Books no longer teeter in their piles on the floor, nor do they grow cold in the dark of spare room boxes. They’re on shelves: six splintered scaffolding boards from Frome Reclamation Centre, a cavernous warehouse full of dusty writing bureaus and haunted bathtubs, tucked behind the train station. With an electric sander, and face mask returning to its original, now antiquated purpose, I skinned their damp, paint-dotted surfaces, gave them a polish, and pinned them to the wall with black steel brackets. They made this house a home.
They matter more, in hindsight, than I’d ordinarily let on. The past few years have been an incessant sequence of shadowlosses1 — moving house nearly ten times, deaths & sicknesses, the end of a longterm relationship, one nefarious redundancy (which, granted, helped to buy my first home), and — the cherry on top of it all — the cat, Boudica, getting hit by a car, recovering from hernia surgery, then choking on a toy’s tail six months later, recovering after more surgery, sudden toxic shock seizures, and finally recovering (with the help of expensive brain meds). Those things will always have happened. Now, though, I have this room, my room, with books on the wall, my partner’s reading chair, and a healthy cat who steals it for herself most days. These shelves are a conduit for a new part of my life.
I’d originally planned to publish this first journal post six weeks ago for spring equinox. Ten books were pulled from the shelves, an approach was planned to get through them all (which I’ll chat about in a sec); then, life got busy, I had some bad reading experiences, and I fell behind and lost motivation. I finished Celeste Ng’s Everything I Never Told You and Matt Haig’s The Midnight Library, which I’ll share small reviews for soon, but I mostly ignored the rest, or started and got bored — that, plus scatterings from other short story and essay collections, a few old & new paper subscriptions.
Plans work. I just realised I need to tone it down, underestimate what I can get done in that time, and allow for a little more space to get. & that’s what I’m working on now.
What’s been happening?
During the past handful of weeks, I’ve
I’ve written this entry a little late (not that you’d know — it’s backdated), so I’ve got myself a draft running for the next one: summer solstice.
I’m not sure how to approach a public journal: what to share, what to keep to myself, how long it should be, whether to promote it or send a link to family. I’ve added a daily habit reminder to start journalling each evening, so eventually I might share an insight or two from there. For now, I’ll just give an update on what’s happening in my life, what I’m working on, before going on to say what I have planned for the coming season.
What am I currently doing?
In the spirit of creating my own connection to the cycles of nature, I’d like the seasons to inspire a little of what I read, to start scratching a little more narrative texture into the year, based on their physical influences (audiobook walks in spring, blankets for winter) & the personal / cultural significances that already exist for them.
Beltane, falling on the first day of May, means bright fire. Roughly halfway between the spring equinox (Ostara) and the coming summer solstice (Litha), the next seven weeks will be inspired by this day, where spring is at its peak, and the coming summer. Beltane, or May Day, is generally celebrated, falling as it does at the peak of spring and the coming of summer, for the return of fertility to the land — casting off the dark, and celebrating light. It’s ‘bright fire’ origin means celebrations tend to feature bonfires, and a wild joy, healing, and purification tend to be the central premise of the time.
Shadowloss is a term coined by Cole Imperi, founder of The American Thanotoligst; I originally heard it described on the Quarantinology episode of the Ologies with Alie Ward podcast. It’s: A type of loss that has a multi-faceted impact on not only the life of an individual, but also the social network in that person’s life. Shadowlosses may or may not be associated with a death and are most often not. They impact a person’s social connections, status in the community, overall wellbeing, and family relationships. Examples include but are not limited to: divorce, bankruptcy, infertility, not getting a job, getting fired unexpectedly, losing a career, estrangement, or leaving a religious tradition.↩︎