Textures of Depression

A year ago my mother carefully asked if it was really burnout. I was adamant in response.

“I just wondered… with your history… it sounds a lot…” she said. Her voice was careful. Tight and thin. How scared did she have to be.

I hastened to assure her. “Oh, no, Mum, it’s okay. It’s just burnout. It’s not depression. It’s not like in my 20s.”


We use the one word for so many feelings. And I’m not even talking about the casual way you hear someone say a book is depressing or the way disappointment can feel when you really wanted something. We use it for those of us for whom the hospital seems like the safest space; people who can’t get out of bed some days; for those of us who can manage some things but not others; for those of us who can act like their old selves at work and then collapse at the end of the day from the effort; for those of us who just feel a little grey around the edges most of the time. These things are not the same things, but the English language can’t face it.


In my early 20s, the world closed around me until all I could see was a slit of misery, no matter which way I turned my head. An inner whisper I thought of as the thorn voice grew like the stem of a virulent rose around my conscious brain, always pricking pricking pricking.

I slept as much as I could. I barely ate.

When I think of that time, I think of a dark bedroom: smooth navy sheets; murky grey light from the dirty window that faced a brick wall; the piss-stink of cat litter left too long; the tremors of the streetcar as they cut across the drumming from the Native Men’s Residence next door. The misery was dank and thick. It seemed to stretch on forever.


I didn’t lie to my Mom. At least, if I did, it was only insofar as I was lying to myself. Or: let’s be generous and say I was hopeful. I had been off work for only 6 weeks, and was feeling a bit better. I would go back to work soon and I would start to remember things soon, too. In December 2021, I have struck the word soon from my vocabulary.


Forever didn’t last as long as I feared. Only a couple of years, really. And until 2020, forever had never come back for very long. I’ve had periods of not-quite-right that felt more like a gossamer film between me and the world. But they would dissipate, melting into the air after a few weeks, or a month, or after I finally did that thing I knew I had to do.


And this, this is not that. It’s maybe why I clung so hard to the word burnout, even after I had suspected that the burnout had not so much burned out, but faded away into something more familiar. Still, when asked if I was depressed, I said no. I didn’t feel closed in, I didn’t feel desperate to go to sleep and not wake up. After years of therapy, the thorn voice has been mostly pruned, so I didn’t have a constant chorus of self-hate filling every space. How could I be depressed if I didn’t actively hate myself and want to die?


We need words for mental health like we have for textiles. If I was drowning in a burlap sack 25 years ago, today I am wrapped in 5 layers of chiffon. Not tight enough to hurt, but enough that every movement is more tiring than it should be. I wish I could say to people, casually, I’m a bit hollowed or Today is a crater and that would make sense; I could conserve the energy of seeming like my old self for a joy that might spark bright enough I could see it through my current caul.

Reasons to Read

I started consciously investing time in reading again for a few reasons.

Mostly simply is that I missed it. I missed the physicality of it, I missed the sustained views of other people’s worlds instead of the snippets you get on social media. I missed being the kind of person who could pay attention like that. I realized that my reading had become mostly scrolling. I missed retreating into the safety of my couch under an afghan knit by my Grandma, book in hand and tea within arm’s reach.

It was also to calm my tits. I’m not going to bother doing any research on this: I haven’t heard a single person say that looking at social media makes them feel better about themselves or the world. And when I started paying attention, it was pretty clear that my reading time and scrolling time were inversely linked. If one went up, the other went down. Reading or listening to a book rarely makes me feel anxious; scrolling on my phone almost always makes me feel anxious. So, better to lean towards books, I say.

But the main reason I started reading again was to start writing again. Up to about 2014, I was building a freelance writing career very slowly but pretty steadily. At its height, my blog was getting between 200 and 300 hits a day, which isn’t bad for random personal stories. I was writing for a couple local newspapers and doing some work for national and international magazines. I certainly wasn’t near giving up my day job, but it weren’t nothin neither.

And then, I don’t really know what happened. Or, rather, I haven’t found the distance or emotional wherewithal to sort it out. When I look back to the mid-2010s, I can see a whole bunch of swirling gaseous elements start to coalesce into a galaxy of self-doubt, and an unimpeded malaise about the world and my place in it.

It took a long time to move out of that. I almost wrote move forward but I feel like that kind of thinking is partially what got me in trouble in the first place. When it felt like things were moving back in 2015, fear turned that into a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Pulling myself out of that has been no easy feat, and is possibly the second-hardest thing I’ve had to do. Reading was instrumental. It reminded me of why writing had felt so vital, and why its absence left me hollowed out.

Moving Targets

In August, I wrote I have lost pieces of my mind to COVID. Which, looking back, is only half-true. Pieces of my mind had vacated the premises, but it was incipient burnout, and not just COVID. I’m on medical leave now.

Before I went on leave, I thought that if I went on leave, I would feel better. Stress = work – work = no stress, right? Of course. I had visions of sitting in the September sun in my yard and drinking coffee with a stack of books by my side.

But as soon as I went on leave, I fell apart. My appetite got worse. My brain did not start working again. I left food out on the counter. I put empty jars back into the fridge. I left car windows open while locking the doors three times. My eyes skittered around the pages of books and I couldn’t retain any information. I did drink coffee, but reading was – is – a challenge. It is frustrating to feel like shit when you are supposed to be better.

Six weeks in, and maybe I’ve turned a corner. My appetite is better. My eyes don’t skitter so much. I’ve even read some fiction, which I couldn’t do a month ago, when all the characters seemed the same and I could barely remember real people’s names.

On the other hand, I needed to tape something up, and there was something in front of the drawer where the tape was, so I just didn’t do it. Obstacles I wouldn’t have noticed 2 months ago still loom so large I can’t fathom their edges.

I have been seeing a therapist, I have been doing yoga, I have been staring into space, I have been knitting without distraction. I have been sleeping. I have been eating again. I have walked in the forest and by rivers. There have been the many baths of Megan’s burnout. There have been the moments that turn to minutes that turn to hours and days and weeks.

No Stars

I have annual lists of the books I’ve read going back decades. Somewhere in some paper file, I have a couple paper lists. They would have dated from between 1996 and 1999, since I can clearly picture the list weakly held by a magnet to the fridge that dominated the tiny bachelor apartment I lived in for those years. It was easy and low tech. I would put a book down, I would pick a pen up, and there, noted.

Later, things got a bit fancier. I had completely forgotten this, but at some point, probably when I was taking both database and cataloguing courses in library school, I created an Access database. I would catalogue my books according to my best independent interpretations of the AACR2 (the cataloguer’s bible at the time), add a “date finished,” and there, noted.

In 2005, I either read two books only in September, or I gave up my list. I can’t remember which. 2005 was a turbulent year, so it’s hard to say if I hardly read at all or read a lot to escape and forgot to note it down. You’ve got a 50/50 chance of being right.

Then there are the missing years. Maybe I didn’t read between 2005 and 2011. I’m pretty sure I read some, but maybe not much. Those were also often turbulent years.

In 2011, I joined Goodreads, and have since faithfully used that app to track the books I’ve read. I always gave some stars. Never thought too hard about them, just clicked what my gut told me. But I never wrote reviews. Back then, I had already started writing reviews for money, and was thinking of freelancing, so I sure as hell wasn’t going to give my words away to some upstart tech company. Maybe not the wisest road to take for someone who could use the exposure, but past Megan made some mistakes, and let’s not be too rough.

In 2013, I somehow completely missed the news that Amazon bought Goodreads. It was 2019 before I figured that one out, when I got suspicious that every link on every title took me to their site. I most definitely am not going to give that fucker my words. But I kept on with the stars. I mean, I used them myself to gauge a book’s worth.

In 2020, I have lost pieces of my mind to COVID. It’s hard to concentrate. The words sometimes blur. I need ease and comfort. Here, on the edge of burnout, I am finding it hard to connect with much. Should I punish the author of this complex book? ONE STAR plot too thick. This writer and her gorgeous thesaurus? TWO STARS makes no sense. It just seems too unfair when by the end of the day it takes me three tries to spell the word specialty.

I know the starred reviews are helpful to those writers and presses looking to widen their net. Those people trying to make their own name and make a living, but it just seems so unfair.

Can we move backwards? Probably not. At least, I don’t think I’ll go back to my Access database. But from here on in, I am instituting a no-stars policy, and will just have to find another way to help the authors of the books I love.


How much I read is inversely proportional to how much I scroll. Between 2018 and March 2020, I was scrolling less and reading more. I followed my own rules. And then every thing changed. And when I say everything I am not using hyperbole. You know this as well as I do.

I started working from home full-time. My partner started working from home full-time. The 15 people I supervise at work started working from home full-time, and none of us really knew how to do it. My home office became not the place where I dressed myself and did our budgetting and occasionally tried to write and then stopped trying. It became a small cocoon of almost all you do.

Home office. A desk with a monitor on it and a chair pulled out and slightly to the right. Lit by a window from the left.

David Sedaris said recently “Everywhere I go it smells the same, and it smells like my breath.” I can’t stop rolling that over in my mind. Like a finger on a bruise, a tongue to a torn tooth socket. Everywhere I go is hardly anywhere. My paths have been circumscribed in a way I never saw coming. Everywhere I go is mostly my home office. And it does smell like my breath: my farts, my unbrushed hair, and stinking armpits, too.

My mental life has felt similarly constrained. Instead of tearing through books, I am scrolling past curated Insta feeds and the dubious bon mots of Twitter, which all basically say the same. We are fucked we are trying to feel normal we are ignoring the problem I am fucked no you are fucked no you are fucked. Instead of spreading my mind around to live briefly in the minds of all sorts of different types of people in all sorts of different countries, instead of really sitting with them and the arc of their lives for 300 pages, I am flicking my thumb mindlessly and obsessively up a tiny shiny rectangle. For sometimes hours. Often in the office that smells like my breath.

I’ve been here before, and I’ve stopped it, switched those gears before, but my god it is hard. And takes a will I’m not sure 2020 will allow me. In both 2018 and 2019, I read over 100 books. To to that takes time. I took that time almost solely from the minutes that built into hours that I spent on Instagram and Twitter. This year, I might hit 50 books. That is a stark difference.

It’s not like I think more books makes me a better person. If I were to read 100 books three years in a row no one would love me more. The people who love me love me no matter how many books I read, and the people who don’t like me can go hang.

But more scrolling does make me a worse version of myself. It makes me scared, it makes me jealous, it makes me only able to absorb tiny bites of info. Only able to skim. I can’t remember anything, can’t sustain my attention for more than 10 minutes.

If I were reading half as much because I was doing something that I knew to be useful or believed to be beautiful (sorry William Morris) then I wouldn’t be writing this post. Or I would be writing a different post telling you how great my Vietnamese was coming along.

Sadly, as far as I can tell, at least for me, there is no better option than to just. stop. For me, there is only the calculation that makes me suddenly see how all this doomscroll adds up to nothing and makes me realize that is not enough.

On The Go

Of course, me, myself, I’m not going anywhere. Nowhere my own feet can’t take me. I bike to a friend’s house to sit in the shade of her fence: I’m on the other side of the yard, sipping from the thermos of coffee I brought from home. I walk for an hour through a nearby park to smell pine trees and see new birds and feel the earth push back under my feet. I walk to the bakery for four loaves of bread: that will keep us a while. I am so tired of eating bread I’ve baked with my own hands.

This post wasn’t going to be about COVID-19, but everything is about COVID-19.

When I was young – and then too, I could only roam as far as my feet would take me – I was very ordered about my reading. I read one book at a time. I would start a book, I would finish a book. I didn’t stop reading books if I didn’t like them. This makes sense to me when I stop and think about it. I had a lot of time to read then. Now, less so. A full-time job and house administration take a lot of hours out of the day. So I dip into books. A few minutes here, 40 minutes there if I’m lucky. So I have different books for different rooms and different times.

Four books on a dark brown wood table. Clockwise from top left: the Beastie Boys Book; Reproduction, by Ian Williams; Treaty Number, by Armand Garnet Ruffo; and  =The Gospel of Breaking, by Jillian Christmas.

Dining Room: Non-Fiction

The Beastie Boys Book is a difficult book to read. Physically, I mean. It’s a several-hundred-pages-long hard cover printed on thick paper. I can only read it comfortably if I’m sitting at a table, and one of the few times I do that is during the bi-weekly Homo Phono zoom parties. So yeah, once more, I am that person at the party reading a book. But it makes perfect sense to me to read a book about music while listening to excellent music and shoulder dancing in a chair.

This paragraph will end negatively, but it’s really a great book. This is a band I know a lot about, but I’m still learning tons, not only about them, but about the hardcore and hip-hop scenes of various time periods and cities. Their writing voices are genuine and fun. The piece by Kate Schellenbach, who was kicked out of the band just before they got big, was a welcome addition. Amongst all the fun, though, I do feel something is lacking. They apologize for their sexism (and have been apologizing for decades) and they tip their hat towards the fact that being middle-class white dudes played a role in making them one of the most popular rap acts ever. But I don’t think they do enough self-examination in either case. Maybe it’s that their shame around their former sexism is so well worn at this point that it comes across a bit facile. And maybe an in-depth examination of how racism played out through rap is not for them to do; they’ve never pretended to be intellectuals, just friends having fun. So maybe that’s for some pop music academic to really take on. I don’t know. I do know I love them, like know all the lyrics to their first four albums love them, but in the last few years something has started not sitting right, and this book is amplifying that. It’s not you, baby, it’s me.

Bathroom: Fiction

Reproduction is also several hundred pages long, but is a soft cover printed on less bougie paper, so is an excellent book for tub reading. Honestly, I picked this one up mostly because the Giller Prize has never let me down. Reproduction is no exception. It’s the story of a family that builds by accretion rather than design. From the deft use of language, you can tell that Williams is a poet first. Sure, from time-to-time, the more experimental aspects feel more distracting than expanding. But I was quickly pulled into the story and all its characters. It’s the book I’d think I could read for a few minutes, and then would lose another half hour. But don’t take just my word for it, plenty of people said nice things about it, not to mention that Giller.

Everywhere, in brief moments: Poetry

The Gospel of Breaking and Treaty # are books that float around the house a bit. I find poetry easier to read in short bursts than other forms.

In 2019, I had the pleasure of seeing Armand Garnet Ruffo read from Treaty # at Versefest here in Ottawa, an event I was sad to miss this year. I bought the book after his reading, and then by chance ended up eating dinner with him, so it was a banner day all ’round. His poems read clearly on the surface, which is to say, I’ve never finished one of his poems and thought Well, I have no idea what was going on THERE. They aren’t poems that refract language through metaphor and push words past their capacity to mean, but they reach deeply into memory and place, weaving the deep past of family and location into the present, as in “Dinner Party” (scroll down a bit). That’s not to say they don’t play with language. They do, as in the first poem of the collection, a prose poem that opens the first section “Impetus Ungainly,” which takes the language of Treaty No. 9, the treaty that covers his family’s homeland, and reverses many of the words, so that your brain alternately glides and struggles along the lines of text. I’m only about half-way through the collection at this point. The poems can seem simple on the surface, I think, but they take me a long time to digest, and I’ve re-read a few already. It’s not a quick read, but something to savour.

I have to admit that I only bought the gospel of breaking because its author, Jillian Christmas, was supposed to tour with Vivek Shraya, someone whose writing I admire very much (and whom I got to interview last year!). Their tour got COVID cancelled, but I bought both Christmas’ book as well as My Art is Killing Me, by Amber Dawn, the third writer on the tour. But as it turns out, it’s a smart move to read work admired by people whose work you admire! It’s great. Christmas pushes words around. Across most pages, the words stop and spill, turning almost every poem into something felt physically. And now, just looking her up, I see she’s a slam poet, and the physicality of her poems makes sense. They move as they might if breath were behind them. Don’t take just my word for it, smart people have written more about her writing.

Before my multiple book-reading started, I think I felt reading needed laser focus, and how could I manage to keep track of characters, of story lines, of the emotional tenor across various books? Turns out it’s easy. Now when I open a book I’ve started, I feel a small click as it all falls into place, and it always feels like coming home.

Read or Don’t Read

How quaint to re-read my post from February 3rd, where my main concern was whether to set a reading goal, rather than worrying about which of my friends and family members might get, might die from, COVID-19.

Some of us are reading more to escape. Some of us can’t concentrate enough to make the letters line up and sink through the miasma of anxiety.

I cycle through both.

Some of my calmest moments in the last few weeks have been listening to Akata Witch, by Nnedi Okorafor, as I walked around my neighbourhood; or reading This Lovely City, by Louise Hare, in baths so hot my skin turned red on contact. Both books pulled me out of this where and when, and placed me somewhere else – amongst magical young Nigerian teens in the first instance, and amongst Jamaican immigrants to London in 1950 in the second. The main characters in both books face many hurdles, but none of those hurdles is a global pandemic, and it was a blessed relief to be transported through the pages to anywhere that isn’t The World, March 2020.

Other times, I’ve tried to read or listen to my books, and my mind has raced right through them and back around, blocking out meaning even as my eyes or ears are tracking the words. Not even the beautiful Nigerian-accented English of the Akata Witch audio-book could take me away when every cell in my central nervous system roiled with what needed doing Right. Now. Right. Now. Right. Now. I still have moments when all I can do is scroll through Instagram or Twitter, hoping that someone will have an answer. How long will this last? When can I see my friends again? I will touch your arms and your hands. I will tap your knees gently to make my point. I will lean my head on your shoulders. I will hug you and hug you and hug you.

I won’t read 100 books this year. I don’t care. Any time – every time – I can pull myself away from a small screen to lose myself in a book is a moment the the worry abates for a moment, and that is the best I can hope for right now.

Numbers Game

I’m torn on setting a number as my reading goal for 2020. Which isn’t to ding the people who do set a number as their goal. Anything that gets people reading anything is good in my books.

Set yourself the goal of reading 100 books and make all of them graphic novels? Great.

Read one book, but it’s In Search of Lost Time? Great.

Try to read all the books you managed to not read during your English Lit degree? Great.

My reading goal this year is to get through the pile on top of the bookshelf on our 2nd floor landing. It’s a mix of books: those I’ve bought in the last couple years because they looked interesting when I was feeling flush; a few from my collection I’d like to re-read; books my partner has read and thought I’d like; a couple loaners.

It’s maybe 20, maybe two dozen books. I read 100 books last year, so that pile should go pretty fast, right?

Not so much.

So far, what I’m finding is that if I’ve read a bit of a book and put it in the pile, I’ve put it in the pile because it’s slow going for whatever reason.

It means that so far, I’ve only picked two books off that pile. The first, Tommy Pico’s book-length poem Junk, was really good, though I didn’t find it as quickly engaging as Nature Poem, which I read last year. Still, Teebs is a great character, and each time I picked it up it was easier to roll into.

The second I just finished last night, and my god, I hauled myself through it. Simon Reynolds’ Rip It Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1878-1984 might have read better in 2005. Though that’s really giving him the benefit of the doubt. It’s racist. Mostly in that insidious way that’s more difficult to call out.* Great swaths of British postpunk bands steal heavily from reggae, lover’s rock, and dub, from disco and funk. Which is to say, from Black music. Reynolds lets the postpunk musicians speak for themselves, quotes them humble-bragging in interviews from the time about how they were only white person at reggae nights in London, but how they never felt unsafe even though. And Reyolds never puts any 2005 context around any of these comments from the late 70s and early 80s. I’d say he doesn’t talk about race, except he does, here and there; he just doesn’t think very deeply about it.

I care less about a genealogy of who played in which bands with what kind of guitar sounds than where those sounds came from, how they were used, and what that means culturally. I wish someone would write that book about that scene.

But I digress, at least a bit. It took me weeks to read that book, two or three. Many times, I thought to just put it down and give it up as DNF. But by the time the racism really came out as a pattern and I gave up on him addressing it, I’d already put a lot of effort into the book.

So I may need to be more generous with myself and less disciplined with my goal. I should have tossed Rip It Up over about half-way through. No one’s going to give me a prize for finishing that racist book.** No one cares if I actually finish the books on my landing or just quietly re-shelve them.

More generous, sure, but maybe more mindful would be better way of saying that. To keep in mind: Why am I reading this?

It took me a long time to read Junk too, because it’s written in stream-of-consciousness couplets dripping grief and dissociation. But I’m glad I pushed through that, and I’d do it again. In the end it challenged me in a good way, pushed my boundaries and my thoughts on love, loss and language, instead of just adding a bunch of names and dates to my already detail-saturated brain. And that’s an experience worth taking time for.

*Though not only, like the gem where he says that “Eskimos” kill unwanted girl children and are always putting old people out on ice floes to die. I mean, I know 2005 was a long time ago now, but come the fuck on.

**Also kind of sexist. Some of that is hard to help, since he’s describing a scene that has few women in it because sexism, but also, why in the hell did he start referring to women in the scene as “punkettes” in the last few chapters? Please, you’re kidding me, right. Right?

How to Read More

I’ll start with a definition. I’m using the word “book” pretty loosely and without judgement. A book can be an audio-book, an e-book, a slim volume of poetry, a 60-page graphic memoir, or a 500-page work of historical fiction. If you want to include magazines, include magazines. It’s your reading life! You make the rules! Be generous; there’s no point in being otherwise.

  1. Read whenever you can, for as much time as you’ve got. Don’t think you need to wait to start until you’ve got an empty half-hour: it will not magically appear. Read on your breaks for 5 minutes, at the bus stop for 10, while you’re brushing your teeth for 2. Pasta for dinner? You’ve got 15 minutes for water to boil and 12 minutes to cook. You may only get through a couple of pages, but that is two pages you hadn’t read before, and they build up faster than you’d think.
  2. Always carry a book. If you’re going to read whenever you can, you need to have a book to hand. Move from room to room with your book. Tuck it into a corner of your bag when you leave the house, even if you’re only going to the corner store. Waiting for a friend in a restaurant? Pull out your phone to open your e-reader.
  3. Don’t make reading a punishment. You don’t have to read every page; if an entry in a short-story collection is boring you, move on. If you hate the main character of a novel so much the book remains untouched by your bedside, chuck it and find something that makes your fingers itch to hold it.
  4. But do make it a challenge occasionally. Once you’ve got into the swing of reading back, try reading something you normally wouldn’t. Poetry, plays, science-fiction, non-fiction. Anything different. It’ll keep you from getting bored with what you normally read. And if you find you really don’t like that something new after you’ve started, see number three.
  5. Don’t say you’re going to cut x out to make more time. If you try to force yourself away from Facebook to read, you’ll only resent reading. Instead, make reading your priority, and you’ll figure out pretty quickly what can easily fall to the wayside to make time for just one more page.
  6. Don’t count if you don’t want to. Numbers aren’t everything. For lots of people, they’re really motivating, so count away if that’s you. But if what you love to read is a thick tome of modernist literature, or complicated science fiction that takes 200 pages just to set up a whole new world, you simply can’t get through the quantity of books you could if what you liked instead was poetry or graphic novels. All of it is valid reading. If you need to count, try counting pages, not books

Following these basic guidelines, I read 104 books in 2018, which is about 84 more books than I’d read in any of the previous 5 years. The number makes me proud, I’m not going to lie. But more importantly, my brain is stronger and more plastic, my attention span has increased, and I feel like a more empathetic person. You don’t need to read 100 books to get that. Just more.

The Power, by Naomi Alderman

First book down of 2019. I was actually hoping to finish it on Dec 31, 2018, but wine and charcuterie took priority that night. No matter, it was a great way to kick off 2019.

The Power is one of those books that fogged my brain into its universe as I was reading it. You know, one of those books that rewires synapses so that your world is overlaid with the fictional world from which you have to tear yourself away to do non-fictional human things like buy groceries, shower, and answer (repeated) direct questions from your partner.

The basic premise is that women have developed a new power to generate and release electricity. A tingle across the skin for pleasure, or a bolt to the temples to kill. Women are suddenly and consistently more physically powerful than men, and the book traces how that plays out. It’s set mainly over a 10-years period leading up to the Cataclysm, and follows 4 main characters as they react to, and shape, this new world.

The language is sharp, the story moves along swiftly but not carelessly, and the main characters are so engagingly written that you root for all of them, all the way through the plot.

What elevates The¬†Power narratively is that the basic premise I mention above isn’t actually the book. The story I outline above is actually a manuscript of historical fiction written by a historian named Neil, who’s tired of the lack of audience for his serious books. He’s sent the manuscript to Naomi, his mentor, for advice, and it’s their letters that frame the story. She finds the male soldiers and gangs described in the old world preposterous, since men are clearly the softer and weaker sex. Women need to be strong to protect their children, so you see that’s only natural, and couldn’t possibly have been another way.

Without this framing, the book would have been an engrossing read; with it, the political commentary is amped up a couple more astute notches.

I loved this book without qualification. For the first half, I felt stronger than every man I saw on the street, and felt a glorious “YES! FUCK YOU!” pulsing in a cloud around me, instead of my general woman-walking-outside vigilance. As the book progressed, and the tide turns, that feeling wilted and rotted on the vine, and I felt slightly nauseous at seeing who I could easily have become. I think Alderman would be pleased.