Drabble 196 – Mors Vincit Omnia

A photo of a lightning bolt against a purple sky.

We’re experiencing what’s being called a “once in a millennium” heatwave up here in the Pacific Northwest, where nobody I know has air conditioning and we put on shorts when the temperature hits 65 degrees. The day I’m writing this, my town is forecasted to get up to 106 degrees. I don’t know that I’ve ever been in heat like this, especially not here, where we keep our mild, blue-skied summers a secret under the guise that it’s always raining here.

The idea that this is “once in a millennium” is, to some degree, a relief. But we also live in an evolving climate crisis, where events like this can become more frequent and devastating as conditions change. What “once in a millennium” looked like before this is different from what it’ll look like after.

I don’t say this to be bleak. I tend to fixate on the negative at the expense of the positive, but I am trying to spend less time looking at singular events as endings. Reframing things is a large part of an ongoing healing practice for me, and while this heatwave is neither a cause nor a symptom of what’s specific to me, it brings me back to something climate writer Mary AnnaĂŻse Heglar said in her piece, “Home is Always Worth It”:

Even if I can only save a sliver of what is precious to me, that will be my sliver and I will cherish it. If I can salvage just one blade of grass, I will do it. I will make a world out of it. And I will live in it and for it.

When things feel bleak, I cling to this notion. I don’t have to resign myself to anything, and nor do we, as communities and nations and humans, do not have to resign ourselves to anything. We can keep pushing back, even if success feels impossible.

Anyway, here’s a drabble.

Drabble 195 – Lucelent

A photo of the Northern Lights above a dark skyline.

I have the Aurora Borealis on the brain entirely because I’ve been re-reading the His Dark Materials series. It’s one of those things that doesn’t sound real to me; I’ve never seen it in real life, and imagining dancing lights overhead, no matter what the scientific explanation, sounds like something out of a fantasy novel. I’d love to see it one day, but for now it remains a mystery that I’m curious about, something existing just on the other side of realism.

That, too, is something on my mind a lot lately, in no small part because I’m re-reading His Dark Materials, but also because I just like learning things! I like that there are things I don’t understand in the world and that maybe I’ll never understand them, but that I still have something to gain by trying.

Anyway, here’s a drabble.

Drabble 194 – Honorificabilitudinitatibus

A photo of a statue holding a crown aloft.

I, like many people, underestimated how big of a toll that last year has taken. All things considered, I’ve been okay—I purposefully changed jobs mid-pandemic, but other than that, there hasn’t been as much upheaval in my life as there has been for many, many others. I have been lucky.

But being lucky doesn’t mean being entirely without any kind of emotional response to the world, especially in something as traumatic as this. The year anniversary of the pandemic blew by, and it wasn’t until others spoke about how your body remembers trauma even if you’re not intentionally focusing on it that I realized how heavy a weight it is. Even now, with my family and myself fully vaccinated and all of my immediate friend group halfway there, it’s a heavy burden.

This doesn’t have anything to do with the word I’ve chosen today. It’s just some thoughts on why I didn’t feel able to write a drabble last month, and why it was still difficult this month, even though, all things considered, I am doing okay. I have wondered and wondered why I’ve felt so tired, so run-down, over the past year. I’ve blamed it on my age, on a sinus infection, on staying up too late watching silly things online. Maybe all of those things are also to blame, but there’s more to it than that, and to not recognize it is to do ourselves a disservice. As many have said before and more eloquently than I have: it’s okay to be slow, to be unproductive, in the best of times. These are not the best of times. Be as gentle with yourself as you would a friend.

Anyway, here’s a drabble.

Drabble 193 – Utinam

A photo of someone laying in a field with their hands outstretched. Only their hands and arms are visible.

I would like to say that I don’t place a whole lot of stock in wishing, but I’d be lying. I make a lot of wishes—not phrased as such, not necessarily on stray eyelashes or falling stars or birthday candles, but frequently enough that when I sat down to write this I thought, “I don’t really make a lot of wishes,” and then immediately laughed at myself. Maybe my definition of “wish” is more flexible than blowing the seeds off of dandelions, but I think that many of the things I do are sort of wishes in disguise.

What’s important to me about all this accidental wishing is that it doesn’t stop there. I’ve wished for a lot of things throughout my life and gotten very few of them. But sometimes putting words to a desire is exactly what I need to define the action I’ll have to take to get there. I don’t mean “manifesting” as in magical thinking, I mean if I say I want to someday have a house where I can keep bees, I ask myself why I can’t do that now (a homeowner’s association, lack of experience, unwillingness to make the financial investment), and how I can start to rectify that (eventually moving, taking a class, saving money). The wish is “keep bees,” but it won’t happen if I don’t start addressing the steps to get there.

Maybe that’s just goal setting, no magical name necessary. Maybe the affirmations I practice on the suggestion of my therapist are just wishes for a better self. But there is value in making them, because expressing something as a desire or as an existing truth help me figure out how to make them real.

Anyway, here’s a drabble.

Drabble 192 – Scintillation

A photo of a light blue dress with gold embroidery and sequins.

I’ve never really connected with fashion, which seems strange because I own a lot of clothes. Maybe not as many as some people, but enough that the bottom of my t-shirt drawer sags a little. I don’t even really like t-shirts that much.

I’m trying to be more selective in what I wear and what clothes I buy, in part because I never leave the house anymore and in part because I’m trying to be more conscious about everything I spend money on (except food, which is always fair game—god, I miss eating at restaurants!). But part of that consciousness is also letting myself splurge a little. I recently bought a bodysuit from Samantha Pleet I’ve been eyeing for weeks. Where am I going to wear it? Here, at home, to impress nobody but myself (and maybe also my husband or people who see me in meetings). I keep looking at fancy dresses I don’t have a reason to wear and coming up with reasons I should wear them. Nobody’s inviting me to a fancy charity ball, especially not in a pandemic year, but maybe I’ll just hold my own. Maybe I’ll buy a fancy dress and a sword for no reason other than to take a picture of myself with them.

It’s kind of nice to buy clothes for myself for purposes other than, “someone will see me in this while I’m out.” I still don’t know that fashion is really my thing, but if there’s one thing the last godforsaken year has encouraged me to see, it’s that basing my wardrobe on the expectation of being seen wasn’t really making me happy, so I might as well try something new.

Anyway, here’s a drabble.

Drabble 191 – Debellate

A photo of blue smoke against a dark background.

Before this year, I’d never have described myself as a pessimist. That doesn’t mean I suddenly became one this year—though if any year is going to turn you into a pessimist, 2020 will do the trick—but rather that I became aware of it. I look and look and look for the bright side because I don’t really believe it’s there, and if I do happen to find one, I keep looking until I can no longer really believe it’s a bright side at all.

This is not a good outlook. I don’t advise it. Nor do I advise being a pure optimist either—that comes with its own set of downsides.

Intentionally trying to dig up the truth of myself has exposed me to all kinds of things I didn’t expect to find, most of them uncomfortable; when you spend your whole life thinking you’re an optimist only to find that you’re in fact the opposite of that, it’s a shock! How can I not understand my own worldview? If anybody knows the way I feel about things, shouldn’t it be me?

Turns out, no. I don’t know much about myself at all, and the things I keep finding are weird and unexpected. But finding things out about myself isn’t the end of the work—more important is the idea that I can change those things. It’s hard, slow work. I feel like I’m making very little progress. But I keep coming back to a question my therapist asked me months ago: “What if that wasn’t a bad thing?”

But… it is a bad thing, I thought back then. (I still think this, more often than I don’t.) Well… what if it wasn’t? What if all the things I’ve always thought were true… aren’t? Something like that can turn your entire world on its head.

I’m still a pessimist. Maybe someday I won’t be. I don’t know! That’s the thing about challenging my static worldview—it’s comforting to think you know something, and now I’m not sure. There’s some freedom in that uncertainty.

Anyway, here’s a drabble.

Drabble 190 – DegrassĂ©

A photo of stars.

I grew up in the middle of nowhere. Well, it was more like the outer limits of nowhere. It was a 20-minute drive to town, anyway. On clear nights, I could hear the train whistle mixed in with crickets and cows lowing. In the sky were more stars than I’ve ever seen elsewhere; that’s what happens when there are no streetlights, no large buildings, just trees and water and farmhouses tucked into meadows.

It sounds idyllic but, truth be told, I hated it there. The stars and the sounds are two of the only things I remember fondly, but maybe that makes up for the rest. Seeing the stars spread across the sky like glitter spilled over black velvet is a memory I hang onto now that what I hear at night is mostly cars. Sometimes coyotes, but we had those back home, too.

Anyway, here’s a drabble.

Drabble 189 – Rhodology

A photo of a pink rosebush.

I grew my first rosebush from bare roots this year. I grew roses at my old house, but they were planted by the time they got there and mostly grew themselves—they were a hardy breed. I was nervous about planting my own roses; a rosebush is an investment, and I didn’t want to feel like I’d thrown money away if it died. But it didn’t. It thrived and produced big white blossoms that smelled amazing. I dried them to use in tea and rosewater and anywhere else I can think of.

There are a lot of risks in gardening; I feel bad every time a plant dies because I didn’t care for it well enough. But coaxing something to grow—whether it’s roses or beans or a giant tomato plant that nonetheless succumbs to blight after you geat only one measly tomato from it—is incredibly rewarding. I hate weeding, I hate fertilizing, I hate pruning, but I get better at it every time I’m reminded of how gratifying it is to know that something grew where it wasn’t before simply because you took the time to nurture it.

Anyway, here’s a drabble.

Drabble 188 – Lemures

A photo of a person from behind surrounded by smoke.

It’s been a while. Every time I sat down to write a drabble my brain turned to static. That’s the nature of burnout, which I’ll write more about in my newsletter. I’m trying to be a little more patient with myself and let go of the things that nobody’s waiting on, so drabbles fell to the wayside for a bit. That’s okay—when I sat down to write this one, it didn’t feel like work. It felt like opening a shaken can of soda, maybe. There was too much of it, but it was a joyous sort of mess.

Anyway, here’s a drabble. Maybe I’ll be more consistent in the future. Maybe I won’t. But I’ll come back eventually.

Drabble 187 – Omnium Gatherum

A photo of a clock, hourglass, and other antique objects.

I understand the appeal of minimalism, in theory. I also understand that our society tells me that the solution to anything that’s wrong is to buy some material good to fix it. I also understand that having lots of objects does not actually equate to happiness.

And yet, my dream home is one that’s full of trinkets. Books, pretty rocks, assorted knickknacks that call to me for one reason or another. Something about that kind of space feels more like home to me than a space that’s clear and open. Maybe it’s growing up without a lot to go around that encouraged me to be this way, or maybe it’s just that part of me that’s drawn to stories about old witches in cottages and treasure hunters. Do I need these things? No, of course not. Is it bad to want them anyway?

Anyway, here’s a drabble.