I can’t find my MP3 player. It’s a hand-me-down, and it has purple headphones, and it serves a very specific purpose: it keeps me sane.

I suppose I should clarify. It limits my sensory input. Some days sound isn’t an issue. If I’m lucky, I can go for a week or so without ever needing to use it.

But other weeks, like this one, when I’m trying to finish three things at once, and none of them are what I want to be doing (finishing Wren) and all of them must be done immediately, it’s invaluable. It cuts out the clatter around me, and resets my nerves to zero, and I become a much nicer person to be around.

At the moment I’m stuck looking under things for a flash of purple. Trust me, if you tend to lose stuff, be sure to chose things in bright colors. It makes life much easier.

Instead of headphones, I find this. Out of the corner of my eye I see something large fly by the pines out back. I stop by the window and watch. Nothing, at first. Then, he flies again, choosing a smaller tree, a maple without its leaves. A barred owl, staring back through the dark at me. Everything is very quiet for a moment.

There. Nerves reset to zero.