Dear grandma,

I did not have a good day today. I woke up aching, sore from cold and not enough sleep, and I went to work with a sense of quiet resignation: back to this, then, the same litanies of customer complaints and entitled do-this-for-me that in my darker moments I feel forms the boundaries of my job. I spent much of the day heartsick, for a variety of reasons.

And then I came home. I cleaned my kitchen: washed all the leftover dishes, scrubbed down the counters and the stove, and I made two apple pies. I used your knife, and your pie plate (although I confess, I cheated and bought pre-made crusts; it was a long day at work and I don’t have the patience today to make it from scratch. I’ll do better next time, I promise), and I thought of you while I made them. I’m thinking of you now.

It’s comforting to know that muscle memory doesn’t go away, or family memory, maybe, the sort of habit that is so thoroughly ingrained that we can’t help but inherit it: to sit, and chat, and let your hands do the work, slice-slice-slice-slice, wafers of white or yellow-gold apple flesh dropping into the bowl. My wife and I did it tonight, like I remember you and I doing while I was young enough not to appreciate it: sat down at our dining room table, and together peeled and sliced apples. Fifteen or sixteen of them, half Arkansas Black (a strong, tart, nicely crisp apple I just discovered; like a Granny Smith that doesn’t suck), and half my beloved Cortland (Cortland! Finally, I can find them here, at the farmer’s market – all the gorgeous natural sweetness that I grew up with, that is my favorite out of all the countless varieties anyone could offer).

There are pies in the oven now, and my house smells of apple and cinnamon and clove and pastry. And my heart, at the end of the day, is warm.

I miss you. But I have a pie plate, and a paring knife, and apples and muscle memory (because after all, the heart is a muscle, beat-beat-beating blood, and they say, don’t they, that pie runs in the family), and what that means is I still have you.

Love you, grandma. It was good to see you again. The mind’s eye is the sharpest.

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Just flung a story into the aether unsupported, in the hopes that it finds a soft landing at Circlet. Old antho that needed a couple more short stories to round it off– my editor from the first round sent me the info, and I managed somehow to write a decent story to meet the criteria in about… four days? Five? Less than a week to write, edit, revise, polish, send.

I think I’m insane.

My brain is vaguely squishy now, however, and so I feel very strongly that it’s bedtime for bitchcakes.

Crossed fingers and toes for acceptance to the antho, and that will be three publication credits to my name, which makes bitchcakes very happy indeed.

Even if the editor doesn’t take it, it’s a damn good story and I know it. So there.

So we registered strangeandsavage.com in my name tonight.

The project is… the secondary, parallel track to my impulses to make things. Stories come first, but images are a close second.

Watch this space.

A sunny day, warm without being hot. My own home again. The windows open. A wonderful, homemade breakfast on clean, brand-new dishes. Blissful cats, one of which is nosing around the apartment, one of which is trying to figure out how to make the screen on the window melt with the power of her mind, and the last of which is curled up contentedly against my thigh. ABBA playing (shut up, you know you know all the words, too). My girlfriend, who turns to smile at me now and again and tell me she loves me. Best friends now within walking distance. Dinner later tonight with those friends. A week to get things unpacked, organized, shuffled around, made pretty, and then my boy here, to be surprised with his own bedroom all set up and ready for him, with the pictures he picked out hanging up. Story ideas, percolating gently in my hindbrain, soon to be scribbled and worked over and played with and teased and formed and made whole.

Birth pains are dreadful, but what comes of them is joy.