Everyday Diaries

by jkatejohnston

1 November 2018

Dear Max,

Last night was our first Halloween with no trick or treating. We watched a scary/funny zombie movie and ate pie, and Enzo had some candy that he picked out from Candy Heaven last weekend. It was okay.

(But we remember when he was a Bee!)

Teresa and I actually saved our pie because it’s not much fun to eat it with D-Day at you. Today, while he sleeps, we will eat pie.


Outside my window at work there’s a big building going up. I miss the Liquidambar tree that they bulldozed to make room for it. Every year, I would watch that tree. Around now it would have leaves of every color, from pure green to deep winey purple, and every shade of yellow and orange and dark red in between.

Now I stand at my window, sometimes with binoculars, and watch the amazing machines: diggers, dozers, little Bobcats that scurry around. The articulated arms of the diggers are like giant prostheses. They load dirt into trucks, five big scoops and the truck is full, and then they smooth the top of the dirt with a sideways sweep and pat it down with enormous gentle pats, and then the truck is on its way and another comes along.

I also work at work.

2 November 2018

Dear Max,

I feel what normal people must feel all the time—that there’s really not much to say, and everything is just kind of there. The impulse to write is a bit insane, but it’s a useful insanity. Another way to put it is—it’s a delusion, but one that’s always beginning again. But then, what if it doesn’t begin again?

Never mind that.

It’s Fall, which always feels to me like the real New Year, and I’m full of theories of reform. I want to make myself a Writing Pod—a warm, well-lit compartment in the basement, accessible only to myself. And I would have a typewriter—that is, I would somehow rig up one of my old laptops to run only Microsoft Word. No internet browser. And I’d have a big beautiful monitor where I could put up two pages at once and easily read both. And I’d have a printer. And maybe a teensy coffee maker and a couple of books for good luck.

And this Pod of One’s Own would somehow be accompanied by the ability to ignore every other obligation and go about my work with cheerful energy. Of all the mothers I know, I have the fewest domestic obligations, but they still sort of clamor at me—the farm box rotting in the fridge, the kid I haven’t talked to in a couple of days, Teresa doing everything and keeping track of everything. It’s hard to concentrate with all that tugging at my attention. In my Pod, it would be different.

3 November 2018

Dear Max,

I’ve never actually read that famous essay, A Room of One’s Own. Perhaps, to inspire my Writing Pod, I shall. But I suspect that the title really should be: A Room of One’s Own with Servants, which isn’t really an option for me.

I’m writing this in bed. It’s five. (Need I say, five in the morning?) D-Day is napping beside me, snoring faintly with his smooth warm weight against the side of my butt. The thought of going down to the basement is pretty unenticing. And isn’t the great thing about writing that you can do it in bed? My desire for space and a big messy desk is more related to re-writing, where you need to look back and forth between a printed draft and your computer screen.

Another problem with the Writing Pod—I can’t think of any way to heat and light the basement that doesn’t involve setting the house on fire.

5 November 2018

Dear Max

D-Day has a particular gay happy trot when he gets something he shouldn’t have. Head high, tail high, he tours the house, showing off his prize, nails clicking fast on the wood floor. He doesn’t seem to understand that stealth might be a useful tactic when you’re trying to get away with something.

Teresa and I have decided that he’s wonderfully smart. He sits with just a hand signal and a command—you don’t have to guide him with a treat anymore. Same with Down. He’s pretty well house-trained, now that he can go down the stairs by himself, and most nights he only gets up once. That’s if you’re willing to count 4:30 as morning.  If you count 4:30 as nighttime, then I guess he gets up twice.

We explained Daylight Savings to him, but it didn’t take, so now he gets up at 3:30, which is even harder to count as anything other than the middle of the night.


I filled out my ballot yesterday. I don’t approve of initiatives. Voting on them responsibly requires real work. Most people don’t do the work, so it just becomes a media contest which usually means a money contest. And isn’t the legislature supposed to be passing the laws?

I spent the most time on the farm animal initiative. Both sides purported to be pro-chicken, and I’m all for the chickens. I think I finally figured out that if chickens could vote, they would probably vote no, so that’s how I voted too.

On the increased local sales tax, I voted yes, because libraries will get some of it. It was a tempered yes. One day last weekend, I waited for a bus that never came with a woman who was voting no.  She told me her monthly income and rent described how she makes ends meet. She needs every penny. The bus ticket (even the discount senior ticket) was significant to her. She was hoping to find a polling place to drop off her ballot so that she wouldn’t have to use a stamp.

I always think of income inequality as involving people much richer than I am, but her entire monthly income was less I pay for income taxes each month. That’s pretty unequal. Now I sort of want my vote back. Teresa will cancel me out, so that’s something.