high desert view of low green trees with mountains in the background

Hiking is where I go when I feel disoriented, when I need to reset perspective and to remember the place of remembering…

Announcement & ebook reminder

If you’ve already given to Barrington’s Discretionary last year or this year, you should have received my ebook (by email) on how I approach and plan my year, how I think about time and am in relationship with time.

You’ll get a copy as a thank you when you give any sum to Barrington’s Discretionary Fund, hope you enjoy!

More housekeeping: You can subscribe to posts by email again!

If you aren’t seeing these updates in your in your email and want to, you can can solve that here.

This will pop up a new page on Follow.It that lets you subscribe via email, newsletter, or RSS reader. They say “expect 50 stories a week”, and yikes to that imaginary number, once a week is the dream.

The dream of there and not there

A recurring dream

When I was little, like three to seven, that age, I used to have this recurring nightmare that I couldn’t find my parents, or really, that I couldn’t trust them to be themselves.

Which really is an incredible way for a child to subconsciously process an unstable situation.

In the dream, I would be looking for my parents, and then I would see them and run towards them, but it always turned out to be a parade of couples who all looked exactly like my parents, strolling past me.

Some would ignore me. Others would try to convince me that they were my real parents. But I had no way of knowing, and they all looked identical.

Familiar and not familiar

I have a number of friends who also are dealing with a Dementia Parent right now, and two friends who are dealing with the situation of Schizophrenia Kid, and so we trade stories about a very familiar situation.

The person you are interacting with looks like and sounds like the person you care about, and they are, but also they aren’t.

They’re there, and they aren’t. And it’s hard to say which of these is more bewildering and disorienting.

They are and they aren’t

Sometimes they misunderstand what is happening at such a fundamental level that there is no way to bridge to where they are.

Sometimes they lash out and say cruel things. Sometimes they seem to be here with you in shared reality but are actually in a delusion.

Sometimes the delusion is horrifying and sometimes the delusion is ridiculous, but I prefer it when it’s clearly a delusion either way, and not when I have to piece together what might be real.

Will the real Slim Shady please stand up

I am actually surprised there isn’t more cultural output on this topic, given how common it is.

It shows up in horror, a genre I don’t spend much time with unless I’m listening to Sarah Marshall talk about it on a podcast.

And Eminem wrote a song about, among other things, being surrounded by imitators, and the disorienting feeling of trying to find yourself when everyone is trying to be you. Which is not the same thing but it lives on the same plane.

And of course there is the trope of the imposter, the lost beloved person who returns after a long time away, and is or isn’t a conman. The not knowing.

Pandemic life

I am an immunocompromised person with Long Covid, and it is impossible for me to know who is sick and who is not, because no one tests, and there are new variants, and no one cares, and something like up to 60% of people don’t show symptoms.

Much like my childhood nightmare, this is also a situation in which I can’t guess who might help me and who might harm me.

And sure, maybe they don’t know either, but everyone is pretending that everything is fine, when nothing is fine.

Even getting a cold could send me to bed for a month. People think I’m paranoid, but let’s be honest here, I don’t think I am nearly paranoid enough.


I think a lot about trauma shifts reality as well, and how to stay anchored in the right here right now, even when there are mind tricks.

For me, pleasure is what is grounding. Returning to sensation. And if I can’t access pleasure, then ritual.

Also though I keep coming back to this amazing piece by Etgar Keret called Alive…


By Etgar Keret:

when I look at my rabbit
lounging on the living room rug,
he seems to be waiting for something.
It only looks like he’s waiting,
he’s living.
With me, by the way, it’s the opposite:
I’m always waiting for something,
it only looks like I’m alive.

Can’t stop

For me what makes a good story or poem or a good anything is if I can’t stop turning it over in my head. But not in a distressed way, in a curious and hungry way.

That “by the way” is so good. By the way.

It reminds me of Justin Townes Earle hauntingly perfect laughing-question / question-laugh in his luminous cover of Graceland, which I wrote about in early pandemic, when I was fully losing my mind.

Fully losing my mind and coming back to the place that I go to when I lose myself, the saguaro national forest…

Returning to my wise friends who know about deep roots, flowering crowns, pulling sustenance from every drop, holding steady, marking the path with love.


What am I waiting for? For the world to re-orient itself? It won’t.

So I need to attune myself to something that is both new and familiar, something that is mine, that makes sense to me, something with a coherent-to-me logic.

Sanctuary space, while still craving community and dreaming up future ways it could be an option again.


When I talk with my dad and he says things that are not grounded in any kind of consensus reality, this situation feels familiar to me, but also disorienting. It is both at the same time.

Sometimes I feel as though I am falling down a tunnel, that is both forwards and down, losing my orientation in space.

It is the dream again, but not.

Reestablishing connection with the earth

Things that help (for me) include…

  • rolling around on the floor,
  • sixteen breaths,
  • naming what is around me,
  • going for a clue walk, or just taking one with my senses,
  • dancing it out,
  • listening to a trusty song,
  • making tea or cooking something,
  • rereading a page of a favorite book that I have read many times

Returning to place

Got beautiful clues from the Abacus Corvus newsletter, which had an image of homing pigeons and the words return to place, as a spell.

They took the words from Sefer Yetzirah, “and if your heart runs, return to the Place”.

This must be The Place

That’s a joke, kind of. In Hebrew, The Place is one of the names for god, or divine source, or whatever your word for that might be.

This must be The Place. You are here.

Here we are, existing, in the hardships and in the miracles of it all.

Here we are, existing. (You are here.)

Here we are, existing, just doing our level best at life, and then we encounter these situations that are bewildering, disorienting, sometimes terrifying.

Of course our sweet heart wants to run. That makes so much sense.

And do you know what is also true: we can always call it back to the place. Calling ourselves back to the place.

Homing time, to the one steady home. What a great clue from Abacus Corvus.

What do you do

I mean, other than calling to my heart like calling to a puppy friend who went ahead on the path.

Come on, sweetpea, are you coming back to meet me? Oh! There you are!

I don’t know.

It is also a bewildering experience for when I am in my own periods of memory not working, or a ptsd episode.

You never know

But at least that’s between me and me, and I am able to find my way through.

It is an even more bewildering experience when someone I know loses that grounding in reality and I have to find a bridge of connecting.

Maybe there is one and maybe there isn’t. That’s the thing, isn’t it? You never know.

The advice

Don’t argue with them but also don’t lie, was the advice I was given regarding talking to a dementia patient who says things that are wildly untrue (but possibly true for them), and that’s been working so far. That, and subject change. That, and distractions.

And talking about food. What did you eat today? It’s grounded in the here and now, it’s about nourishment, and both of us need to be reminded to eat.

Mainly though I just agree with him. Oh, you’re planning on doing something that is impossible in ten different ways? Sounds great, keep me posted. Sounds like an adventure, let me know how it goes!


Please enjoy this brand new to the world cover of All I Have To Do Is Dream

I keep having dreams about people coming to visit me. I dream about cooking for people. I dream about being happy to see people.

Maybe this is about missing how things were before.

In one dream my dad came and told me stories that weren’t true about how I got into cooking, and in the dream, I knew the stories weren’t true, but he was so happy to tell them, so why not.

Why not.


I love hearing about people’s recurring childhood dreams, especially if Roz Chast is the one talking about this, and am always surprised that mine doesn’t show up on the list.

People have a lot of dreams about being in their underwear. And for whatever reasons, I dream about people being physically recognizable but they are not really there.

Or maybe they are but I can’t determine which version of them is trustworthy. There are no reliable narrators. Just illusion and delusion.

I have to trust myself.

Isn’t that something?

Last one standing

It’s a zombie apocalypse and everyone looks fine, and is acting like everything is fine, and things are not fine (for me). It’s like a Cassandra complex but I’m not predicting anything, it’s just happening and people think I am paranoid.

So in a lot of ways I relate to my dad, who thinks people are trying to steal his things and gets upset when no one believes him. I get what that’s like too.

I think people are trying to steal what’s left of my health, but I know that there’s no point in trying to talk about it, everyone is back to “normal”.

Maybe consensus reality isn’t always the best reality. But now I’m the one repeating myself…

Returning to returning to returning (to place)

Yes, a glorious return to the things that help, the things that work, remembering to call my heart to stay with me, let’s be here now, let’s stay attuned to place, and to The Place.

This must be the place.

This must be The Place.

What’s the answer?

If you’re going through any of this or similar or same-same but different, I am sorry that you are going through it.

And also I am sorry that I don’t have any answers for you.

Haha, not only do I not have your answers, I don’t even have my answers.

But what I do have — for me at least, right now at least, is a couple starting points…

Some possible starting points…

Starting with and starting from:

Compassion — for me, for the situation, for the person, for the unknowables, for the gap of the great unknown. All of it.

Patience: May this solve itself beautifully and elegantly. I can wait and see.

Comfort. What would help me, support me, comfort me, ground me, stabilize, offer some nourishing sweetness here?

Devotion. To place, to sky, to earth, to ritual and repetition, to porch breaths and heart breaths, to chopping vegetables and saying thank you for all of it.

Come play in the comments, I appreciate the company

You are welcome to share anything that sparked for you while reading, anything that helped or anything on your mind, make some wishes! I am lighting a candle for all of it.

Or anything you’d like to toss into the wishing pot, the healing power of the collective is no small thing, companionship helps.

Whatever comes to mind (come to heart?), let’s support each other’s hope-sparks and wishes…

Thank you to everyone who reads, porch breaths, the winding path, the many clues that land when they land, receptivity, keeping on keeping on.

New ebook alert!!!

Aka fun bonus material on how I relate to time and map out my quarters for the year.

Anyone who gives to Barrington’s Discretionary this week (see below) will get this by email as a pdf!

A request

If you received clues or perspective or want to send appreciation for the writing and work/play we do here, I appreciate it tremendously. Between Long Covid and traumatic brain injury recovery, things are slow going.

I am accepting support (with joy & gratitude) in the form of Appreciation Money to Barrington’s Discretionary Fund. Asking is not where my strength resides but Brave & Stalwart is the theme these days, and pattern-rewriting is the work, it all helps with fixing the many broken things.

And if those aren’t options, I get it, you can light a candle for support (or light one in your mind!), share this with someone who loves words, tell people about these techniques, approaches and themes, send them here, it all helps, it’s all welcome, and I appreciate it and you so much. ❤️

The Fluent Self