Christmas morning, sun filtering through the trees. Cats tumbling through tissue paper. My dad picks up a string and dangles it for Ripley—I can tell that he’s charmed. Whenever I leave the room and come back I hear about something the cats have done: for instance, sleeping on my dad while Cecile and I are running errands. It’s nice to see how well the cats fit in. It gives me hope that any transition would be an easy one. It also makes me weirdly proud, as if I’m the one responsible for their good behaviour.

Family visiting from Philadelphia. Family from Guelph. We play board games in the basement. For some reason I debate a cousin on the value of the entire medical insurance industry—but in a calm way that I hope may start to change his mind. I am conscious of a difference between us in terms of rhetorical ability that I try hard not to emphasize. Later, we trap him in a haunted basement, and tiles slowly flip to consume him in flames. (He is the traitor.) At nine o’clock, everyone leaves. I’m tired, I think from all of the sugar. I go to bed. 


Last night, a new moon. A new season—set your intentions for the new year. Easy advice to offer at the end of December. Easy advice to receive when anxious for answers, re-discovery, new beginnings.

While I am sleeping, a dream: we’re attending a performance: orchestra seats, moody red lighting. We can’t stop touching each other—in the same way, it now occurs to me, we couldn’t at Annabelle, earlier in December. I’m not sure who is on stage, but in the dream it was someone we had wanted to see for some time. During the course of the performance I think how grateful I am to be able to be sitting next to you. 

But of course, in the morning, you’re nowhere in sight. 

Yesterday I went for a run—an hour, longer than I’ve gone in some time, though I have been testing myself, and building strength, on the treadmills at school. Earlier that day I’d finished watching Reality Bites (these days I can only seem to watch movies in chunks). I know there are many things wrong with that movie, but the scene at the very end, on the front steps, broke me down. I’m usually susceptible to reunions of all kinds, but more than ever now. 

I feel open to the bone. Liam asked me—is it a kind of pining, like Abelard? I said—it’s not pining, or idealism, though of course there can’t help but be some. It’s more grief. Grief at having lost something that was so obviously good. Do you think now, he asked, she’s trying to punish you? I said I didn’t think so. Nothing like that. Even if I would understand if some unconscious part of her was. 

In Caledon I talk to Mikka about an essay that she’s written—I’m happy to have the distraction, to remind myself of a life outside of this one. On the phone I’m in a closed bedroom and the door keeps opening. Somehow I’m always shocked when it happens. The person on the other side of the door has left something under the bed, they want to double check my closet, they think it is necessary to lock Ripley inside the room. 

This isn’t what I wanted to write. I wanted to write something clear, and positive, like light reflecting brightly off the snow. A moment of self-realization, of a kind of unspoken quiet determination. Something to match a feeling that I got near the end of an article on rising uncertainty and interest in astrology in the New Yorker—Chani Nicholas’s idea that the usefulness of astrology is to learn how to both cope with and find distance from your suffering. 

And I could have written that—could have mentioned how when I started running again recently, returning to it as a way of dealing with anxiety, I had gone through a long period of thinking I could no longer rely on it in the way that I am now. How it had started to seem impossible that so much change could be again wrought on me. How even feeling close to my grief, knowing what and who I want, having a better understanding of my feelings, was something I was not in the past as able to do. I do not relish this loss, or this uncertainty. But I do like—or maybe a better word is appreciate—that I am able to feel it with so much clarity. 

on the phone

You can tell 
I’m upset

(It’s true I’m

But you know 
just how
to console me

My cheek is 
touching yours
you say

One hand is
in your hair

Another holds
your hand
further down
your body

What’s your face 
like? You ask

I confirm
it is stubble

You are so sweet
Like a child, 

I’ve never felt
so cared for

Even from 
so far away

Within a month I was thinking about it. Thanksgiving. Oct 22. Nov 4. But I didn’t have the language. I didn’t know how to go back. I wasn’t sure what would be different, even though I wanted it to be. You had said, “This is my last resort—I don’t want to lose you.” And ultimately it had the effect you wanted. (Sustained—even my test began 23 days ago.) But there were other factors—perhaps necessary—which meant we were not immediately allowed the space for the change to take hold. Calmness. Maturity. Now I’m in the airport, staring nervously at my ticket. A one-way flight I’m not sure I should take. For now I will simply hold the ticket, wait until the final warnings ring out over the PA. As from a window I scan the airfield for arrivals, departures. Last minute detours, returned flights. 

Today I finished the last of my marking. I’ve been slow since my exam, waking up early but sleeping in anyway. I’m trying to correct something. In the afternoon I go to the AGO and walk through the Hito Steyerl exhibit before closing, as the sun begins to set. The bright lights and neons look good in the sunset and the fading light. I will go back again and perhaps again after that. I want to let this exhibit work through me, to spend time with the video installations. I began the year reading quickly through Duty Free Art and so it feels appropriate to end the year with Steyerl’s exhibit. The morning I spent reading Gottman at Field Trip, at a space by the window. I’ve been going there often, because The Hub closed, but also because it’s the right distance away for this weather. Gigi’s is a little too far, walking. I want the museum to work through me, in the way that the museum sometimes does. But I arrive relatively late, and I’m eager to see the two new exhibits which, because they actually aren’t that new, are on the point of leaving. Instead it’s a kind of bookmark—I’ll return again. The neon goes in and out of me. Rubens’s angel remains on the wall. The tears of the mourners holding Jesus of Nazareth are just paint, though the red faces of the men and women holding him do affect me. Later, on the phone with Laura, I hear Evey in the background. Her voice is bright and chippy. She’s eating crepes and clementines. Life is very good, whatever I’m feeling. In fact it’s always better to feel something, whatever it is, then to feel nothing. In fact I like living in any kind of feeling. 


if everyone knew
the way light
radiated out from you
the way you become
a vessel of light
when we are near—
if only they could see
how light emanates
from your every pore
no one would doubt
that we are two
orbiting stars

Concentrate on visualizing the obstruction being removed, as in the spring river ice will gather and break up before heading downstream. 

What is obstructing the flow? This can be determined only by looking inwards and setting yourself in order. Visualize the ice dispersing, just as the obstruction in you will also disperse.


This morning on the street outside my apartment I heard a squeal of joy. A young girl had discovered her friend walking ahead of her on their way to school (I think pre-k). The girl in front froze, like a dog that I know when it sees another dog approaching (no matter the weather politely lowering itself to the ground). The girl behind had to wait at the end of the curb for her father to catch up to her in order to cross the street, taking tiny steps without bending her knees, almost bouncing across the pavement.

I was on a different trajectory from them, walking away at a perpendicular angle, but I turned my head to confirm what I knew would be the case, that when the two children reached each other over what must have seemed like quite a distance they would embrace. 

What will any of it be worth? Tomorrow I sit before three examiners, who for two hours will ask me questions about an examination I wrote over the course of nineteen days, after a period of studying for more than nine months, for a project first conceived around four years ago. And once this exam is over I will know if I have passed or failed, achieved a kind of legitimacy that I have been so anxious to receive. To the expense of my real life. If I pass, my relationship to the program I am in will drastically change; I will be allowed to begin my project, to start my translation, to live more humanely, both to slow down and to begin in earnest. It will be a huge relief.

But there’s something that makes me even more anxious, and to that question tomorrow I am not promised any answers.

All day today I feel behind, in between. Like I’m caught between two weather systems. Working at the library with Kate, we are each prepared for a long day. Almonds, and cucumbers, and apple slices. But shortly after noon I become feint. I think I must be sick. All weekend I have been battling something, but on Sunday, for some reason, I decided to push it and go for a run. I feel like I must be paying for that mistake. “I’m sorry,” I say, “I have to go.” Kate leaves with me, and we say goodbye in front of the JHB. I go upstairs and finish the last poem I was working on. I take the vitamins that I’ve stashed in my desk cabinet. I tell Chelsea that I’ve “pulled a Chelsea”—realized that on a previous visit to the library I walked out with a book without checking it out (I fix it this time). Carson arrives and they invite me to join them for coffee. I ask where they’re going, not that I imagine it might make much difference, but perhaps my mind would be changed if I could order some kind of ginger-laden smoothie. They’re going across the street. “No thanks,” I say. We say goodbye in the lobby and I get on my bicycle. At home I make a soup—carrot, ginger, red lentil. I add spinach to distinguish it from another soup I made recently. I don’t know where the rest of the day goes—I am not completely here. I read, I nap, I order a free pizza. Some things I read open me up, and some things close me off. I want to read more of the former and less of the latter. I am impatient for my exam on Wednesday but impatient for many things. The i Ching keeps telling me to still my self, to focus on what I can change. I am trying to do that. I think it will be easier after Wednesday. Some things will be. I liked making the soup. I wished there was someone to share it with. Particular. I imagined a phone call I used to receive: one right after an important event, perhaps live from an exam centre. Of course there was nothing like that today. Just the weather. Just a feeling of faintness that causes me to imagine I am trapped between two systems of rolling clouds. Or perhaps in a kind of fog which has swept over the streets… The book that opens me up fills me with a kind of regret. It also offers possibility. I accept both regret and possibility. I’m afraid but of course I can weather this whatever the situation may be. As I write Ripley is at my feet, meowing mournfully. Even though I’ve spent more time at home than ever lately it is somehow not quite enough for him. He alternates meowing and cleaning his legs. I wish the air would clear inside me. 

In early 2010, while cooking, I badly sliced the tip of my middle finger. Now I know that it definitely needed stitches, but at the time I didn’t think I needed to go to the hospital. As a child of two medical professionals (a doctor and a former nurse) I had an unearned confidence about such a simple wound—I thought that if I applied enough pressure, and kept it bandaged for long enough, it would heal on its own.

But the standard treatment failed. With horror I realized that as the injury was healing it was actually healing in two parts. I had visions of going through the rest of my life with a cleft middle finger, or—worse—losing the smaller piece, which was starting to look worryingly necrotic. Either way, I’d be forever marred by my stubbornness.

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