its thing, and now I’m good for a couple of weeks. I didn’t even pay for the juice, as Hyundai is footing that bill for the next two years.

Look, there are other things going on in the world, big things, and they often seem insurmountable and far beyond our scope of influence. But every big issue comes about through a series of small, individual decisions, and these are within our control. We really can just decide to make a change. Our opinions can evolve. We don’t have to wait for permission or perfect timing, and maybe we shouldn’t. Maybe we should do what we can, while we can.

Maybe we should jump.


Things are happening. Lots of things, and most of them are good. Last weekend we had a party for all the March and April birthdays in our family. It was a special celebration for both of my boys, as one is turning thirty and the other twenty-one. My oldest is finishing up his first year as a high school teacher, and he’s a newlywed as well, so this is a period of change and growth for him as much as for his little brother. We’ve had many conversations about his experiences with the teenagers in his classroom, how they behave and don’t behave, how they challenge his patience, nerve, and creativity. It’s a lot to deal with. Much more than I could manage. I have thoughts about some of these feral behaviors, the insolence and entitlement (god, do I feel old when spouting the “kids these days” mentality), but I’ll save those for another time.

My youngest, twenty-one tomorrow, is leaving for Air Force boot camp in a couple of weeks. This is huge for him, a leap into the unknown, but hopefully a positive one. The COVID lockdown caught him at an unfortunate time, the tail end of his senior year of high school, and since then he’s been struggling to figure out what he wants to do with his life. He’s been stuck, and the past few years have been, let’s say, unfruitful. So this forward movement is a good thing, and I think the military option is a solid choice for him. He needs that structure and some intensive training to point him in the right direction. Of course the mother in me worries for him—what if he’s unhappy, what if he gets hurt, what if he loves it and he’s gone for years and years and never comes home to visit (the most likely scenario, to be honest). What will my life be like without him?

It’s hard not to imagine how big this house will soon become. All these empty rooms. Not having my son here at night while his dad’s at work, not to have his company and his help around the house. This is a big change for both of us.

But it’s okay. It’s time.

I think my husband is feeling some of this, too, especially since we just lost Henry. Last Friday he brought home a ten-week-old puppy, a little ruby Cavalier who roams the house like a bumblebee and whose expression has all the comical sternness of an Ewok. We named her Rosie. She’s a lovebug, but she’s also a puppy who needs a lot of training and attention, so she’ll be a good distraction for those times when the nest feels especially empty. She’ll give me a good reason to get out of the house, too, because I want to take her to work once she’s housetrained and get her socialized in different situations. Today we’re having lunch at my mom’s, and maybe a walk or two on the leash for the first time.

So with baby steps and big steps, this family’s on the move. And it looks like everyone is ready to go.


I love a good list. This one is especially satisfying, as it’s made up of books I already own and intend to read or reread before buying anything new.

  1. In the Unlikely Event – Judy Blume
  2. Deep Water – Patricia Highsmith
  3. Amsterdam – Ian McEwan
  4. Levels of Life – Julian Barnes
  5. Transgressions: Ten Brand-New Novellas – edited by Ed McBain
  6. The Best American Short Stories 2016 – edited by Junot Diaz and Heidi Pitlor
  7. The Candy House – Jennifer Egan
  8. My Sunshine Away – M.O. Walsh
  9. A Psalm for the Wild-Built – Becky Chambers
  10. A Head Full of Ghosts – Paul Tremblay
  11. The Pull of the Moon – Elizabeth Berg
  12. Winter Solstice – Rosamunde Pilcher
  13. The Word is Murder – Anthony Horowitz
  14. Elric of Melnibone – Michael Moorcock
  15. Affinity – Sarah Waters
  16. The Return of the Native – Thomas Hardy
  17. Crow Fair – Thomas McGuane
  18. A New Race of Men From Heaven – Chaitali Sen
  19. A Song of Ice and Fire – George R. R. Martin
  20. This Time Tomorrow – Emma Straub

It’s nice to see the titles together like this, because what usually happens when I finish a book is that I start casting about for the next one, going, No, no, no, as if I’m channel-surfing through my library. I need to be more organized. I thought if I set myself the goal of reading what I own, I can at least begin with a narrowed-down set of choices and avoid the dazed and dazzled experience of browsing on Amazon or at the local bookstore. Also, of course, it’s wasteful to buy a book and neglect the part where you actually read it.

So, here we go and I’m starting with the Highsmith. Domestic bliss from page one, in which the narrator describes his drunken wife dancing with another man: Vic didn’t dance, but not for the reasons that most men who don’t dance give to themselves. He didn’t dance simply because his wife liked to dance. His rationalization of his attitude was a flimsy one and didn’t fool him for a minute, though it crossed his mind every time he saw Melinda dancing: she was insufferably silly when she danced. She made dancing embarrassing.

Ooo, delicious. Pass the popcorn.

Be Little

I just finished a wonderful novel called Panenka by Ronan Hessian. It’s about a man whose life is defined by a single day, a moment of public humiliation after which his sense of himself and his inherent value are irreversibly altered. The self-loathing has made him chronically numb and laconic, so that even when he wants to reach out and connect with others, he can’t. He does learn, though, over the course of the story, and finds a way to understand that he is both loving and loved. The book is beautifully written, populated by rich characters and an earthy setting, and the dialogue has that scattered, off-the-nose quality of real conversation. If you haven’t read it and you’re looking for something good… You’re welcome.

The book got me thinking about the events that define us, those pivot points at which your perception of yourself becomes blurry then resolves to a new degree of clarity. I have had moments—small ones, on ordinary days—when I’ve realized, Oh, this is what so-and-so really thinks, this is how I’m talked about, or, Now I get it, the joke’s on me. My ego is not what you’d call robust, so finding myself disliked or apparently ridiculous is going to leave a mark. I’m a lot more reserved now in work situations. I keep to myself. I’ll give a little back to balance a shared confidence, but I don’t divulge the real stuff, and I maintain a battened-down status on my opinions.

It makes me wonder who I’d be if some key moments in my life had not happened. If that coworker had not screamed at me all those years ago. If I’d never caught the exchanged look between a therapist and aide, which plainly said, This chick is super weird. If my sister had never called me out for being selfish, if I’d never called my own sweet mother a bitch. Awful moments, all of them, and there are direct lines to be drawn from some of these incidents to my present state of being; every rehashed memory is another log on the dam, so that my authentic but flawed personality can be diverted and forced through safer terrain.

In many ways, my relationships have been improved by these conflicts. I’m more mindful now of my effect on other people, and I no longer assume I’m going to be able to make another person understand who I am or where I’m coming from. But there are taxes to be levied on every form of insight. Years ago I received a friend’s scathing and unsolicited review of one of my books, after which I felt bruised and misrepresented by my own words. Would I still be publishing if I’d never seen it? Would I have continued blithely onward, believing myself better than I am? And is the resulting reticence a net positive in my development as a human, or has it only held me back.

It’s hard to say, and probably a pointless exercise in any case. You can’t unhear a scream or unread an email. These little things matter, and they stay with us.

You probably have a few of your own.


Over the weekend I reorganized my bookshelves. I tend to leave books scattered all over the house—stacked beside the bed, assembled fort-like next to my favorite armchair, lying open on the kitchen counter or the ottoman, on my desk, in my desk, crammed into boxes and pushed to the back of the hall closet. There are probably books in the attic as well, now that I think of it. I’ll have to investigate. I’ve culled the herd over time, and as I do a lot of my reading these days on Kindle or via audiobook, it wasn’t a tedious job. I’ve got the novels all together on the top shelves, then short story collections and poetry, and below that the books on writing, on photography, on space, gardening, design, yada yada. I’ve got a shit-ton of cookbooks, which get a lot of play, and a few grim health-related books that have been touched only briefly, out of duty.

I’m not widely read and I’m okay with that. We can’t all be brainy. But I was disappointed in myself when I reassembled my shelves of fiction and poetry. So many of these have not been read, or were started and left unfinished. I have an awful habit of reading the books I like over and over again, even if the book is a mystery or thriller in which the ending is fixed in my head from the jump. I’ve been puzzling over this, trying to understand why I prefer a book I’ve read a dozen times over one that might offer fresh delights, a new voice, a cast of characters whose lines don’t spring immediately to mind like the lyrics of an old song. It takes a certain amount of willpower to start a new book, a lot of inner dialogue: Step away from the Binchy, for god’s sake, Averil. Take a risk, try the Ford, try that new Egan! And I know these other books are going to be good, so why the hesitation?

I wonder if I gravitate toward familiar titles because, like most of us, I read to satisfy a particular need, and for me that need is comfort. I want a book to feel friendly, safe, known. I want to spend time with the characters whose company I miss. Judith Dunbar, the sweet-tempered lead in Coming Home, Cathy and Tom from Scarlet Feather. Hermione Granger. Penelope Keeling. Anne Elliot. Hercule Poirot, and Chief Inspector Gamache, and little Julia What’s-Her-Name on the cusp of adulthood in The Age of Miracles. Even the horrible Humbert Humbert, if I’m being honest. I kind of miss the guy after a while and want to check in.

Still, it’s clear from my bookshelves that I’m missing out, and that part of me also craves the new stories. After all, I have bought them, brought them home, populated my Kindle with the ones that grabbed me or which were recommended at some point as being worth my time. I should read them. I’m going to read them.

I started buddy-reading a couple of books from my shelf: a new one, Panenka, which is great so far, and an older beloved Pilcher called The Day of the Storm. And for my 10-minute commute, I’ve got the audio version of Flowers for Algernon, which is new to me and wonderfully narrated in Charlie’s everchanging voice. After that, I might try something dark or pulpy—Sadie When She Died, maybe, or that Highsmith book called Deep Water. Oh, or I could go back to The Pull of The Moon, which I’ve DNF’d twice through no fault of the book. It was me, it was bad timing. I should give it another chance, because I adore Elizabeth Berg.

Anyway, there are options. I’ll report back.


The lovely video today is one my daughter sent me. It’s exactly like her.


The house is quiet. I miss the sound of quick little paws on the floor when I open the fridge or take down the leash from its hook. I keep looking for Henry, listening for his nose snuffling on the other side of a door. Henry was a dog who wanted to be part of things, who loved car rides and fireside naps and strolls around the neighborhood, who’d chase a ball for as long as anyone wanted to throw it. He was naughty, too, and had to be watched, and so I find myself still watching though there is no longer a need.

Our big dog is looking for him, too. He’s made of different stuff than the little guy. He’s handsome, leggy, with a rock-and-roll brindle coat and amber eyes, yet for all his good looks he’s a shy one. Mostly he likes being under the bed, though he loves a long walk and will float along beside me for miles with an easy graceful stride that couldn’t be in greater contrast to Henry’s jaunty step. His affections are quiet and his personality is reserved. His style is to lean his whole body in for a hug and remain there, unmoving, sturdy, his face pressed right up against you as though he’s looking for a way to be closer. Little kids are drawn to him, and when they approach he will brace himself, tail swaying, ears soft, and let them do whatever they like. He’s the gentlest dog I’ve ever known.

It was raining when Henry died, but after the vet left I went upstairs to get Oliver and take him for a walk. The sound of our footfalls seemed diminished, muted, and our pairing felt strangely lopsided without Henry at his usual post on my left. Yet the cold air braced me, the raindrops woke me up, and the exercise was a reminder of how necessary it is for me to play this nurturing role, to push through the tempting inertia of grief and look for sources of comfort and companionship. I’m so grateful we still have Ollie, who has always been the silent partner, thinking deep thoughts, as we like to say. He has let me cry on his shoulder more than once, but last night he called on us to rally, and loped around the room with legs splayed, rear end up, as if like me he’s experiencing these cycles of grief and absurdist comedy; I caught him sniffing Henry’s vacant bed this morning and sat down beside him to take it all in.

It’s hard to know what dogs understand. Hard to say what their experience of mortality and loss might be. I believe they live in the present better than most, so I’m trying to follow Oliver’s lead and allow the events of the moment to guide me. I have some projects at home to focus on, and cool damp walks to look forward to as spring approaches and the flowers start to bloom. There are tears left inside me and I know I’ll have to cry them out, but there is laughter already and joy ahead, too, and plenty of ways to share it.

So. We’re getting through this. And love is still alive.


Yesterday we put Henry down. That’s an odd phrase, as I see it written, as though he were a held object to be set aside, left behind.

He was suffering from spinal disease. For a while we held out hope, which spiked last Saturday until, in a moment of pure Henryish abandon, he slipped past me and raced down the stairs to see his dad. But that act of joy cost him dearly, because in the days afterward he was almost completely debilitated with unmanageable pain and an end to anything resembling happiness. He lost his appetite, his thirst. He wanted to be alone, instead of directly underfoot as usual. Every movement caused him to whimper with pain, and in his last days, even heavily medicated, he wandered around quivering and panting in an endless quest to find a comfortable position where he could rest. It was brutal. A heartbreaking thing to witness.

On Wednesday we lost hope. Every day seemed worse, every minute was hours long. The quality of eye contact between us had changed, and he refused to leave my side.

I called the hospice vet and made an appointment for Saturday, hoping to gather the family. Then, remembering how long those extra days would be for Henry, I rescheduled for Thursday afternoon.

The vet and her staff were lovely. Very gentle, very kind. Very patient with the floods of tears and all. Henry yelped at the first injection of sedative, but immediately afterward he hobbled over to the vet to apologize for having snapped at her, made his way over to me, then tried to circle back but buckled midway, half on and half off his blanket, and went to sleep.

There is an inherent nobility in animals when they have been mortally wounded. They go until they can’t go.

Henry died with his head in the palm of my hand. Put down, set aside, left behind.

I was his person and he was my steadfast friend.

Only one of us is hurting now.

Goodbye, Henry.

Good Night

I’ve been in need of comfort lately. The nights seem very long and are broken by hours of insomnia, during which I flop around the bed, sweating and fretting and reminding myself how shitty I’m going to feel at work the next day if I can’t get back to sleep. Last night is a case in point, because I woke at 12:30 and made an unsuccessful bid at reclaiming some of those lost hours, but had to throw in the towel at 4:00 and just get on with my day.

I’m like the rest of us, I assume, staring down the end of the world, trying to imagine how on earth these egomaniacs in charge of things are ever going to calm the fuck down and return to their corners and disentangle themselves and the rest of us from the almighty mess they have created. I worry about climate change and earthquakes, fires and tsunamis, the little dog’s spine and the husband’s job, about that asshole at work on Friday and how the gap on Tuesday’s schedule never got filled. I worry about my kids and whether they’re happy, whether they’re healthy, whether what I said to my daughter when she was nine has stuck in her mind and caused her any harm. I worry about the food in the fridge and why I always end up with extra zucchini—zucchini bread, zucchini noodles, zucchini roasted with red onion and pepper and tossed with a lemony orzo, but do I have a red pepper, do I have any orzo—about the fact that I’m out of moisturizer and will have to use body lotion on my face until I can get some more. This is the nature of worry; it’s a devolution from the profound to the ridiculous, leaving no concern unturned.

Sometimes it helps to switch on the TV at night and listen to a documentary I’ve played a hundred times before. One of my favorites is a Netflix special called A Trip to Infinity, which discusses, as you might imagine, the nature of infinity, the idea that you can always count one more. I find the scale of the universe an inexpressible comfort on nights like these. The idea of our smallness, of life’s infinite chances to flourish elsewhere, the finite lifespan even of our lonely blue planet, which will turn and turn and be warmed and cooled like the living body it is—all of this is liberating. Mind-opening. It takes the pressure off, just knowing that we can’t know, vivid though our imaginings might be. The truth is so vast and the universe so mysterious, so haunting and lovely, that even our most frightening realities here on Earth can’t dim its spectral light.

Of course our worries are still real. We aren’t operating at the scale of planks or planets, we’re people, who have zucchini in the fridge and war in the backyard. But for me it helps to place our lives in the cosmos and let some of that shit go for a while. Others would say, Give it to God. I would rephrase, though the sentiment is pretty close.

Dawn is coming. The day will bring whatever it does. And it will be okay.


I spent the day with my little dog, Henry. He’d been unwell and was clearly in a lot of pain. Wouldn’t come back inside the house from the yard, refused to go for a walk. We thought he might have hurt a paw, or maybe had some kind of GI thing going on. We made an appointment for Friday, the first-available slot with his vet, but by Tuesday he wasn’t eating or drinking, so on Wednesday morning I took him to the doggy ER.

It turns out he’s got a herniated disc in his back. There’s not a lot we can do for it at this point—steroids and painkillers, with a backup supply of sedatives if he starts getting frisky. He’s supposed to lay low for a while. No jumping, no stairs. Hopefully after some rest he’ll be able to join me for some Henry-sized walks around the neighborhood, but it’s hard to say what the long-term prognosis will be. He’s about ten years old and has always been a bouncy little guy, the kind of dog you think will live for years and years. But now I’m less than sanguine about his future.

This is the hardest part of owning a pet. You have to make these awful decisions on their behalf, and the family finances have got to be factored in. I absolutely hate that. Of course the impulse is to say, yes, please, do whatever you can, whatever will keep him going, whatever it costs. But it’s not realistic. The ER visit was $1300, so I can’t imagine what a major spinal surgery would cost and entail, with no guarantee of a positive outcome.

I know it makes me a shitty person, maybe an irresponsible pet owner, to think about money in a relationship which is so purely about love. I have a friend who spends more per month on her dogs’ medications than she actually earns at her job. She’s been doing so for years. This is an admirable level of devotion, but I’m torn when I consider a situation like that for my family. Would it really be for the best? That constant drain? You’d be able to say you did everything you could, and that’s important. Yet I can’t see myself sacrificing every hour of every workday to provide meds for my dog, and retirement be damned.

God, it’s hard to know. Henry’s curled up beside me, drugged and sleepy, glancing over now and then from the corner of his eye. He trusts me to take care of him, and I’m trying.

Be okay, Hen. I hope you’ll be okay.


I’m blocked. I know we’re not supposed to say that, lest we manifest, but I’m staring at the wall and have no idea how to get over or through. It’s difficult to explain the misery of this to someone who doesn’t write, but for me it’s akin to a protracted channel surf in which, out of hundreds of options, you can’t find anything to watch.

I’m in my own way. I can’t get a full sentence on the page before returning it to the void and wishing I could follow. Nothing’s good enough, even for a draft. Nothing feels right. I hate my voice, my ideas, my characters. I hate trying to choose a story. Because everything’s a story, or could be, right? Everything is something. The volume of ideas is paralyzing, and makes me small in comparison. I hate how sensitive I am to my own shortcomings, how prone to despair. I hate myself for rereading Lydia Davis, who wrote a mesmerizing story (is it a story?) about three cows in a field. Another story about some weirdo at a party, and one called The Piano Lesson, in which the lesson never occurs. I don’t know what her stories are about, exactly, but I never doubt that she does. She’s a wonderful writer, and I hate myself for not being her.

Look, I know. We are what we are, and gnashing one’s teeth at the work of a better writer is counterproductive. We should learn and be inspired, and I am. But part of inspiration is this influx of ideas, which can swamp the engine and undermine the whole creative process. You begin to take on the mindset of that esteemed writer, so the ideas, though legion, are not workable. They aren’t genuine. They are apparitions of the writer we would like to be, following a line of thought and a collection of interests that are not natural but are better, lovelier, so that our own ideas become exasperating and silly and no longer worth writing.

I am literally overwhelmed by admiration. I don’t know what to do with it, so I walk around in a haze of insomnia and wistfulness, writing and deleting what I’ve written, comparing my lurid interests to the delicately rendered observations of Lydia Fucking Davis.

Sis, you’re killing me.


I read the news today. Thousands of people buried under crumbling piles of concrete and metal, people screaming for help as the earth continues to judder and heave. Snow is falling. Freezing rain. It becomes difficult, thinking of it, to stretch the mind toward misery as acute as this. I saw a little girl carried aloft by a sea of men whose hands are raised in thanks and prayer and I thought, oh, she’s smiling, thank god, until I rotated the photograph and realized it was a grimace of pain.

Cruel as they are, these acts of nature can’t be avoided. Our planet is alive and moving, hurtling through space, rearranging its furniture. It’s too big and too old to care about the cracking rails of a child’s crib, about walls descending over dinner tables and marriage beds, about the snow it sends to bury people who were busy and laughing yesterday. The Earth is not like Putin, doing it all on purpose.

Here in America, on another plane of existence, we’re discussing whether or not it’s okay to notice that Madonna now looks like a frog. She’s a victim of our beauty-obsessed culture, apparently, instead of one of its authors. We’re not allowed to talk about the role of vanity in this transformation, or how it might be better to evolve out of this thirsty quest for youth and try to become a human, and grow the fuck up, and accept the limitations time places on all of us. I don’t feel sorry for Madonna.

I feel sorry for that little girl and the men who saved her. For the life they were living before the quake and whatever fate befalls them now. For the people of Ukraine, trying to sleep under an explosive sky. I feel sorry for the broken backs and the buried children, for the mothers whose arms are empty tonight.

Sisters, I hope you find your babies. I hope you find some peace.

The Narrows

They say that every writer has one story to tell. Just one, repeated from different angles and with an array of characters, the variety of which might be so vast as to disguise this fact even from the writer. And while I don’t subscribe to the “every writer” part of that statement or any other, I think there’s something to it. I do tend to circle around the same issues. There are a lot of violent men in my stories, a lot of crime and romantic dysfunction. That’s the top layer.

However, underneath all the hoodlum behavior and the warped sexuality is this idea of people being unseen, unknowable to one another. I’m fascinated by the odd things people dwell on, the dark impulses, the shyness and inward recoiling. I think we all share a certain craving to be known juxtaposed against the fear of being judged, rejected, reviled. This is what continually pulls me toward stories about sex and violence, sometimes in combination. It’s the depth at which these thoughts reside. These are the taboo subjects, the impulses lying deep within the realms of human imagination.

I’d choose another course for my writing if I could, or steer my current predilection into calmer waters. God knows it’s done me no favors. I become crippled at times by my own squeamishness on seeing what I’ve written, knowing that I’ve repeatedly opened myself to misreading, to the same moral judgments my characters often face. I have tried over and over to write another story, something cooler, friendlier, something I would choose to read, but I can’t seem to get those stories to the finish line. They don’t expand properly in my imagination. They aren’t real for me, and because they don’t exist in my mind, I can’t bring them to life on the page. They belong to another writer, and in my hands they are hopelessly inert.

My heart is not a light one. It’s heavy, hot, and it resents the narrow rib cage into which it was born. To write is to feed the beast that’s eating me alive. To resist is to pretend the cage was empty all along.

Tell me, if you can. What’s your story?


It’s 6:15 am and I’m in Redmond, my temporary nest, drinking coffee from a paper cup. I drove here straight from work and ate a bowl of pasta at the hotel bar, washed it down with a bee’s knees cocktail, and went to bed with a collection of stories by Mark Haddon and a back-up book on my Kindle. Already I miss my husband and my house, my feather pillow with its washed silk cover, my son, my dogs, my soy milk and Winco instant coffee. I miss the view from my window.

I don’t mean this to sound the way it does. I’m enduring no hardship here, and I have a day of solitary delights before me. I’ve sussed out two nearby bookstores and a shop that sells houseplants, as well as a comfy-looking cafe where I can sit for a while and write. This is a day of indulgence that my husband couldn’t enjoy, any more than I could have enjoyed a night in the cold, shouting with the crowd at a football game. We have different interests, different minds. It’s always been like this and it’s always been okay. I miss him, I love him, and I’m glad he isn’t here.

Because he isn’t here, I could get up at 3:14 and take a spiky-hot shower, turn on the lights one by one, play some newfound music he probably wouldn’t like. I won’t have to kill time waiting for him to wake up—he works the night shift, so our schedules do not align; actually, my schedule aligns with no one—or confer about whether to walk along the river or the other way through town. I can eat what I want, when I want, or not at all. I can read a book at breakfast, listen to a podcast, take a long nap. My husband wouldn’t complain about any of that, because he’s innately kind and only wants to please, but he wouldn’t enjoy it. He’s uninterested, but only in the way I am uninterested in the ongoing golf tournament he plays on his phone or the mystifying ranking system of college football. We have been married twenty-one years. We share a lot but not everything.

This has always been okay. Is it still? I’ve come to accept that he doesn’t read my stuff, yet I’ve set heart to paper throughout my writing life, so there will always be a part of me, the better part, that’s unknown to him by choice. That bores him. Yet I wouldn’t want his false attendance, with the boredom shoved down out of some misguided sense of duty. That would be a hundred times worse.

Still, because we don’t share an interest, a schedule, a bedroom, or a goal, we are beginning to drift. It’s a natural process, and not one I’m eager to change. Me shivering at a football game, him with aching jaw at my pages—I can’t see it, don’t crave it. When I hear about another couple’s close connection, my knee-jerk reaction is bafflement. How is this done? How do people join at the hip, share every meal, every inner thought? How do people talk so much? How do they fight? It’s a way of life that could only be performative for us and, if I’m honest, would expose my heart to the person who could most easily break it.

I’m not looking for more. Am I? And what about him? Is he getting what he needs or have I made him lonely with my solitary ways? Maybe it’s time to ask, and seek a true answer:

What about you?


I have a long weekend coming up and I’m not sure what to do with it. What I’d like most is to spend a few days alone, writing, bumming around near this hotel in Redmond where my husband and I like to stay. It’s near the river, and in summers past we’ve rented bikes to ride along its banks and down to Lake Sammamish. Though I suspect the weather will put the kibosh on any thought of biking, there are still bookstores to enjoy, bougie restaurants, an outdoor shopping mall. There’s also a theater where, instead of popcorn, you can get a glass of wine and a panini, or a cup of cocoa and a plate of warm cookies if that’s your speed. Best of all is the lobby of the hotel itself, which has a lovely fireplace and lots of seating. I have spent hours there writing, staring out the window, finding words where I thought there were none.

I haven’t been to Redmond on my own. It feels very self-indulgent, particularly with the aim of going there to write. I’m not working to a deadline, or even toward a goal—and say that were the case, there’d be no need to travel any farther than my armchair. Writing is a sedentary sport. So it’s hard not to feel guilty about booking a room just for me, to work on writing that’s just for me, to see a movie by myself and have a beautiful unshared meal or three while I’m at it. You’ll admit there’s a lot of moi in this scenario.

And it’s possible that the idea of traveling solo is a little weird. I know that for many people, it would be disconcerting to sit alone at a table for two, or buy a single ticket at the theater. I can understand that. But I have never been deterred. Being alone is a joy. I love the release from responsibility, the calm experience of having to please only myself. I love being silent, not having to carry a conversation, finding myself free instead to simply listen, and look, and think about the feels. I like a long silent walk, a car ride with the music turned up. Book by the fire, an early night, a cup of coffee at dawn with the rain like scattered jewels on the window. I love the gradual onset of boredom and missing those more permanent parts of my life, and bundling myself into the car, knowing that the big square house on the hill and my people and my life are waiting to welcome me back.

We write sometimes to see what we think. What I think this morning is that a couple of days alone will do me good, so I’ve got my booking and the hotel’s confirmation ready in my virtual pocket, headed by a promising first line:

The world is waiting for you.

100-Word Microfiction


I didn’t know what I’d feel, seeing myself this way. The woman facing me is pitiable, maimed. Two long asymmetrical scars cross my chest: one over my heart, the other low and slanted red like the claw mark of a predator. My nipples are gone, giving my chest a blind quality, or perhaps a muteness, as in one of those horror movies where the character’s mouth is covered over with skin.

Yet my mind is filled with grim delight. The world has taken something from you, and that’s a first. Your chagrin is my balm, my victory, my silent redress.


An idea has settled over me and I can’t shake it off. If you’re a writer, you’ll be familiar with the signs: the queasy excitement, drifting focus, the sense of impending doom. The curse is come upon me, cried the Lady of Shalott. A story looms.

I keep asking whether I have to write it. Will it fuck off and leave me alone, or will it be there every morning at 4 a.m., watching me sleep, waiting to pounce as soon as I open my eyes. Can I pare it down to nothing, write it and be done? Or will it morph and get out of control and take over my life. I’m thinking of the last story I tried to write, for which I sacrificed morning after morning, week after week after month, only to come away with a sheaf of nonsensical garbage and the story in full flight. I’m still bitter about that, and disappointed with myself. I like to finish things.

For this reason and many others, I’d much rather write something short. But the problem for me, which dates back to my days as a photographer, is that I have not been able to master the snapshot. I don’t really understand the structure of short fiction. I don’t know how to frame it, where to crop the edges, how to pluck a moment from the continuum and situate it on the page. Yet I realize, on writing this, that I haven’t actually studied the matter. All my focus has been on novels, and shorter work like flash fiction and poetry has only been for play. So I think what I’ll do, before succumbing to the lure of this particular story, is try to round up some resources and do a little homework. I found this book and this one, and of course I have plenty of story collections already on my bookshelf for inspiration. Maybe I can learn.

And if nothing else, I will have given the story a chance to bugger off and find someone else to annoy.


My god, these men. These foolish, grasping, needy men. Can we not have a moment of peace? Why must we always divide ourselves into teams: on the chamber floor, on the street, in business and religion and cultural constructs of every kind. Red team, blue team, world without end. Competition is their constant excuse for violence, for conflict, dragging everybody in, as if we all must stand behind our leaders at the urinal while they compare their dicks with the dicks on either side. Yours is bigger, honey, let’s drop a bomb on some children.

I do not fucking understand. I don’t understand why old men want to watch the young ones bash each other’s brains out for sport. I don’t understand these flapping ties in Congress, where the ickiest, Trumpiest, smarmiest specimen is still not awful enough to elect. I don’t understand why rich Russian men keep falling out of windows while young Russian men are sent off to maim their brothers, rape their sisters, reduce a child’s crib to ash. What darkness there is in men. And where did it come from? What evil twisted helix has convinced the male ego that our Earth is more than a speck in the cosmos and that their shitty conduct will be remembered by anyone at all. How terribly sad it must be not to grasp the scale, to believe that power resides in the individual and not in the pulse and flow of life itself.

I just do not understand. Maybe I’m not meant to understand. I’m a middle-aged, middle-class American white woman, bred to be docile. And I am. As surely as men will strut the floor in their star-spangled neckties and perpetrate acts of violence both real and legislative, I will continue to hunker in my bedroom, placid, complicit, chain-popping edibles, trying to sleep through the end of the world.

A world I will never understand.


I’ve been thinking about one of our patients. A young guy, rope thin, with pink tips and dark roots, who went to the wrong clinic on his first visit and arrived so late we had to work through lunch to see him. He was sweet about it, though, and doggedly pushed through our paperwork, describing his health history, his symptoms, laying out the mundane demographic details we’re expected to collect. He’s had a lot of injuries. A car accident in the recent past has left his arm with a field of scars like a celestial map around a jagged supernova at the elbow. Then he got hurt at work, more than once, which led to the surgery and the post-op side effects we’re trying to address.

He was crying today as I got him off e-stim. He said it was everything. Getting a divorce, and with two little kids. Trying to work through excruciating pain because the alternative is homelessness and hunger. He’s wondering if it will get better. It’s been so long, and it hurts so bad.

He tells me this, slumped over, screened by his long pink hair. You have to be in a mood to go for a dye job like that, you have to be feeling pretty good. But that pink is four inches in the past, and all the new growth is dark.

His truck remained in its spot outside my window for several minutes after I’d walked him out. Finally I went to check on him. I found him still weeping, hands trembling with pain. I went inside and got him some Tylenol and a glass of water, sent the therapist out to see what could be done. For a while he sat with an ice pack; later I invented a piece of paperwork for him to sign, as an excuse to go back outside and make sure he was alright. His truck didn’t move for a long time, but eventually I looked up and he was gone.

I wish I could have given him a hug, which is what the poor guy needed. But people don’t touch each other anymore.


Back to those new year’s intentions. What to do, where to place my focus. I found a local writing class starting up in January, an adult-ed sort of thing through the community college, with classes every Thursday evening from 6:30-8:00. If this were a Saturday morning meet-up, I’d be all in, but I’m on the fence with an evening gig. I get up early—very, very early—so usually I’m in bed by 8, taxiing down the runway toward sleep. It’s almost a job in itself, this pursuit of sleep, and I get cranky about disruptions to the routine.

But I’ve never taken a writing class, and this one caught my eye. It promises a “safe, encouraging environment,” never a bad thing, with “moderated small group sharing, warm-up exercises, and inspirational thoughts to keep you excited and motivated to write and finish your own stories!” It’s the exclamation point that gets me. “Finish your own stories!” Ta-da!

Evening hours notwithstanding, it might be just the kick I need to start my year. A little encouragement, some gentle motivation. Nothing too strenuous. No one whose poor opinion would wreck me. Of course my writing style is all over the place and grammatically incorrect, but this class doesn’t sound like one in which the teacher would Strunk me over the head for improper use of a semicolon. (Or for using one at all. Why is everyone so snotty about this particular punctuation mark? Why shun the little guy entirely? Can we get over the King’s disparagement and bring it back into the fold?) The course as outlined sounds casual and kind of fun. Not words I usually associate with writing, but…


This is where I left the post as I drafted it this morning, before careening out the door for work. I meant to finish this evening by explaining that I did sign up for the class and was looking forward to it, yada yada. But after I’d registered and paid the fee, I received notice that the class had been cancelled due to insufficient enrollment.

*sad trombone*

Maybe the rest of the hermit-writers in my community are as shy with their work as I am. Maybe the instructor is unhelpful and everyone knows it but me. Maybe it’s for the best. In any case, my quest for 2023 inspiration will have to be continued.


I got a wonderful Christmas present from the therapist I work with. A plant stand with several tiers, mounted on white metal posts in the shape of a crescent moon. There’s a perfect spot for it at the clinic, just beside a west-facing window on a blank stretch of wall. This is real estate any plant will love.

The trouble now is how to decide which of my collection can be pried from their existing spots and come with mama to work. I have a lot of plants—for the sake of this post, I counted: 126—but I love their abundance, their personalities, the way they settle into their space, all leaves pointed like satellite dishes toward the light. They’re so sweet. So blessedly quiet! Caring for them is a lot of work, of course, but it’s not arduous. All they’re looking for really is to feel at home in their tiny pot of earth, to feel that conditions are suitable for growth. They want what we all want, in fact.

The plants are a relatively new obsession. I used to avoid houseplants because I thought I couldn’t keep them alive. And sometimes I can’t. Some plants become ill, or are attacked by spider mites or fungi, or languish unaccountably as if the will to live has passed. I refuse to be bummed out by plants, so I let go of those that can’t be saved. Over time I’ve gravitated toward the more robust species, the scindapsus and pothos, hoya and philodendron and tradescantia, old-fashioned cissus and upright dracaena. I want plants that have some innate hardiness and are amenable to propagation, plants that don’t demand extra humidity or ridiculous amounts of pest control. Plants have language, if you’re listening, so it’s nice to find those that will sag a little when they’re thirsty rather than turning overnight into a collection of crispy leaves and sticks.

As I look around, I’m finding it hard to decide which little grove to carve out. When I lift a plant from its home, the resulting blank space feels like a loss, or at the very least a disruption. I find this so unsettling that I rarely go about it piecemeal, and instead move all the plants to the center of the room and start over from scratch. Actually, I think this is what I’ll do over the long weekend. A big reshuffle, some potting up, a bit of trimming and fertilizing, a new round of propagation.

And maybe, maybe, as a treat, a few new plants for the office.


I’ve been trying to decide what to do with the new year. Though resolutions are cliche and sometimes problematic, they can also provide a needed course correction, a multimedia cue that it’s time to regroup and gather your wits, make sure you’re headed where you mean to go. This optimistic momentum fades over time, and resolutions rarely succeed, but imperfect efforts can still be valuable. We don’t have to improve our lives like the hero in a rom-com, via soulmate and epiphany. We can meander in the general direction of better-than-now and take it as a win.

So what do I want to do with the year? I’m in a pretty good place right now. Safe in my job, safe at home. I’ve got plenty of things to worry about, always, but there is a law of diminishing returns when it comes to worry; a little goes a long way. There are no major hurdles to navigate, only a boot to apply now and then, a romance to feed. Some health-related stuff I need to stay on top of. But nothing that needs a focused effort.

I’m free then to consider what I’d like to do creatively. I have a novel marinating on my hard drive. It’s a good story, as played out in my head, but it wants to be either far longer or far shorter than the scale I imagined at the start. I’m not sure which. I’ve been interested lately in flash fiction, which are extra-short stories, a thousand words at most, designed to leave you with the impression of an iceberg under the surface, a story outside the story which can only be inferred. A writer I follow has talked about writing a novella in flash, by which he means a collection of related flash fiction that follows an overarching theme or plot. His stories are linked by a common item, a stolen car which appears throughout. Brilliant, right? Did I mention the car is stolen?

I love thinking about form. I love people who are creative in this way, who push and pull at our ideas of what a story should be. What writing itself should be, and on what terms we allow it into our lives. This is where I repeatedly lose direction, and fall into the trap of assuming I’m a novelist. I’m not. I’m a writer. It’s a distinction worth considering, because it makes such a difference to the kind of life you’ll build with writing at its creative center. To share a novel is to publish, to set out on the long and complex journey of drafting, editing, reorganizing, proofing, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, then trying to shop the thing around or see to its publication yourself while footing all the costs. You understand on embarkation that this is going to take some time. Some precious resources. You may have to drain your reserves in order to get it done.

I’m just not into it. I’m into writing. I like this space, which feels very anything-goes to me just now. I could publish flash fiction right here, as easily as I’m writing this post. I could read my work aloud. I could compile these journal entries after some time and print a single copy for posterity. There’s no damn money in writing anyway, so why not reimagine the end result in terms that will satisfy me. Me, personally. What does a beautiful, finished bit of writing look like in its final iteration? To me, in my mind’s eye. How do I want to share it?

And how can I avoid derailing myself when I do?


It’s Christmas Eve. Dinner’s at our place. A giant veggie lasagna, mainly, with some other bits and pieces on the side. Stuffed bread shaped like a wreath, a big green salad. Bananas foster for dessert, with that daring rum-fueled flame at the end. A couple of game hens as well, with roasted squash, because carbs are not for everyone. I did most of the work yesterday, so what I plan to do now is bedeck the rooms in twinkle lights and votive candles, set out bowls of crunchy things and chewy things, bright red tomatoes that pop in the mouth. A patient gave me some fresh chestnuts from her orchard, so I thought I’d roast them, peel them, and saute them in butter, and we can have them with our drinks.

When I say butter, what that means for me is plant-based butter. Okayfine, it’s vegan. Likewise the lasagna, the rolls, the ice cream. I’ve considered myself vegan for at least ten years, but I find the label a tedious weight sometimes. It implies a level of rigor I just can’t cope with. People are always trying to catch you out. What do you mean by sauteing in butter, Averil, I thought you were vegan? And though the butter’s not real, maybe I’m not either. Obviously a real vegan wouldn’t prepare game hens for a friend, she’d find another option, some low-carb vegan ninja shit like the Wicked Chef might do.

But I’m a bad vegan, if you’d call me that. I prefer to think of it as being relaxed. My standards slacken at restaurants and on special occasions. I make no apology for this, I don’t hide it. It’s not a perfect world and I don’t expect perfection from myself. All I’m trying to do, in any case, is incrementally lighten my burden on the planet. That’s it. I’m not here to preach or pontificate about the benefits of eating plants, or throw paint onto anyone’s fur coat. I am only trying to be gentle—on the planet, on my fellow creatures, on the global community. This sounds very woo-woo. I’m aware of that. This is why I don’t tell people I’m vegan until I’ve known them for some time—or until we share a meal together, whichever comes first. It’s a personal decision, one that inevitably draws a reaction. Often, a negative reaction. And I’ll admit it hurts my feelings when people sneer at us for trying to be kind, as if it’s some deeply ridiculous predilection like teddy-bear porn, or a hair-shirt penance by which we are trying to atone. We’re just eating plants, okay? The penance bit is optional, and no one’s asking you to hug a giant oak. You do you. I’ll be too busy stuffing my face with tofu ricotta to worry about your roast beast.

This entry has swung wide of the Christmas spirit I was going for at the start. All I mean to say is that it’s okay to fall in love with the world. It really is okay to care, to make some sacrifices for the greater good. It’s okay to evolve, to change, to be imperfect yet to hold an ideal in your mind that demands something of you. It’s okay to be gentle.

It’s okay to be an atheist and still say Merry Christmas.

To all. And to all a good night.


As a quick aside, I know that if you’re on the blog’s email list, you’re probably getting pummeled by these posts. Please do unsubscribe if that’s going to bug you, as I plan to journal here in the coming months and do not want to annoy anyone who signed up years ago and has since moved on. Go with love, my friend, and many kisses at the door.


Baby, it’s cold. The dogs’ water bowl is frozen over and the steps are outlined with frost. The trees are brittle, shivering in the wind, and the roads have dulled to gray under dangerous sheets of ice. It’s going to take some time to let my car warm up, and I intend to drive like a granny on my way to work this morning. Slowly, slowly around the turns. No long strides when walking.

I wonder how the homeless are coping out there. It’s common to see them on the sidewalks and under bus shelters in the pre-dawn hours, draped with blankets and bundled into layers of clothing, and you can catch a glimpse sometimes of a tent in the forest or a patch of litter to mark a previous encampment. Their increased number has made the city feel vaguely apocalyptic, an impression strengthened by the twitching and dancing on street corners, the way a person might become frozen in place, one arm raised, as though struck by an alien ray gun moments before being vaporized. From my bedroom window a few weeks back, I watched a man shadowboxing his way down the middle of the street with such intensity that I feared he might dislocate a shoulder.

What’s happened to these people? Drugs, sure. Poor mental health. Skyrocketing rent. But I mean, what exactly? We all are on a path, and paths involve steps. What were theirs? Was a monster behind them, giving chase? Did they misread the map? Were there forks in the road or none at all? Did they have a chance and blow it? Do they have regrets, or is it more a fuck-it-all bravado that gets them through the night.

How did they come to be where they are? How do any of us?


I’ve been sitting here for a while, thinking about how to end this page. Thinking about the world, and my place in it, and how much I really want to delve into other people’s pain. To know is to care, and to care is to act.

How much do I really want to know?


I’m supposed to complete a self-evaluation at work. You’ve seen one of these, I’m sure. A long series of questions covering various aspects of the job and how good you think you are at it. It’s divided into categories and subcategories: How organized you think you are, how careful, how accurate, how skilled. One to five, line by line. The bosses fill out the same assessment, and afterward you get together and compare the answers.

What kind of sadistic shit is this? Imagine the horror of rating yourself a five in personal appearance and the boss clapping back with a two. Or you think you’re the bomb at interoffice communication only to learn that no one can make head or tail of your cryptic email humor. I mean, unearthing these disparities is the point. I do understand. But for fuck’s sake, this?

For a while I sulked. I did a first draft of the thing, in which I went vengefully down the center column and gave myself a three on every line, in as blunt a response as I could muster given the circumstances. Fuck no, is what this says. I’m checking out.

I’ve sat with this unhappily for weeks. Weeks, I tell you. Why can’t I just play the game? If I’m honest—and why not? where’s the harm?—I’m very good at my job. It’s not a difficult one, but it does need a skill set and mine is pretty good. However to say that, to put it in writing, goes against every inclination. I don’t want either of us sitting around judging me, assessing my worth, giving it a number. Can’t we just have a normal conversation? Why the multiple-choice rigmarole? Why can’t the boss just say, one human to another, “Stop using words like ‘kerfuffle.’ Nobody knows what that means,” or “Quit overspending on pens and use a Bic like everybody else.” Do we really need the one-through-five? My boss is my son’s age, are you kidding me?

I think what I’ll do is pretend to have lost my homework. With any luck she’ll only ask once, and I’ll promise to turn it in but won’t. And if she asks a second time, I’ll say, Look, can we agree that things are ticking along? Yes? Then maybe we can just move on.

I won’t actually come back with that, of course. My boss has bosses and she’s probably supposed to collect this stuff, and she’s a nice person as well so there’s no reason to make her job harder. I’ll bullshit my way through the assessment so she can turn in her own homework, but let it be known that I feel surly about it and don’t wanna boogie.

Sweet Alyssum

Work is okay. Better than okay, when compared to the shit show of 2021. That was an awful year. I’d lost my long-term job to COVID and had to find another. At first, it seemed I’d landed on my feet at a pediatric therapy clinic, where I worked the front desk and managed the schedule for ten providers and a passel of wild-eyed children. I loved those kids, by the way. One of my defining features as a human is how much I love children; it’s something everybody knows about me, including the kids, who are gravitationally pulled into my orbit, bearing broken toys and bandaged owies and scraps of paper covered in crayon. They know I’ll make a fuss and ask a bunch of questions and tape their artwork to my desk. We understand each other.

Anyway, I digress. I left that zoo after six months, due to a few too many incidents of micromanagement and a bullying coworker who could not bring herself to leave me the fuck alone. I moved on. And on, and on, and on, and on. I worked at a prosthetics clinic. I spent two days with some eye surgeons. I tried chiropractic, and bookkeeping for a home health service, and middle management. And possibly one or two other jobs I’m too traumatized to recall. I quit and quit and quit. It was a miserable year, and I was lost.

What happened eventually is that I made my way back to where I’d started, the rowdy front desk of a large physical therapy clinic. My god, the relief. I cannot tell you. The familiar faces. The familiar workflow. A kind boss who knew and appreciated me. And it was made even better when, three months in, I got wind that one of the group’s smaller clinics had lost both manager and therapist and would need to make a fresh start. I jumped up and down going me-me-me, and ended up securing that transfer.

At first, I worried that I had made another mistake. The tiny clinic was dingy and unloved, with pots full of dead plants outside and a depressing lack of personality within. I spent an evening wandering around the empty clinic, noting how there were approximately nine hundred paper cups in the storage room, how the sheets and towels were jumbled onto an open bookshelf which loomed like the Tower of Pisa over a nearby exam table. The exercise bike didn’t work. The dryer squeaked. You get the idea.

But it would be mine. The bosses told me to take ownership, and that’s what I did. I stopped by one weekend and tore the dead plants from the pots out front, filled them up with sweet alyssum and flowering perennials. I took down the dusty paper screen on the front door and polished the glass, got maintenence in to fix the bike and replace the damaged backsplash behind the sink. I scrubbed out the fridge. Cleaned the carpets. I ordered fresh white cabinetry with doors to replace that awful bookshelf, washed all the linens and folded them neatly and stacked them inside. I emptied the drawers and cupboards around my desk and reorganized the mess within. (Dozens of boxes of paperclips, what kind of OCD nonsense is this?) I brought houseplants from my own collection and put them in the waiting room and around the front desk. Friends, I scrubbed the bathrooms.

We took over the place in March. It’s just two of us in this clinic: the therapist and me. She’s wonderful, by the way. She specializes in pelvic floor and related issues, so we see a lot of pregnant patients, many of whom have kids they bring to their appointments. I’m the unofficial babysitter during these visits, so I get a lovely hour of kid-time on the reg. I push strollers, cuddle babies, put together puzzles on the waiting room floor. We have beach balls and fire trucks. A fart gun! Colored paper and highlighters, should any small person feel creatively inspired. People talk a lot about the vibe of the place. They say it’s peaceful and friendly. They like my playlist. They like my plants and ask if they are real. Our little-clinic-that-could is now booked six weeks out and we’re hiring another therapist to come in and help. The boss has requested my DNA for cloning.

It’s the right place for me. The right amount of bustle, very little stress. There are Christmas lights on the houseplants and paper snowflakes taped to the window, and although we do find the occasional junkie on the doorstep of a morning, the occasional asshole on the other end of the phone, and a sagging disappointment on paydays, all in all it’s a pretty good gig. I’m grateful to be where I am and have what I have.

Work is better than okay.