A Sort of Umbrella, Anne Claude Philippe de Tubières, comte de Caylus (French, Paris 1692–1765 Paris), Etching with some engraving
“A Sort of Umbrella,” Anne Claude Phillippe de Tubieres, 1746.

Today is the day I sort.

There is a day, maybe a week into my time off, that I must sort.

I didn’t know today was the day.

But then I walked past my bookcases of old journals and I knew I had to sort them.

It seems like when they say pregnant women need to nest.

My downstairs neighbor just had a baby his name is James, James comma sweet baby.

I took all the journals off all two bookcases and sat on the floor.

No matter how many couches or chairs I have, for real work, I am always sitting cross-legged on the floor.

Which is probably great for my future joint health and flexibility.

My major life regret is all the times I didn’t put the year on my journals.


Then I’m sorting through looking for some sign of a year, or a day of the week and a date.

It’s annoying.

Sometimes I’m able to sort it into: before real job), before becoming a teacher, before significant breakup, pre-moved to New York.

But I went to NYC a lot before I moved there, so sometimes NYC content is in books FROM EARLIER PERIODS.

I mean, it doesn’t matter when things happened.

It doesn’t matter that they happened at all.

What does matter is me seeing that I sat around with friends deciding the classiest and trashiest alcohols. I said rum. How I’ve changed! Or it’s still trashy, but I love it now.

What matters is I saw a brush with an ex that knocked me silly, and now I don’t even remember that. it happened.

So many times I started over.

This is one horror of aging, realizing that you have to start over, and over, and over, and over.

At least I have.

I never had a real straightforward life trajectory.

I find my past self to be a mopey, adorable tyrant.

Which might be how friends would describe me as well.

I ran across, “I didn’t have a drink because I’d had one the night before,” and I thought, huh, I sat around socially and never asked the host to open the wine I brought.

That would not happen now.

I am tired. I seek ease and pleasure at every turn.


I seek wine.


In my old journals, I am always making to-do lists.

These are always worthless later on.


cat litter

see D, M

ask about 536

I sorted journals by year.

I let someone on youtube talk about how the rich dress.

I got dressed, and intended to leave the house, but I saw my bookcases of books, written by other people.

I knew I had to re-sort them all immediately.

I was back on the floor.

Reds, oranges, and yellows are always together, toward the top.

I made some shelves of blues and greens.

Then black, dark.

Then whites.

Then creams.

A guy on youtube talked about how the narrative structure of “The Walking Dead” failed.

I love that cultural analysis and criticism is so pop now.

Used to be you had to take a class on novel writing to get that kind of chat in your ear.


I finally got out, to coffee.

What changed my life the most during covid was not getting to go out for coffee and write.

Honestly I had built my life around that activity set.

I have so few journals in the 2020- now category.

I feel this is my first summer covid-free.

My first summer in six years with money, and without covid.

I drove to get coffee because it’s gross hot.

I remembered the hottest I’ve ever been: the summer I tried to move to NYC.

No one I knew had ever moved anywhere except for work.

I didn’t know how to do it.

My air b n b landlady was a piece of shit.

She neglected to mention, in her post, that her rental room had no air conditioning. It was July. In Brooklyn.

I went to buy a fan.

It didn’t work.

I took it back.

The only nice thing about this story is that the store where I bought it was called “Fat Albert’s,” and they sold absolutely everything except food.

Like Target. Except everything was shitty.

They gave me a new fan.

I got a bag of ice from landlady’s freezer.

I put it on the back of my neck and aimed the fan at me.

I could not sleep.

I left during the day, and when I returned she asked me. not to leave the. fan on. when I wasn’t there.

Her place was full of crystals and she did energy work.

She was the first person I met who created a lovely new agey space for her nasty little soul.

I mean, God bless her, I also have a nasty little soul, as you can see.

Now journals are sorted, books are sorted.

By year and by color.

When you write something down, WRITE THE YEAR.

June 5, 2023.


Crown, Gilt-copper alloy, enamel and glass cabochons, French
French crown, 19th century, Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Charles and I don’t appear to have much in common, but as I was driving by the cemetery on the way to work, and thinking about how annoying it is that the Buddha was so right about so many things, life is suffering, Charles was also suffering. Getting ready to appear on international television for hours does not sound fun to me.

It didn’t look like we had much in common when I decided to spend a half hour endlessly climbing and descending six different staircases at school. I was wearing a dress I had ordered on a used clothing site, and boots I bought at a Kansas City, Kansas outlet store. Yet what had Charles done but endlessly climb and descend staircases for seventyish years, being introduced to people, walking slowly?

I thought I had no interest in Charles’ coronation. There was an intriguing article in the New Yorker, though, and then I was hooked. Someone I know so much about, though I don’t really care to. (“The Crown” is a great watch, and “SNL” does what it does.). I know more about how Charles jokes about sex with his girl than I know about any of my friends’ love lives. (By choice, certainly.).

I understand that his kids had a new stepmom, and that was a rough adjustment. It always is. I understand he has a son who has decided that airing his intimate thoughts and pains will disinfect them, though as a writer, I will tell you, sometimes it does, and sometimes it doesn’t. I understand that people you love will do things that enrage or humiliate you, and you have to go on.

My students were on a jag of asking me questions that they had known the answers to since at least October. “Where do I find the work we did last week?” The work we did last week is on the website with all the work we do, and it is listed by date. “What day was I gone?” I don’t know what day you were gone. I don’t know where your pencil is, why you got a bad grade on the quiz, or what your grade is on anything.

They always seem alarmed by this. That my memory doesn’t hold the scores they got on every assignment we do, or their overall grade.

Today I took a watering can out to the porch, watered my flowers, and then when I was ready to water the indoor flowers, I searched three rooms three times before I figured out where I had left it.

I don’t know what your grade is.

Such big feelings this time of year. I am angry about things that happened this year, and sad about leaving the school, and heartbroken about leaving my students. I’m confused about how I feel.

I was supposed to go to a meeting about reconfiguring the curriculum for next year.

What I wanted to do was tear into the room like Jesus in the temple and let them know it doesn’t matter this work we could do because the district will tell us what to teach and then pick a test to go with it even though it doesn’t go with it and we have to pass everyone anyway.

One of my biggest frustrations with myself is that I seem incapable of sitting in a meeting and being like, fuck it, whatever. It is easy to hook me with what should happen. I have almost zero patience for conversation that strikes me as time-wasting.

I’m great at wasting time reading, drinking coffee or wine, having long talks, playing Mexican train dominoes.

But suggest to me that if we choose our core values, then we can build our school around those, and steam comes out my ears. YOU DON’T TEACH VALUES BY MAKING LISTS AND POSTERS YOU TEACH THEM BY SHOWING UP AND BEING KIND. I’m infuriated. It feels insane.

The Buddha was right about everything.

I don’t feel like age has mellowed me.


There are two types of stairwells at school: the main ones are from high school central casting: two sides, one for up, one for down, wooden handrails, coming together and splitting, windowless, cement. Our school was built for the less affluent of Kansas City, so it has some architectural detail, but not a lot. It’s brick and not stone.

The other ones are side stairwells, half the width, with newer iron handrails.

In the wide stairwells, you will run into gaggles of kids. Sometimes if I have time, I’ll start following them. It’s best to say nothing and just follow them. Sometimes I’ll tell them I am going to walk them to class.

It’s hard to understand, but it’s really easy to skip class.

In the side stairwells, someone might be snuggled up with a phone and headphones. There might be two kids having what seems to be a big talk.

The day that I was enraged and frustrated, I said, “Well, it looks like you’re having a good talk, so….”

Side stairwells sometimes smell like weed.

I was trying to avoid this meeting, so I avoided the stairwell nearest that room. Our school has five floors. There are plenty of stairs.

I ran into a kid I didn’t know. He told me his teacher would not let him in the classroom. I said I would walk him there. He said he had to get a late pass, and he didn’t know where to go. I walked him all the way down to the basement, to the health room. I didn’t even know that room existed.

He knocked. A student opened the door.

Across the room, I said to the teacher, “I found your student! I wanted to deliver him personally!”

“Oh, thank you!” she said, equalling my cheery BS.

“You’re welcome!” I crowed.

Charles, a Richie Rich guy who doesn’t know any better. Charles, someone not everyone likes. Charles, too this and too that and too little. Charles, willing to show up and play his birthright role as prom king of the whole country.

Charles, who is supposed to be more than a man, but obviously is just some guy.

Please note that Princess Anne wore a hat with a high feather that obscured Harry’s face.


The ceremony included a lot more action than I expected. There was a lot more gear. That pleased me. Spurs, robes, chairs hats, rings, bracelets, oil, rocks, robes, shirts. A song named for Zadok the priest. (Zadok isn’t a bit of Mormon nonsense, or a heavy metal band!) A portable tent. Undressing and redressing. Multiple vehicles. Horses. Brass instruments.

It was so much like Mardi Gras.

My theory is that we do need kings and queens, but it’s better if they are of the Mardi Gras variety. These people would be replacements for the “First Lady” or (please God) “First Gentleman.”

Like, I think Beyonce should be the queen of the United States. She leads aesthetics. She inspires. She throws parties. She lets other people see, oh, that’s what the United States is like.

That’s the job.

Taylor Swift, princess.

Cardi B, duchesses.

Kanye West, prince.

Tom Hands for king.

The portable tent was the best. What ceremony has a cocoon? What were they doing in there, to him? Did they cut off a tiny piece of his gray hair? Did they slap him once, hard across the face? Did he unwrap a cough drop?

It’s a lot of work to create moments of feeling, of transcendence.

Taylor Swift knows.

The Draft

Strangely I am thankful to the NFL. This week, the NFL draft happened in Kansas City. It was a funny echo of being a New Yorker, someone who always has big deal stuff in town that, though interesting, is also a hassle. I was having drinks with friends when three men with enormous NFL passses ’round their necks came in. “That’s amazing, look at those,” we said, to show we did not care for this at all. The bar was beautiful. And about to close forever. The man who served us had shaky hands, suggesting to me the DT’s. Then another waiter stepped in held up fresh linen napkins for us, and brought little plates for our snack mix.

I’ve been applying for jobs and interviewing, and the chaos is tremendous. Prospective employers call from different numbers, leave messages, email at one email, or at another, tell me we will Zoom, or Google meet, or do one but not the other.

This increased my feeling that I am surviving.

The NFL draft meant that Kansas City could not hold school for two days.

I am thankful, because I am surviving.

It’s also deeply offensive. There will be too much traffic for the school busses! they say, as if everyone going to the NFL draft gets up and drives there at 7 am. As if the enormous good citizens will experience will be balanced by public school kids missing two days of school and forcing parents to scramble to find child care. Among the parents of Kansas City public school kids are (likely) the poorest parents in the area.

I was thankful I got to work from home. If you are in education, you are much too tired to fret about students not having enough time in school.

I mean, they should have more time, but I should not be there.

I accepted a job.

My aunt is ill. Most of the mortal illnesses I’ve been part of have been hard hitting and slow. My grandmother and my aunt both had dementia. By the time they were in bed all day with closed eyes, there had been many years of visits with their bent and melted selves. The aunt who is ill now, she appears to be herself, but she is very delicate.

So I get a call that we are having family dinner on a week night, and I am prepared. I enhance my preparation with two glasses of chianti. Together we are loud, happy, jokey. Not only is my aunt dying, but she also took her dog to the vet that day. Her dog, in the most dog-like gesture ever, died in an examining room while they waited for the vet.

No one really knows how to accept this much bad news. So everyone says they are so sorry, and it is so sad.

I went for a walk to see a new coffee place. The walls and ceiling are black, and the fixtures are gold. They have a French name, but the pastries have bulging biceps like they’ve been blood doping.

On the walk home, I detour to check out an abandoned community garden. There are signs up about where to walk, and there are compost bins, and there are no plants at all. The sign says don’t bother the livestock, including the bees. I walk back to a fenced area, where there is what appears to be a smart house for chickens. It has solar panels and sensors. But no chickens. In the far corner, I see bee boxes. Taking a few steps closer, I see the bees are as busy as their cliche suggests. I always visit the beehives at the monastery. I like to watch them from ten feet away.

The last outing of the weekend, I visit a Hawaiian themed place. They offer me a guava roll. I am not an adventurous eater. It’s good. I overhear three other customers talking about their church, and inviting the barista (a captive audience) to services they hold. Not on Sunday morning, when the barista works. Everyone there is so nice! the barista says.

I think, sounds like a great cult.

We actually do have one big Christianesque cult here in town, known as “the IHOP that isn’t the International House of Pancakes. Once on my porch one of them slowly revealed to me their happiness at church was IHOP cult happiness. Thinking back I feel queasy. Why didn’t I rip down that scientology poster when I was walking up 39th Street the other day?

Kitschy Hawaiian music acts on me the way marijuana impacts others. So with music and my coffee, I begin to forget the evangelists. Yes indeed, I feel. Indeed.

While I sit and read a novel, I look up to see a guy with two suitcases on wheels. One of them is hard-sided, like a case for photo equipment.

Imagining him another NFL-related visitor, I wonder what he thinks of this small city. I could tell him what this building used to be, stories of hand made floats and sculptures and small art pieces and dancing and fire and pepper spray and snow. But he doesn’t talk to me, and I don’t want to talk to anyone. He drinks his coffee, and wheels his bags on his way.

Spring is Winter

There was not a lot of urine. But it was following gravity down the vet’s examining table.

How had I gotten here?

Was it my urine?

I remember being at yearbook camp and talking about first sentences that grab readers.


Tybalt is fluffy and white and has the nature of the Buddha. He clearly needed to go to the doctor.

While we waited for the vet tech to come get him for blood work, I decided to get him out of his carrier. He looked over the edge of the table, judged that he probably couldn’t make it with his old, sick body, and nevertheless launched himself, falling in a sad cat plop that would have broken all my ribs had I plopped that way. He’s a cat, though, so I guess he was fine. I picked him up, and as my dress felt suddenly warm, I realized he was peeing on both of us. Stuck him back on the table. Moved the pad on the examining table to dam the flow of pee.

They needed a urine sample.

The receptionist at the vet’s office just got out of the hospital. She was in for eight days, she told me. She couldn’t breathe. Covid twice. I told her to take all the time she needed.

As Tyb and I (wet) waited, I thought, could we maybe not interact with anyone else who is in danger today?

I stood there a while holding my pee dam, until the vet tech came in, and sucked up a bit of the sample into her vial.

Mission accomplished.

Last Sunday I won the Easter egg hunt, and my aunt talked with us about how she will soon die.

It was an ass backward Easter.

My porch now has yellow and orange and purple flowers in pots, and the weather is perfect.

And my cat is diabetic.

I listened to Conan O’Brien interview Al Franken and drank coffee on my beautiful porch, and there is no insulin for cats in this entire city.

Oddly, my vet’s office had run out of insulin. They’re great, and I love them with the love you hold for people who supported you through the euthanasia of old friends (old cat friends, don’t freak out). “You can try here and here and here and here and here,” the vet said, which I thought was fine because I had the whole afternoon.

I dropped off the insulin prescription first at my own pharmacy. I needed to pick up my antidepressants. Did I ever! They said they would have everything ready in a couple of hours.

As O’Brien and coffee had soothed me, I thought, you know, I’ll walk to the drugstore. It’s not that far, I’m stressed out, the weather is beautiful.

It wasn’t that far. Just outside the drugstore, a man in a sweater vest was shouting about the end of the world, like, whatever.

Then I waited in the long line until the pharmacy worker said they had no knowledge of the insulin prescription.

I had given them a paper copy, a hard copy, two hours before.

This didn’t inspire my trust. Who was working there? Mr. Gower?

Finally they realized they had set it aside with a post-it that said , “Voice mail full” (FML) and told me they can’t fill a veterinary prescription, which isn’t true.

Now, I had been peed on, refused life saving medication, but it was still beautiful and I was walking.

Walking back, I was so infuriated that I walked straight up Main rather than down lovely residential streets. A guy outside a pawn shop was smoking a cigarette. A woman speaking Spanish on the phone walked quickly past me. Construction workers messing with the steel tracks of our soon-to-be-extended light rail showed little concern as I tried to pick my way through their zone.

Vet’s office suggested other places to call. So I started calling them.

Calling places is the sixth circle of hell for me.

A Wal-Mart told me they thought they could help. Except they weren’t sure exactly what kind of insulin….

Then my flip-flop opened its mouth and started flapping around every time I took a step.

You know how every season change you have a wardrobe malfunction because something stained or broken or torn or worn got put away like that? This was my flip flop, losing its glue between the top and the bottom of the sole.

So then I was walking down the busy street near my home, and a guy from an apartment building called, “Hey, beautiful!”

I did look beautiful in my favorite muumuu dress, and what is also true is that I was carrying one of my shoes, and I called back, “Well, I still got one shoe!”

Which made me really miss New York. People yelling out positive comments to me. I always took them as a win.

I drove to the Wal-Mart. The pharmacist there told me they had some very similar insulin, but it wasn’t quite the same, and to both of us, being exactly the same seemed important.

Then I sat in my car in the Wal-Mart parking lot and called my mom.

Then I drove to one other Wal-Mart, where the pharmacy was closed, so I took a tour.

I hadn’t been to a Wal-Mart in ages, and its starkness was surprising. Those perfectly nice people of “The Home Edit,” their merch was on double sale, and I secretly approved their lack of success solving white people problems.

I took every aisle, and some aisles three times. I didn’t want to go home and try to find a way to calm down after the day’s defeat. Tyb was there. I knew he was sick. I had done everything I could to help him, and I had failed.

I sank into the capitalism of it all. Maybe I needed a tabletop fire feature. Maybe I should get new dishes. Maybe what I could buy was ten beach towels.

I scanned a pack of clothespins, some velcro stick-em tabs, and a loaf of cinnamon bread.

I was in a neighborhood I rarely frequent, and though I was in the city I’ve lived in most, I was legit lost for a while there. Lost like, which way is the sunset? Lost like, oh, wait, is that where Mission Mall used to be? Oh, I’m on Mission Road.

Missions. Ha.

I tried another online place when I got home, and realized I had lost the prescription.

It didn’t matter. These people would call my vet to approve it.

Things fall apart at the same time they come together. People die at the same time people get well.

You would think with 46 years behind me, I’d be used to this.

Spring isn’t just spring. It’s also last winter and next winter. Easter is Halloween and Christmas. Winter isn’t just winter. It’s the next spring. And the next. Thanksgiving is Easter, and Christmas is the Fourth of July.