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Emails to my Therapist


The Go-To Guilt Reflex (After A Week In Poland)

May 13, 2022
Dear Nicholas, Bob and I got home late Tuesday afternoon from a long-planned long-delayed trip and now, as I write, it’s Friday and I still haven’t gotten back to work. I feel like a terrible slacker. My reliable guilt reflex has kicked in. And the guilt itself feels terribly self-indulgent when refugees are on the […] Read More

Fear of Making a Mistake…A Big One

April 3, 2022
Dear Nicholas, For as long as I can remember, I’ve been guarding against making the giant mistake that will ruin everything, certainly the rest of my life and also the lives of others, likely including their children and grandchildren. It’s not a particular mistake. It could be anything: accidentally committing a terrible crime or burning […] Read More

Depression Hurts Like A Burn

March 9, 2022
Dear Nicholas, I just made a startling discovery after a couple of rather hard months. I somehow received the wrong medication a while back. (I’m writing you about this though you aren’t a prescriber these days. Just want to talk about it.) I thought maybe I was simply sad because several difficult things are going […] Read More

And I Thought I Was a Pacifist

February 27, 2022
Thought I was a pacifist until Russia attacked Ukraine. Doing some serious rethinking. Go Ukraine! Read More

Magical Knee Cure!

February 21, 2022
Dear Nicholas, There was a time in my life, near fifty years ago, when my friends and I would inquire of each other about the health of our cars. “How’s it holding up?” we’d say. These days I hear a lot more from friends about knees. Lots of replacements, knees that get stopped for inspection […] Read More

Big Big Birthdays…Husband Turns Eighty! Golly!

February 2, 2022
Hi, Nicholas, I know that turning eighty sounds like a trifle to anyone who has already done it, but for those of us who haven’t, it’s a significant figure. A Big Birthday. A Grand Occasion. Husband Bob is pleased to arrive on Friday February 4, (tomorrow) at this lofty point in life, then to venture […] Read More

Living with “an Animal Guy” in an “Animal House”

January 17, 2022
Dear Nicholas, I have just this week realized that we have animal images all over the house, Bob’s doing. How did I not notice the theme? And how do all these animals affect me? I don’t entirely know, but at the same time I have no doubt that they do. I’ve always thought I could […] Read More

Birthdaying and the Age of Change

January 9, 2022
Dear Nicholas, Something about turning 73 Saturday made me sleepy. Naps are not my usual form of birthdaying, but this time it was irresistible. Delicious sofa sleep most of the afternoon in the company of sleepy dogs. And then…! The Age of Change Last time I wrote I was depressed about moving out of my […] Read More

Writing Myself Out of Depression (trying to)

December 29, 2021
Dear Nicholas, I’m depressed. Have been most of the time since Christmas night. Writing usually helps, so here goes… Why I am so low is not clear, as is so often the case with depression. Christmas with my brothers and their families was wonderful. When we got home I began to sink. Bob’s theory about […] Read More

A Different Kind of Empty Nest

December 12, 2021
Dear Nicholas, I’m in the midst of moving my office–my writing nest–after sixteen years of working in desk-to-desk chatting distance of my dear friend writer Carrie Knowles. This place has been a second home for me.   We’re moving out because the building is sold. I’m leaving this nest behind–empty until the violin maker moves […] Read More

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  • December 13, 2021 at 8:48 pm Reply

    I know you loved that office and I’m sorry you have to leave it – but I do think you’re right that another door will open and you’ll be happy with where it leads! I haven’t had an office in awhile – my garret here at home has been a haven during Covid but lately I’ve been working downstairs in the living room more than I do upstairs. I miss all the offices I’ve ever had! But in a nostalgic way only at this point. Meanwhile, you have a good plan to bridge the span between Morton Street and home. Say hi to Carrie! :)))

    • Peggy Payne
      December 13, 2021 at 9:31 pm Reply

      And you and I had a close call on another good office once upon a time, Billie. Maybe Small Street offers some possibilities. Upstairs vs. downstairs is an interesting choice. Though if I were you, I think I’d want to work in an office with a large sandbox and shelves full of hundreds of good characters.

  • Ron Perkinson
    December 13, 2021 at 9:15 pm Reply

    I sense the melancholy; the anxiety of disruption; the warmth of treasured memories; the excitement of a new order; a fear of a new order; the starkness of an ending. BUT PANERA BREAD? Jeez, I could dry out my own sandwich as well as it does.

    • Peggy Payne
      December 13, 2021 at 9:33 pm Reply

      I appreciate your close reading and understanding of all the layers of this post, Ron. But Panera has excellent salads. Don’t think I’ve ever had one of their sandwiches. I do recommend the Fuji Apple Sesame salad.

  • December 13, 2021 at 9:41 pm Reply

    The only office space we have these days is one at Perch in Pittsboro for the occasions upon which our internet does not work! I never actually think to go there but maybe I should give it a try. 🙂

    • Peggy Payne
      December 13, 2021 at 9:58 pm Reply

      I did pop in and have a look there, Billie. I wasn’t immediately drawn to it as a full-time thing because there was no one there I knew and I do like an all-in-the-same-boat feeling, but it’s a resource to still consider. The library works for me for faltering home wifi. Even when they were only letting people in for brief visits because of covid, I worked parked in my car in the back at the library loading deck where I could get their wifi.

  • Susan Ketchin
    December 14, 2021 at 1:29 am Reply

    Hi, Peggy, so glad to hear from you. I completely relate to your mixed feelings about leaving the “Free Range Studio” . It’s a lovely, sun-filled place and I loved to write there! I loved your description of lively people coming and going. I write better in those kinds of situations of cheery noise and clatter better, too. It’s good to be remembered and to remember at this time of year, and doubly hard to be moving away from a space you’ve known, creatively, for 40 years. You will find another place, I’m thinking. Have you looked in Hillsborough? It’s becoming a veritable writer’s colony up there! I’ve moved back to Chapel Hill (!) and that’s another place of splendid vibes and old-time memories to make some music with in your writing. Cheers to you and your work! love, Susan

    • Peggy Payne
      December 14, 2021 at 4:53 pm Reply

      I do remember running into you in Chapel Hill, Susan, and you were looking notably terrific. I’m glad you’re finding good vibes and music there. I’m going to try home for a while. Hillsborough is certainly an impressive nest of writers, but a very long way from my house. Thanks for all your good wishes.

  • Carol Majors
    December 14, 2021 at 2:15 am Reply

    This is something I have experienced in the past few years, and I gotta tell you that finding my little outbuilding was the right thing for me. This gave me s sense of place for my imagination and my accouterments (turns out they go together). I can nestle in its space in front of the small window watching the natural world, sitting at my familiar desk, just as I began my work journey in front of an attic window. Not every day is good weather for a shed day, but having a creative contained space to go to makes using the working space in the house feel better.

    I remember well the old days when we were both on St Mary’s Street. Ironically I cycled back thru the old neighborhood before completing the cycle of working from home again. I wish you well with this letting-go and moving-in. Your nest on Morson St. was a most amazing run for each of you. I look forward to following what amazing things are revealed to you in this cycle.

    • Peggy Payne
      December 14, 2021 at 4:49 pm Reply

      I do remember fondly our days on St. Mary’s St., Carol. And now that building is dwarfed by the towers all around it. I’m glad you have your shed. Sounds perfect. Liking an active scene as I do, I may have to perch my desk in a traffic median eventually. We’ll see. I appreciate the good wishes.

    • Robert Braxton class of 1966 B.A. philosophy
      December 14, 2021 at 5:47 pm Reply

      Little outbuilding is the way writer at Wake Forest Univ Winston-salem, NC, Emily Herring Wilson went. Some like solitude and privacy, some like company (partners in crime).

      • Peggy Payne
        December 14, 2021 at 9:58 pm Reply

        Little outbuildings can be so charming too.

  • Robert Braxton
    December 14, 2021 at 5:43 pm Reply

    salivating at two white sets of (book)shelves – we are in contact (personal) with re-settle Afghan refugees (a couple, Alexandria Virginia) and small bookcase is one thing they requested, among furnishings. Also, the rent for 15th floor aparement they found is quite expensive, as you can imagine.

    • Peggy Payne
      December 14, 2021 at 10:01 pm Reply

      I did give both those sets of white shelves away, Bob. Sorry I couldn’t spirit them to Alexandria!

  • December 14, 2021 at 5:48 pm Reply

    Your journey continues, and this post is as good a description of office and personal metamorphosis as could be. No one knows what happens in the cocoon while the animal is transforming into the next stage of development. I’m really sorry the building’s being sold, and Carrie’s moving toward making the rounds of far flung children and grand children. You two have been and continue to be the closest of friends and writing-officemates. The changes aren’t your choice, and there’s an ocean storm of healthy grieving that’ll be happening as you swim through it. I think it’s not something you get over, but rather, pass though, again and again.

    And I remember the words of your wise therapist, something like: to lose close family and friends ,you have to have had close family and friends; and if you take them along inside, with you, you can go on, and if you don’t, you cant.
    You can, and you are, following the wandering ,winding inner road that’s right for you – I guess a path is made by walking on it. Warm Love to you along the way, bob

    • Peggy Payne
      December 14, 2021 at 9:51 pm Reply

      Nicely therapeutic words of your own as well, Bob. And, of course, warm love to you.

  • […] a lot of people–this seems like a nothing as a loss. In fact, after my other post about this move quite a few folks unsubscribed and that was while I was still feeling reasonably cheerful about it. […]

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