November 25th to November 20th

Posted on 25 November 2003


It’s the end of the day. I am nearly absolved of my sins. I have been cleaning all day and there is something quite lovely? peaceful? about having the house clean.

I’m down in my little house reading poetry. I can’t help being a crazy woman.

This is a poem for Rob, for me.

Rainer Maria Rilke

You see I want a lot.
Perhaps I want everything:
the darkness that comes with every infinite fall
and the shivering blaze of every step up.

So many live on and want nothing,
and are raised to the rank of prince
by the slippery ease of their light judgments.

But what you love to see are faces
that do work and feel thirst.

You love most of all those who need you
as they need a crowbar or a hoe.

You have not grown old, and it is not too late
to dive into your increasing depths
where life calmly gives out its own secret.

I can’t write today. Too much turmoil. But, if nothing else, I don’t want to spoil my perfect attendance record. So here I am.

The only news is that I received another rejection notice for “Dangerous Liaisons.” Sometimes I feel one could write and write and never get published even though the writing is worthy.

I’ll keep going – for a while anyway. I am not Van Gogh.

I’ve decided to clean the house in way of penance.

Sunday and I’ve playing with a story since six this morning. I intend to publish. No more dancing around the issue. This year and next, I intend only to dance on tables – as many as possible.

Yesterday was a delight. Gill and I met Marlene and her niece, Chelsea for lunch on Granville Island. Although Chelsea is a year younger than Gill, these two blondes appeared to have more in common than hair colour. (And this biological factor does not denote intelligence.) Amongst other topics, the “girls” spoke of high school and the younger students who dress beyond their years and don’t show the proper respect to their seniors (meaning Chelsea and Gill.) They also discussed Raves that neither have attended – perhaps because of lack of opportunity – but also because they would have to do chemicals to stay awake all night. (Even though I was on the cusp of the acid era and many of my friends indulged, I didn’t. I was too afraid of losing myself. I never feared that it may damage my brain cells.) Gill and Chelsea thought they might attend one together and drink themselves silly as both love to dance. (And as Marlene and I do too, we suggested we may tag along. They weren’t impressed. I don’t often feel old but with these two, I suddenly felt as if I were carrying a cane and hobbling.)

We said good-bye and Gill and I headed to Fourth Avenue to do some shopping. We ran into Chelsea and Marlene again in a little shop where the two “babes” had their eye on the same skirt. Afterwards, Gill and I shopped the secondhand stores where I found a Parisian jacket to keep me warm, for a song. It’s not really a beauty but it looks new and will keep the cold out. It is unbelievably cold this year in Vancouver. In the thirty years that I have lived here, I have never felt such a need for protective layers.

After Fourth, Gill and I headed to Robson Street where she found a pair of fancy embroidered sneakers. We didn’t arrive home until six. I was exhausted. Unlike my daughter, I am not a shopper but I did enjoy the time together.

At the moment, I’m trying to think of some dessert that I can make for a group of fourteen at Helen’s this evening. She leaves for Australia in early December and this is her farewell bash. I’m going to miss this friend of mine. When I moaned, how dare she leave me, she laughed. “Look who’s talking.”


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Damn, it’s cold out. I just went down to the water and stared at it, looking for inspiration. Crows screeched at me, wanting some of my blueberry scone but I ate it all myself. It’s hard eating carbs in my house. I went to write but my fingers were too numb.

I’m feeling good. Rob and I went out for dinner last night and talked about not talking. We resolved to try to approach the other when rendered speechless. I know this won’t be easy but there are so many things I love about this man. (I went around yesterday singing Mary Magdalene’s song from Jesus Christ Superstar – “He’s a man, just a man, and I’ve had so many men before in oh so many ways… he’s just one more.” I am feeling a little devilish.)

We went out to a comedy club after dinner where most of the comedians – all men, unfortunately – were around the same age as my sons. There were some good jokes but most I feel were aimed at a younger audience – humour about “wet spots” and dope – but as I type this I remember Rob and I walked along a dark alley before the performance and Rob lit up so he’d be more receptive. Okay, so I had a puff or two too and we both entered the club with “illegal smiles”.

By the time the last comedian came on stage, I was yawning but still it was good to get out with Rob.

Another day. Woke up remembering part of a dream but then lost it. I hate this.

Last night I was miserable and tried to do some sewing but couldn’t find the machine
booklet so I could adjust tension, etc. I sewed anyway but with much displeasure. The
thread kept breaking. I hated the machine. I was stupidly angry at it for not allowing me
to do well the small job I had promised to do.

When the phone rang, I answered it but my voice was brittle. The young woman, who was calling for Mike, asked if she had called too late. I said no. She was just hearing my bad mood.

Trudging up the stairs to bed, I found an envelope from Gill on one step with two poems she had just written. Her mood is as bleak as mine. I worried that I had infected her. I stood at the bathroom counter and scribbled her a long note. We haven’t had time to talk yet. She is so precious this girl of mine. I worry that she thinks she has to be perfect, as I did, to be loved. And even though, what my mother would define as “perfect,” is different from my definition, I still worry. How can one get through to one’s children and make them realize that “mother” is just a person. She is not infallible.

I slipped away to the store early this morning so I wouldn’t have to be around people and changed the window display and a few mannequin’s outfits – the trick is to team an ugly or boring piece of clothing with something beautiful and entice people into buying. Sometimes it works.

I also talked to Kate today via email. We’re going to try three magazines for my “Dangerous Liaisons.” As long as I’m doing something re my writing, I feel as if there is hope.
I’m feeling drained. The Jungian meetings always do this to me. And I’m not alone.
Another woman said that she can’t sleep after the weekly get-together.

I had dinner with my eldest son before the meeting. I very much like our one-on-one dates. There is never small talk. His curiosity about how the mind works surprises me. He does considerable research. He is coming into his own, on his own.

It wasn’t that long ago that I used to beg him to do homework. One teacher said that she thought it a honour that he consistently attended her class. Others were not so lucky. (The public school system did not stimulate either of my sons.)

The sixth chapter in Marion Woodman’s “The Pregnant Virgin” is about Relationship – mostly male and female although she does use the word “partner” at times. At one point she speaks about the feeling function in women.

“She is constantly waging inner warfare, fearful of acting on her own ‘foolish’ needs, fearful of the scorn of her partner’s logic if she discloses what is crucial to her heart. Denying the truth of her feeling, she goes along with what is eminently logical. The real issue is not brought to consciousness: in accepting the masculine standpoint, she is betraying her own soul.”

I thought that I had reached a time in my relationship that I was no longer afraid, that I no longer betrayed myself. I was wrong. This afternoon I mentioned something to Rob, a situation that I felt was unfair. He said, “I’ll take care of that.” End of discussion. I couldn’t open my mouth to say a word for a good five minutes. I felt as if I had been slapped in the face. And then I felt shame. I didn’t have the guts to start the conversation again.

So what am I to do with myself? Last night I wrote on “Where is the fear? What is the task?” (And I read. I don’t know why it is so difficult for me to read. I only know I feel fear that others will know me. I mean really know me. And smart ass that I am, I have been telling myself all week to drop the facade, say what I think – “so what if others see your vulnerabilities, see you for what you are because that is who you are.”)

“Where is the fear? In my body. I feel the flesh moving away from the bone. I once set a mirror on the floor and looked down at my face. All the flesh hung loose. My features were unrecognizable. Is this where the fear is? In aging? Maybe but I don’t think so.”

And I go on, god help me.

And then I finally reach the point where I write:

“Where is the fear? In my voice, in my pen, fear of losing everything, fear of not measuring up, fear of being myself, of self exposure, of loss of love, of breaking down, of being thought weak, tough, mean, crude, irreverent, cold, cold as ice…”

And I go on again.

And then I ask, “What is the task? The task is consciousness – only that.”

When it comes right down to it, I’m sick of fear. Then why the hell am I still afraid?

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