The earbuds are inside my ears but nothing is playing. I don’t know why I’m doing this. Maybe habit. Maybe I thought about listening to music, then got distracted. I know. I had to call and follow up about a job at a Catholic high school and express my interest after I just sent in my application. I needed headphones because the speaker on my phone doesn’t work unless I put it on speaker. 

I’m in the coffeeshop at it’s 11:25 AM and I heard someone say “this one definitely isn’t as strong” and before that someone said “I love you” but they said it to a friend as they were leaving and there was no eye contact made and it was more of a prolonged chirp, which they dragged across the room like a silk, stretched it from the baristas and the cream and sugar table to the exposed rick in the back. 

Last night EllieRoo came to class with me. Kate was in Dublin, GA for a college soccer signing. Then had to stay for a game. The baby does not like the carseat. And the daytime “does not like” festers into a nighttime “scream and flail and faucet snot from her nose.” To avoid this faucet effect, the baby came with me to class. She crawled around the conference table and looked back at me and clapped her hands and saw the bank of plugs in the wall for the computer and projector and power strip and phone and her eyes lit up. She loves electricity. Or the possibility that cords contain. 

No jobs. No one is hiring me. That’s not an exaggeration. That’s a naked fact. My dad says I’m following in his footsteps because when he moved to Minnesota when he was 33, no one hired him for several months and he considered selling gold instead of practicing law. I’m considering working on a fruit farm with Kate and the baby. Maybe organic blueberries. Maybe an orchard. 

I swam 2 miles in the pool today. Not at all out of joy or affinity for lap swimming, but out of obligation. It’s not sufficient to lead an hour of sunrise yoga. On the marathon training calendar, today is supposed to be “20-50” and tomorrow is “XT” for cross-training. But I’m switching the order and counting swimming for 45 minutes as cross training. The hot shower was the best part. Followed closely by the cup of caffeine at Blackbird. Followed closely by the goat’s milk yogurt and apple chunks and chia seeds and flax seeds and blueberries and Ezekiel and fermented banana muffin. 

I have so much to tell you. My thesis committee said it would be interesting to start a private journal. That I keep to myself. To see what would come out when I have nothing to censor. 

My youngest sister is 7 years younger than me and we are in the same MFA program and right now we are taking the same Tuesday night class together and we sat next to one another last night and the baby was in the class too and the MFA class was discussing this piece my sister wrote about how my grandmother is dying in a nursing home and wants to get out because all you do there is wait to die and how this is such a sad predicament. And in this piece, my sister wrote about my mom, and someone commented I think this is about the mom, about her death, and comparing that to the grandmother’s pending death. And I thought no it’s not about mom, and even though I can’t speak for my sister, at least for me, it’s not about my mom. It’s about the fact that yes my grandmother is dying and yes death is automatically sad and nursing homes especially are really really automatically depressing depressing depressing, but the fact of the matter is that my grandmother was a heinous bitch during her lifetime who told me I write about smut and that I’m not religious and that I need to come back to the church and how my writing is disgusting and how it’s my mom’s fault because she moved us to the Midwest and away from religion and away from the family and away from the Church and how my nose piercings are so unbecoming and how this and how that—and you’re supposed to look past all that when a person is so old they need to wear a diaper? The essay in my mind was about that but some students in the class were like I think this is about the mom as much as the grandmother. 

Is everything about the mom?

Yesterday I was listening to Democracy Now because Kate texted me and told me to listen because Kendrick Lamar got the Pulitzer but before they got to Kendrick and DAMN, they talked about a prison riot that took place in South Carolina and how it was the deadliest US Prison riot in 25 years. And I bent my brow down and something inside of me stewed, like a pot of beef broth on the stove, the heat turned up and steam came up, and bubbles and the surface turned brown. 

Then this expert Heather Ann Thompson came on and said “When we lock people in cages …eventually human beings explode.” And yesterday walking home long the road that passes Huddle House and the farm supply place with my earbuds in, I squinted against the afternoon sun and in my mind everything looked felt square and confined, like a cage—school, work, my grandmother. 

When I got home, the baby was sitting in the dirt, putting leaves in her mouth. The little kid is leading the way, I thought. I took my socks off, rolled up my khaki pants, and sat down beside her, dragging my finger in the dirt, watching the dust rise up.