I love butterfly bushes, especially the ones with deep-purple, almost black flowers. I had to move this one to a slope where it would get more sun, and I’m glad I did. I had a bad turn when the temperature plummeted, until I looked them up and realized they are, in fact, evergreens.
When the snow came, it decked the leaves in melting glitter, now mostly gone. It’s beautiful just the same. And spring is coming.
So after a lot of back-and-forthing, and desperate attempts to write a dead book even though it made me physically ill…I no longer have to write the dead book. I don’t even have to attempt it. Instead, I can work on something that doesn’t make me stress-vomit each morning.
Needless to say, this is a welcome development, and when I got off the phone with my agent yesterday after making sure this was the case, I almost collapsed. My knees haven’t been that rubbery since I heard from my lawyer that the divorce was final. Pure relief and liberation tends to knock me right over, whereas pain just makes me more stubborn. (This, I’m sure, surprises none of my regular readers.)
As a result, this morning I feel liberated. Like the prison doors have opened and I’m free. The relief is intense enough to make me a little silly. Along with more snow dumping last night and both dogs deciding to be EXTRA adorable today. They’re always super adorable, but some days Miss B puts her paws on my chest and sneezes, and Odd keeps bringing me toys in order to bribe me to get out the door for walkies, and the adorbs is turned up to eleven. Especially when Miss B rests her chin on my knee and deploys the Big Doggy Eyes of “Yes, drink your coffee, I’ll just wait here. Patiently. See how patient I am? I am REALLY patient. Just waiting for you, Mum.”
I’m excited to get to work today, which I haven’t been for a while. I’m flat-out gleeful to go into a book that won’t make me retch with stress.
But first, yes, finishing the coffee. And walkies. Before liberation, walk dog and drink coffee.
Last night’s snow is falling in melting clumps off branches and roof edges. I dragged both dogs out for Odd Trundles’s walkies, and wrestled with B’s bouncing glee at the white stuff and Odd’s “EW NO MY PAWS, MY DEWICATE PAWS! *snortwhistle*” Halfway through I started coughing and couldn’t stop, so it’s probably best I didn’t roll out of bed and into my running clothes.
I’m torn between taking today off for a holiday or just getting work done since I’m going to be stuck in a chair for most of the day anyway. I suppose I could settle on the couch and finish Bolaño’s The Savage Detectives; I knocked off a good chunk of it yesterday afternoon when the weather started turning filthy and I was filling tissues as fast as I could get them out of the box. Bolaño’s one of those authors who will induce a fever if you doesn’t already have one; I remember reading 2666 and feeling like the world was about to slip away on a greased plate, my forehead damp and my eyes gleaming. It’s the same sort of feeling I get from Murakami at his best, I remember 1Q84 and Hard-Boiled Wonderland both induced it, and Han Kang’s The Vegetarian, too. Algernon Blackwood’s short stories sometimes give one, and Muriel Barbery’s The Elegance of the Hedgehog.
Of course, there are some books one should never read while fevered. And some that one wants to read only when one is feeling a little unmoored. Kind of like Jandek‘s music is horrid the first time you hear it, then it grows on you and you end up craving it in certain conditions, scratching an itch until it bleeds. A painful relief.
*looks back over post* I suppose I’m not quite “well” yet. The sun has come out and is gilding every icy edge and corner; the dripdrops of melt are gold-tinged. The air is full of falling jewels, as if there’s damn Tolkien elves about. (At least it’s not chicken feathers, as Mia Sara once remembered about the filming of Legend.) A clear sky means a cold sky in February, so ice will no doubt make things iffy for traveling later, but for right now…well, a warm shower and some decongestant, since the cough has moved into my chest. Then, fever or no, it’s time for some work. If I don’t write today I’ll start to itch under my skin, and that’s unbearable.
If I can’t run, I must work, though of course both would be best. In any case, Odd, worn out by his morning walk, is snoring contentedly in his Fancy Dog Bed, and Miss B is likewise snoring in my office doorway. They’ll wake when I move.
When you’ve had a rough week, and your no-longer-a-teenager-this-year child knows it and uses her day off to clean the kitchen and make a pesto braid, because she wanted to try the recipe and she knows you love pesto…
His day begins when I unzip his crate, where he is warm and secure. It is the place he loves most in the world, like the spot in front of a full bowl of kibble and The Big Hoomin’s Bed. he loves his crate so much that it takes a whole ritual to get him out of it, which includes me opening the curtains, making my bed, and finally, a couple renditions of his special Good Morning Song, which is modeled loosely on a Singing in the Rain number.
Sometimes it takes a full two renditions before he will consent to resurrect, all while Miss B takes turns trying to nose him out of the crate and trying to stick her nose in my mouth since I’m making strange monkey noises.
When he’s finally ready, he staggers down the hall after me, and has to be shown where the back door is. It’s the only time he’ll go down the stairs alone, because by then his bladder has awakened and is providing impetus.
Then there’s pointing him at his food bowl, and standing in my prescribed spot between the two dogs while they sniff the kibble offering. If I don’t stand there, Odd may decide to wander away and Miss B might try to stuff herself with both bowls and sick up undigested food which she’ll proceed to guard, since she just wants Odd not to have it. Once they’re both snout-down and busy, though, i am allowed to make myself some coffee and attempt my own brekkie. Then, when they’re done, he’ll sit by the back door and burp-bark, because he knows something comes next but has forgotten entirely what.
That “something” is his daily walkie, up to the top of the street or down to the bottom if he’s feeling frisky, which is about two days a week. Every other day it’s the shorter slog up to the top, and often, just getting the leashes on both of them is a chore in and of itself. Trundles insists on wrapping the leash around my legs to achieve a sort of required tension on it, so he knows I haven’t vanished. B, of course, divides her time between attempting to boss me and actually bossing him, with a soupçon of straining at the leash whenever there’s the prospect of another dog in the area.
And, of course, Odd stops every few steps, wondering what the hell he’s doing outside, and looks to me for guidance. Some days, like today, he requires constant verbal encouragement and direction. So, I’ve started singing–but I have to find the song he’ll move for.
Today, it was Sweet Georgia Brown.
Now, I am no chanteuse, despite being in choir all through high school and bellowing along with the radio at the slightest provocation. Passers-by often stop and watch, bemused, as I wrangle a bulldog and an Australian shepherd along with accompaniment, followed by the Mad Tortie, who goes along on Trundles’s walkies because she is of the opinion he won’t be able to find his way home alone. (I am certain she’s right.) “Is that your cat?” they ask, or “You walk them every day?”
Thankfully, none of them mention my singing.
Anyway, once I have dragged both dogs back through our gate, I can take off collar (for Odd) and harness (for Miss B) and retreat inside while both prance just inside the fence, discovering the backyard anew. Trundles takes the additional step of unburdening his colon, since the activity has aided his peristalsis wonderfully. Then, Miss B herds him up the stairs, and he trots inside, suddenly convinced that he needs another breakfast since he performed such difficult feats as making it to the stop sign.
I often make myself more coffee while Miss B tries to hip-check me in the direction of the hall, and Odd dances attendance, burp-barking again and eager to get to either another breakfast (if I can be persuaded) or to my office (which he dimly recognizes as the next step in the day’s many rituals). Finally, when I am settled in front of the glowing box that somehow produces the majority of my career (my desktop, thank you), Odd’s real morning work begins. He must settle, either in his Fancy Dog Bed or (less comfortably) up against my TBR, and embark upon the First Nap of the Day. He is settled on his fancy bed while I type this, blinking slowly, and next will come his snores, about as musical as my walk-prompting. That’s a busy morning for a bulldog, and we’re not even talking about the afternoon naps or the after-dinner romps, or what it takes to get him back in his crate at the end of the day.
The tree went up on the 23rd and down on the 26th; the dogs were excited as all get-out in the meantime. We passed a very quiet holiday with lots of food, and especially lots of sugar. And knitting!
I am a bit taken aback at how tired I’ve felt this season. Some years are like that–even though one has insulated oneself from toxic people, the echoes still linger in body and brain. Processing trauma isn’t a straight line, it’s more like a spiral. You arrive at the same place often, but your understanding of it deepens.
I hope your holiday was quiet and happy, my friends. See you in the New Year.