Rain, rain, and more rain. Chance of rain today: 100%. Chance of rain tomorrow: 100%. We’ve got a flood watch in effect for the entire county and the counties around us, too, listed as “Severity: Moderate, Possible threat to life or property.” They don’t mention possible threat to mental health and well-being, but maybe we all just take that for granted.

I know I should not complain, because check it out:

Rain Map

We are actually getting the LEAST amount of rain of anyone in the vicinity. Lavender, not violet. So I’m not complaining, I’m just… noticing. Commenting. Aware. (Whining!)

Yesterday, I was playing ball with Sophie in the park, in the rain, and I hurled the ball without looking, then realized I’d thrown it directly at an approaching person, all bundled up against the weather. I called out, “Oh, I’m so sorry,” and hurried after Sophie, who was racing toward her. Fortunately the ball landed before it came too close and Sophie snagged it before it could roll much farther, but I was still embarrassed. When I got close enough that I was sure the person — an older woman — would hear me, I apologized again.

She responded, “You’re so faithful to your dog.” I must have looked confused, because she added, “I see you out here all the time, throwing the ball for her, no matter the weather.”

I laughed a little and said, “She needs a lot of exercise.” But as the woman walked away, I felt… validated. It was unexpected, certainly, that someone I didn’t recognize recognized me, and I wondered whether she lived in one of the houses adjoining the park, but it was definitely more nice than not. “Faithful” was a really interesting word choice, too — not a word one hears much in relation to anything besides marriage — but I understood it as her acknowledging that I am doing my best for Sophie, regardless of the weather. Of course, it’s also good for me to be getting out and walking, because my natural inclination is to hole up. Despite the Depression Recovery Plan, if I didn’t have Sophie, I’m not sure I’d be dragging myself out of bed at all.

The first time I drove through west Texas, I can remember thinking that I wished I was the kind of person who would appreciate the stark beauty of the landscape, the wild desolation, the vast open space. Meanwhile, I was discovering that I am actually the kind of person who hated it and wanted nothing more than to get past the desolation and onto something more interesting. I feel that way about the endless rain. I wish I was the kind of person who could enjoy gray day after gray day after gray day, always appreciating the appeal of cloudy skies and reflections in puddles and the feel of cool drizzle on my face … but I’m just not. Oh, well. The weather app claims that Wednesday might be sunny, so fingers crossed we’ll have a chance to dry out a little.

In other news, the universe continues to instruct me to keep working on Choosing Happiness. Or maybe in this case it’s just Suzanne? She’s away and the pet sitter she found to take care of the cats (and chickens and Riley) is a teacher, and a writer working on a memoir, with a memoir-writing group. An unlikely coincidence, IMO, but it’s made for some great conversations. Plus some unpleasant self-reflection, but also some useful takeaways, although maybe as much from the research our conversations inspired as from the conversations.

One takeaway is that maybe I need to write this memoir as a collection of essays, not a straightforward linear timeline: “The more traditional memoir focuses on seeking and attaining redemption. The nonlinear structure of an essay collection reveals that there is never easy redemption, never clear resolution: bad things happen for no reason; overcoming one trial does not lessen the need to adapt in the next.” 

Another is that maybe I need more focus: “A memoir needs to be focused on one theme, or one life lesson, that has wound its way like a bright thread through the experiences of your life. Yes, you have many such threads, many lessons that make up your life experience, but don’t try to include them all in one memoir. “

At the moment, I just get overwhelmed by the story. What do I need to share? Every detail I can resurrect of that original argument? The incredible betrayal by a person I thought was a friend? Zelda’s death? The emails exchanged, including my misreading of one of them? Do I go back in time, to making the decision to have a child, to home-schooling exhaustion, or is that just weird self-justification? Do I write about the one time I spanked him (because he BIT me!) or the time I yelled at him for wanting to quit Spanish? Or is all of that irrelevant to my central theme, which I think is about how I choose to be happy.

Not about the choice itself, because it’s trivially easy to say, “I choose to be happy.” (Although on par with saying “I choose to win a marathon” or “I choose to write a best-seller.” Yeah, good luck with that.) But about the HOW; the ways in which I’ve cultivated happiness, the tools that I created for myself, the work that I’ve done. Those feel like the useful things, the things I want to share with some other mom who is living in the pain and shame and grief and anger of estrangement. Some context is necessary, though, or at least I think it is.

Anyway, I don’t have answers to these profound questions yet. I’m working on it. Or at least thinking about working on it, which isn’t quite the same thing. Meanwhile, another few hundred words on Cici will at least make me feel like I’ve been productive on this fine rainy Monday. Or I could walk Sophie again. She knows which one she’d prefer!