It’s not always easy to play well with others

A lot of stressful things have happened or reached culmination in the past few days. Our bathroom renovation is now complete and gorgeous; on Monday one of our contractors spent all day in the house putting on the final touches, which I found oddly trying on an emotional level, even though he is nice and thoughtful and spent all day working hard. I almost cried when showing him where to drill things into the beautiful expanse of tile. I almost cried when it was 5:30p.m. and Paul was whining to be walked but I couldn’t leave the house because the contractor was still caulking something. I almost cried cooking dinner afterwards because there were too many steps and I was waiting for the results of Arizona’s gubernatorial election (which was a SQUEAKER but we WON). Dave is out of town this week for work, and on Sunday before he left he discovered a leak in one of the valves on the studio’s hot water heater, which means more contractors in our future (albeit for a hopefully less immersive project, since the heater is in a closet and all we need is functionality, not beauty). Thanksgiving is coming and although I do not have to cook the whole thing this year (not even close!) I do need to make a list and go to the grocery store.

My semester of teaching at Warren Wilson’s MFA for writers is now over, as I’ve turned in all my evaluations. My students were wonderful; it’s been a good set of months, and I’ll miss the correspondence, the way their thoughts and questions pull new thoughts and questions (and sometimes, hey, even answers) out of me.  The program is undergoing a sea change as the Director is leaving and we don’t yet know who will step in to take her place (maybe they know, but I don’t). That’s ok, things must change to stay alive. Semesters come and go. I will also be happy to have the time back for my own work that I was previously devoting to student packets, though as I said, the two things feed one another. The stress and relief of endings are inextricable.

It’s cold now in Tucson, or cold-ish. I mean, I wore a hat and a scarf to walk Paul this morning, for God’s sake! But also it hits the 70s routinely in the day. Back in September I had a conversation with a friend about how the ideal set of fall temperatures are between 40s/50s and the mid-70s, and now I am finally there. At the time, we were talking aspirationally about the weather in Paris, and perhaps I’d forgotten that the same weather comes to the desert, just a bit later on. Or more likely I was anxious to hop-skip through time, sick of temperatures in the high-90s, ready to wear jeans and closed-toed shoes.

My box of fall zinnias continues to be a sunburst of color, with marigolds peeking up at the edges. I think it will be a thin year for ranunculuses, and that indeed some portion of them were killed by the vigorous misguided raking of the yard worker who went into my garden and massacred a bunch of stuff. A well-intentioned massacre. Who knows though, maybe I tried to store too many bulbs together this summer and the fault is mine. Maybe the trees grew different, and the quality of light is not the same. Gardening is always a practice of accepting that success is unpredictable: every year, the best crops are different for me. I try to rotate my plantings but really they rotate themselves. By living and dying. The most extreme, most metal, most gently natural way of moving through the seasons.

Anyway, with the holidays coming up I may become more infrequent with my posts here—or maybe not! Sometimes spending hours on Sunday drawing is the best form of escape, and sometimes I just need to do something else. Soon, too, I’m going to be forced to update my operating system and lose access to my scanner software (I know, I have been fretting about this for a long time, but I still haven’t found a replacement that works), which means I may have to change the way I draw this comic, and move to my iPad for a while. I love drawing on my iPad, and it saves a lot of editing time, but I have been doing this comic since 2011, and so it will be a bittersweet change, if and when it comes. The stress and relief; indeed the grief. But so it goes. The world is tumultuous and this is the smallest possible tumult. So perhaps it’s better to ride it like a wave, like I am lying on my back in a large body of water, and this and every coming change is just a soft bump that lifts me up, drops me down, and keeps moving through me, while I keep floating.