That time the breath got knocked out of me

It happened the second week of June. I remember because it was barely a few minutes, an hour at most, into my daughter’s birthday. I felt an abyss open its mouth beneath me, eager to swallow me whole as I lay on my bed and typed. And the rush of blood from my head exceeded the rate at which the rest of me fell through the darkness. In an instant the mattress caught me, and I lost all sense of what had become my reality. I became instantly ill, terrified that I had let slip from me something dire to my existence. I took in a sudden gasp of disbelief, let out a heavy sigh, and sank into my pillow.

And so began my summer.

And so my summer begins again.


3:46 am

My elderly cat keeps me up at night. I am usually able to fall back asleep, but not so easily tonight..

“Asleep” doesn’t look like a real word.

But I won’t have to worry about sleep issues three weeks from now.

I’m not sure I’ve ever been more excited about summer vacation. No house searching or research papers to write, though I like writing research papers.

I’d like to go back to school as a student again. Maybe to study music or art. Maybe math. Maybe linguistics or political science. So many things to learn about. But I suppose there’s nothing holding me back from learning any of that on my own. I might have mentioned in the past that my dad is an architect on the side. My uncle once asked him what qualifies him for the job, and my dad’s response was that he is human. His response has always stuck with me.


Sum ergo ago.


Sleep is calling.


I’ve been reading a lot over the past several weeks about housing problems. About poverty. I’ve read about and seen photos of poor living conditions in Hong Kong, and I’ve thought about how I would adapt to that environment. I was in a dark place for a while, and I felt the desire to live in those Hong-Kong slums and make the conditions work out. I created an image in my mind of my tiny 8-by-4-by-6-foot living space, and the image has become a place of serenity and comfort. Something about being lost in a sea of people in a sea of tiny spaces feels comfortable and safe, like being tucked away and undetectable.

I’ve also been thinking a lot about society and psychology and the effects they have on each other. The topic once fascinated me, but now I’m fixated.

How bad can life get? Someone in the world is living the worst kind of life right now. I’ve been searching for evidence of their existence. I’ve been judging what’s tolerable and what’s not. But I can’t really know what someone’s life is like anymore than someone else can know what my life is like.

Each person perceives the world differently, so I can’t effectively put myself in another person’s shoes.

Sorry, Atticus.


And the more I think about how I’d fix the world if I could, the more I think I might be a Marxist.

Karl Marx wasn’t practical, though, was he? Utopia is for dreamers.

I have yet to finish reading Thomas More’s take. I should make completing his book a priority. I started reading it on a warm day of Torpor under a shade tree. I suppose I’ll finish it in the same sort of leisurely way.

. . . .

Three weeks till summer vacation.

I hear there’s a lava flow problem somewhere. Living on a volcano has its disadvantages.

I have a volcano living in me, and my shield is cracking. Lava is flowing through my veins and is seeping through my pores. And I’m confused, because I don’t know whether I should be grateful for having emotions or afraid of letting them overrun me.

But what’s new.

as the months pass

I haven’t written in such a long time. I’ve missed it. I’ve fallen into a well of despair that I can’t escape, and I can’t help but wonder whether not writing is the source of that despair. Writing is the one thing that requires such little effort and fills me with purpose, if none other than to satisfy a burning sense of self—to let live a part of me that without which renders me hollow. And hollow, I have been.

An unopened gallon of paint waits for me to change the mood in my big front room. The pale mint walls have turned cold, and I haven’t spent much time in there because the lack of warmth deadens the passions that the room has been set aside for. I’m ready to pour myself onto the canvas again.

Writing lends a vulnerability, and for several weeks I haven’t been strong enough to let my words fight against my fears. I’ve been suppressed by the weight of my expressions, even the meaningless drivel that sticks to the page like an old, dried up stamp. 

Falling trees

I built a calendar today on a bulletin board. I made it so you can see an entire six-week grading period at once and then rip a layer off of each day to reveal the next six weeks. The calendar is color-coded by week using the same color paper I use each week in class. Week one = pink, and so on. Though the calendar is new, the color-coding system isn’t. The system is brilliant.

As I was pinning up the big colored squares, predated three layers deep (that took nearly more brain power than I had at the time), I thought about time and how I was arranging it, looking at it while literally holding it in my hands. And I thought about how, aside from their colors and the numbers written on them, all of those squares were the same. I thought about squares gone by and how every day of my life I expected the following days to lead up to something grand. In a lot of ways they have, but mostly the days have been the same. The sun goes up and moves across the sky and goes back down the other side. The sun has been doing that for probably billions of years. I say probably because I hadn’t been there to witness essentially any of it. I say probably because I know almost nothing about geology and trust that almost everything I was taught in school is true. A dangerous choice.

And I thought about how I make goals for myself, goals to be realized in the future, something that never gets here. 

I’ve thought about the statics and dynamics of time before, a bunch of times, but I’ve never kept the thought alive for too long. I get caught up in the days and before I realize it, a thousand Fridays have passed by and all the time between those Fridays is a blur. Like making a really, really slow thumb print. 

But I put a dent in time today: I reached a goal. I finally made that calendar. The idea of my living timepiece has been swirling in my head for several weeks, and today the future became the now and the idea is hanging on a wall instead of in my head. I sort of made the future tangible. Gave my eyes a glimpse of it at least. I made square placeholders for the real thing. I created visible potential from an abstract idea.

This here is a visible construct of the past. Not tangible, really, but not abstract, either. It’s a calendar in reverse. An echo.