December 20th to December 11th

Posted on 20 December 2003

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 20, 2003

Well, it’s a sopping wet day out and although I have a lot to do, I’m not feeling in the mood for much. But, I’ve already been over to Kits with Gill for breakfast at Sophie’s and bought Rob a gift. He’s a hard man to surprise and he likes this present business so I’m trying to “stand by my man.”

I just looked up the lyrics for the refrain:

“Stand by your man
And show the world you love him
Keep giving all the love you can”

But the first verse is even better:

“Sometimes it’s hard to be a woman
Giving all your love to just one man
You’ll have bad times
And he’ll have good times
Doin things that you don’t understand
But if you love him
You’ll forgive him
Even though he’s hard to understand
And if you love him
Oh, be proud of him
Cause after all he’s just a man”

I seem to have a country and western bug. Yesterday I worked but didn’t feel like it. In the afternoon, I visited my new nephew who was glued to his mother’s breast. (Yes, he is beautiful but not half as beautiful as mine.)

In the evening, I had some good old-fashioned home cookin’ (carbs included) with Marlene and Steve. Marlene says she doesn’t give presents but, although I hate to say it, she lies. She gave me some fig bubblebath to remind me of France (just might have to drink the bath water) and a book on courtesans by Susan Griffin.

Now why would she give sweet little innocent me such a book? People might get the wrong impression if they discover it on my book shelf. I am really quite chaste and introverted. Just because I’ve danced on a table or two, written a story about writing that sounds like sex, adore silks and velvets, like moaning and groaning tunes, and drinking from bottomless goblets of deep red wine, doesn’t mean I’m a sensualist. Hell, I’m not a chocolate addict nor a consummate consumer of premium ice-cream – now those “ladies” are beyond reform.

I had a great evening but must say that Marlene is a little rough on Steve. Even though he begged us to help him with the dishes, she refused and what could I do? I couldn’t leave her to sit alone to rescue a man in the kitchen.

It was raining when I left – the heavens crying for Steve, I imagine.

I returned home to an empty house. Gill and Mike were out at a party together.

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 19, 2003

It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas. Gill is dancing. One last day of school. Rob, when he arrived at some ungodly hour, said he felt like an old man; but he, too, has only one more day of filming to live through and then we can celebrate. Halle Berry gave each member of the crew a bottle of champagne – the good stuff – so we’ll begin the holidays in style.

This morning, I’ve been playing with photoshop – why do they make it so complicated? – and designing and writing holiday messages. I must admit that it takes the season to move me to express myself in black and white, trying my damnest to write simple messages that don’t sink to cliches or soppy sappy meaningless dribble.

I’m reminded of James Joyce who wrote: “I will try to express myself in some mode of life or art as freely as I can and as wholly as I can, using for my defense the only arms I allow myself to use – silence, exile, and cunning.” I especially like the “cunning.”

I’ve decided not to pressure myself about writing save for my daily journal. Kate sent me a contest for an erotic piece but, if I remember correctly, the online journal, wants 3000 to 4000 words by December 31st. I don’t know if I have it in me at the moment. I’ll see. Sometimes hot and steamy scenes flow from some unknown source so I’ll carry a notebook and see if inspiration overtakes me.

Soon I will shower and dress for work, visit my dentist for yet another consultation, return to work, and then head downtown to brave Robson Street, and then on to the hospital to visit my sister and hopefully hold in my arms, the boy child I felt roaming around her belly. I still can’t believe how a little seed dropping into the uterus every month can link up with a shot of sperm and become a person – sort of like adding vermouth to vodka, shaking hard and voila – a martini.

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 18, 2003

My mum called at 3 in the morning to tell me that my sister has a new son. Bill, her lover/partner/husband/father of said baby called a few minutes ago to tell me that “Cameron” is the most beautiful baby in the universe but a noisy little fellow who is already making his presence known.

This baby business is exhausting. I waited and waited and waited to hear yesterday. As I had dropped Bev and Bill at the hospital at 9:30 a.m., I expected to hear the news sometime late afternoon. When I didn’t hear by evening, I began to worry. But all is well – MOTHER and child are both beautiful swears alleged father.

Gill didn’t want a traditional Christmas tree. Mike said the trimmings are not what are important. Rob wasn’t around to ask his opinion so Gill and I went to the flourist and chose an ivy bush shaped like a tree that sits on the living room table. It’s quite lovely.

This morning I braved the stores and bought a few Christmas gifts – I’m bending a little says the willow and this afternoon, I’m making small gifts. So the spirit of Christmas is descending. And I am enjoying myself. But tired.

My mum called at 3 in the morning to tell me that my sister has a new son. Bill, her lover/partner/husband/father of said baby called a few minutes ago to tell me that “Cameron” is the most beautiful baby in the universe and a noisy little fellow who is already making his presence known.

This baby business is exhausting. I waited and waited and waited to hear yesterday. As I had dropped Bev and Bill off at the hospital at 9:30 a.m., I expected to hear the news sometime late afternoon. When I didn’t hear by evening, I began to worry. But all is well -MOTHER and child are beautiful says alleged father.

Gill didn’t want a traditional Christmas tree. Mike said the trimmings are not what are important. Rob wasn’t around to ask his opinion so Gill and I went to the flourist and chose an ivy bush shaped like a tree that sits on the living room table. It’s quite lovely.

This morning I braved the stores and bought a few Christmas gifts – I’m bending a little says the willow and this afternoon, I’m making small gifts. So the spirit of Christmas is descending. And I am enjoying myself.

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 17, 2003

I woke early – 3:30 a.m. but as I fell asleep early – watching a movie with Mike – I’m feeling good and happy to have hours before I head over to my sister Bev’s to have breakfast with my mum and dad and wish Bev luck – she goes into the hospital sometime during this day and the small being roaming in her belly will be brought into this world. As she has a boy and a girl, she will be happy with a pair of either sex.

I continue to think of gender differences. There’s a lovely woman who works in the store who told me a story yesterday about her four daughters. Recently when she was away, her daughters visited their father, on their own accord, and told him that they didn’t think he was showing his partner/wife/their mother the respect she deserved. They illustrated this statement with samples of his unkindness over the years. They gave him time to defend himself. Since this conversation, the woman says that her relationship has turned around. She’s happy to go home in the evening.

I heard another story once about children who came to their mother and listed all the grievances from childhood onwards. She too listened hard and their relationship changed.

I’m thinking that such dialogue is a true gift – that we all keep so much inside because we are afraid to injure those we love – oh we have a dozen excuses – they’re simply too small and petty to say aloud – or our behaviour provoked the unsavoury response – or the person doing the hurting was tired – or it was an off day – still these little or big bruises live within our flesh – and if they could be released – we could be so much lighter.

I’m thinking about the emotionalism of women – the need of the feminine for wholeness – and the courage it takes to speak our truths. The woman in the store told me that before her daughters intervened, her partner often lost patience and ridiculed her when she was emotional. He told his daughters that the phrase he used on them “deal with it” had been hammered into him.

Again the definition of love – “rapt attention” – comes to mind.

I’m thinking that without emotion – the perfection of the masculine – the world would be a dull place.

So I am feeling virtuous this morning. Already I have designed and written and printed a Christmas card for Rob’s mum and a Birthday card for my sister, Gael.
This is a crazy time of year for my family. Gael’s birthday is the 23rd of December, my father’s the 24th, my mother’s the 26th, and my older sister’s the 27th. I’m wondering if this, in some small way, makes me want to avoid Christmas gifts as I always celebrate birthdays with presents.

It is now 5:30 in the morning. I will shower and leave soon.

It’s Tuesday and Rob has three more get-ups – that’s the way he counts the days until a three week hiatus.

Today was proving too crazy for my head so I cancelled an early morning meeting with Maureen on Granville Island and went to the store and worked, left at noon to pick up my dad, dropped him at my sister Bev’s, had tea and hot scones with my parents, felt my sister’s belly, and then went back to store where I initiated a sale starting tomorrow. People aren’t even coming in let alone buying.

I have just arrived home and haven’t a thought in my head beyond finding something to eat and soaking in a hot bath.

If I’m inspired later, I’ll return.

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 16, 2003

I’m a computer junkie. I know it now. I have been trying to get on to the internet all day, check my email, do my blog, but no luck until now. And what I was going to say earlier has dissipated. I wanted to speak of the Dialogue yesterday that was about, for the most part, gender differences. I arrived late, quite unlike my usual puncutual self, and walked into an emotional minefield. Forgive my emotionalism. I can’t help it. Reminds me of somes line from “Poppy” by Drusilla Modjeska:
“I am filled with pain and pleasure. I am all that…
[my father and my husband] hated in me and…[my lover] fears:
emotional, fluid, intemperate, melodramatic, female.”

Thank goodness for the feminine is all I have to say.

Today exhausted me. My mother was coming for dinner. I cleaned, scrubbed, bought groceries, cooked, and served. I thought Gill would be home to help but she was consumed by her own fires – mostly school based as she worked on the film Thursday and Friday and now has to catch up.

My boys/men joined us. My sister Donna/Maggie came with her son Eric. Bev came with her beautiful belly and her two young ones – Hannah and Liam. I set a table, lit over two dozen candles, lit a log in the fireplace, turned on the CD player to Van Morrison, and tried to create a cosy homefront.

Now, I’m exhausted, melodramatic, female… and I’ve just received a dozen emails. I can’t think straight but hopefully tomorrow will prove easier. But I have to work and pick my father up from the airport – I just offered – shouldn’t have but did – couldn’t let my very pregnant sister carry all the load. Still, those of you who know me, know that I’m no saint.

SUNDAY, DECEMBER 14, 2003

Yesterday was a blur as I awoke too early but I did fall asleep early, when Rob and Bren were settling down to watch a movie.

This morning I rose at 4:30 played on my computer, went down to the water in the drizzle, and then took myself to breakfast and finished reading “The Lost Notebook” by John Montague who writes mostly in prose of a hot torrid affair he had with a young American in Florence when he was twenty one. His language fluctuates between beautiful and crude – like this sex affair. Here’s one of the nicer passages:

“That afternoon was her richest gift to me, a glimpse of near ecstasy, of the sensuous fulfilment I longed for in my damp, distant island. And like all such moments it had a scent of permanence, a small addition to the sweetness in the world. Finally she fell asleep, her blonde head resting on my numbed arm, in total ease.

In the crook of my arm
my love’s head rests;
in each breath
I taste her trust.”

I don’t know Montague’s poetry well and I intend to research him further but, for some reason, this book reminded me of a young poet I met in Dublin at the workshop called Tony Curtis (hard to forget his name) and I’ve been roaming the internet searching for him which proved a little confusing as there is another poet by the same name in Wales. But I finally found a site with photo – still totally gorgeous – and, wonder of wonder, he has published another book of poetry. I’ve sent a query to the publisher to find out how I can order it.

Interesting, this book was reviewed by another Irish poet, Paula Meehan, who I met at the same time, who came to UBC a few years ago to teach at Booming Ground, whose words I trust. She’s a wild woman, a strong woman, whose verse reminds me of Sharon Olds. I’ll give you a short poem to illustrate this:

“I’m not your muse, not that creature
in the painting, with the beautiful body,
Venus on the half-shell. Can
you not see I’m an ordinary woman
tied to the moon’s phases, bloody
six days in twenty-eight? Sure

I’d like to leave you in love’s blindness,
cherish the comfort of your art, the way
it makes me whole and shining,
smooths the kinks of my habitual distress,
never mentions how I stumble into the day,
fucked up, penniless, on the verge of whining

at my lot. You’d have got away with it
once. In my twenties I often traded a bit
of sex for immortality. That’s a joke,
Another line I swallowed, hook
and sinker. Look at you —
rapt, besottted. Not a gesture that’s true

on that canvas, not a droopy breast,
wrinkle or stretchmark in sight.
But if it keeps you happy who am I
to charge in battledressed to force you test
your painted doll against the harsh light
I live by, against a brutal merciless sky.”

I just checked my watch. I’ve been playing for six and a half hours. I don’t know if age has slowed me down or if I’m more willing as time goes by to read and savour. If I had more days like this I might even write. I know. I have to create the time.

The rain is falling hard again. I have to shower soon (should perhaps just stand outside with a bar of soap,) visit my mother, and then go to Dialogue. A rich day.

It’s Saturday afternoon and I have just climbed out of bed. I am so sleepy. I woke when Mike came in
at three this morning and then couldn’t return to sleep. Gill and Rob returned home at four more than exhausted and once again I tried to sleep but it was a lost cause so I crept from the bed and came out to my little house in the garden and played on my computer until it was time to drive to Wenda’s for our last plum meeting before Christmas.

On the way, I picked up some coffee and a box of mandarins. Vaughan brought some Christmas stollen, and Wenda made a batch of her famous cheese scones. (I doubt we could function without these warm biscuits and hot coffee.) Vaughan and Shirley also brought Christmas gifts for everyone. Ah, they are so bad. They know that I don’t like Christmas shopping and Vaughan was kind enough to say that she thought my idea of coffee and telling a secret, a good gift idea.

So we sat around our writing table and talked a little and then all wrote a twenty minute short story (a contest Kate had sent me by email this morning.) Why is it not surprising that each one of us thought that the other three had written something worthy but we, ourselves, had failed? (I could be wrong here. I don’t think Shirley is as self-depreciating as the rest of us.) We continued to write another story in three ten-minute segments, read, hugged, and parted.

I was so sleepy by the end that I knew I had to drive carefully and return to bed. As you can probably tell by this entry, I am simply too stunned to think, let alone write.

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 13, 2003

I feel like the mad hare in Alice in Wonderland: “I’m late, I’m late…” signing into my blog. “I’m tired, I’m tired… but I have to write or otherwise, I’m… what?”

If I am not making any sense, I’ve been running all day. No time to be. But I’m not unhappy. I went to work at 8, left at 10 to drive Gill to her acting job and returned to work. I rearranged the whole store. I’m worried about it. People aren’t buying and there is such beautiful stuff but it costs. Difficult. I don’t mind the people who come in and admire and say they can’t afford but I do mind the people who come in and bitch about the prices. They think we’re trying to take them. If they only knew the profit is next to nil, often under. But it does provide income – not extravagant (now that’s an understatement) – for seven households.

But I am pleased with myself. The window is lovely – one of my best – and the entire store makes much more sense.

I was standing outside the store window, looking in, as if I were a passerby, and Rob was stopped in a stream of traffic. He honked his horn, opened his window and I ran into the road to hear that Mike had got his apartment in an artist’s co-op. He is thrilled and laying out plans for his future. I think this is a step in the right direction for him. Oh my god, I’m pleased, I’m thrilled. This is one of those moments that every parent savours. I am so in awe of my children. And I pray, “Dear god, don’t let me have fucked them up too much. Let them gain in the good things I’ve given them.” And when it comes to pass, I sigh with relief.

So I’m home after a long day and have poured myself a glass of wine and thinking that I should be preparing for tomorrow, for my plum meeting. But, as I said before, I’m tired. Of course, my three fellow writers will forgive me but I want to find at least one writing exercise to bring – something that will provoke something.

I had better close.

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 11, 2003

I should know to write early in the day. I am in a much better mood. Already, I feel anxious about what I want to accomplish and my stomach is doing somersaults.

I awoke early – at 4:40 a.m. and was pleased. I have been in the doldrums too long and have accomplished little. My only excuse is that I’m Irish and Irish folk have a history of melancholia.

Yesterday afternoon at four, I headed downtown as I had a free pass to see “Something’s Gotta Give” and I wanted to avoid rush hour traffic. I parked in Chinatown, went into a few shops, but felt too listless to even look so I found a cafe, sat outside, and watched people pass.

When I feel like this I am poor company and wondered why I had called Shirley in the morning and invited her to watch the show with me. How dare I inflict myself on a friend when I am so pathetic? How dare I be so ungrateful for my rich life? Oh, I was wallowing. I admit it.

Finally I reached into my bag and pulled out a book I’d thrown in at the last moment. And I read and read and then, miracle of miracles, I took out a pen and paper and began to write:

“I will tell a story of myself sitting, as I sit, reading “The Lost Notebook” by John Montague. ‘Who am I?’ Marian Woodman’s big question. And why is the person I think is me, such a fool? Oh, I know that Shakespeare’s fool is wise but not me.

“I have been meaning to read Montague’s book forever or, at least, since 1994 when I went to Dublin for my first writer’s workshop. I was so naive and scared and though my writing attracted attention, even praise (I was shocked), I remained shaky, out of my element (or was I?) Every night, after a day of workshops, the participants would gather at a pub for readings by famous Irish writers.

“One night, one of these writers came and sat at my table. After a glass of wine, my tongue loosened and I was braver in conversation. I actually told him something to the effect that I wanted to write feminist stuff, with an erotic edge, hopelessly true on the lines of Evelyn Conlan. The conversation ignited. I have seldom felt such an attraction for a stranger – but it was innocent. His young girlfriend clung to him. At the end of the evening, he asked ‘Where were you when I needed you?’ And I wondered the same thing.

“Why am I thinking about this now?”

By the time, I met Shirley I was feeling a little more up and we grabbed a quick bite, and joined the lineup at the cinema.

The film starred Jack Nicolson and Diane Keaton. It’s the story of a 63 year old man who is a rich playboy and only dates women under thirty until he meets Keaton who plays a famous playwright and ?, her sister, a professor of women’s studies at Berkeley. The dialogue, for the most part, was good although it did slip into a few Hollywoodisms but I forgive the writer these, because there was much wit that had me laughing out loud. One of the last scenes is in Paris. Again and again, I realize how I love that city and want to live there for a while.

When I returned home, nobody was there but Mike arrived home soon after, and cooked up some spicy Chorizo sausage. He is so happy. He finished his cafe job and is now working at Inform. When the owner of the cafe called one day, she told me that everyone loves Mike. The other day, I had an email from Inform, and the owner/friend told me the same thing. I questioned Mike. “What do you do that makes everyone love you?” And he smiled and said it was a curse.

Today, Gill went to work with Rob. She is ecstatic because she is playing an extra in a nightclub scene with Halle Berry. (I should really tell Marlene that they are shooting at UBC, Chan Centre, so she can go and deliver her message to Berry that Rob is too embarrassed to give.)

I have an appointment at eleven so I must run.

POSTED BY YY AT 6:28 PM


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