Zen. Broken Sink Drain. A Meaningful Life.

back porch view

I’m lying on the couch reading Sigrid Rausing’s Mayhem when my daughter calls from the kitchen, ‘Mom, you’re not going to like this!’

The sink drain has split apart again and gray water floods the kitchen floor. For a moment, I think, whatever, and then ask her to get an old towel.

I have now repaired this drain three times, each time in nothing but sheer annoyance and impatience.

The problem, naturally, has something to do with PVC and epoxy, but more to do with me. My ex-husband put in this drain, in his trademark cob-job way, fitting together scraps of plastic pipe. I’m irritated at my own ineptness, my unwillingness to devote real time to YouTubing a solution, the scantness of my nonworking hours.

I’d rather paint a wall than repair a drain.

After we mop up the water and pile the unwashed dishes on the sink drainboard, we put on our boots and take a walk in the falling snow. It’s the first snowfall of the year. Snow is our old friend, falling silently, sparkling in house and streetlights. This first bit will melt today and return again soon.

Sunday morning. Put the house in order. Take the broken pieces to the hardware store. Ask for advice.

True recovery is a profoundly ethical journey, finding meaning and dignity through solidarity and restitution. Without that, there may be a cessation of drinking or substance use, but there is no real recovery.”

— Sigrid Lausing

Reading Aloud.

Steerforth Press asked me to read the audiobook version of my book, Unstitched. I’ve never recorded a whole book before, so it’s been an intense experience to read the entire book, word by word, just a few feet from a stranger. The book blends both nonfiction and intensely personal memoir. I’m not talking about writing about memories of weeding a garden, either.

Now, in the last phase, while I’m listening to the final version, it’s a fascinatingly educational experience to hear this book I wrote read aloud to me, in my own voice.

One thing that jumped out immediately at me is that much of this book is about being a single woman with two teenage daughters, and how much I’ve figured out in my life without a man. I wouldn’t categorize this as a triumphant, let’s banish the men story (my God, I feel like I can and do whine like there’s no tomorrow), but that theme of woman threads all through this book.

Here’s a snippet of a review in the Deerfield Valley News by Laura Stevenson:

The book’s title comes from the conversation between Stanciu and the father of the girl who overdosed. Looking at the church that will become a social center not just for those in recovery but for everybody in town, Stanciu remarks “everyone’s so busy working that no one seems to have time or energy to put into groups … that used to keep people connected.” He replies, “We’ve come unstitched, … We’ve got to stitch the darn thing back together.” … This is a deeply compassionate and extremely important book. Every Vermonter should read it.”

Talking with Strangers

Yesterday, I was on the phone at work, talking with a woman I had never met who was helping me unravel a work question.

She paused suddenly and mentioned that she could hear the governor’s Tuesday press conference on the radio in my office. She told me she worked in the governor’s building and had been told to bring home work. Vermont’s capital — Montpelier — like so many places in our country now, is under careful public safety scrutiny.

Then, as I’ve found happening so often since last mid-March, a stranger and I had a passionate conversation about the uncertain state of our world. While a moment before we had been talking about details, we suddenly began sharing stories of our families.

Then her cell phone crackled, and we ended our conversation before her connection broke.

Green Mountains Review Online published the first chapter of my book Unstitched: Exploring Addiction in a Small Town. The book will be published by Steerforth Press in September. May our world be a less tension-choked place by autumn.