Miss B needs more walks these days since she’s getting a little old to take long runs with me. On this one, we came across a dandelion still holding onto to shreds of its sunny face. Or at least, I did, since she was busy searching for something stinkalicious to roll in.
For some reason, the little fellow made me feel better. Hold on, it seemed to be saying. Just hold on.
Once a month I get mild insomnia; I’m sure it’s hormonal, and I bear it with good grace because now, with the meds, it’s a monthly instead of a nightly occurrence. I settled in bed once everything had cooled off outside–around midnight, really–and read the Lazarillo de Tormes I’d managed to grab as a Norton Critical edition. I love Norton Criticals, and this one doesn’t disappoint, but I’m beginning to note a lot of homonym abuse in academic texts and translations. They can’t all be intentional; it’s just something I’m noticing. My inner editor twitches, and I have to glance up from the page.
Reading for pleasure gets kind of iffy sometimes when you’re in publishing.
Anyway, I dragged myself out of bed, unrested, and have managed a run. Miss B was ecstatic, and we stuck to shaded pavements. Still, we were both glad to get home. Someone up the street has taken out a massive cedar tree; apparently all the neighbors are intent on deforesting this hill so it slides down into the river during the next overly wet winter.1 Added to a new driveway going on, the entire street is full of mechanical noise. Whirring, buzzing, stamping, dropping, engines running. When it gets hot enough, I’ll close up the windows and turn the AC on, and that will provide some relief from the racket.
I also managed a solid 4k words yesterday, mostly in Incorruptible but a significant portion in HOOD. It feels good to be working again, even if I do still catch myself looking for Odd or surfacing from a scene to think that’s strange, he’s really quiet, what’s going on? Moving the furniture helped immensely, I’m not expecting to see him leaning against where the couch used to be or thoughtfully examining trailing geranium leaves from the coffee table.
We even got a lovely card signed by the entire vet office, with condolences for our loss. Once the card comes, I guess, that’s closure. Sometime this week or the next I’ll have to go get his ashes, the last gauntlet to run through.
For now, though, I’m crackling with dried sweat, absorbing coffee, and looking forward to another productive day. I decided to send in the demons early, to get Incorruptible off the ground. I don’t want that book to be a slow burn, I want to write gore, battle, and danger.
As usual, I guess.
Be gentle with yourselves today, dear Readers. The most dangerous time is when you’re feeling a bit better, and you think you’re cured and want to push it. Gently, softly, even when you feel like a tenuous balance has been reached. That’s all my advice for the day, use it as you will.
Days and days of heat, the weather report says. Which means a lot of closing up the house and keeping the fans on. It’s not likely to cool off enough to make a difference at night, either. Miss B is sacked out on my office floor, worn out after a moderate morning run. Said run had to be uncaffeinated, because I rolled out of bed late and had to get us outside before the heat became unbearable.
My mood is perhaps best described as “sharp, don’t touch.” I have shaken off the numbness and now I am firmly in the anger stage. I am filled with fumes, and any spark will do. I am holding myself gingerly, my internal grip strong and severe, so I don’t snap at anyone I care for.
There is no Trundles asking to bask on the deck for fifteen minutes before being ushered inside to flop on cool tile. No Trundles snoring blissfully among my pillows or grousing because it’s too warm and sprawling in the hall. Come dinnertime, he’s not snuffling in corners or underfoot as I cook–Miss B can’t take up all his kitchen space and hers too. I am not in danger of tripping every third step between the two of them, and it’s strange. There is so much room.
I spent yesterday in a blaze of cleaning and rearranging furniture. Apparently grieving fills me with the desire to dust, hoover, rearrange. We also got some more concrete laid in the backyard–with no Trundles underfoot or investigating the humans’ fascinating activity for signs of something edible, it went a little more quickly than usual. His busy self was a part of everything that occurred chez Saintcrow; Miss B is content to supervise from any handy promontory, as long as I’m in sight, but Trundles wanted to be Involved.
His crate is folded up and in the garage. I didn’t have the heart to clean it. His bedding, however, is laundered and neatly folded. At some point, this week or next, I will pick up his ashes and bring them home, settle them among my pillows, and let him sleep on my bed for as long as he likes.
I told myself that if I could just get through yesterday’s cleaning, rearranging, laundry, folding, watering, and everything else, I would be okay. Not okay-okay, but…okay enough.
I’m not quite sure if it was true, but having the furniture moved helps. I am not looking at Odd’s favorite nesting-spots and feeling the black ball of tears rise in my throat. Grief is a ball bouncing in a box. Part of the gauntlet grip I hold myself in is immobility so the pain-button won’t get punched. It only halfway works, but it’s better than nothing.
At least I can settle and write today. I am not staring while my fingers idly work at the keyboard, typing and deleting random, stinking sentences. At least while I’m working I’m thinking of other things. The work is not a panacea, but it is a true companion. Sad? Write. Mad? Write. Grieving? Write. Frightened? Write.
So today, gently, I will. Soon I’ll tell you guys about the new birdfeeders, the pole that holds them, squirrels, and Crisco. It’s a funny story; it would probably have been funnier with Odd around. But squirrels–and time–stop for no man, and no bulldog either.
When I bought a couple grapevines, I didn’t think the second one would survive. It was a spindly, ill-tempered little thing, and did nothing the first year. It only sent out a few anemic leaves the second, and I thought it was done for. Still, I fed and watered and sang to it, hoping. The kids, used to me giving plants a long time to bounce back, shook their heads and left me to it.
This year, the spindly little bastard has exploded, and there are at least six bunches of grape-buds buried in its depths. The other vine, the luxuriously healthy one, still isn’t producing.
Sometimes it just takes a while for the fight to show any results. Keep singing, keep watering, keep hoping, keep fighting.
Last week was rough. I feel like I’ve just breached the surface of a very dark ocean, and am holding myself in tension, taking great gulps of air and hoping not to sink again. I can tell it was bad because I’m slightly shaky, a thin imperceptible tremor running through my marrow. Pouring myself into work to get from one shore to the next always carries the risk of waking mid-current to find myself in a boat made of spellcraft and driftwood (oh, Ged the magician, I’m thinking of you often these days, but mostly Tenar), licking salt-cracked lips and hoping my voice holds out to sing me to dry land.
Mostly, it does. Sometimes, though, the holes widen, and I sink. I don’t even know I’m sinking until I notice the bubbles are rising.
I suppose it was good that least week also involved some enforced rest, sitting in a library and simply reading for a few hours at a time while waiting. “Her days were as long and wide as a child’s…” Nancy Price, in Sleeping With the Enemy, which I reread often, wrote about Sarah reading to distract herself from hunger.
Hunger. Such a funny word, and mistaken for virtue, just like every other socially sanctioned pain to make a woman conform.
…yeah, you can tell I’m not fit for human company right now. I need a run and a book, in that order, but there are revisions due before the end of the month and I’m behind on the comic scripts. The sunscreen has soaked in, I can barely sit still, and my shoes need to be laced.
May we all find the surface today. And may we all swim for the joy of it, instead of struggling to reach land.
Yesterday was awful, and now I have plenty to catch up on. I’m happiest when I’m working, I guess, but all the same…I’d like to layabout for a few more days and stuff my head full of fun things. Alas, administrivia and wordcount beckon.
On the bright side, I pulled a beautiful four-shot this morning, and here it is for your delectation. It smelled great, and cut with a little cream, tasted even better. And one of the kids loaded the dishwasher already, so that’s one less thing I have to do. Such little things–a cup of coffee, a dog’s nosing at one’s hand, finding the dishwasher already loaded–make life bearable. When I look to find what makes life worth continuing, it’s the tiny graces that end up outweighing all else.
I wish you a day full of small, beautiful things, my friends.
Sometimes, Khan doesn’t want to be tucked in for his daily rest. Instead, he half-naps outside the covers, keeping a watchful eye and enjoying the air. I don’t mind, for I know a bear is a wild thing at heart, but sometimes he mutters about needing to be on guard during the daytime, and I get concerned.
He tells me not to worry, for he is a bear of much strength and canniness, as evidenced by his many mighty feats during the Nightmare Skirmishes. He is a bear of much tenderness, too, and doesn’t wish me to be concerned. Perhaps he does just want some air, but there’s a warning glint in his dark eyes.
So on days he wishes to be outside the covers, I take extra care. I check the street an extra time before crossing, I reread thrice before I hit “send”, I drink plenty of water and try to be as gentle with myself as I am with my loved ones. And when I crawl into bed at the end of the day and Miss B hops up to settle herself for the night journey, I hug Khan and thank him.
What for? his eyes say, and I settle him in his usual spot.
“For caring,” I say, and open the book I’m currently reading.