Woke to profound sense of calm

It doesn’t happen often to me, this profound calm. Not being able to access wild places alone any more, since relocating to a city, my usual doses of calm are accessed via laughter, exercise or detailed explorations of gardens.

Crikey, that was a long sentence, that last one. I try to keep them short. Honestly.

I’m reading Crimson Lake by Candice Fox. This was prompted by watching the series, Troppo, on ABC TV. For those not in Australia, I apologise for my parochialism. I also recommend the book to you. Ms Fox is one of those authors who can dazzle with dialogue as much as plot, characterisation and location descriptions. If I were a TV producer, I’d want to convert that book to imagery too. As a mere consumer, I was already in love with Amanda and Ted, and enjoying the depiction of small town mentality and associated casual cruelties. Not because I like cruelty, mind you, but because it meant that I wasn’t the only one to notice those things.

There is such depth in the book. Humour, intelligence and compassion sit alongside clear-eyed acknowledgements of the unsavoury aspects of humanity. I can’t recall the last title that satisfied on multiple levels. I’m in awe.

And of course I’m not just talking about the book itself, but what it’s revealing to me about my own life and my own issues. After all, we bring ourselves to books. We see ourselves reflected, sometimes, and sometimes we are repelled. I’m often aware of a parallel narrator, comparing and contrasting, pointing out emotional landmarks and laughing at insights revealed by the characters on the page. It’s wizardry. It’s what I’ve been aiming for in my own book and haven’t yet achieved.

In my own book, I’m holding so much back that the rooms feel bare. I wrote about this dilemma in an earlier post. I’m fearful of revealing details that can’t ever be clawed back once in the public domain. They could be used to hurt those close to me. Maybe I’m even thinking of my writing as a form of photography, where a (word) picture steals my soul. You may not have it. And with that thought I’m reminded of someone I used to know, who, when mugged, kept five dollars hidden. It was important that this person with a gun should not get it all. And in her relationships, it seemed important that nobody should know all of her. It was symbolic. (We weren’t muggers. Just saying.) We hold things back in all sorts of circumstances, for reasons that make sense to others or not.

Ted and Amanda, on the other hand, have had so much of their lives revealed to the public that privacy seems impossible. They’ve also had so many untruths spread about them that their very existence seems impossible. And yet they make it work. Amanda with her attitude and creativity, and Ted with his gentleness and quest to understand his tormentors. Both persist.

Can you see where I’m going with this? Maybe not, so I’ll tell you. I see parallels with trans people. Especially now, with my rewriting process underway, and the accompanying bray of prominent politicians as they throw trans people under the bus in the lead-up to our national elections.

Sorry, another long sentence. They make me so uncomfortable, both those long sentences and the immoral behaviour of privileged pollies who use the relatively powerless as political footballs. Crikey, now I have to apologise for mixed metaphors as well as mentioning football itself, which almost needs a trigger warning these days. Moving on…

There are so many sub-plots and sub-themes in this book that I appreciate. I even enjoy noting where the book differs from the TV adaptation. The characters and location are so vivid, so real to me. I think the last time I got so excited about a TV series was when Annika screened on ABC TV. I watched each episode at least five times, for the gentle humour and wild Scottish landscapes as much as anything else.

All I really wanted to say was that this book is giving me lessons in resilience, while thoroughly entertaining, enriching and emboldening me. I hope that it does the same for others. And I’m excited to add another highly gifted author to my reading list.

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PS: the book has queer content that the TV series omitted.

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Today’s photo was taken by moi.

Making it up as I go along

Good afternoon, Earthlings! I’ve no idea what to say, and will carry on regardless. Create the page and the words will come.

This week I learned a new word, ‘aphasia’, which goes some way to describe the experience I mentioned in an earlier post – of periodically forgetting how to use language. It scares me, this forgetting. It’s disorienting. I’m drawn to others’ writing on the subject, and to films such as IRIS, about Iris Murdoch’s cognitive decline. It helps me remember that I’m not broken, just bruised at this point.

I’m already doing all the things listed in the Australian Aphasia Association website. I’m looking after my brain, and I don’t have any pesky addictions to conquer. For me, the focus is on maintaining movement and human connection and mood. They seem to be my own Achilles heel of the brain.

Isolation, particularly the involuntary sort, is a pain in the frontal lobes. Without that daily human connection, I tend to retreat into imagery and sensation, instead of language. Or my language declines to a rudimentary version. Why bother finding the most exquisite ways to describe sunshine and birds, if there’s nobody to show off to? Zoom and its ilk, along with phone and ‘socials’, are pale facsimiles of human interaction, suitable only as supplements to IRL. It pains me to admit this to myself. It’s painfully inconvenient. That said, these days they are vital supplements. I’m grateful.

My latest library book, a memoir by someone who had a stroke in her early thirties, scares me. She’s a blogger. A wordsmith. Another vital person you’d think would have all the ‘use it or lose it’ boxes ticked. It scares me to recognise so much of myself in her experience. Why wasn’t I scared while reading of Anne Deveson’s Alzheimer’s? What about Georgia Blain’s memoir detailing her experience of brain cancer? They were magnificent writers and I was moved by their books, but not scared. Perhaps because Tell Me Everything You Don’t Remember is more visceral, and the author, Christine Hyung-Oak Lee, is so much younger.

Perhaps.

I’m only a few pages in, and keep closing it and running off to do other things. Maybe I’ll be able to explain things better later.

Things are good here, on the whole. Beautiful weather, manageable noise levels (noise cancelling headphones and ethereal traditional Maori music distract me from power tools outside), a decent garden fruit harvest and a few favourite photos of garden insects, to share. A friend and I meet regularly to talk and read each others’ work. Theirs is a manuscript on the power of language. I have enough, am doing enough, and AM enough. While last week was full of expletives, they were carefully chosen and skilfully used. Once I caught up on sleep, again, I was all tra la la la… and teaching myself basic tunes on the recorder. I’m told it’s good for the brain.

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Today’s photo is my own.

Gratitude

My social needs are small, as I’m sure I’ve mentioned before. I can be alone for a week before feeling peculiar.

But a few small, friendly interactions per day are my own baseline for good mental health. And during the past few years, especially during multiple lockdowns, I’ve been grateful for those people who kept in contact.

I reached out to others as well, as part of my plan to stay connected and to comfort others during isolation, but there are times when my own grasp of written language eludes me. When that happens it can take me hours to compose a coherent sentence or two, and I’m more likely to send nature photos. It was especially important for me to hear from others at those times. Receiving emails, letters and texts reminded me that my incapacity was a blip, rather than the norm. Phone calls and short, socially distanced visits outside also helped.

Being able to contribute to others’ lives is a natural element of social connection, so I was happy when I could help someone, even by listening carefully to their distress.

It was a bit like those documentaries where people with dementia receive music therapy, which awakens damaged areas of their brains. I’m not saying that I have brain damage, but it does feel that way at times. This has happened at times of deep depression, on and off for over thirty years. It can be frightening.

Then there are times when I believe I could write a blog post every day for a year, without ever running out of ideas. I make the most of those days.

Today, though, I just want to thank everyone who has kept in touch and therefore nourished me mentally, emotionally and spiritually during this extended period of uncertainty and disruption. I appreciate every hug, word, image, and care package. I appreciate you.

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The photo is mine 🙂

Recovering hoarder

Hello, my name is Dustbunny and I am a hoarder.

Yes, ok friends, I admit it. I have struggled with this for about a decade now, after a traumatic breakup. Yes, a lot of us turn to things to make us feel better after a loss.

From time to time I watch tv shows on hoarding, to help motivate me to tackle tasks requiring a ‘simplicity’ mindset. I’m fed up to the back teeth with the word ‘decluttering’. It creates clutter in my brain, whereas ‘simplifying’ creates space and focus. The phrase, ‘beauty and order’ also helps.

It has taken a novel to get me to open up about this. It’s another wonderful book that I shall not purchase, because I currently have enough books. (Sorry, bibliomaniacs, I know this is heresy.) It’s a library book. An e-book, because that helped me stay out of the library itself. LOVE OBJECTS by Emily Maguire is the first novel I’ve encountered that is genuinely compassionate and insightful. The Trauma Cleaner, a non-fiction book, was also wonderful. The subject of this book, Sandra Pankhurst, is a personal hero of mine.

Like many mental disorders, hoarding is usually treated in media and fiction with large helpings of ridicule and sensationalism, whereas these books encourage empathy and kindness. I cannot thank the authors enough.

For several years I lived with a partner who was a hoarder. For most of that time I sought help for my own issues and they insisted that their behaviour was totally rational. Without going into details, we both experienced anxiety that manifested in completely different ways, and unfortunately these exacerbated each other. As much as we loved each other, I had to get out of there for my own health. I left with about six boxes, a backpack and a bicycle.

My next partner had seemingly created a museum of their entire life. It was like a curiosity shop. She was an artist and a collector of found objects, so these were added to the mix. We were renting and relocating often, without hired help, which was stressful. Fortunately we lived in a part of town that offered hard rubbish collections, so we had the option of letting go of many things in a convenient manner. No car and trailer required. That helped a lot.

After one shared stressful life event too many, she turned to someone outside the relationship for solace, and we split up. I had considered us married (it wasn’t yet legally possible) and was shattered. In truth it felt as though I’d lost my entire life in a natural disaster.

A couple years later, one of my exes nearly lost her home to a forest fire, and the other to an earthquake. Meanwhile, my next home was in the safest location I’d inhabited in years. It didn’t even leak, which is a rare privilege in my experience of low income rental housing. I finally felt safe and settled, or at least I knew that I was, intellectually, but I didn’t feel it. I kept asking myself what it would take for me to feel it. What did I need? I kept coming back to symbols of nurturance and possibility. So that’s what I did. I collected these symbols.

The local op shop was a mixed blessing. One year I obtained an entire new wardrobe of new and barely worn items for five dollars, thanks to their seasonal sales. On an extremely limited income, I was usually able to obtain anything I genuinely needed, including kitchen items, for a few coins. And with my own version of nurturance and possibility that included art and craft supplies, I satisfied those needs cheaply too.

The trouble lay within me, in knowing when to stop. One day, walking home, I was aware of a small inner voice saying, “Ok, that’s enough now. We have enough.” While I acknowledged this voice, and thanked it, I returned the following day to check out the treasures, because there were always delightful surprises to be had. Akin to social media, or gambling, perhaps, the few treasures among the dross reinforced the desire to return. I couldn’t seem to stop. It was a bittersweet day when the shop relocated out of my reach.

During my childhood, my mother was super organised and I adopted this as a self-protection strategy. If I was beyond reproach, I’d be left alone. So would my belongings. Nothing would ‘go missing’ because it had drawn attention to itself and been deemed unworthy. When I travelled, it was with an old army backpack, and I felt like a turtle. My sense of self-sufficiency and efficiency gave me pleasure. When living with my partner who hoarded, my bedroom was a bastion of order and calm. We’d not have lasted long together without it. When living with my artist partner, I periodically called people for help. I was overwhelmed and this time did not have a separate room to retreat to.

This is why I’m bewildered that I ever became a collector/hoarder myself. Even knowing about trauma and loss and self-soothing with objects, I find it hard to reconcile with my experiences of living with others who hoarded. Perhaps I rationalised it the way they did, as environmentalists and artists and collectors. We kept certain objects out of the waste stream and valued them.

The trick has personally been in drawing a line for myself. First, deciding what constitutes this line, which may not be the same line as anyone else’s. Then tackling the process in stages, rather than behaving as they do for tv and performing a ‘make-over’. That would be utterly overwhelming and debilitating for me. There are only so many decisions I can make in one day without my brain turning to custard and regret.

After years of this, I’m almost ready to invite friends inside again. Or not, as the case may be, depending on my other reasons for solitude. But my home is almost socially acceptable. It’s never been a health hazard, mind you, just cluttered and undecipherable to those outside my own head. As valid as it is to have your own home be the way you want it, as a tenant I am still required to allow access to certain judgemental persons who hold power. I continue to weigh this stress against the process of simplification… and make my own judgement calls.

LOVE OBJECTS by Emily Maguire tackles other social issues such as poverty and probably needs a content warning for online abuse. I won’t lie, it was tough going in parts. It was worth it.

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The photo is mine, taken in a public garden.

Identity is a verb

A new friend sends me links galore. Books, TV shows, articles, I now swim in links. Last night, in the midst of multitasking, she suggested I switch TV channels, pronto! I am nothing if not obedient.

It was We Don’t Need A Map, by Warwick Thornton on NITV (National Indigenous Television). Because I’ve expressed exasperation with my own ignorance, she’s added Indigenous topics to the link list, just in time for Invasion Day aka We Renamed Your Land Australia and Forced You to Speak English day.

It took me a while to figure out what the show was about, having come in part of the way through. Then I was glued. So much goodness! To my surprise, more than anything it was a quote near the end that stuck with me. An Indigenous man said that identity is a verb – it’s about what you’re responsible for.

I hope I got that right. It’s been reverberating since. What are we responsible for? What in particular is my own responsibility? How does that play out in my own sense of identity?

In the lead-up to my gender affirmation surgery, over five years ago now (crikey), I accepted a friend’s offer to teach me a self-awareness tool. I forget the name of it, but it was one of those long series of questions and answers that eventually places you within categories. They are your innate strengths. Then you consciously harness your strengths to achieve your goals.

I completed the process and wrote the top five oddly named strengths on surfaces around my home, as reminders. In no particular order they are Intellection, Deliberative, Connectedness, Input, and Ideation. To me, I have a responsibility to use each of these, for the benefit of all. Not that I’m a capital c communist, but I’m in favour of the Marx quote, “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs,” which was also used by the Steiner curative communities I’ve lived in.

Input is sometimes the easiest one to enact, as it is about gathering and redistributing supplies. It’s also in line with the Permaculture ethic of redistributing surplus. Ideation reminds me uncomfortably of psych talk, but broadly speaking is about brainstorming and problem-solving. Connectedness is the awareness that we are inextricably linked on multiple levels, and that any urge to isolate is not healthy in the long term. But lately it’s been my ability to think things through and exercise impulse control that I’ve felt the most need to share with others. And I have had to ask myself repeatedly, “Is this my responsibility?” as conflicts arose around me.

Tonight, though, I am thinking about Australia’s identity and what Australians are responsible for. I’m just going to sit here with it for a while.

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Picture is my own, I believe.

Give me some truth!

I made it partway through Ruhi Lee’s book, Good Indian Daughter: How I found freedom in being a disappointment, before taking a detour into Tana French’s latest, The Searcher. After that breather, I returned. I’m so glad that I did.

Ruhi’s someone I’d love to meet. I don’t remember how I came to borrow her book, but if it was on the basis of a blog recommendation, I can’t thank you enough.

I’m finding it hard now to articulate why her memoir is helpful for me. There you go, I’m not even giving you an overview, but diving straight into how it relates to me. It started off as a memoir by someone with a vastly different childhood, then took a sudden turn into shared territory. Reading her analysis of this territory, along with her visceral responses, helped me immeasurably.

Noticing that I’m still reluctant to name those experiences, although you may have already guessed. No, not gender dysphoria; yes, gender-related violence. The details are different, while many of the interpersonal dynamics remain eerily similar.

The ones I can name without feeling flayed and pinned to a museum’s specimen board are those of rigid and unreasonable expectations, combined with punishment and disregard of individuality, and enforced with unexamined social norms. Plus, a failure to respond appropriately to harm enacted by others. All in the name of good parenting, while unconsciously passing on intergenerational childhood traumas.

It’s not an easy read when you share those experiences described, and when you expected something lighter, funnier. What I cannot emphasise enough is that for me, it was totally worth it. It tapped into something that I am trying to explore in my own memoir – about the importance of stating truths and letting light in. Then learning how to process what those truths reveal, instead of sweeping them back under the rug or pretending that, ‘moving on’ is possible without this loving examination of reality.

I think my own family, and the wider culture I’m immersed in, is proof of the ineffectualness of sweeping and pretending. Even those who are engaged in ‘spiritual bypass’ methods of healing, or, to some extent, positive psychology, have reported cognitive dissonance. It feels great on one level, while another layer continues to groan and spasm. Yes, I’ve tried both those routes before and while I still have friends who persist, those methods have nothing left to offer me.

I want truth. I want true healing. I want an overview that includes the spiritual truth that we are all connected, and includes social healing. Yes, some of the healing is purely the realm of the individual, AND some of it needs to be conducted collectively. I see it in the Me Too, feminist, Black Lives Matter and Queer Pride movements. I see it in Mad Pride. We are all affected by others’ choices, and all participate in trends, movements, and social norms of our own choosing. Unless you are a self-sufficient hermit, which I have tried and failed at, your actions affect the whole.

There’s a part of Fran Peavey’s book, Heart Politics, that has stuck with me since my first reading in the late 1980s. In it, she is going door to door to talk about the nuclear proliferation threat. One man gets angry, saying, “What do you want me to do about it?” His anger rises from a failed attempt to keep pretending that the situation wasn’t happening. Fran wouldn’t let him pretend. It was such a large issue that inspired feelings of helplessness in much of the population, that many chose to suppress our feelings and ignore the problem. I couldn’t, myself, as a young person, and that helplessness and despair only fed my existing depression. Reading this book (and exploring other ways to live and learn) was my attempt to face my fears and find healing. ‘Business as usual’ ideologies only made me sicker.

Ruhi’s book hit a nerve in me as it swerved from India to Australia and into childhood experiences we shared. Startled, I ran off to read something easier for a while, instead of sitting with those inconvenient feelings. When I was ready, I returned. Now look at me, excited anew about writing and exploring ideas. Thank you, Ruhi Lee.

You thought I was going to play you some John Lennon, didn’t you.

Rebooting the Dustbunny himself

Should there be punctuation in that subject heading? You be the judge.

It’s taken a month to return myself to this desk. This year, the month of grief was planned for and my professional support went above and beyond. I’m grateful. There were only two days of utter mental filth, and that’s a vast improvement. That said, I’ve been circling that old pit of despair and need to drag myself away to more productive activities.

For months now I’ve noticed that my usual hobbies give me a case of MEH. I’ve been patient until now because of all the other physical and mental effects of hormones, and that bloomin’ virus. A bit of meh here and there is not a bad thing. You know how the expression goes – when a door closes, someone farts and opens a window. I was waiting for the windows to miraculously open and new hobbies to emerge from the fug.

They haven’t. So inconvenient!

So in the spirit of opening my own darn windows, I’m revisiting old hobbies. Even if I have to feign a bit of enjoyment here and there, I believe that they can act as a rope ladder back to my usual idiosyncratic self.

First, photography. I took my camera for a walk around the block today. Don’t ask my why I wouldn’t just take my phone, because that would lead to more troublesome conversations. My camera is not troublesome. As long as I’ve remembered to recharge the battery, it’s a comforting old pal. Quite old. Very comforting. I’ve used photography for many years now to focus on the presence of beauty right under my nose. In the midst of manure grows much to admire, so I choose to do so.

Walking hasn’t really been doing it for me, lately, although it too has been a comforting friend in the past. So I’m turning back to yoga, cycling, and whatever the new exercise physiologist cooks up for me to perform in the privacy of my own living room.

Then there’s making music (or what passes for it on my old recorder), sewing, drawing, printmaking, plant propagation, experimenting with extreme up-cycling and down-cycling (don’t ask), and popping odd items into the compost bin to see what the composting worms make of them (nothing toxic, mind, just unusual). And photographing and sharing the results. That should keep my mind diverted for a while. I might even manage to grow weird mould and fungi, albeit outside. And encourage a few more spiders to live inside with me. I miss the Huntsman spider.

Wish me luck! I wish you all the luck in the world too, with whatever shenanigans you’re getting up to. I’d love to hear about your own shenanigans.

By the way, have you ever hirpled? Or wibbled?

Happy New Year

Making space for grief

cw: suicide

Waves of grief once again surge through me. I don’t like it. Nobody asks to see it. In fact, it has freaked people out in the past. Ugly crying, all the tears and snot, who ever enjoys that? Who ever looks for such images on social media? Ok, maybe some people do and I’m just out of the loop, but nobody has ever shared images of grief with me in the spirit of “wow man, isn’t this cool?”

Am I out of the loop?

When I look for socially acceptable ways to acknowledge my own ongoing grief around losing my sibling, I think of the old Victorian mourning customs. I guess they are still culturally appropriate, as I’m descended from Olde English stock. But while customs vary around the world, I’m oddly ignorant of them.

The only other that springs to mind is the Latin American Dia de los Muertos, Day of the Dead, which is appropriated by others for artistic appreciation reasons. (Apologies for not being able to locate a more suitable link.) I think my sibling would appreciate the spirit and energy of that celebration. If I’m to create my own version of public grief for them, it should incorporate colour and humour among the somber blacks and snot.

My sibling took their own life almost thirty-five years ago. It’s a long time. The pain and love remain. The desire to talk about them at anniversaries and at awkward times remains, because it’s all tied up together. It’s just bloody inconvenient that the suicide anniversary is at this time of year, between my birthday, the Trans Day of Remembrance, and everyone’s annual source of mixed feelings – the end of year bonanza. I get it. Nobody craves to hear of grief at any time, let alone now. We all have our own worries, our own inconvenient feelings, and limited store of listening energy.

No, that’s not strictly true. There are others who are keeping their grief to themselves and putting on ‘brave faces’ (squashing their reality to appease others). They might like to know that they are not alone.

There are those who have nobody available to listen. When that’s been my own situation, I’ve appreciated hearing of others’ grief, as it helped validate my own experience. I felt less lonely.

There are those who are unapologetically speaking of their own grief – and there’s such a lot of it. After all, we’re all living through a bizarre time in history with unique personal and interpersonal challenges. When people lose jobs, loved ones, even their homes due to an inability to maintain payments, I hear grief. Relationships are breaking down due to perceptions of reality – to vax or not? Who’s to blame? Who has answers? And people want to do the right things by their kids amid the chaos. If they have insufficient means to do so, more grief is added to the pile.

We need some sort of collective acknowledgment. We might need individual trauma counselling when this pandemic is finally over. I hope we also manage group versions. Not just booze-focused parties, but time for listening empathically to each other, acknowledging our losses, and identifying qualities and actions that help us move on in healthy, healing ways. If that sounds wafty, I apologise, I’m thinking aloud.

If you know of any individual or group mourning customs, please feel free to share them with me in the comments. In the meantime I will light a candle and play some of my sibling’s favourite music.

A beautiful book

Not sure how to start this. Between reading and getting to this chair, I’ve mulled over about ten different lead-in sentences, and related the book to my own life in appreciative ways.

What’s the book called? Felix Ever After. And who’s the author? Kacen Callender. If you’ve ever been gut punched by a YA novel, continuing to read despite how raw you feel, you might know why I’m recommending it.

Kacen (they/them or he/him pronouns) says in the Acknowledgments that they put their heart, soul and vulnerability into the book. It shows. It’s real. It also reminds me of the importance of trans people telling our own stories, not forever having them told on our behalf. There’s content that I can’t believe a non-trans (cis) person could write.

And it’s told lovingly. I read a quote by Leonard Cohen, recently, about art. About how people can turn away from a cry of pain, but art transforms pain. Objectivity gives the emotion form. To me, this book is a work of art that epitomises the quote, and I think it will save lives. Published just last year, it probably already has. For me, a much older trans person, it still manages to hold my hand in solidarity, and examine aspects of our lives with curiosity and compassion.

There’s transphobia in there, examined and raised to the light. Racism too. There’s loss, betrayal, and the usual human misunderstandings. Some of it was pretty bloomin’ painful to read, and yet I persisted, because of how it was handled. At times it wasn’t at all fun to revisit high school, and yet I persisted.

The most beautiful part for me was reading how others showed up for Felix. They had his back in many ways. Sometimes it made me cry a little, to imagine such scenes. Fearing that my allies will not have my back in social situations is still a thing for me. People are busy, distracted, they’re confused by so many things, and they can fear being collateral damage. There are many causes of Bystander Effect. I’ve experienced it myself. But Felix has multiple people show up for him. They model love, friendship, good parenting, basic human decency. It’s a balm to read and a source of hope*.

The book feels like a gift from the author, and I am thankful.

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(Thanks to the artist responsible for the photo obtained free via Pexels.)

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*As are the people who already show up for me.

Good grief

It’s been a day. A frustrating day, punctuated with small successes. I’m over it. I want to watch a show. Of course, this is the time when my internet plays up and I long for days of yore, when I relied instead on DVDs. I have those too, and they give me grief. I long for days when I could use tech without grief. Good lord.

Oh good, I’m laughing now. I sound ridiculous and I prefer that to sounding loopy.

So I just read some early notes that I wrote back in 2019, for my book. They were raw notes and obviously unsuited for public consumption, yet I think they are better than anything I’ve ever shared here. Purely because of their unfiltered raw undiluted rage and grief. There’s something to be said for such things. And yet… there’s always one of those, a reminder of what it means to affect readers and worry about how that might play out. Reading it myself was like being punched in the solar plexus. I guess I can sit with the satisfaction of that.

So if this internet won’t work for me now, there’s always a novel to read. The one currently on the go is set in France. It’s theoretically a crime novel but is liberally splashed with food, scenery, lovey dovey nonsense and small town gossip. It’s relaxing to read just before bed, rather than something I’d devote a few hours to. Horses for courses. Which reminds me that horses and other rural livestock also feature. I’m not remotely horsey but appreciate them in books. Not enough horses in books, probably.

Midway through NaNoWriMo and already my wheels are coming off, lol.

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Today’s photos is from Pexels – thank you!

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