This is the beginning of a new year, but in many ways it feels oddly similar to last January. Last year, it was the Women's March and pussy hats. This year, it's "Me, too" and Oprah's speech.
The cat who was so sick last year has a red and enflamed lip now. I give her a special antihistamine that cats can tolerate. It seems to help, but if I forget it for one day, her lip swells up. There is something about January that does not agree with my cat.
Two days of rain is predicted, to be followed by plunging temperatures that will create the same icy conditions that crippled my horse last year.
I received a card today from the American Association of Equine Practitioners informing me that our local veterinary clinic had made a donation in Belle's honor. They hoped that the kindness of that gesture might lesson my grief.
I decided, the other day, to reframe my understanding of why my horse died. Previously, I interpreted it as a punishment. According to my logic, I had written a post about my dad, who didn't like it, and so, since Belle was a posthumous gift from him, he decided to rescind his gift.
I know. It was not the sort of magical thinking that magically made me feel better. It was the kind magical thinking that magically made me feel worse.
Which is why I don't like the expression "magical thinking." If I could do magic, I would not have chosen to make myself feel worse.
But maybe magical thinking is a colorful expression for any thinking that isn't grounded in hard science. The fact that a ghost played a part in it would, in that respect, make it magical.
I no longer choose to believe that my father killed my horse. I don't think he would ever smite a horse for any reason, no matter how mad or hurt he felt about anything.
Under the new magical regime, I believe that it was simply Belle's time. Yes, I would have preferred that she live to a ripe old age, and she was only 12. Nonetheless, if it was her time, it was her time, and I'd rather have her die of some ridiculously obscure disease that I never could have anticipated or prevented, than have her die due to any neglect on my part--for which I could never forgive myself.
If anything, my father would have come up with that as a remedy. I can imagine him arguing with the authorities: first, about the horse having to die so young, and then, having lost that argument, and after much obsessing and not allowing anyone to think about anything else or get any of their work done, finally convincing them to have Belle die of an incredibly rare disease so that at least, when I lost her, I wouldn't blame myself.
Except, of course, I did; and what's worse, I implicated my father in the taking.
Well, that's one thing I won't be bringing into the new year. I can clearly see the mercy in my horse's weird disease.
I no longer have Belle in my barn, but I have her in the house. I found an amazing deal on canvas photos. Despite Shutterfly telling me forever that the resolution of all my photos was too low to print larger than 4 x 6, this company in Germany sent back these huge, vivid images of Belle.
I'll show you:
I had almost abandoned the idea of ever having tangible forms of my photographs, resigned to having them on clouds, Facebook, and Instagram--where I would have to wade through thousands to find any one in particular.
Ultimately, I bought five of them, all photos of Belle. They're in the living room, dining room, kitchen, and my bedroom. She is in almost every room, in every season, in all her sorrel splendor. There are more photos that I could blow up, and maybe next year I will. For now, it's enough.
The day that she died was so full of horror, I won't ever be able to forget it. But I don't have to think of it every time I think of her. I can look at these photo of better memories many times a day. I will take happy memories of Belle with me into 2018.
I also received an email today notifying me in the nicest terms that my manuscript was being politely rejected. I looked back at my spreadsheet: I had submitted the manuscript to this agent in March of last year. If they had never responded at all, it would have made no difference to me. I was way past the point of anticipation.
I will not be spending this year revising my manuscript. I spent last year doing that. In my opinion, it was better in 2016.
I received extensive critical feedback in 2017 from two different parties, and they were both in perfect disagreement. I have no idea how to proceed. I'm completely out of my depth.
I swear to God, I would write the same page a little differently every single day of my life. If it seemed at all purposeful, I could just keep doing that forever.
That does not seem at all purposeful.
So, I won't be taking that into the new year.
I am working on drumming up freelance work. My resume is a shambles. It's so much easier to write other people's resumes and cover letters than my own. My darkly magical thinking poisons the quill: I haven't done anything. My skills are outdated. I don't know anyone and one knows me....
I know that I am not alone in feeling insecure when faced with the daunting task of selling myself.
This will be the year of reinventing myself...My phoenix year.
And this will be the year when I am forced to come to terms with my failure to see my manuscript made into a published novel.
While I am comfortable with the choice to not continue with endless revisions, I have not yet made my peace with, nor do I fully understand, the end of this long-time effort. I don't have a sense of closure--or direction.
So, unavoidably, this will be the year in which I interpret and accept or address the apparent failure of this long-labored-over manuscript--which will be no mean feat in itself.
By contrast, this blog has been a constant companion that never demands attention, approbation, or conclusion. From year to year, it gathers my thoughts and connects me to friends, family, and far-flung readers who never dash off a harsh word in response to any of my constant opining (for which I am eternally grateful).
Needless to say, you're coming with me into 2018.