028 // Beginning with Emily Dickinson

Another snow storm rolled in today and this time we got far more than the local meteorologists were predicting. Visibility was low and the temperatures were frigid. The road conditions were treacherous and traffic locked up all over the city. We all should have stayed home but the worst of it rolled in after it was already too late to call it a snow day.

My bones still ache and I’m entirely worn out for no reason except that the air was cold and I —having been forced to go out in it—had to work harder just to stay warm. I hate the layers I have to wear, and the clunky shoes, and the slow stupid way I have to walk to keep from busting my ass on the ice.

I’m tired, I’m angry, and I’m outraged I have to do it all again tomorrow.


It wasn’t all bad. I did finish reading The Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery (my sixth book of the year already!) this morning. It was an incredible book but not quite what I had expected it would be.

(I have to start writing this year’s book reviews before I get too far behind)

Luckily, I remembered to bring The Collected Poems of Emily Dickinson to work knowing how close I was to finishing The Soul of an Octopus. So far it’s been a…challengeing read. I thought Dickinson would easy since the poems are so short. Wrong!

I could spend days analyzing just one of her poems. I only got through 10 of them today but they were so beautiful that I don’t mind at all. Looks like I’ll be spending a good long while with Ms. Dickinson. So much so that I may have to change my reading schedule to accommodate the research I want to do and the notes I want to take in the book.

I’m also going to start reading a second book to keep from falling behind on my reading challenge. I haven’t decided which one yet but I’m thinking something short and easy. Candide by Voltaire perhaps? Recommendations welcome.


These entries are inspired by the journal posts of Thord D. Hedengren

027 // Letting Sunday Go

Today hasn’t been a very good day. I went out shopping and didn’t find anything I liked. I didn’t get any reading or writing done. My house is a mess and I’m too tired to clean it. My back hurts, my head hurts, I’m tired and the weekend is rapidly ending. Now I’m in a bad mood and I don’t know how to get out of it.

What I need is a plan. Maybe I just need is a long hot shower to reset the night. Maybe I just need to turn off all of these screens and crawl under a few layers of blankets with a big cup of ginger tea and the last 20 pages of my book. Maybe I need to call it a night, let Sunday go and try again Monday.


These entries are inspired by the journal posts of Thord D. Hedengren

026 // Pleasant Surprises

Some days you will wake up thinking you have it all planned out, that you know what the day will bring and what you will do in turn but some days you will step out of your door and at every step the day will refuse to cooperate, some in bad ways, and some in the most beautiful and surprising ways.

I had hoped to write today and to finish reading my book, but when I stepped out that door to make a quick visit with my family I was surprised in the most amusing and beautiful way. I was reminded that I am loved, that I have a place, and that I am far from alone. I was reminded that I am free to be me, always. I was reminded that I have a family that is actively healing through laughter and the sharing of vulnerabilities.

Life is complicated. People are complicated. They are cruel and stupid, and they rarely mean the things they say and do. Time, effort, and forgiveness can—sometimes, if we’re very lucky—heal the wounds between people.

Today I was reminded that I am lucky.

Today I was reminded to be grateful.


These entries are inspired by the journal posts of Thord D. Hedengren

025 // Bad News Day

It’s a lot to get into, but some news I had been dreading to receive, news I had just begun to hope wouldn’t come after all, came today. Long story short, my medication is damaging my liver and even though it is keeping the inflammation in my colon at bay, I will have have to cease taking it and start something new.

If you live in America and you have a chronic illness you’ll have some idea how stressful it is to deal with insurance companies during treatment changes. First, there must be a cost analysis done to find out if, and how much of the cost they will cover. This medication will more than likely cost thousands of dollars a dose, the same as my last medication. How much my insurance will cover and how much I can get assistance for the rest will take time to work out and there is a possibility that it won’t.

In the meantime, I a ball of stress and anxiety, a state that actually triggers and worsens my symptoms. What if we can’t afford the new medication? What if I am allergic to the new medication? What if the new medication doesn’t work? What if, while I’m waiting for the cost analysis and the financial assistance, my symptoms return or worsen? What if, what if, what if…?

Of course, worrying does nothing, and like all things, I just have to wait for answers to come and deal with them as they do.

But that is easier said than done.


These entries are inspired by the journal posts of Thord D. Hedengren

024 // A Bare Minimum Day

It was another snowy day, but this time I still had to go to work. The flakes didn’t begin falling until we had already started picking up students, or, right in the middle of rush hour traffic. The sudden storm caused traffic blockages all over the city and we ran late to every stop and every school.

After the morning run, I still had plenty of work to do. It was my busiest day in a long time, though worse is on the way my boss tells me. So, right back out into the cold I went but I’m proud of myself for doing it without complaint and even a measure of enthusiasm. I took a moment to stop and marvel at the winter wonderland being built around me as the powdery snow fell.

The moment passed quickly. The cold air, the bare trees, the grey clouds, and my stiff bones got the better of me. I soon fell back into my usual winter sullenness. The sun did return in the afternoon but the damage was already done. I had let the day slip by without making any progress. I shirked productivity. I scrolled social media. I got lost in Twitter replies and Youtube holes. I let the hours go by and I have nothing to show.

The evening was no better. I tried my best but time slipped away and the chance is gone. Oh well, I read a little, wrote a little, and even cleaned up a little around the house. I put one foot in front of the other and I made it all the way to the end. I did the bare minimum—but so what? Fuck it. Tomorrow is Friday and I refuse to feel bad.


These entries are inspired by the journal posts of Thord D. Hedengren

023 // The Reading Ritual

I’m so proud of myself for knocking 5 books off my 2019 reading challenge and I’m powering through the 6th as we speak. Of course, two were already half started, two were graphic novels, and one was the easiest read ever, but still, five books already! I’ve never read so much, so consistently, for so long before. All my other resolutions might be in the toilet but on this one, I have exceeded all my expectations, so far.


Whenever I start a new book, I go through this weird little ritual. I sharpen a new pencil (henceforth be known as my “book pencil”) to take notes in the margins, underline my favorite passages, and to circle names or other items to research later.

I choose a bookmark that “feels right” from my drawer of brightly colored postcards, stickers, scrap paper and tags I’ve saved for this purpose. I get a sticky note out and place it at the “endnotes” or wherever I can stop reading, which is often many, many pages before the last page. Then I do a bit of math.

I calculate how many total pages there in the main text to read (minus those endnotes, or the sample of the author’s next book, or whatever else is tacked on at the end) and divide that by how quickly I’d like to finish the book, usually between 7 and 10 days. The answer is how many pages I plan to read per day. I get another sticky note out to mark this page daily so I can read without thinking about it.

I mark the book as “currently reading” on Goodreads just before I start so that every night when I put the book down I can update the app with my progress. Then and only then can I begin reading and always with the introduction, the preface, the forward, or any notes from the author first before the main text. I do not consider those parts to be “skippable”.

It’s a lot, I know, and I know it’s weird, but sometimes a book is a conversation and like any other between two people you both have to be open and ready to interact, share ideas, and even disagree. This process allows me to establish a strong and immediate connection to every book I pick up. The ritual gives me permission to take every book I read very seriously and facilitates an easier immersion into the author’s world and mind.


These entries are inspired by the journal posts of Thord D. Hedengren

022 // Separate and Together

The only thing better than a delayed schedule is a snow day. My girlfriend and I spent it on opposite sides of the couch reading and binge-watching stupidity on Netflix. We both took naps at different times of the day and we each had our own bursts of productivity in wholly different ways, one in the morning and the other in the late afternoon.

One of the great perks of being in a relationship is being able to be separate and together at the same time.

It’ll be time to head to be soon, but I’m stalling. It’s going to be exponentially harder to return to work tomorrow than it would have been today, which was already going to be exponentially harder than returning yesterday. So, I’m dragging it out and risking sleep deprivation. This small control is all I have and worth every bit of what I will suffer in the morning.


These entries are inspired by the journal posts of Thord D. Hedengren

021 // Perfect Isn’t Always Good

It was a tough day, as I expected it would be. The venue wasn’t quite right but just right enough that we feel frustrated and as unsure as ever. We had to pep-talk each other again and renew our resolve to keep moving forward. We had to be reminded that what is perfect isn’t always what is good and what is good can be perfect if you let it.


We’re in a blizzard warning from just 10 minutes from now until late morning tomorrow. Nothing is happening but we have a feeling that school will be delayed. Delay days are chaotic and stressful but secretly I like them. On delayed schedule days, nothing that goes wrong is my fault at all. On delayed schedule days, it can all be blamed on the weather, time, and decisions made well above my pay grade.

It’s easier to let go of your frustration when so much is out of your control.


These entries are inspired by the journal posts of Thord D. Hedengren

020 // Decisions and Doubt

Book shopping day! The sun was out, and the air warmed enough to persuade me to get out of the house. I gathered up the gift cards I’ve been hoarding since Christmas and went to my favorite place, the bookstore. I got the two newest volumes of Saga, One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez, and Notes from Underground by Fyodor Dostoevsky. I’m excited to read them all, but more excited for the book shopping I’ll get to do again once I finish these.


I’m nervous about tomorrow.  We’re heading out early to look at a wedding venue. It’s going to be a long drive there, and a long drive back, and in between a long talk and a hard choice. Wedding planning isn’t fun, I’ve learned that.

The money, the time, the endless decisions and doubt. Not about our life together but about what you have to do to begin it. Our future began a long, long time ago and paradoxically the more that time has diminished our need for a wedding the more we feel the need to have it and the grander our day needs to be.

So, tomorrow we may have one step settled but then the other dominos will need to fall into place quickly. It’s all very scary, and hard, but the sooner it’s done the better and I’m sure, once we find our groove and get over enough humps, we’ll find the fun in it.


These entries are inspired by the journal posts of Thord D. Hedengren

019 // Permission to Rest

I got to spend the day on my own doing all the nothing I wanted. Last week I read a post from Eclectic Alli where she mentioned giving herself a much needed whole day of rest per week to help cope with her chronic illness. I was inspired.

So, I finished my book and started another one. I watched a few shows and wrote a few words on this draft and that, and when I was ready I got up, reorganized some cabinets in the kitchen and showered. That was it and that was enough.

I’ve had plenty of lazy days before but this was the first time I didn’t feel guilty about it. This was the first time I gave myself permission and acknowledged the reason. I too have a chronic illness, and chronic pain and chronic fatigue have been kicking my ass lately.

It’s good for my body and for my piece of mind to make room to recuperate regularly. I just wish it was easier to allow.


These entries are inspired by the journal posts of Thord D. Hedengren