birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

Monday Mourning Routine

The light touches the blinds and the dog on the bed stretches. I scroll through my phone aware I am wasting time.

Still I scroll or read or comment or like.

Then I get up and take the dog outside. I have to give her a squeeze because she's a dachshund who broke her back jumping off the bed three and a half years ago.

Never did I dream I'd be expressing a wiener dog everyday for years, but it's easy, and she's the light on dark mornings.

I turn on the stove to heat up the neon green espresso coffee pot purchased in Italy this past summer in the tiny 12th Century town of San Gimignano. I think of taking my 82-year-old father through the town that day and his desire to stop and eat at every restaurant we came upon.

I drink my coffee and I like how I am now able to make bags of coffee last longer by drinking it this way instead of the pour-over drip from the past.

The mountain of student work looms, and I tell myself that I can do it, while my own stories and novels sit on the other cliffs waiting.

I wonder when to fit in my 10,000 steps so I can feel productive.

The temperature has dropped, which makes me grateful.

Two friends text - "let's get together."

One means it.

One doesn't.

I look at the giant oak trees and listen to the acorns ricocheting off the tin carport like bullets. I think of the man I passed on the street at midnight in Birmingham, lurching about in his drunken state, a gun in his holster and handcuffs looped to his belt - not a policeman - just a guy - just a drunk guy in Alabama.

I consider mowing the grass on this chilly Monday morning.

That would get some steps in.

Then I eat a bowl of Corn Flakes and watch 60 Minutes about the opioid crisis. I tell myself that isn't quite wasting time because I have to have breakfast and I might as well learn something, because we have addiction in our family.

Maybe I will learn something that will change our story.

Then I wonder where my son is and where he will wake up and what kind of Monday morning he will have today.

My Morning Routines

What Is Sacred