Thursday, June 28, 2018

June 28: Jody Kennedy • Whitney Vale • Pau Derecia • Katie Jean Shinkle • Alina Stefanescu • Lee Anne Gallaway-Mitchell • Devon Confrey • Catherine Reid Day • Anonymous • Peta Murray

Today we present ten more dispatches from June 21, 2018 to you. More details on the project here, but, in brief, we asked you to write about what happened on one day in June, and are publishing the results, largely unedited, for the next month and change, roughly ten a day. If you wrote something (it's not too late!), send us your work by the end of June (at the latest: earlier is better!) via this submission form (it's okay if you didn't RSVP before: the more the merrier).

—The Editors

Jody Kennedy • Whitney Vale • Pau Derecia • Katie Jean Shinkle • Alina Stefanescu • Lee Anne Gallaway-Mitchell • Devon Confrey • Catherine Reid Day • Anonymous • Peta Murray


In the glamorous version: I catch an early train to Paris and spend the morning on the Left Bank drinking espresso at the Café de Flore or Les Deux Magots and later, I wander over to the Musée d'Orsay and take detailed notes on my impressions of favorite paintings (how I dream sometimes of chewing on Van Gogh's thickly layered paint or sliding into Courbet's The Origin of the World the same way Alice went through the looking glass). Returning home on the train that evening, I could describe the shifting landscape and how it gradually goes from fertile farm fields starting just outside of Paris, to the Charolais cows in Burgundy, and the chalky blue Rhône near Avignon before ending in a more arid and Arizona-like scene further into Provence.
     In the more interesting version: I visit the cemetery and count the stones that well-wishers have left on Paul Cezanne's grave and tell you how the stones remind me of the stone I placed on Marc Chagall's grave in Saint-Paul-de-Vence. I also might mention that a hotel is being built just outside the cemetery wall where, in the not so distant future, some lucky guests will have a room with a view of Cezanne's monument and probably also of the Mont Sainte-Victoire in the distance. Or alternately, I ask my husband to take the day off (if he wasn't leaving for Paris to attend his aunt's funeral) and we drive to Cassis to picnic and swim in the sea.
     In the actual version: I got up at 5 am and unlike some of my friends who hit the meditation cushion right away, I did the Pavlov's dog thing (and in the usual order): checked email and a social media account (clicked an image posted on DIAGRAM which was lovely and disturbing in the way that it reminded me of how everything always seems to go out and come back to you i.e. me), skimmed a handful of online newspaper headlines (read some articles), fed the three guinea pigs, started making pancakes, said good morning to our eleven-year-old daughter, who'd woken up on her own and was excited to get to school to give a birthday present to one of her friends. My husband rolled out of bed and gave our daughter a hug goodbye (since he'd be gone to Paris for two days) and she left for school.
     Our ten-year-old son started his morning routine and we talked about watching the World Cup together (France-Peru and Argentina-Croatia) that evening and he predicted France would end up winning against Spain in the final game on July 15, 2018. I laughed and hoped he was right (for the France fans, anyway) and then he talked about the funeral in Paris and how Papa was going to help carry the casket and what is left behind when we die and where do we go. We'd talked about death before but as I've noticed with my kids, they often repeat certain questions. I paused a second and then said something I've said before: that our bodies are like vehicles we climb into to experience duality, that is: hot and cold, light and dark, happiness and sadness which made me think of the Wim Wenders film, Wings of Desire, and how one of the angels falls in love with a trapeze artist and chooses to enter the corporeal to be with her. So what are we then if we aren't bodies? My son asked. Thinking about a chapter on beds I'd recently read in the Norwegian author, Karl Ove Knausgaard's, book Autumn, I said to my son: You know when you're in bed and just about to fall asleep? The room is dark and your eyes are closed (or not) and your body is completely relaxed, to the point of not even feeling it? Yes, he said. Well, you're still there, aren't you? That's consciousness, that's the part that goes with us when we die. That's what I believe anyway, I said, but you're going to have to decide for yourself. He didn't ask where we go when we're asleep but had he, I would have said I wasn't sure because I hadn't experienced that yet.
     My husband and son left (for school and work, respectively) and I ate breakfast and opened a letter I'd just finished writing (actually) to Karl Ove Knausgaard, which revolved around a reading he'd given at Shakespeare and Company bookstore on March 28, 2017. The piece had been accepted by an online journal and now I was just waiting for the editor to send his revision suggestions—a process, from submission to usually rejection, that sometimes felt like waiting for a call from that boy (or girl) you had a crush on when you were thirteen.
     Normally mid-morning on Thursdays, I'd have coffee downtown with a friend but she'd just left France and was in Boston for a few days before flying home to Santa Monica. We'd met the evening before she flew out and I mentioned finishing the Knausgaard letter and how I'd heard he was giving a reading at The Edinburgh Book Festival on August 25, 2018. I'd always wanted to go to Edinburgh, I said, and thought it might be an occasion to kill two birds with one stone but my struggle was this: a part of me felt that the only reason for going was to gather new writing material, like we sometimes do when posting on social media, something about confusing the means with the ends. My friend laughed and said I should go because that's what writers do and to stop overanalyzing. I told her it might be better to visit Edinburgh another time and instead, was considering signing up for a 10-day Vipassanā retreat. She seemed irritated and said it sounded like a good excuse to isolate. Guessing that she didn't really want to explore my point any further, I let it drop but later wished I could have said that after years of trying to run away from myself, the isolation of a 10-day silent Buddhist retreat was just what I needed.
     On September 13, 2017, I was contacted by a literary agent who'd read another piece I'd written about Karl Ove Knausgaard. She was interested in a memoir I'd been working on and made some suggestions after taking a look. Though there was no commitment between us, I'd taken her comments to heart but kept getting waylaid by other projects. So, after closing the Knausgaard letter, I opened a still-in-progress memoir chapter about going to Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, France, on a pilgrimage to St. Sarah in honor of one of the children who I'd lost (aborted) along the way. A child I'd always imagined a girl. I named her Sarah and had things been different, this year she would have turned twenty-five. I spent a good part of the afternoon adding and subtracting sentences, moving paragraphs around and overall, doing a lot of staring.
     My husband got home from work and we walked part way together to the bus station where he was going to catch the bus to the train station and then the train to Paris. We'd all planned to go to the funeral, which was at 10 am the next day, but for logistical and other reasons it didn't work out. We were disappointed but took it in stride. I asked my husband how his plans were going vis-a-vis organizing neighborhood watches to save the trees that grew spontaneously in hedges and he gave me an update. Whenever my husband talks about saving trees, I think of Jean Giono's beautiful short story "The Man Who Planted Trees." We kissed and said goodbye and on my way to pick up the kids from school, I cut across and over to one of the roads that lead past the cemetery.
     There are seventy-eight stones on Paul Cezanne's grave. Along with a votive candle (like those you see in the churches downtown), the broken handle of a piece of unfired pottery, and a bright green ceramic shard. Some of the seventy-eight stones are arranged in a small circle with a larger stone in the middle, an imperfect, primitive flower form perhaps laid out by a child.
     My son prefers train stations to airports because they were generally smaller and easier to get around. I agreed and said wouldn't it be nice if we could take trains sometimes instead of airplanes to travel around the world? The Chunnel, the underwater train that connects France to England, was discussed and it was decided that building one all the way to America probably wasn't feasible. My son looked at his watch and was upset when he realized we were about to miss the opening of the France-Peru World Cup game. We met my daughter near her school and she was happy to report that her friend had loved the birthday present she'd given her and in return, she'd given my daughter a handmade beaded blue bracelet with a tiny blue heart.
     I made a tarte à la tomate for dinner and, content after France's 1-0 win against Peru, we ate while watching the Argentina-Croatia game. The score was still 0-0 when my husband called to tell us he'd made it to Noisy-Champs, the train station closest to his sister's house where he was staying. Croatia finally scored the first goal and from there the game went downhill quickly (for us Lionel Messi fans, anyway). Argentina ended up losing 0-3 in what one of the French commentators said was un vrai calvaire (a real calvary i.e. crucifixion). My husband called back to say goodnight and afterward as I tucked the kids into bed, I was overtaken by an unexpected feeling of lightness, something quite possibly bordering on that elusive phenomenon called joy. 

—Jody Kennedy

Jody Kennedy is a writer and photographer living in Provence, France. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Juked, CutBank Online, DIAGRAM, Tin House Online, and Electric Literature, among others.


I cheated a little and like a precog from that Tom Cruise movie, spit out a few balls of information, in advance of today, to make my essay (my life) read a little more exciting than it is in reality.  It also occurred to me that I needed to create a cache of nouns and verbs. The first paragraph seems a good place to warn you that I float tenses. I tend to live simultaneously in past, present and future so to anchor my consciousness in moment to moment observation may be reaching for a hot air balloon already sailing over Tanque Verde wash. Words are a good anchor.
     I woke at 5:00AM to a sound effects alarm (ocean surf), my cell phone alarm (loud and atonal), and one of the cats, M’Lady, fat and filled with meows, patting at my face. For several hours I completely forgot about this essay and just got on with my morning chores. Turned off alarms, thus dislodging M’Lady from my chest, her thump on the floor roused Oliver (second cat) and they wrestled as I untangled my bedclothes. Before I actually rose (biblical!), I gave a quick thanks to a divine force for returning my wandering soul back to my body. I gave my body a few minutes of isometrics. I sighed as I got out of bed, slipped my feet into flip flops and stumbled toward the kitchen to turn on my tea water. I made a mental note to greet my friend R. on Facebook with a Solstice image.
     Side note: here I scramble through some pre written notes on the astrological implications of this day: The Sun has moved into Cancer, emotional, hyper-sensitive, a bit cranky, home loving. I always think of mothers. And today, actually, all week I have been thinking of mothers and fathers and children and borders. I have been emotional all week, weepy and angry. Today the moon is in Scorpio, so it is perfect that on this observational day, we are asked to go deep. Go deep. I cannot get the image of the Honduran girl out of my mind. So small. Welcome to America, little girl.
     From 5AM to around 6AM, it’s all animal management. Bruno, the neurotic Malti-poo, received his first bathroom break. I stepped out onto the patio, and felt the cool air, saw my plants hadn’t died yet, knew I had to get walking earlier to beat the heat, had to actually hurry the fuck up because it’s Thursday, my busy day, and busier because I had agreed to prose. Prose. Prose which always challenges me with its linear demands.  So I called Bruno back in, fed the cats, changed litter boxes, turned on the computer and sent R. her message, went to my FB page and pasted an art image of a woman doing a self portrait. I have been posting an art image since the election. I need some beauty on a daily basis. I allowed myself to be hypnotized on Pinterest for 15 minutes, and then fed Bruno. While he ate I changed into my short shorts, tee and shoes.
     Side note: Because I do this walk every morning and have done for almost fifteen years I wondered how I could juice this up. I couldn’t count on seeing my roadrunners again. I saw one on the 20th. Doesn’t count. But golly, a roadrunner! I remembered that Thoreau walked every day to a favorite tree, and Reader, so do I. I can’t remember what tree he visited-but it sure as hell wasn’t a mesquite or cottonwood. And then I remembered hearing a radio program with a forester in Europe (Germany?) who talked about tree communication, that is, trees communicating with each other. And then there is Japanese forest bathing. So I thought maybe I could include those fragmented notations here.
     Bruno and I walked through the small park that had been blessed a few years back by a medicine man when Native pottery shards had been discovered. I think a Tohono O’odham, but I can’t remember. I am always aware that I am walking on blessed ground. . A few blocks away I saw L. walking slowly, her cane at the ready. It’s only been a few weeks since her beloved dog Gracie died. We all stopped and Bruno, his best empathetic self, gave her hand gentle licks. L. asked for a hug.  I put my arms around her, feeling her boney spine beneath her damp shirt.
     On a dirt path I noted with satisfaction little mounds of stones I had gathered over the past year, little markers. It was in my “I will make art daily” phase. This morning I laughed out loud to see them. I may be the only one to see them—except the dogs that surely pee at each pile of rocks.
     When I arrived at my cottonwood tree, my Smartwatch blinked 645AM. I looped Bruno’s leash around the rusty rail on top of the concrete embankment above Tanque Verde wash, and slightly leaned over and in to the green leaves that winkled and trembled in the morning light. I touched two branches held together in a V. I felt the rough texture of the white-grey bark, gently placed my palms on the heart-shaped leaves. My version of Japanese forest bathing. I do this every morning. I recalled Dylan Thomas’s “green fuse”, and asked the tree for her green cells to help me along. I wondered about that tree communication thing, how massive root systems reach down deep (go deep!) and extend out into vast subterranean eco fields. Trees have families. I thought of Ents.
     We returned home by 715AM, and instead of doing my usual yoga set, I made a protein drink and showered and dressed. I prepared for my singing lesson with vocal warm-ups for twenty minutes and sang My Funny Valentine, Night and Day and an Italian exercise where my pitch wandered across the Pyrenees. I have been studying for about six months with an eighty-six year old former vocalist, whose bright blue eyes never miss a thing and her ear is perfect. Arthritic wrists do not get in the way of her playing, but her voice is gone.
     I sang to a CD of The Sound of Music all the way to her little home in Central Tucson. It was a good hour. For the first time, I liked what I heard. I sing in the range of competence, but today, I gave a little bump to ability with some color to my vocals. I felt what I was singing. I hurried to my car wishing, not for the first time, I liked my teacher.
     Side note: I am aware that I am writing. I am aware that as I look at my fingers on the keyboard, I see my nail polish, so rarely worn, is chipped. It is silver. I am currently in the current moment and wondering do I have time to remove it before tonight’s writing workshop. Probably, but then do I have time to go back to the two poems I have been working on for the past several days. They are making me crazy. They are almost there. But I feel lost. I would like to bring them to tonight’s class.
     I stopped writing this essay around 300PM, went back to my poems. Ate left over chickpeas and zucchini, fed cats, walked dog.  Drove to the Poetry Center for my workshop.  I left a third poem on my desk, lying on its side. It crossed the street of mediocrity and was flattened by a critic. I covered it with a white sheet of paper. All mourn!
     As I drove to the University I started to think about a George Eliot novel that I read two summers ago, a novel that I loved. And couldn’t remember the goddamned title. Did I mention I am almost sixty-five? Should I have led with that? Every scene that I conjured in my head did not contain the title character. It occurred to me I thought of Eliot because some of her characters strive so hard to make a difference in their world.  It wasn’t Middlemarch.
     When I arrived at the Poetry Center I spent some time conversing with a few of the staff.
J. and I talked about how the summer heat had stymied the poetry area of our brains. We talked about our melt downs over the detained kids, the separated kids. I said I had never seriously considered being an ex-pat before this administration.
     I had a good experience in my workshop and received helpful feedback on my poems.
Driving down Speedway I said a little prayer that my husband had safely returned from Canada, and he would be home before me. I wanted to be greeted. I wanted a hug. And yes, he was home. And yes, he did.
     Before I went to bed, I worked a little on the essay. Don’t I always look over my shoulder to see if what I am experiencing is something to write about? Don’t I always interrogate the day? I looked up George Eliot, and the title jumped out at me, Daniel Deronda. I loved it for what I didn’t know about the beginning of Zionism. I loved it for the growth of a soul in the immature Gwendolyn, I loved if for the great heart of Eliot.
     I skimmed through the headlines, and halted when I saw that Koko, the sign language using gorilla had died. A picture of her gently holding a kitten made my eyes well up. Thursday passed with the scent of jasmine on the front porch, and the sounds of purring from the foot of the bed, the low snore of my husband, and the soft whir of a fan. I drifted off to sleep thinking, “the force that through the green fuse drives the flower drives my green age”.
—Whitney Vale

Whitney Vale lives in Tucson, AZ. She is a docent at the U of A Poetry Center. Her poems have been published in Zocalo magazine and Autumn Sky Poetry Daily. Her chapbook Journey With The Ferry Man was released in 2016.


My eyes open to full daylight at 5:30 a.m. despite being hungover. I open my phone to a slew of responses from husband as I had angry-drunk texted him the night before. We continue to ping back and forth for an hour leading to mutual apologies and kindnesses. Take two Ibuprofen. Slip on my eye mask, and fall back asleep.
     When I slip off the mask again, I see myself lying in bed through the reflection of the sliding doors in the bedroom belonging to a 25-year-old who doesn’t shave her legs or wear a bra because damn the man. I’ll be 39 in six months to the day.
     With my coffee, I scroll through the rap sheet of John Puplava, the infamous Tucson scammer who stole my roommate’s money. In an effort to get her money back, she had gone through his trash and found out what kind of mouthwash he used. He’s dead now.
     Headed out, I wave to the neighbor, an old black man with white hair wearing a Green Lantern T-shirt. His Chihuahua, he says, will protect our place against break-ins.
     When I arrive to work at noon, I realize I’ve been driving in silence. At the front desk at the Poetry Center, my husband texts me the score for the Argentina vs. Croatia game with some commentary. Of course, Argentina loses. He sends a weary emoji.
     I help a patron find books containing ekphrastic poetry. A group tours the library using hand-folded fortune tellers. A co-worker walks in and asks me what’s new. My husband found someone new. That’s what’s new. And now I know what that feels like… Instead I say I got a haircut. A Muslim woman comes in with her two daughters needing directions to the hospital. Her daughter translates my hand-drawn map. An old co-worker calls the mainline to reach me and to see if there is work available at the Poetry Center. No, in fact, my position is temporary I say. For an hour, I shelf read poetry books from last names Ammons to Baggot for misplaced books. This proves somewhat difficult since I’ve chosen to wear a dress every single day this summer. I crawl on my knees for Jimmy Santiago Baca.
     For my linner break, I thawed in the sun by walking to university community garden to shoot yellow and red sunflowers, and a selfie for National Selfie Day. I want to show off the shorter hair because damn the man.
     At closing, we shut down all the lights and lock the doors. I walk to the parking garage in twilight giddy because it closed at 8, which meant I didn’t have to pay for the day’s parking. At the grocery store, the man ahead of me at the register buys 50 cans of cat food and a fresh bag of litter. He’s tall for an old man, but has laughing wrinkles. I smile politely and let it linger.
     Driving home, Journey’s “Separate Ways” came on the radio, and I mentally note it for future karaoke at the Best Western.
     In bed after dinner, I sit upright watching Breaking Bad. I replay at least three times the character named Gale singing “Crapa Pelada” by Quartetto Cetra.
Pau Derecia

Pau Derecia is the Queen of the Night.


It’s my birthday, motherfuckers!
     I am 35 years old today, June 21st, 2018, which seems impossible to me. I never thought I would ever be 35! I thought, with much certainty, that I would be dead by now. But, here I am. HI!!! WELCOME TO (practically) MIDDLE AGE!!!!
     All my life June 21st has had a few conditions that always happen without fail: It either fell smack dab on Father’s Day, it was part of Father’s Day weekend, it fell on a weekend, and/or it rained. My older brother’s birthday is June 20th and so it would also happen, as we got older, that we would celebrate the weekend, if our birthdays happened to fall on the weekend, together, which rocked. My older brother noted this year that it has been a while since our birthdays fell on a weekend, and it’s just not quite the same to have a birthday on a Thursday, ya know?
     These days I enjoy low-key birthdays, the lazier and hanging around home I can do, the better.
     8:30AM: Anyway, this year, as in the past few years, I wake up to booming thunderstorms of the summer solstice variety, very apropos of my whole life, but it is a Thursday, and Father’s Day was last weekend. I wake from a bizarre dream where I am squashing some people, they are as small as mice, and I am trying to kill them because they are creatures invading my old childhood bedroom. It is a confusing way to wake up to my 35th year on Earth.
     9:00AM: My mother calls me early because I asked her to since a few years ago she never called me at all on my birthday and it was because she was at the hospital with gall bladder issues (!!!—which is another whole story). I am happy to hear from her.
     I was supposed to be in jury duty today for Greene County, Ohio and they sent me the paperwork weeks ago but I called last night and all the cases for June 21st had been cancelled, which is fine. I was prepared, however, to serve. I think at a different time of my life I would have tried hard to get out of it, but the world is so fucked up right now that I feel like it is a duty as a thinking, educated, liberal person to serve so I didn’t try to get out of it, and I wasn’t even all that relieved when it was cancelled.
     9:30AM: Instead, after I talk to my mom, I begin to attend to birthday love, which I do all day starting now. I like when friends reach out, even if they are reminded by social media. I don’t actually put a ton of stock into birthdays, and what I don’t love is social media pressure/obligation of wishing people happy birthday and all of that (I lock up my timeline on Facebook for this exact reason). I also know lots of folks who aren’t great with numbers and dates and who the fuck cares if they remember my birthday? Regardless, I receive a lot of birthday love: Texts, phone calls, mail, messages, emails, etc, which is super lovely and I appreciate it so much.
     10:00AM: I get some coffee and fight having a cigarette. I am trying to quit. My normal routine is caffeine and a cigarette with some daily reflection on the day’s writing/life tasks, etc. But I’m trying to quit because I am 35 and my father died at 54 years old of smoking related shit so I have to stop. I haven’t yet smoked a cigarette, the thunderstorm that shakes my house reminds me I don’t actually want to go outside. Instead, I start the slow process of shower and getting dressed for my fiancé to take me to lunch in a few hours at this great little Italian place in Dayton, Ohio so I can eat my weight in pasta and die for the afternoon of carb overload. I have been eating low-carb for years (for medical reasons) so these kinds of meals are a true treat, and also put me right to sleep.
     1:00PM: Fried ravoli with marinara; Garlic rolls; Spaghetti with bolognaise; Linguini with clam sauce; A pepperoni roll with marinara to go for later.
     3:30PM: On the way home from the restaurant, we stop at the grocery store for some staples and it is still a disgusting, hot thunderstorm outside. We use an umbrella that we just bought on a vacation trip we just got back from to celebrate my birthday—we paid $25 dollars for the thing in a fancy little boutique because it was storming then, too. The damn thing breaks in our hands. We owned it for 48 hours! Ugh we truly understand the signs all over the store that we were hella skeptical of that read “All sales final. No returns. No exceptions.” So annoying. Our fancy dress-up clothes are drenched. We laugh all the way home about the ridiculousness.
     4:00PM: For the rest of the day, the flow goes like this: 4 Netflix movies (I Love You, Man; She’s All That; Doctor Strange; National Treasure); my fiancé will make the best homemade carrot cake I have ever had in my life with ice cream and I will gorge on it; I will not leave the couch, which is piled with pillows and blankets, and nap on and off until midnight when I move languidly and groggily to my bed for a night of sugar and carb induced sleep.

—Katie Jean Shinkle

Katie Jean Shinkle is the author of three books, most recently Ruination (Spuyten Duyvil, forthcoming). She lives in Yellow Springs, Ohio. 


Dogs regularly run away during storms but not before them. The coffee is cold. The children want cereal. The fern on the front porch tells morning walkers that I don't water her enough. The fern is not a true friend.
     My fourteen-year-old son is a pianist who loves Gogol Bordello, admires Aristotle, and despises gender-reveal parties.  He pauses in the middle of a fugue by Bach to grumble about Donald Trump. "I can't even practice," he says. I slide into the tone that must be doubled when resolving a dominant seventh into the tonic.
     My neighbor makes Reborn dolls for money. The dolls are sold in a digital nursery. She offers medical services for the dolls when they are damaged. She refers to a damaged doll as a sick baby. It's important to find a cute name and market the babies. Good marketing increases the chances of adoption. She is hosting a baby shower for a new baby next week. There will be cupcakes and name-guessing games. There will be a happy expectant mother. There is a registry my neighbor can share with me if I'd like to attend. If a reborn is created from a kit as opposed to whole manufactured doll, it may be called newborning. As I load the car for a day's outings, the neighbor runs her hand over my youngest's hair: "You have beautiful hair," she says, "how would you like to donate your hair to a baby that needs it?" I tell the kids to run inside and water the toilet. I want to hug my neighbor and tell her that I'm sorry, we don't do reborns. Instead, I ask if knows a good place to pick blueberries. She doesn't.
     In the car, we listen to Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Scheherazade, Op. 35”. The harp creates massive ocean waves that roil Sinbad’s ship. In the story you tell to save your life, a maiden must rise to the surface of whatever happens. Emma Goldman believing love would learn and grow stronger from freedom. Rosa Luxembourg believing that females could share power.
     There is a private, glitzy club on top of Red Mountain that offers a panoramic view of Birmingham. I am curious, eager for trouble as child who wants to be forbidden. Trespassing is a boundary violation grown-up.
     We stop for gas at a nondescript station and let my son fill the tank. I purchase a soda and four blue raspberry ring-pops; slip on a ring as I pay. One iced bottle of Coke to split among four mouths. We pass it around the car, cold sugar coating our tongues like that silence in a bathroom stall after a secret. "Where are we going Mom?" is an excellent question. "Somewhere," I say, still deciding.
     I miss the cordial misogynies of my childhood. Hatred of females is so blatant and subsidized that I dread answering my daughter's innocent question: "Mommy, what is a gentleman's club?" "I don't know sweetie. Maybe it's a place for gentlemen to go." She watches the long black building smear past. "But why doesn't it have any windows?" "It costs more to cool a building with windows in the summer." I change the music to Maria Tanase. Because I need a little Romanian to get through this part.
     I drive up to the "Members Only" sign and pause. My kids can read now. They don't want to see the city if it means getting arrested. I reassure: "There are no grounds for arresting children on the basis of trespass." We park and play it cool; rehearse the cover story in which I am an event planner scouting locations for a possible state conference in the fall. My middle-schooler rolls her eyes--"That's a lie, Mom." At the entryway, an electronic sign welcomes the members and spouses of the Alabama Coal Association. The kids look serious. On our way to the look-off point, we stroll past rooms with gilded mirrors and opulent chandeliers. Seven elderly ladies in Sunday dresses perch around a glass table playing cards. "Those must be the spouses," my son whispers. "Pretend we belong here," I reply.
     The view is spectacular. To the left of the city, Alabama's aging Coal Contessas can feast their tired eyes on the James H. Miller Jr. Electric Generating Plant, "the nation's largest emitter of carbon pollution", also one of the nation's last major coal-fired power plants. "What is that ugly smoke way over there?" my youngest wonders. "It's the beauty of electricity and human invention." The Contessas can see us through the glass window overlooking the patio. I am sure they know their kind. I am sure they are getting suspicious.
     I cannot stop thinking about the babies or the image of a rose petal trampled into hay. An article online describes an incident where a reborn was mistaken for an actual baby and rescued from a hot parked car after being reported to police. There is the possibility of oxytoxin being released through cuddle therapy. Studies suggest that cuddling a realistic doll has a similar effect to cuddling a living baby. A sex doll may soothe more effectively than a wife. In one year, it may be inhumane to analyze the costs of objectification. Since objects fill a basic human.
     After dinner, I unstrap my softest leather sandals and sit on the edge of the bed, near the bay window. The house settles, a scuffle of voices inches through the hall. I wait for him, replay old scenes in my head. That time he accused me of "doing something" with a co-worker. "I don't know what you did," he says, "only you know what you did. You're the one that did it." But I didn't do anything. No matter how interesting it would be to have done something plot-worthy, I failed to act in a way that contributed to rising action.
     It is impossible to convince someone that you did not do something if they have not decided what the thing you did might be. Marriage is an ontological problem with epistemological applications. Marriage is an event that demands rigorous music. I turn on the Rimsky-Korsakov and pick up the thread from earlier. The Tale of Prince Kalendar. The hands of the harpist, a flock loosed into a field. And the bear of a man entering the room, the man asking what I did with the kids today. "You, lover of storied women, fool for the glorious tale, I have one. To beguile you. Here's how it happened..."

—Alina Stefanescu


I drove 89.8 miles today and never left Pima County. That’s roughly 2.5 hours in my truck in 14.6 hours of daylight. This doesn’t take into account all the sitting I do in my truck because I am always early and it’s too damn hot to wait outside in the Tucson sun. 
     I woke up too late to make coffee, so I begin bleary and angry, not a good look nor a new one for me. My husband pulls on his flight suit, essentially a green pajama onesie, and gives me a quick kiss before heading to his work at the fighter squadron. His hair is wet from the shower, and a drop of water from his head hits my check. Suddenly, I want to lick that spot between his jaw and neck.  
     I take the kids to their summer camps. Cora goes to art camp at the museum, and Gus goes to filmmaker camp at The Loft Cinema. We listen to the news. I do not hide what’s going on at the border from my children. The day before we dropped off donations of diapers and baby wipes for a group heading to Nogales. They ask questions I struggle to answer. But I do not lie to them. These questions always come while I’m driving. 
     As we drop Cora off, Gus sees a friend of his from school. I do not hear their conversation, but as we leave, Gus chuckles, “Well, that was awkward. Awkward on so many levels.”
     “Mason is obsessed with war, with bombs and Pearl Harbor, but he doesn’t understand it. He just doesn’t understand it,” says my son, the military brat who moved across the country when he was two weeks old. 
     I take him to his camp. Then, I drive north to the title office where I sign forms giving my husband power of attorney for when we close on our house. I will not be there for the signing. Then I drive down south to Time Market where I order a toad–in-the-hole with bacon. It comes with potatoes, the real reason I am here. I find Time Market’s breakfast potatoes deeply consoling soul medicine. Potatoes, in general, tend to do that for me. I jot down some notes and read Desert Solitaire in between bites. I wonder about the old man at the bar eating his breakfast and reading his paper. He is wearing suspenders to hold up his shorts, and this makes me glad.
     But there’s just not enough time. I have to pick up Cora and then drive a little ways east to pick up Gus. Gus, who has been enjoying his film camp, practically runs out the door. I watch as he buckles himself in and then just collapses into tears. “Want to talk about it?” He shakes his head no. “Ok. Tell me when you’re ready.” 
     In all my time on the road, I toggle between NPR and KXCI, between Joshua Johnson on 1A and Courtney Barnett’s oddly appropriate “Hopefulessness.” Cora requests “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” and then I switch to Chris Stapleton’s “Traveler” because it seals up all the places that start to crack open in me. Because it’s a long damn day and I am in too many places at once.  Because I live like there are two of me. 
     I get a text from my sister telling me that the biopsy of her breast tissue is benign. I think of the mammogram I am having next week.
     When we get home, I have to unstick my right thigh from the leather seat of my truck. I panic momentarily at the pain. But I manage to peel my ass out of the hot seat. Gus is ready to tell me about the kids at camp, the kids who do nothing but stare at their phones, the kids who are lazy or do not take filmmaking seriously. He is me at nine years old. I want to apologize to him for this, but I just tell him that this is part of life and that working with difficult people is a hard skill to master.
     In the three-hour stretch that I find myself in one place today—our home for the next three weeks, I sleep for two hours thanks to the remnants of a summer cold. 
     I get out of bed and Facetime my mom in Texas. Her stepdad who has Alzheimer’s made it through the night after being near death most of the previous day. My sister moved both him and my grandmother, who has Parkinson’s, to the skilled nursing facility in Olton. My dad, after almost dying last week during surgery, demands black-eyed peas and fresh corn on the cob. This is the summer supper of my childhood.  Dad sits on the back porch where he can see his garden. It won’t yield much this summer. Dad is dying, and the farm is long gone. I holler at the kids to pack up their books and instruments. I tell my mom I love her. Back in the truck we go.
     On the way to their music lessons, my son, age nine, asks me about the zero-tolerance policy enacted by Trump. “It was him, right?” My daughter, age six, asks me if the government could take her away from me. I turn off the radio because they have so much to say. My son’s grasp of immigration policy astonishes me. Cora’s comprehension of what she has been hearing on the radio, stunning. These are worries so small that I count them as privileges. 
     Cora makes progress reading her piano music. Something clicked in her brain to enable her to read chapter books with ease and understand music. Gus plays a minuet almost flawlessly on his flute. He slurs in all the right places and follows the dynamics, crescendo and decrescendo. Their bodies make music and I made them. It is always a wonder.
     We eat elsewhere. We eat anywhere but home. My husband Tim is cooking for a memorial at work the next day. A pilot died. Cancer. He was well loved. Tim will serve smoked chicken and barbeque pork, beans, and two kinds of salad for one hundred mourners.
     The kids and I head west towards home. We watch the sun go down as we sing to the Hamilton Mixtape. It gets dark as we pull into the neighborhood. Tim sets up the smoker for the chicken, prepares the brine, and cuts some mesquite. I read the latest paperwork regarding the negotiations on the house and what repairs must be done before signing and move-in. 
     I tell Tim that we must finish the barn first, that while we’re putting up doors, we fix the electrical and put in a swamp cooler, that this space be prioritized because it will be where we can create and work. I drink a glass of wine and pass out on the couch thinking about the new place, about the chickens I’m going to raise and the herb garden I’m going to plant, about the fresh vegetables we will grow and harvest, share and eat.

—Lee Anne Gallaway-Mitchell

Lee Anne Gallaway-Mitchell grew up working on a family farm in Lockney, a small town between Lubbock and Amarillo, Texas. Her writing explores agricultural and military land use as well as the intersections between coming from a farm family and a military family. She is an MFA candidate in creative writing at the University of Arizona.


Started around after 3 a.m. with a cat stepping on me and me getting up to use the bathroom. I looked for my phone charger for a while before realizing it was in the other house and giving up. I listened to the Best Show for an hour before going back to sleep.
     We had a party for me at work. There was coffee (hot and cold and with whipped cream), ice cream, and homemade chocolate cake. I opened presents and everyone watched. I almost teared up at the first one, a frame with a photo in it of the gray cat that lives there laying on the gravel. And I love-loved the last gift, which was given to me privately, after the party was over, a little notebook that fits in my pocket. There was also a bolo tie, crafted with beads, aquarium rocks and a shell that looks like a saguaro from far away, that had four dangling strands, to represent my four job titles, and that I wore over my striped T-shirt until I went home.
     The only thing I really had time for was teaching myself how to take this spreadsheet we had and turn it into a document that could be used to print labels. Also I had time for sticking the labels on some new filing folders.
     I had showed up on this day later than I normally do because in the morning I had a follow-up doctor's appointment. I made note of my heart rate, 117, which I was told was a little high. When I got back into the car the song Heat Wave by Snail Mail was playing on the radio, which was great because they're my new favorite band. The radio DJ had announced at the top of the show that he was going to play them, but I had thought I was going to miss it. I turned up the music and applied sunscreen to my sweaty face and arms as I sang along.
     Before the sun went down, my roommate to be came over and I introduced her to my cats. They weren't as active or fun as they had been that morning, but I think she liked them a lot. That could've also only have been my impression because I was still buzzing from the party sweets. We talked about our days and that we were scared. She met my mom too. Then we chose an apartment and payed the deposit for it online. I told her an early Happy Birthday, and as she got into the car, my mom and I hugged inside.
     I changed my shirt to my Wild Horses shirt and went to the movies to see Jurassic Park. On my way there I was running late. I stopped to pick up my friend that lives near the theater. He had gotten new tile. He was eating noodles. He asked me why if I was willing to wait for him to finish eating that why do I refuse then to stop at the gas station first so he can get some beers. This stressed me out because we were supposed to be meeting my sister and her partner at the movie, and I was tired, but also it was a funny question, I thought, and one that I didn't then have an answer for. So I just said no and we got to our seats right at the end of the previews.
     Made it home after the movie, brushed my teeth, changed into my pajamas, and finished off with the Best Show off until midnight.
     After the show ended I was a little scared again. Started another show for a few minutes and then turned it off when I remembered how late it was. 

—Devon Confrey

Devon Confrey has been published in the Tucson Dog Magazine. His handwritten blog about a room is @rocketblog on instagram.


I emerged from deep sleep at 4 am when I felt my thirst and heard a single bird song. I felt my consciousness seeking to rise from the depths.
     And then I remembered, today is solstice, always a sacred day for me. A day to honor light. In my still dark bedroom, I lay a while, considering so many aspects of my life. Reflecting
     More birds sang, though the dawn is just breaking at 4:56 am.

It was so cloudy again yesterday, with a bit more rain. So much rain these past several days. I want to see how my backyard vegetable garden is doing as I have not looked at it in a week. What has grown there in these days of hot and humid weather? 
     The weather is changing. The climate has shifted. Water will tell the tale; too much or too little. And clouds. Will our Minnesota summers be as cloudy as winter has been? That would push me away from my beloved home territory. I need the sun. I worship sun. I love light. I am a visual pleasure seeker, a photographer who loves to look, frame, and share images of the day. 
     I also love to ask questions and collect stories. I interview people, and I get paid to interview. Yesterday was filled with interviews for a film I am working on. On this solstice day, I will set my intention to get paid to interview more people. To collect and share more great stories of people’s lives.
     Now at my antique trestle table newly placed in my daughter’s former bedroom, I write. I notice the north east sky lighting up in rose. If I were at the family cabin, I would be on the dock facing east to witness and document in photos its beauty. It’s a daily ritual when I am there, up for dawn and then chasing the sunsets.
     Today the clouds light up with delicate oranges and pinks. I go downstairs, open the front door and cross the wood chip covered part of the front yard; with my phone I take a photo from the front sidewalk on our treelined street. The climate is changing. Invasive species are killing our trees. These ash trees will be destroyed by emerald ash bore. 1,000 will be gone in a few years just in my little part of St. Paul. These trees may not be here next year. Our block will be naked and too full of light. I love the light. I love the trees. I want them to live.
     Urges...that is what auto correct said when I typed in oranges. It wanted ‘oranges’ to become “urges.’ That’s an awesome prompt for this little bit of writing today. What urges come forth when I honor the light and the solstice? The urge of lush greens and growth. I am growing every day. The urge for connection. The urge to contribute. The urge to create. The urge to matter.
     I posted to instagram my modest photo of the delicate sunrise color framed by the trees on the block.
     I write an email to a colleague at the local University for whom I do contract work. I’m celebrating the gift of the young man whom I interviewed last night. His story is beautiful. As I interviewed him, I wished my daughter would find someone as special as he is. But he will be in Namibia on a Fulbright and gone for at least a year. Maybe someone like him will find her.
     I text my friend Julie who’s been traveling in Nova Scotia. “Let me know when you return and have time to tell me about your trip.” She texts she will be back today and in touch. 
     I respond to another email. This one from a woman I met in Toronto a week ago. She is from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, a place my grandfather, and maybe my great grandfather owned wheat fields. I love those names for a place I don’t know, but I feel it lives in my DNA. I want to know that story of my family history. Why did they own that land? What did it mean to them? The woman I am writing practices therapy there and uses storyboard techniques that interest me. Let’s exchange for information please!
     A month ago, I set an intention that people who can encourage my growth in my field of psychology will show up and be part of my further development. These two showed up at a conference I attended in Toronto. I text two women colleagues and ask to meet up. It won’t happen till July.
     I post to Facebook two photos taken of me by friend; they are of her daughter and me on the dock at our cabin. The photos reveal my love of water, that lake in particular, and the ease of connecting with others there. The little girl is 7 years old. Our feet dangle in the water. We are splashing and smiling and puffy white clouds frame us in blue and whiteness of the big sky.
     My inner chatter rises. It asks, am I valued? I am answered by silence and more of my inner chatter.
     My inner chatter rises. Will I finish my book? I am answered by urges.
     I shower and, still in my towel, sit again writing and responding to messages (a text about a former radio colleague whose musician husband has had a stroke and how is he recovering). I need to get dressed and get ready to chair a board meeting for a nonprofit I helped found. I love the work, and I am challenged by the work, and I am overcommitted to the work.
     More to follow…it is 7:42 am On my way to the car, I empty the claypot trays under flower pots in front…too much rain water.
     Now it’s 12:16 pm—I’ve wrapped up the board meeting for the nonprofit. Our mission is community driven development in the heart of St Paul/Minneapolis. We do it by assisting creative makers to make their living in this special district. It’s where I operate my strategic communications and coaching company. At the meeting we accepted a report on the creative economy of our district and the jobs by categories located the area. So far we found 47,000 plus jobs. Wow!
     We just unveiled some billboards to promote the work and here’s a photo of Julie the designer with a mini version of the billboard. We want people to #MakeItHere!

     After the meeting I stopped by my two post office boxes (one for the nonprofit, one for my studio office) to see what has shown up in my absence (one thank you letter and two fund appeals) and to water my plants at my studio (located about 2 miles from my home, a 10 minute drive).  
     I make myself lunch over my gas top stove—toast and eggs plus a side of sliced cucumbers in plain greek yogurt—and now I am off to conduct one more interview for my client to shape into a short film. This interview is with the man who runs the Augsburg University Nobel Peace Prize Forum and leads experiential education initiatives there.
     What I loved hearing is the way he has used place as a source for co-creating forms of learning and teaching. He celebrates the intentional diversity of Augsburg and its role in social justice and equity efforts. My urge at the end of that session was to see if he will talk with my daughter about some part time work for the Nobel Peace Prize Forum. He said yes!
     Then my day dissolved a bit. I realized something is wrong with my computer screen, and I spent a lot of time trouble shooting with the Apple Genius folks. No results yet. 
     But I was also able to make a run to the airport (a 15 minute drive from our house) and pick up my friend from her 10 day adventure in Nova Scotia. Her blog of the trip made it clear she’d had a blast and I wanted her to know how happy I am she had fun and is back.
     Speaking of urges, when the two little girls, ages 4 and 7, who live across the street realized my husband was home they shouted to him and ran over to visit and use our rope swing. We noticed a huge green caterpillar that was laying on the sidewalk; a bee was buzzing it and it curled as if in pain. Marlo and Lucy helped me carefully lift it onto a leaf of a bright green hosta. Now we will wait and see if we notice a cocoon. Could it be a gypsy moth on the way? 
     Later I walk with my husband to the Mississippi River as we do so many evenings, and we notice how high it is from all the rains up river. We hear more birds, some we don't recognize. The eagles are not in their nests (there are two active nests on our route) and we admired the clouds with pale sun moving lower in the sky.
     Now I’m ready to wind down this day and this summary of what happened on June 21. 
     While the light fades (now 9:20 and the sun set 15 minutes ago) I set my urges to intention and appreciation: meaningful work, amazing collaborators, dedicated volunteers working to make our city a creative and thriving center of entrepreneurship; a spouse who loves me; a grown daughter who wants to spend time with me (we made a date to meet for lunch tomorrow) our home with space to grow fresh greens I harvest for my dinner salad. 
     May I trust and treasure all the days that unfold with urges of beauty and meaning just as this one did.

—Catherine Reid Day

Catherine Reid Day grew up in Iowa climbing trees, playing kick the can, and losing herself reading books. With her innate passion for communication and connection, she wrote letters—pretend and real—which she delivered by hand to the neighbors or sent airmail around the world. A poet, essayist, painter, producer, psychologist, and coach, she’s working on a book of creative non-fiction with the working title Identity, Longing, and Desire: The Urgency of Who You Are. A community organizer by nature, she’s one of the instigators of the Creative Enterprise Zone, a place where people make a living by their creative capacities. 


The baby’s soft cries woke me up. I still don’t have a name associated with him, I hate the one my mom gave him. The doctor and some nurses walked in and out of the room, so I flipped over on the small couch, not wanting them to see my face as I slept. It got to a point, so I got up at 9, and hated myself for not bringing a toothbrush or a change of clothes. My mom told me that the baby cried throughout the night to be held, he hated sleeping alone. I hunted the vending machines down for some breakfast. A woman was loudly talking about her sex life, or lack thereof. The orange juice was gross. I pressed the call button to be let back into the halls to my mother’s room. I watched over the baby as my mom showered. Three people came in during that time. The birth certificate person, the woman who takes professional pictures of the baby, and a woman who wanted to let her know about development programs. They all thought I was the mother. I internally laughed at that. I could never see myself in this position. That’s something for others to experience and want. They administered a hearing test for him. He passed. My arms hurt from holding him for so long. I had to leave at 11AM. I didn’t want to leave my mom. I wanted to stay with her until she checked out, I wanted to be there from beginning to end. But I had to work, and her friend arrived to be there with her. I didn’t understand why I wanted to cry as I left the hospital. I went home, and the house was spotless. That was a relief. My siblings actually did what they were asked of. My little sister Paola asked how mom was. I got ready for work, with a headache and still feeling sleep deprived. Paola told me to call off, but I did that yesterday and I’m a workaholic. When I got to work I looked at the dogs. Snugglefoot was still there, but she was on a hold. There was a new dog in the other kennel. It was a toy poodle named Doodle. I actually liked the name. I did a dog intro for the poodle with two large dogs. The potential adopter didn’t want to bring her dogs, saying they were good with all dogs. I reminded her that we weren’t sure how our dog would react. She met them one at a time. She tried to attack the first one, a large lab. I looked at the daughter and told her it looked like it wasn’t going to work out. I tried introducing her to the other. She refused to get near it. I apologized to the family and told them they couldn’t adopt the dog. I told them that their dogs were well behaved and well socialized, but Doodle said no and wanted nothing to do with them. It was for all of the dog’s safety that they didn’t adopt her. The daughter cried, but they understood and left. Snugglefoot did go home. Her owner was happy to be reunited with the breed she was mixed with. I got a picture update on The Dude. The owner is happy to have him and thanked me for giving him a new best friend for life. I was filled with relief knowing this energetic, anxious dog finally found someone that would walk and pay attention to him. Near the end of the shift I began to clean the cat kennels. Scooping their feces out of their litter boxes, and replenishing food and water. Sometimes the cats got near me and watched, were vocal, talking to me. Sometimes they hid. Others watched with a detached look in their eyes. I took Doodle on her final potty break. She was scared of the stairs, so I carried her. She quickly emptied herself out, it looked like she was potty trained. My aunt and her kids were visiting when I got home. She made Caldo de Queso with queso fresco and tortillas from Mexico. It was amazing. Acting out of character, I sat down on the couch to watch a movie. My little cousins sat around me and were fascinated by Napoleon Dynamite. They were mad to leave mid movie. The youngest cried, wanting to finish it. After they left my little sister sat down and watched the rest with me. Her verdict of the film was “It’s weird.” I fussed over my mom as she settled into sleep. Paola stayed to sleep with her to give her company. The cats refused to leave the room. That surprised me. Sophie doesn’t usually like the cries of a newborn. Micah never met one, and since he’s the insecure weirdo of the duo, (who needs constant reassurance from me. Sometimes he sits there with a distant deeply insure look in his eyes as I pet and coo at him, trying to make him confident.) I was sure he would stay far away from the baby as possible. But he hunkered down under the bed, while Sophie slept at their feet. I went to bed and tried to play sudoku but was too tired, so I quickly fell asleep. 


A tired student with a lot of life happening around her. 


So I lost the first page of my observations which were hand written on a sheet of A4 paper and started with the words sore throat headache. I know it did because I started it as soon as I got out of bed and carried it with me from the shower, to the bedroom, to the kitchen. It was still dark outside. I scribbled notes and details, kind of like a list, then folded it and put it in my back pocket, or so I thought. As I reconstruct things now all I remember is that I wrote about the cold, about the little dog, about the notion of putting a coat on the little dog these icy days, about the ethics of wearing a puffer jacket myself, about the teaspoon of Tullamore Dew on my morning oats. Then I left the house. Somewhere between the house and the railway station I lost that page. This set the scene for a string of nervous moments. I found an alternative page to write on as I waited at the station but by then I was as jumpy as. I watched four small children with what I could only surmise were childcare workers on the opposing platform. All wore high visibility safety vests, even the two bubs in the pram. I wondered why this was a thing and what it was meant to save them from. The 10.01 train arrived at 10.02. Young people had their feet up on the seats. This made me cross, but I didn’t have the spine to confront them and I was able to find a seat elsewhere. We were all mostly on our phones, except for one woman who looked familiar. She was reading a book from a library. The book was called Break of Day. There was a tall man in shorts opposite me; his knees touched mine. I could not understand how he could wear shorts in this weather. I told myself it had to be a man thing.
     I had a moment on the train when I was convinced I had put my wallet down somewhere and lost that as well. I must have been visibly panicking, maybe I even said something out loud when I realised I had not lost it, something like oh thank god, because two young women across the aisle shot sideways looks at me. They were sisters, I told myself. They wore the same style of brown elastic-sided riding boots and had their hair pulled back tight from their foreheads and swept into pony tails. They looked like they might be what we call horsey. My wallet found, I discharged my nervous energy by getting cranky with a sales rep in the Telstra store on the forecourt. This is becoming a daily visitation: once again, I instructed the guy to pass on my number to a fellow sales rep who was supposed to have called me about removing my aged father’s name from the phone directory in the state where he no longer resides. (Later in the day I will realise that, yet again, he has not called.)
     Then I went to work. My micro-observations stopped here; attention flattened into doing. It was day eight of my residency but I was tired and didn’t want to be there. I set things up, not expecting any visitors, so I was bowled over when one arrived while I was still on the phone to the panel beater. My visitor agreed to go outside and re-enter once I got off the telephone. (The manner of entry is all-important; it should be solemn, with due ceremony.) He humoured me. I welcomed him. After our reading I felt better, but the day was full and there was no time to make notes. It was a good day, very good, productive.
     Later I sat in a slow-moving taxi and made my way over the Westgate Bridge. I looked at the safety guards they’ve put up to discourage jumpers. This used to be a popular suicide spot. I wondered where people jump from now. There had been an accident on the bridge. The traffic was crawling; it was not quite gridlock but close. We made it to the panel beater with mere minutes to spare. I drove my own car extra carefully home. I worry that my spatial orientation is changing as I age. Later as I fed the dogs and spilled water everywhere I worried again. Am I losing my depth perception? Becoming clumsy and unable to sense the edges of my body in space? Or am I just tired?
     I did the things I needed to do, home duties: a load of washing, emptied the dishwasher, made preparations for our weekend away. There was work I should have been doing, a form to fill in but I couldn’t bear it. I have a fear of forms. My partner brought home dinner from Laksa King restaurant—steamed rice, greens with garlic sauce, and our favourite Malaysian chicken curry. We ate in front of the television. We watched a new episode of Queer Eye, but this one left me cold. I usually cry when I watch it, but this time I didn’t care about the man getting the makeover or his predicament. I didn’t care whether he kept his beard or shaved it off, whether he looked better with or without it, whether he learned to cook the traditional recipe his mother used to make, whether he tidied up his room and started telling the truth. I didn’t believe him. I didn’t believe his changes would last.
     After the episode finished we turned the heater way up to boost the heat in the house before bedtime. We took the dogs outside one at a time and saw them settled for the night. I got into bed and read for about fifteen minutes. I wanted to read more, but I couldn’t stay awake.
     I said to my partner something like: this is the shortest day, it will get easier soon. Then she turned out the light.

—Peta Murray

Peta Murray is an early career researcher at RMIT University. She lives in Melbourne, Australia. 

Check back for more dispatches from June 21, 2018 tomorrow. —Editors

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