I wanted to write today, but have been pretty down this week so far, and nothing is really poking up above the water (except the inexorable nightmare of politics, ugh, no more facebook today!!). Maybe it’s the fact that Marshall and I are both equally on board with marriage counseling/couples therapy, now, and so we actually have to make an appointment. When it comes to therapy, I’ve always encouraged ALLL my friends to do it, saying ‘everyone should get therapy,’ but not meaning mySELF. Like, everybody else should do it. But I’m coo.

Actually, I do believe we need a third party, but in the past I’ve used long silent afternoons or evenings of solitary thinking, praying, and writing to be that third party. But I don’t write anymore, I’m hardly ever solitary anymore (usually if I am, I feel compelled to do things like food prep, phone calls, cleaning, etc.), and since I’m used to doing my deep thinking via writing … I don’t really think deeply that often anymore. So—let’s pay for an actual human person third party. And since there are talented and empathetic people who act as third parties for their livings, let’s get one of those. K.

I actually opened this tab up to talk about a couple of cardinals, though. The steel-gray sky is so oppressive that I want to close all the curtains, while Mary is at PDO, and make a warm little cave of this room. But the walls are dim and blank, the lights are wan and weak, and I feel like I should be rushing around doing productive things. Especially things to make money, cause money is tight. So I was looking absently out the window, trying to decide what to do with the morning (a luxury that still startles me, sometimes), trying to not be so depressed by the gray fog sheeting the world so coldly, and up in the window pops the brightest red beak, followed by a russet head and black eye. A female cardinal hopped across the outside sill, looking in at me at every hop.

This is what poetry is (just typing that phrase, tears have come to my eyes): into of the cage of the mind, the anxiety-ridden, sad, overwhelmed mind, a red beak and brown feather come. A bright eye, like nothing the mind can remember, glistens, saying, “there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy” (slight re-phrasing mine).

I have a friend who seems to always (i.e., probably actually about once a month) be sending me links to great episodes of the On Being podcast—a podcast which we can all agree does this work. Tippet (host) is consciously trying to break into the little hamster-wheel cages of our minds, where we do our daily anxiety exercises, to show us rifts in the fabric of time. Life is overwhelming, so I’ve stopped reading poetry, stopped listening to these podcasts, and stopped reminding myself that there is an unworld out there, a place outside of time, where God lives and beckons.

The female cardinal hopped to the edge of the sill and flew off. Ten seconds later, a bright scarlet head with another glistening otherworldly eye popped into view where she had been: a male cardinal was following her.

I still don’t know what to do, today, except to try to leave the door of my mind open. If God is there, then I will know.

And I called my senators about Jeff Sessions ALREADY so I’m officially staying OFFFTT of facebook for the rest of the day I swear to god. If you know me, feel free to text me asking if I kept to my promise. Haha.

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My sister and her boyfriend in the top photo, and another sister on the far right of this photo.

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Brother-in-law, then two friends from church…

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Friends I wish I could have marched with in Nashville…

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Knoxville turning up the heat. I hope we can show up in the same numbers and with the same fervor for immigrant & refugee rights and dignity, for climate change action, affordable housing advocacy, and whatever else is gonna need a spotlight this year. I’m trying to not be sensationalist (a word?) and alarmist, but an ounce of prevention is worth a ton of cure.

This is one of those terms that I’ve googled three times and still can’t remember if I’m using it correctly: occultation. You tarp over some ground, forcing grass to die and weeds to get leggy and pale. You come through with a tiller, turn the plant matter into the soil, let it decompose, till one more time & then you’re ready to plant.

I’m trying a version of this, since I’m putting a 30’x40′ garden bed in the middle of our crabgrass backyard, and I ain’t got time to cut up no sod. THAT is a workout. And leaves you with piles of grass and grassroots. I’m hoping to till in my organic matter in March, if we keep having warm spells like the one we’re in now (highest high was 69F I think…).

I read a blog essay that a friend on facebook (with whom I haven’t caught up in 10 years?) posted about the women’s marches, yesterday. It was written by someone that’s part of a “Christian Orthodox” group, and the blog’s “About” page was as clipped, testy, vinegary, and theologically narrow as the post had been: “We support traditional Christian Monarchy and Hierarchic social order, as the true pillar of Christian Patriotism,” for instance. A list of “we believe” items followed, whose main concern was to isolate “we” from “them,” casting “we” in the purest most righteous light, and “them” in the darkest and most lost/misguided shadow.

One of the most-used “weapons” in the traditional Christian arsenal, as I experienced traditional Christianity growing up, was this “us versus them” tool of the mind, an easy and clever trick that allowed us Christians to isolate ourselves from “the world” by thinking of ourselves as “found,” “set apart,” “saved,” etc., while our unbelieving neighbors were by the same token “lost,” “of the world,” “damned,” and so on. It gave us both the satisfaction of knowing we were always “right,” or at least “ok,” while slowly pushing us further and further from our neighbors around us, ultimately resulting in fear and ignorance of much of the world around us. I speak generally—I can at least say of myself that I grew up fearful and ignorant of much of the world around me. It’s only in the past years that I’ve been able to move further away from this dualism of “us versus them.” I don’t know why it took me so long, since Christ himself rejected this kind of thinking, immersing himself in his culture (while questioning or rejecting parts of it that were damaging), and drawing people to himself that his friends the Jews considered “lost,” “of the world,” “damned,” and so on.

In this woman’s essay, she castigated the “modern feminists” of the women’s marches for being pro-abortion (not all were), for being exhibitionists (very few were, I imagine), for turning the natural order upside down (indeed), and other grave irreligious crimes. A short string of “Well written!” and “I wish every woman would read this!” comments dropped off the bottom of the post, and I commented as well, defending the marches as unaffiliated, spontaneous expressions of unity, peace, and goodwill, and questioning the author’s assumptions that “feminism” is the opposite of “Christian values” or Christian love.

In fact, as lovers of the gospels know, Christ broke societal norms several times, in shocking ways, to make it clear that women were more important to him than they were to Jewish culture at large. He tacitly worked to re-define Jewish “holiness” when he taught Mary in her home, as women weren’t allowed near the teaching that went on in the synagogues. By talking to lower-class women (even former hookers) in rough neighborhoods, letting them touch him and follow him, eat with him, he was creating a new ethic for “holy women,” and by cancelling a public execution of a woman who broke religious law he … what would you say was his goal? I can only guess. And my guess is that he was still about his work of raising up the destitute.

One of my favorite stories in the gospel is Christ’s appearance to Mary after the resurrection. Why did he choose a woman to be the first to see and hear him? Why did he create for her the task of spreading “the good news” (“gospel”) of his resurrection, rather than appearing in the room of disciples himself? What would you say was his goal? I can only guess, that it was important for him to entrust a woman with the job of spreading news. I heard someone say once that Mary was the first preacher, and I like to roll that idea around in my head. Can you imagine how it must have hurt Peter’s feelings that Mary was the first to see him, though? I mean really.

And I was going to find some thread to tie the above conversation up with the occultation method of soil preparation, but the baby’s up. I’ll leave you to tie them together…

It’s been so wet and cloudy this winter, which is wonderful (we’re still in D3 drought last time I checked, hoping we make up some ground before spring). But this is my first morning back from the Missouri roadtrip, and I’ve gotten up early, and I kinda wanted to see a colorful sunrise. I’m having coffee, whose tang and richness is like a splish of sun. The leaves in my occultation plot in the backyard are still orange and burnt sienna, and the grass is faded but still has green shadows. I’ll take it.

Now that I have myself looking out into the backyard, I’m starting to make lists of things I want to do out there, like till the leaves into the garden bed, get rid of trash/junk, clean and repaint the toolshed—the list could go on for pages. But the purpose of getting up in the morning is to regain guilt-free solitude, and get a handle on my life.

So, to go one step deeper than making jumpy to-do lists, I’ll make an I’m-doing list:

1. I’m realizing that it doesn’t matter so much what I write, I just have TO write, to feel like I’m contributing to the world. Mary’s growing so fast, now, that I can add “mothering” to this category of things, but I honestly still feel like I’m barely scraping by in the mom department, and have this horrible dread of finding out that, in fact, anyone could be raising my daughter better than I am. WRONG! I know! UGHH!! Regardless. While I realize mothering is much more important, I feel like I suck at it, while I’ve always felt I was good at writing. One has to feel like they can do something well in life. I think I’ve finally got to a point where I can see that writing, while not as significant as parenting, will help me to parent better if I can just make time to do it. Ergo:

2. I am writing. Getting up at 6:30 is proving to be practically painless. Thanks in part to the fact that Mary is now sleeping through the night 70% of the time. (Only took 2 years!)

3. I may not be publishing poetry collections or children’s books, but I’m instead trying to organize my head and spirit, and that’s the actual best work that I have to do. And I’m doing it.

4. I’m trying to bring my body into better health (along with my head). I’m going to bed a little earlier (you can’t imagine how late we’ve stayed up, this past year, ffs!). I’m drinking herbal tea before bed to wind down. I’m eating things I make, except for chocolate, etc., and freezing CSA veg in pestos and broths so I waste less food. I’m drinking more water. I’m getting back into yoga … and since I’m getting back into yoga I really have to get my wrists x-rayed because my wrist problems are getting worse with age/more yoga. Dammit.

5. I’m becoming a more honest person, and that comes across as negative & brash at times … because the inside of my head is pretty negative and brash, these days. Pretending that I’m stoked and #winning is too tiring, feels fake & gross, and keeps relationships from really growing. The next step for me, after the work I’ve already started in the “make time to be with the women you really care about” arena, is to try plugging back into groups that I want to be a part of. I finally feel capable of this. I’d like to be politically active (already beginning), I’m curious about getting involved with the local writer’s guild (freaks me the fuck out for some reason), I want to head up a new committee at the farm where I work & possibly help with fundraising (though I hate fundraising with the fire a thousand suns), and I’m officially going to start volunteering with Nourish Knoxville, the little nonprofit that issues our local food guide. These feel like good places to start.

Sun is up. Looks like the heavy wall of gray is opening up a bit—nice.

Today, since I’m not gonna be able to march with any of the women’s marches tomorrow, I downloaded Shepard Fairey’s We the People posters for the Women’s March on Washington.They’re going to hang out on my laptop until I have the time and dollars to print my favorite out, and frame it.

I have so many thoughts and feelings and experiences and etc. to really talk coherently about what these marches mean to me. And yet I can’t help it. Women are and have always been very special, to me. Their places in their respective societies are gloriously faceted and full of life and blood and suppression and secrets and liberty. A lot of the person I am today is a result of what I’ve learned about & experienced of misogyny, and learned from all of the powerful women I’ve tried to surround myself with. Women are the creators of life, in a sense, and most often—in most societies through the ages (less so in the modern age)—the primary nurturers of it. They have historically been the keepers of seeds, of the weak, sick, and vulnerable, and of the chicken in the pot on the stove. Because political and societal power has so often been kept from them, they have also been the keepers of each other: this is what the women’s marches are about, for me.

It thrills me that men will march tomorrow, too, but women’s lives so often fray and dovetail into each other’s lives in a way that is unique. Pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, and childcare have each ushered me into an even sharper understanding of this cross-cultural and cross-generational sisterhood, unique vulnerabilities and suppressed dark (and light!) threads that run deep inside of our domestic and personal lives—this is what the women’s marches are about, to me.

It terrifies me that our new president has reached his office by the support of millions of my countrymen & women who dismiss his (violent, we have learned!) misogyny, racist and xenophobic rhetoric, and generally abusive behavior with a “meh.” Yes, these demonstrations do bring more attention to trump, whose face has become a symbol in public discourse of selfishness and impulsive greed. As we all know, trump thrives on attention, and no human being can truly be reduced to a symbol. But I can’t accept that the answer is to keep quiet, ostensibly dismissing the whole shitball with another “meh.” The attention the marches’ leaders have said they hope to capture is that of all Americans—we must teach our children, our students, our peers, our families, our leaders, ourselves, about who we want to become, or we will begin to forget it. This is what the women’s marches are about, to me.

My daughter is asleep, napping in a Super 8 motel in Lamar, Missouri, the birthplace of Harry Truman. We all come from small towns—towns the size of our mothers’ wombs, of our childhood homes, of our parents’ eyes, watching us drive off into adulthood. How little it really matters where we come from, or where we’ve been on the way to where we are, now. Now is where the power of the future is. And now is always so overwhelming that only one or two things can be done in a day—I know this VERY well. But let one thing you do today be singing, or drawing, or walking in the forest. Let one thing you do tomorrow be to affirm that women have the right to speak truth to power, and to applaud those who do. I will be for sure doing that all up in here.

 

Today feels a little momentous. First: after two years of sleeping till the last possible minute in the morning, i.e., being awakened by the baby, I have decided to get up early. Yeah I know I know. I should have started such a long time ago. But I was talking to my friend yesterday (she’s starting to do this too), and I was able to articulate part of the reason I’ve not gotten up early—my morning time (coffee, book or journal, staring out of a window, contemplating, ALONE) had been such a huge part of my day, both for waking up gently and preparing myself mentally/spiritually for the chaos that would come crashing down later, that the loss of it was grievous, and I couldn’t forgive. Honestly it was my favorite part of the day. Plus I was depressed (still am sometimes) and didn’t want the sun to rise. Sleeping in was my way of telling the Morning to go f itself. Ha! The logic here is astonishing.

But as I keep saying (over and over in different ways), the past 6 months—and especially the past 3 months—have seen my spirit rising and my body and mind healing. In some way. I still can’t figure out how to eat properly for lunch or pray or finish painting the house, but whatever. I can be patient-ish.

So I got up at 6:30, made coffee, lit a candle, and set up the laptop in front of the dining room windows so I could watch the sun rise while I write.

This whole feeling of rightness and courage was almost waylaid by me pulling out my phone in the bathroom and watching clips from the Betsy DeVos confirmation hearing—but nevermind all that garbage. I’m prioritizing my own mental and physical health this year, and while I also anticipate doing some protesting and demonstrating, I plan to not let politics be any less or more to me than one of my (several) jobs. As in, I’m a citizen, so I should speak about my citizenship and country; I should not let anxiety or anger ruin my enjoyment of my coffee, or my people.

Second reason today feels momentous: as you may have been able to tell, I’m writing. I’m writing a blog. Can I compare myself to someone undergoing physical therapy? No? A metaphor too far. But I really do feel rust powdering off in glinty little sprays, and the screeching of gears. I feel I’m learning to walk again, in a way. I feel, for instance, that everything I’ve written in these past two years has been garbage, and that I’m wandering around trying to figure out what would be the purpose of continuing to write. Dramatic, yes. Valid, yes.

In other news, and to keep those little showers of oxidized metal coming, I will say that Marshall’s grandfather died last week and we are going to take an 11 hour roadtrip (with a two year old) to go see family and be at the memorial service. It was a difficult decision for me—whether to go or not—because I’m so scared of sleep deprivation (on the one hand) and baby screaming in the car (on the other) that I just had this physical *NO* response to Marshall’s initial suggestions that we either drive through the night or drive through the day. I’ve had more than I wanted—and more on top of that—of sleep deprivation and baby crying in the car. Because of my terrible mental health in the baby’s first year, both of those items are all painted up in terrifying reds and oranges and blacks, nightmarish, horrible.

But guess what. 18 months ago is not right now. I’m now mostly-prepared to actually kind of enjoy the drive.

I also wanted to attend either the Nashville Women’s March or the Knoxville one. Someone please go and wear a pussyhat for me. (Weep.)

Last item, as sun is up and therefore soon the baby will be: I’ll be missing Hot Yoga at the Glowing Body on Thursday night, and my discovery of this class is such a new & exciting development. SUCH. DEVELOPMENT. So thrill. Wow. (I’ll be making doge jokes for the rest of my life, sadly.) This is a class that’s affordable, and at the perfect time of day for me to take it: 7:45pm. It’s ten minutes away from my house. I’ve longed to start yoga classes again, partly because yoga blesses my body in ways no other form of exercise has thus far, and partly because it is currently serving as my “church.” Shavasana (sp?) brings me to tears, every time. The grace that fills my whole body during one of these classes is the grace I  long for, and need, and that I can’t find (yet?) while trying to entertain my toddler in a church service. I do have a church, in the sense that I love many of the people at one particular church and regularly hang out with several of them, but I’ve been growing away from its theology/liturgy/practice for a while, for reasons.

I mean, one reason is that I’m an angry bitch who’s spent a few too many Sunday mornings during my formative years being told why I’m deficient and faulty and untrustworthy and I can really live without that for a while. But that’s another blog (series).

The sun is well & truly up. Let’s do this again.

I am sitting by myself at a table in the Public House, drinking champagne. It’s 8:30pm and two members of a long and established line of Public House fruit flies is hovering around my glass. One is skinny; the other, fat.

I’m trying to take the advice of the writers I know, and write for godssake. I haven’t experienced writer’s block like the block that comes after not writing for two years and realizing at the end of it that I’m completely at a loss. I have never in my life been at a loss when it comes to writing. And when I say things like that, I sound like such a whiny kid. Which I am. Life is horrible. Wonderful, yes; and horrible. We pretend to accept this paradox, we pretend to understand its shape and movement, but then the tornado or asshole comes through our life and we whine. Like Job. Unable to imagine (though we hope, still) future happiness. Maybe I should speak for myself: I pretended to accept this paradox, and then a tornado came through my life. I’m sucking at recalibration.

And I can’t write about postpartum depression or rough marital issues without a thought balloon hovering over my head with “This is common. This is boring to other people.” in it.

Something in me would rather write about the line of faces at the bar—thirtysomethings with limp hair and thick-rimmed glasses, one is drawing sketches in a tiny moleskine notebook, looking pleased. This is what I’m missing. I’m jealous of this guy.
I miss pleasure in my work. A sense that I’m creating something good. That particular sense is why I kept a somewhat still center in my late teens and early adulthood, I think. I made things that seemed to benefit both me and others.

Hanging out with a toddler—while infinitely more rewarding (at least to PPD/PPA moms like I was) than hanging out with an infant—lacks a certain je ne sais pas. Maybe I have fun, maybe I enjoy significant parts of it, maybe I can theoretically grasp that I’m doing a form of creative work by being deeply involved in a child’s formative years. But mostly I hate that I’m not doing a good job, being too internally chaotic, too angry and too lazy and too unhappy and too impatient. And I’m having to come to grips with the fact that I thought I would be a writer, headed to obscure but rewarding success in the world of literature and litmags, boozy release parties, elevated conversation, learned circles, wildly artistic and not necessarily dissipated habits. My habits are basically the worst and most boring they’ve ever been. Though it does feel like things are changing.

Again, I sound like such a whiny kid—but maybe this is what life is: continually running into detours and rerouting and roadblocks and deciding, each time, whether to pull over or keep going. And I think the odd things is, while I’ve met detours and roadblocks before, I’ve never considered just pulling over and parking it, before. The possibility that I could actually give up on this thing that I thought my life was for (not to put too fine a point on it) gives me pause. It’s horrifying. And it turns me to stone. And I continue to not write. And my life continues to become what it is becoming.

Maybe early motherhood is rocky for everyone. Maybe motherhood, for women through the millenia, is, itself, a kind of eternal reckoning of the soul: What do I do, now? In societies that valued motherhood above all for women, it was probably less fraught, I’m guessing. On the other hand, maybe it’s a personality thing: I wanted to do a job that doesn’t jive with [early] motherhood, and which has a form of expiration date on it. The longer I’m out of the market, the worse my resume looks, and the less confidence I have about jumping back in.

That’s it for today.

 

 

List of today’s notable things:

1. My big 25×40 foot garden rectangle is completely covered in cardboard and leaves/pine needles by now, and this garden is going to be home to annuals and vegetables mainly; this leaves the area around the shed to be prepped for my perennial culinary/medicinal herb garden. TODAY, while Mary napped praise god, Joel and I tore up the main toe-stubbing aggravation of that area, which was a random 3′ square of white decorative rocks enclosed by rotting 2x4s and overgrown by crabgrass. Hideous, unconscionable, gone. I could never have done this alone. Three tarp loads of gravel and accompanying dirt were insanely heavy. Lots of modifiers in this paragraph!

2. I had a good time with Mary today—yeah, sadly this qualifies as “notable.” We enjoyed each other all day, and never had a fight. We went to the zoo, where she strode around in her big boots and puffy coat like a kitten wearing big-cat-sized clothes; we read books, several of which she loves and talked about a great deal, with great interest and ideas and gesturing; we watched Curious George and had snacks, and both of these items were extremely satisfactory to her, so much so that I could squeeze her till she’s flat as a pancake.

3. I roasted a chicken, which is one of the most therapeutic things that I do, these days. I also sauteed garlic and kale in a skillet, and roasted two huge pans of turnips, carrots, sweet potatoes, Yukon Golds, beets, and onions—all but the onions and white potatoes being from our Care of the Earth Community Farm winter share. That feels incredible, to feed my daughter, husband, and brother with food from East Tennessee soil. Beware of asking me why. As I would tell you, probably at great length.

4. I started following an instagram account that is right on the edge of being bad for me—a young beautiful woman with effortless 30-something style and two kids and a cool house and she’s also some kind of professional, forget what kind. I keep having this one photo of her float through my mind, and fortunately I’m right here for my actual eyes to look at and compare to that photo of The Amazing Woman! It’s also fortunate that I look like a cross between a dirty hipster and an I’ve-completely-given-up frumpy mom. Way emphasis on frumpy mom. Like, my long hair was unbelievably tangled for THE LAST! TIME!! the other day, so I basically hacked off 5-6 inches of it in a rage, yanking out knots and giving about zero shits about whether it was even or not. So, hair. And the fact that I have no career or gravitas about me at all right now. Every day I’m surprised my fly is not open, and I’m still SHOCKED that my barely-breastfeeding status means I no longer have to worry about randomly leaking from ol’ lefty—can I just say that that is HUGE. I think breastfeeding boob leakage is one main reason I’ve felt like a Dodge Caravan these past two years: you never know when that van is gonna break down, but you know it WILL break down.

5. My mom gave me a muffin tin for Christmas, and I’m having trouble wrapping my mind around the fact that I can now just make muffins if I want. I’ve been muffin tinless for forever—for the same reason I choose to scrape ice and frost off my car windows with a credit card instead of a window scraper, and cut my own hair in a rage with sewing scissors: I prefer to put things that are going to require money or energy off, and just make do. The man I married, on the other hand, thinks I’m ridiculous, and does things like A) buys the floss he likes so that he will floss his teeth, B) takes care of his health insurance on time (with time to spare), and C) goes to Banana Republic to buy pants when he realizes he needs new pants. He’s as bad as I am in some cases, yes. But not that many.

I had some kind of food poisoning and/or bad food reaction the other night, to some rare steak, and what followed was 24 hours of hell. Rather than go into details I will just leave you to imagine. Ha. But this morning is the most normal I’ve felt in several days, and—while I’m your classic overachiever mother of a young kid & wife—I’m still somehow able to let Christmas stress slip away this morning. Yeah I love Christmas. OMG I LOVE CHRISTMAS. But since I don’t have time to make presents these days, I kind of have to buy them, which is a financial stressor; since both our families are in town we have too many fun events to choose from and have to say no to more people than is fun; and since our kid is only two, and life has been kind of a big ol stress train for most of those two years, we haven’t been able to hammer out what we want *our* family Christmas to look like, and our lack of prior discussion made for some high-stress misunderstandings yesterday…….

However. I waxed my armpits. They are the most gorgeous softest armpits you’ve ever seen in your life. That always makes me feel like tons of bucks. Also we said (it was tacit) “the heck with it” this morning and let Mary watch Robin Hood whilst eating her breakfast (it’s still on, which is why I get to blog!), and both Marshall and I got to shower and be slow about stuff. God. It’s amazing. I mean, I’m glad I didn’t let her watch tv for her first year, and limited it a lot till she was about 2, but—Pandora’s box over here. I’m gonna have to figure out how to not get hooked on letting my kid watch Robin Hood all the time. Conflicted on whether I want to solicit advice about this. Sigh.

Also this is the first morning since my illness that I’ve wanted coffee, and I’m having some. Also, the house had gone to absolute shit these past couple of weeks, because I got sick exactly after Mary had a stomach bug (so much vomit guys, and yes, at one point I did hold out my hand for her to throw up in it—she obliged me! Ok maybe I’m a good mom). The bathroom had seen horrors and looked like it. Cracker crumbs were literally everywhere (in the world). Toys, socks, shriveled-up bananas everywhere—etc. And last night—we cleaned up! It feels amazing. Yes, walnut stained wood floors shows crumbs and specks, but it looks so good when it’s clean that I still don’t care.

In other news, I’m realizing more and more that I need to get a regular writing habit going. Yeah I know I always say that, and then don’t, but I feel closer than ever. I’ve been so amped on anxiety these past two years that I haven’t allowed myself to rest, or mentally wander, which someone on the radio reminded me, yesterday, is essential for creative work (have known it’s essential for me in the past, but wondered if I could learn to do without). I haven’t found places of peace, but so much of the chaos is settling that I can imagine making those places. Especially on mornings like this.

I’m starting to think about being an artist and a mother with a little less angst, a little more distance, these days. Since I’m not sitting down to write, the thoughts seem almost fruitless sometimes, since I can’t pin them down to return to later. I just have to observe them, give them a few moments’ fervent attention, hoping they will return to me if I can’t return to them.

And like an idiot I loved Lindbergh’s Gift from the Sea so much that I sent it to my friend in Seattle before I had finished it so I could get it to her in time for Christmas. So I don’t have those thoughts to soak in. But those thoughts have been catalysts for more of my own. I hope to make 2017 “The Year Anna Laura Started Writing Again” and even if nothing comes of it but better mental health for me, then it’ll be worth it. I have all the reasons in the world to dread the incoming administration and the particular kind of leadership it’ll offer its believers, and the opportunities and dignity it will deprive of many others. But I’m hearing that this is just a signal for us to double down on our own health and the health of our friends and families and local communities.

But I’m at a loss when it comes to how responsible I am to larger communities…like, should I be sending money to aid groups for Syria? Should I be contributing to groups that fight sex trafficking? Climate change? Or should I quit reading about all the horrific tragedies on the internet and learn how to love my daughter better? Duh, right? But then—what about Syria and all the people who say “You should be doing something”? Awash with information, crippled by anxiety. This is why the homesteading thing is so big right now. We all need rest. And healthy escape. Damn. Navigating the internet is so hard for me.

And my baby is so cute these days. SO CUTE.

..as making a last-ditch effort to make your child take a nap (like, it’s 5:00, if she doesn’t sleep now, it won’t happen), only to hear her screaming and crying from her room, and saying random things like “Mama get up? Mama get up??? Mama???????? [wailing]. I set myself up for failure, I know, by anticipating nap time, imagining what I’ll do while she’s asleep, and hoping it’ll happen. Or maybe she set me up—she’s been actually taking one-hour (or a little longer) naps at home lately, which still strikes me as so weird.

Actually, maybe the most relaxing thing ever is that moment when you buckle your whining/crying child in her carseat, and then shut her door, and there you are in the parking lot in perfect silence. Maybe there’s a crying kid in the car? Maybe not? Maybe you don’t have a car—maybe you’re a single, childless girl on a walking tour of the southeast. You can really feel your spine straightening as you sloowwlly walk from the baby’s door to the driver’s side. One last long breath through the nose. The perfect silence and clarity of the air, split second of astonishment that you are in love with a parking lot, then head ducking back underwater as you open the driver’s door and get into the car.

You’re welcome, world!