Dry January, Memoir, New & Old, Patience, Publishing

New. Old.

All sorts of new things to be learned in January. It is quite an exhausting month.

On a very bracing twenty-degree morning walk last weekend I saw ahead of me, in the middle of the street, a man reach into his wool overcoat pocket then hand another man something glittery. Money? Too bright. Car keys? Too small. Who am I — Agatha Christie? He turned to me as I passed and offered me the same, a local confection, wrapped in gold and silver foil. “You won’t see me again when I have given them all away” he answered when I thanked him.

Two things I learned about myself right then: I wanted to run go find him another box of candy because come on what a great way to meet and greet the new year and this exact second of pleasure — not for the sweet but for his cheerful smile and jaunty cap — made me want to keep knowing this gentle man, just giving away his Christmas box of chocolates on a winters day.

And two: turns out I will take candy from strangers.

January, 2023 was also a good month to identify the culprits for my crippling insomnia so my version of dry January is a caffeine- free month. Now, it also might have something to do with my new PCP shuddering in horror when I told her how much espresso I consumed in a day. Ok, Ok! Covid habits die hard. As do post-covid no taste or smell untenable consumption of dairy products. So. There’s that; decaf everything. Hold the cheese. This is not new news, but old news I need to take seriously.

Also learned: I can live without caffeine. Maybe my blood pressure will reduce to passable numbers. And I thank the Goddesses that decaf exists in all forms. When January is up I will reintroduce ONE double espresso and see what changes. I will report back.

We made it through the holidays with a revolving door, a full fridge and a lot of ribbon. But my kids are grown. Two will be married by next December. I have been giving this a hard think: what can I do to help them create their own traditions and still get some time all together on, true confessions, my most favorite time of the year? This is a work-in-progress thought explore.

I learned: quality time is the only time. So if we get the sleepover-gift exchange-all around a dining table somewhere near the holiday, all together, I can make peace with that.

Back in the Pacific Northwest for my migration away from snow and cold to rework and get cracking on my memoir project after a long hiatus of short essay and flash non fiction writing. See my piece “Itch” January 16, published online in River Teeth, Beautiful Things. FYI I submitted in March, 2022 and the publishing date was ten months later.

I learn, over and over: Patience.

Alexandra Dane writes by the sea in Seattle and Boston. Her memoir-in-progress explores coming of age twice at the mercy of cancer; first as caregiver, then as patient. Her most recent essay, “Found. Well.” was published by San Fedele Press. “Itch” is forthcoming in River Teeth: Beautiful Things. Read her thoughts at www.alexandradanewrites.com. She knits to think.