Ways

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For the past few days, my daughter and I have been picking up sticks. She is very fond of sticks lately, and has the apparent capacity to find something deeply unique and special about everyday segments of broken branch.

When they were very young, the youth would get attached to sticks – insist on bringing them home, into the house, into their rooms.

Recently, my daughter – much older now – has rediscovered her love of sticks. If anything, I encourage it, because I think that liking sticks is a nice aspect of character. We’re going to make magnets out of some of the sticks pictured here, which may seem run-of-the-mill, but are – believe me – spectacular.


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The hearts (shown here upside down) and hand – which may be right side up? – will be mounted to wooden backings, neodymium magnets affixed.

They are not finished yet . . . but, it is good to see that they could be, and good to know that they will be.

Feb 23 (4 days ago)
to me
…I am thinking that I ought to go play some piano or something, and take a break from the wordy-ness and thinking-ness of the day. There is a lot to say, however…a lot to think about.
When I consider the sheer volume of information and experience that the day involves, I get a little overwhelmed…and my days are not even that complex, for the most part…except for that I work with people, people who have complex lives.
…and I drive. Today, my co-worker showed me the mapping function that apparently has been shadow-operating on my phone. I could view a thin blue snarl of all the places I’d been for days and days. Some days are more complicated than others. I might make an art piece out of the maps and lines of where I have been…some days I drive for over 2 hours, back and forth…that’s a lot of driving…a lot to pay attention to, cars and trucks and the existence of the road, the trees and fields, the sun coming up or going down, Clouds. The radio.
Often, I will hear the same song on the same stretch of road, coming and going. I like it when that happens, because I can’t figure out the odds, because I don’t always drive to or from work at the same time…somedays I am earlier, somedays I am later…there is no telling when, precisely, I will pass under the Parkway.
It’s a lot of time to think. I always wanted a life that gave me time to think…though I didn’t quite fancy the prospect of having to use my commute to think, because morning traffic doesn’t offer especially ideal conditions for thinking, what with the sun and the velocity and the huge junks of metal and plastic zooming around me on all that concrete. Even in all that, I am thinking, and I am often thinking about writing.
When I noticed that there are several weeks throughout the year when the sun aligns with the commute in such a way that it is hanging only partially below the stand of trees in the broad median just north of the Parkway, right after the bridge over the river…and when the sun is cresting the trees, the light becomes somehow concentrated, and sends a swathe of hazy glare onto all the cars and one person slows down and then another, brake lights all the sudden, and then the whole procession lurches, a disjointed pause while people adjust to the glare, putting down visors, squinting to see the car in front of them…when I noticed that this is a thing that happens, that at this particular stretch of road people slow down because the light is blinding, and I thought it was kind of beautiful, because it’s such a humble, human thing to do, to squint in the sunlight…despite all our devices and sophistications…i thought about it in terms of writing about it, because I don’t know how else to remember such things long after they have ceased to happen or I have ceased to witness them.
If I write something down, I remember it. I tell the youth that I learned that I best retain information by writing it down by trying to cheat on a test. I laid on the blue carpet in my room in the house I grew up in and found all the answers to the study guide and wrote them all onto a tiny piece of paper I could hide in my hand. It took a long time; I made a great effort.
By the time I sat down to take the test the next day, tiny paper folded in my sweating palm, I didn’t need to cheat because I knew all the answers, and could even picture the words written on the little square, and could remember writing them. I don’t remember them now, Oglethorpe perhaps? Georgia history. I still remember the writing of the answers and the moment that I realized I knew the information, though this memory may be a time-distorted composite memory, partly a memory of an event and partly a memory of remembering an event.
I remember things if I write them down, whether I am typing them or writing them by hand. At this point, I probably remember typed writing more than handwriting, because that it what I have adapted to use more often.
If I am going to get 8 hours of sleep, I have to go to sleep in 6 minutes. Doh. Five minutes.
Tomorrow at work, they are having a brunch potluck. I am going to bring the sea waffle iron, which makes waffles in the shapes of a crab, a dolphin, and a seahorse. We will have a waffle bar. It’s gonna be great.
I got that waffle iron at the CVS, the year that some of the holiday shopping got done at the drugstore.
This morning there was a dense fog advisory, and I couldn’t see the sun or the mountains.
I could easily fall asleep in 2 minutes. After leaving the house at 7:20 and working all day at the center, I ran 4 miles in the forest. Then I drove home and ran another 2 with the dog-who-needs-to-run. I am going to try to wake up early tomorrow and leave early, so that I can stop at the store and get fruit for the brunch, possibly something else. I am now remembering that I said I’d bring jars for a craft in the afternoon.
…remember: sea waffler, jars.
Watch now, I will forget, even after all that ‘If I write something down I remember it!’ business.
As a note, I saw a newspaper article about a postal employee that was hoarding literal tons of mail in his home and was being charged with failure to deliver. The story builds fantastically, because at first you get the idea that, “Oh, he was just carrying out a couple of bins of mail. He just had some mail, not too much.” and then by the end of the article there are backhoes being used to remove the mail, which was – as it turned out – everywhere. The postal carrier who failed to deliver explained that he had increasingly struggled to keep up with the volume of mail due to health issues and so had taken to stashing items with the intent to deliver it later. Some of the mail was from 14 years ago.  He must’ve felt really terrible.
The vast majority of the mail I get, I don’t want or need…and sometimes I actually even feel a little bad for the postal carrier, having to deliver so many slick advertisements, credit card offers.
February 24 (3 days ago)
to me
I know that there are ways to structure a life that accommodates everything I want to do in the course of a day, I just haven’t figured out what those ways are yet. I have been skimming through articles and blog posts about how to get things done and establish better habits. I’ve come across some helpful information, and have – in fact – established some good habits, like running 15 miles per week and hitting that goal most weeks, even if I miss planned running days. This week, I had a terrible headcold at the beginning of the week, and so I did two 6 mile days and one 3 mile day…and while I prefer to have more low mileage days, I met my goal and that is good thing. I have been running regularly for a year now.  That is a good habit.
I’m tired.
The day began almost 15 hours ago. I saw Bradford Pears in bloom in the fog and the morning was tremendously beautiful. On the radio, I heard a brief clip about the Red Knot and how it’s population numbers are in danger because the snow melts 2 weeks earlier and so the insects are at a different point in their life cycle when migrating red knots reach breeding and nesting areas, which has resulted in a decreased rate of reproductive success and a shortened life span…because the snow melts 2 weeks earlier.
There are insects trilling and buzzing in the trees and I heard a spring peeper frog in the forest in Tuesday and it made me so happy, exultant really, running in the forest with the smell of warming earth all around me, the first frog songs cutting through the sound of my footsteps and my breathing. I wonder now which local and migrating species will be utterly fucked because it is 70 degrees in February?
Hours after the sunlit drive, I walked across a college campus. “I’m starting to sweat.” The person I was walking with muttered. I mentioned the red knot, “…just two weeks difference, it is that precise.”
We talked for a moment about the tragedy of humans forgetting we are animals, basking in our climate-controlled environments.
I found a lighter in a stream, a weird Bic with an orange bottom and wild red vertical slashes in an indiscernible medium up and down the white plastic. “What the hell kind of lighter is this?” I plucked it from the water.
We agreed that it was strange. “What should I do with this?” The lighter in an outstretched hand.
“I guess just set it down.”
I shrugged. Laughed. “Just throw it in the river.”
I was, of course, joking…and we set the lighter on the pavement at the edge of the bridge, upright like a miniscule sentry. It will probably end up back in the water.
This morning, before I walked across the campus, I sat in a lamplit room and listened to someone describe the smell of their now-deceased spouse’s cancer-vomit after it had sat in the hot car all day. “I never could get that smell out.”
In the afternoon, after walking, I helped someone make a small bound book with newsprint pages and a cardstock cover, deep brown.  Talk on the topic of getting chemo. Tearfulness about a letter. “I wish that one had gotten lost in the mail.” I briefly remembered the story about the post office worker who stockpiled all the mail he was too tired to deliver.
Three out of every five people I have talked with these past couple of weeks have talked about wills or inheritances, going to the notary, revising their wills.
Seriously, this is the thing everyone is talking about …and so it has me thinking about what all I’d need to do to set my affairs in order…and this isn’t something I want to think about at all.
9:45pm (1 hour ago)
to me
There has been the usual weekend lag in writing…a lag that I understand and appreciate. I think I need to be quieter in my head some days, to be walking and talking and doing. Even when I am not thinking much about writing or interpreting the content of the day in the form of a story, as I do whatever it is I am doing, I am situating the narrative of the action within the bigger story I tell myself about my life, about who I am and what I think about things, what meaning I ascribe to the events and information of a day. Noticing, with varying degrees of clarity and attention, all the different ways I might be, all the ways I am and am not those ways.
Most of the time, I feel weird, either in my body or in my head, my general energy and sense of congruence with what the day is asking of me. Some days are terrific…they feel focused and present…I feel focused and present…I am moving and talking without much effort…I feel substantially inspired and confident in achieving my goals…I am able to laugh and make some small progress toward something or other.
Conversely, some days are icky…dragging…inspecific weariness and distraction by nothing…the sense of being distracted but there is nothing that is actually distracting you…distracting me . . . but, I am distacted…i can’t concentrate…i vaguely remember having ideas . . . but, I don’t have any ideas and it seems preposterous, a royal fluke, that I ever had an idea to begin with…i will never accomplish anything…my house is cluttered…my mind is cluttered…and on those days, my legs feel made of lead and even breathing takes a little bit of an effort. My peripheral vision is blighted, furred…the details of the countertop painfully pristine…the smudge, the rust…the empty jar of pepper, why don’t I just throw that away?
Inertia within entropy. What does that create?
So, it’s a new week and there are two blooms on the peach tree in the yard, at the very tips of the branches. I have worked the red knot into two conversations recently…one at dinner with my family, because I had nothing much to say and the red knot story felt important, significant….once at the recovery education center, in a class on dialectical behavioral therapy…as an admittedly somewhat off-topic example of the concept that everything is connected and that what one entity may be totally unbothered by, might seriously impact another entity…people humored me…I think they liked how enthused I must have seemed…like, hey, this is what I look like I’m talking about something I think is amazing…
I didn’t beleaguer the point about the catastrophe of the red knot in matters pertaining to climate change and existence. “So, I’m excited about it being warm and there being insects, but for this bird, it’s a really big deal. Nature is that precise.”
Ah, 3 times. Three times I have brought it up. Walking with the person across the grass at the college, absent-mindedly scanning the ground for dropped money.  That was the first time.
I have been emailing myself articles lately. This isn’t a new habit, entirely, as it has been something I do as a means of bookmarking things I want to read, saving links that are useful. I have been doing it a lot lately, sending links to articles. I should go back and see what all I have been researching. A lot of the links I send to myself are for work and pertain to ways people heal in their humanness or otherwise ‘recover.’ Some, however, are popular culture or history, science and goal setting, writing…some of which are also for work, to supplement curricula or bring to a supervision group, or share with somebody or another because of some conversation we had.
I ought to go through all the links I have sent in the past month and write a paper on the articles, not on each individual article, but on the articles as a collected body of ideas and expression, an analysis of the representation of interests…
I should count the number of times I use the words “thinking” “think” and “thought” – and then I should erase some of those words, find new ones.

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