Work

A Typical Morning

The wake-up alarm I’ve chosen for my phone is the sound of various bird songs, as though in the forest. There’s a bird call on the phone that sounds identical to a species of bird I hear each morning outside my bedroom window. Sometimes I hear the live bird before my alarm goes off, and I think it’s the alarm. I open my eyes and realize it’s the bird outside in the tree, not the one in my phone, and I try to go back to sleep. Sometimes I can. Other times my mind starts to work on things. It starts to work on problems and tasks and events coming up. I lie in bed thinking, taking advantage of the time before full wakefulness when it feels like I’m made of mind only and can think without distractions. It’s the only time of day when that’s possible.

The dog hears the alarm and knows what it means and leaps onto the bed. If I don’t protect myself, he’ll lick my face and stomp all over me. I grab him and hug him, and he wags his tail. Most dogs would just as soon avoid being hugged by a human, but he likes it. I ask him if he wants to go outside, and he flies off the bed, crouches, wags, and waits for me to go out and open the back door. Then he launches himself on a high-speed yard patrol, in case a cat or a squirrel has infiltrated.

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While the dog is tearing through the yard making his 45 pounds sound like a charging rhinoceros, I like to put my fingers on the keyboard and see what they do. I keep a Freewrite on the tall breakfast table, so I can go to it right out of bed, before my brain is fully awake. Look–I’m doing that now, looking into a literary mirror.

The nights are sometimes long and difficult. Everything is better when the sun is up and I’m moving again. The dog is no conversationalist, but he’s my friend, and he never says anything foolish or ignorant. His points of view are well known to me on a wide range of subjects, many of which I agree with. Raw carrots are tasty. A quick run through the neighborhood in the morning before the sun rises above the treetops is good. Walking in the evening is good. Yowling cats in heat on the fence outside the window at night are bad.

He and I disagree on minor points such as how one should behave in the presence of another dog’s excrement, whether it’s alright to hang one’s entire body out the window of a moving automobile, and the degree of sexual attractiveness of the human leg.

Each morning, by 8:30am, a murder of crows has occupied the top of the pine tree. They drop things into the yard. Chicken bones, egg shells, aluminum foil. The dog is interested, but seems to smell crow on these things and doesn’t try to eat them. The crows’ calls are less pleasant than the bird songs I hear before daybreak. They seem to be arguing among themselves or taunting the dog and me. I stand on the back patio, watching them watch me. I sip coffee. They turn their heads sideways and direct one shiny black eye on me at a time, as though their left eye provides one type of information, and the right another. Infrared, perhaps. I am slightly fascinated by crows, but I don’t imagine that they’re my friends. If I lie still long enough, I know one of them will eventually try to take one of my eyes.

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I Live.

That’s right. I’m still alive.

On June 26th, I graduated from the University of Tampa’s Low-Residency Master of Fine Arts program. Now, several days later, after some time to process it, I think it’s time to shake off the disorientation of no longer being a grad student and get on with life. A lot has happened in the past several months. Aside from finishing school, my personal life has fundamentally changed. I’ve started a new 9-to-5 job and learned again what living alone is like. (I may write more about that soon.)

For those of you who notice these tiny electronic symbols I’m tossing into the vast gulf of the internet, thank you for reading. I plan to show up here a lot more often now that I’m not putting all my energy into writing a masters thesis. I won’t promise anything more profound than what you’re reading now, (Thanks for reading!) but you never know.

There are stories to tell, and I’ve been working pretty hard at telling a few of them. At the moment, I have a semi-autobiographical short story titled “The Grove” I’m submitting to journals that seem a good fit. There are a couple others in line for revisions, and I hope to announce a couple of publications in the coming weeks and months.

I realized about three weeks ago that there are people I haven’t spoken to for awhile who have no idea what the shape of my life is these days. If you’re one of those folks, forgive me. I’ve been through some painful changes, and I’m only now beginning to peek over the edge of the rather dark hole I inhabited throughout the spring.

I still haven’t discovered the true purpose of I Write, but for now, perhaps it’s a sort of series of messages in bottles to toss into the digital surf. If one washes up on your beach, leave a comment.

I’ll be back soon.

No, really–I mean it this time.