Titles by Kij Johnson are available for purchase online

I had my one-month followup with the ophthalmologist for the retinal tear. Healthy eyes, he said, and then gave me great news: the floaters that are obstructing my vision in both eyes can be treated! It’s a little weird, something called laser vitreolosis, where they shoot mini lasers at the floaters until they break up. I’ll think about this and perhaps get it in January.

There was some publication news, as well: two flash stories at the North American Review‘s website. Two more will be published in their print magazine at some point. Also, good publishing-adjacent news: a development company is moving forward with one of my stories; if I roll double-oughts two times in a row, this may become a show.

I had to set The American Tour aside for a couple of months. I am only two chapters from the end, but back in March I agreed to do a freelance project for a game designer, and that chicken has come home to roost. I started work this week on the project, and already am loving it. The hard part will be to do anything else, since this is much more fun than classes, grad students, housework, exercise, showers, sleep, or reading nonfiction to decide whether to get rid of it or not.

I spent a lot of this week cutting down trees and bushes. This house I rent has a few acres of woodland, most of it overrun with noxious Japanese hemlock. The hemlock has a tendency to crowd out the native trees and underbrush, so I have been chopping some out every few days and dragging it off to my ever-growing brush piles. This week I finished removing it (along with some other troublesome small trees) from the small copse next to the house on the south side; in a week or two, I’ll start trying to cut it back a bit from the house’s north side, so that nothing is growing into the eaves.

Cutting shrubs and small trees is enormously satisfying. It’s like weeding with actual impact. I don’t have a chainsaw, so I am using a Japanese pull saw: it is my muscles and bones that are doing the work of changing the landscape in these small ways. If the sun can get into my bedroom window; if the overhanging branches of the whatever-that-was are no longer scraping along the roof on windy nights; if I can walk down to the back patio without stooping — that’s all on me.

For many years, I was best friends with someone. We had known each other (slightly) in college, then became close in our twenties. It was, as they say, complicated: full of excitement and shared interests at first, but increasingly unhealthy and corrosive as time went by. In my forties, I came to realize that we had changed too much to be intimate without changes to our interactions and since those changes didn’t seem possible, I broke up with her — eleven years ago, now. I knew and was okay with the fact that the breakup was a one-way street: no matter what happened, I could not (and would not) return. But I never stopped wondering how she was doing, and every so often I would hear through the grapevine of the tragedies and great changes in her life.

Last night, I stumbled onto her blog in that “six degrees of separation” way, and read her public entries back a few years (like an iceberg, her blog was always 90% hidden from the casual eye). This was the first time since 2009 I had done so. Despite the tragedies and the challenges, some good things have happened as well: it was nice to see that. And it was good to see it all and do some thinking about who I am now, and why, and who I was then, and what do I want to do next with my life. What are the next wave of goals?

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