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Elizabeth Dutton


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sneaky snake


Right now, I feel trapped in an eddy in a wide, rushing river. Overwhelmed. Panicked. But then I stop and think about how good all that energy around me feels, even the scary shit. It is the process. It is what makes us alive.

I have so many thrilling plans and opportunities in my life right now. I have a novel that I love coming out in a couple months. I have a trip out to Sweet Home California to share said novel with friends and strangers alike. I have another novel in the works, cooking away in my brain that will be a serious, aggressive literary punk rock shift for me and I am excited. I have a job I really love, sharing knowledge about writing and literature and critical thinking and the very navigation of life itself. I have students this semester who are so brave and curious and have no idea the genius of which they are capable. I have the five sweetest, most rascally dogs on earth. They bring me endless joy. I have quite possibly the finest roster of family and friends attainable.

At the same time, the current whips around and changes direction and I find myself scrambling for the surface. I am dealing with personal issues and traumas going back decades that are finally forcing their way to the surface for resolution. And it’s about time. Like we see in the page from the sublime Be Here Now by the beautiful Ram Dass above, “YOU CAN’T RIP THE SKIN OFF THE SNAKE. THE SNAKE MUST MOULT THE SKIN. THAT’S THE RATE IT HAPPENS.” The universe unfolded as it should and now was the right time for this skin to be shed. I am gaining incredible clarity and strength thanks to a brilliant therapist and a lot of hard work. Everything happens at its own rate.

Unfortunately, a relationship I thought could have been forever, could have been the staying kind, the permanent kind, dissolved like excessive cotton candy in rain at exactly this same time. Sweet and charming at first, then perhaps a little much, then the deluge began and it disappeared. I did the best that I could and all that is left behind is a sticky mess (that would be me, I suppose). I loved him, deeply, and am thankful for those glowing moments like light through the tree leaves, dappled and sweet and fleeting. It is sad, of course, but it is the process.

Here’s the thing: I thought I was thisclose to 100% happiness. But that is an illusion. If we try, we can always find something that is missing. The truth is that we have 100% happiness in us all the time. It’s all about perspective. It’s all about appreciation. And it’s all about letting things go and continuing with forward motion. It’s all about patience and letting the snake shed its skin on its own timeframe. You can’t force nature (read some Jack London for confirmation of such) and you can’t force this human existence. It is brief. Enjoy it.

Which brings us to:


Clean water
Indoor plumbing
Air conditioning
Kitchen appliances
The Internet
Dogs and their unconditional love
Family whose love makes me want to burst
The new garbage can I got for the kitchen that has somehow simplified life
Really good pens
Coworkers who’ve become dear friends — such serendipity
Having a family that will circle the wagons
The scary and happy anxiety of impending readings
Strong support networks
Tokyo Milk perfumes
Getting ready for Halloween
Not giving a damn and not hurting anyone in the process
Solving puzzles
Compassion when it feels impossible


So much violence
Lack of Scottish independence (but without violence…so far)
Getting swindled out of almost $600 by those I thought better than that
Very angry people
Basically, the whole NFL
The addicted mind
Gender-inequity (especially among creatives, but that is a whole other post)

Remember, I love you all.

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