Oh, Mr. Neville…

27 07 2017

05103c84733200777408f3c80b5eb4da4e65deOne of the blessings of my enforced by MS flare-up idleness is that I have been able to plunge myself into a myriad of books, to wallow in lives not my own, to lay on my patented “chaise short” (an antique chaise with the merit of being less than 5 feet long and thus fitting both me and my apartment) and read the hours away.

It’s been wonderful, but I see that I have chosen the last three books unwisely. The first mistake was Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. This book tells of a man who loved a woman so much he followed her around, through her marriage and children, at a distance,  until her husband dies. Then he asks for her hand. She accepts, and he tells her he had remained a virgin for her, all those 60 years. She says, simply, “liar!”, and they go to sleep. Meanwhile, he had been keeping track of the conquests he had to relieve his suffering for her love. He had arrived at 650 or more.

I adored this book, both for the love over the years and for the practical approach to it. It’s a grown up book, with grown up affection. And lasting love. And badness, concupiscence, and humour.

The next mistake was another of Marquez’s  – All My Melancholy Whores, an amazing and surprisingly sweet book. A ninety-year-old man desires to bed a virgin to celebrate his birthday – (at first a horrific thought.) He goes to a whorehouse that he used to frequent when younger – of course, it has aged, too. The madam obtains the virgin, but the girl is nervous so she is drugged, asleep when he meets her. The man finds he prefers to simply look at her, and sleep beside her.

Over a number of visits, he falls in love with her, and she with him. The romance is chaste and both sad and joyful in turns. I loved it.  Again, a twist on the usual story, and characters with deep, serious emotions. I suspect Marquez of being one of those men who truly loves women. There aren’t so many of them about…

images-10Third mistake – The charming, witty, and ultimately motivational Hotel Du Lac by Anita Brookner – winner of the Booker Prize, and I can see why she won. It’s brilliant.

Edith, the protagonist, is a writer who has been sent to the Hotel du Lac as punishment for something awful she’s done. She has not been a “good woman”. The hotel is almost closed down for the season – it’s fall, and it is not in a fashionable ski resort. The weather is generally glum and foggy, as is Edith’s poor mind. She’s trying to write another novel, but she is emotionally fraught.

We don’t learn why until halfway through the book. She is in love with a man, David, but scheduled to marry another. David is married to a Very Perfect Wife, and thus available only upon his whim. The man who is to marry her is a bit too commanding for my liking, and also for Edith’s. She stands him up at the altar. The author is wise to put the “reveal” in the middle of the book – by this time we’ve grown to quite love Edith and her quick wit and desperate kindness, her loneliness and her resilience. So, of course, we cheer when she tosses the bossy man into the drink.

The other characters at the hotel and the employees are all charmant, all interesting in different ways, all dealing with their own issues. The rampant consumerism of some females is hauled out and mocked; Edith is made to feel inadequate in dress. (It’s a common enough thread amongst women – I’ve felt it myself. Edith and I favour comfort and giant sweaters. We may, at times, look sloppy. Just saying. ) There is a very thin woman with a tiny dog, a fat older woman and her clingy but oddly sensuous daughter, a deaf woman who smiles or grimaces on occasion, and a mysterious man, Mr. Neville, who seems to like Edith.

He proposes to her and offers her his companionship because he wants someone “steady” to help him rebuild his status after having his wife leave him. He says cheerily that he doesn’t love her, that he will have affairs and she can, too. I identified so much with Edith, I found myself saying ‘NO!” out loud when she decides to accept him.

But she rallies. And I am left cheering, and, oddly, with the desire to write.*

So what is the problem with reading these three all together? They all three deal with solitude and loneliness, with the interweaving between the desire for contact and the desire for silence, with connections made and severed.

It’s too close to my reality to be completely comfortable.

And, they are all filled with discussions of passionate love – not the “grab and smooch” kind my cousin and I used to giggle over in “the soaps”.

bb0daba08d0cc572acfe66e4a94d018c--forever-alone-quotes-being-alone-quotesThe sort of love that lasts through hardship and challenge, the kind that comes unexpectedly, but is fulfilling even if incomplete.

The kind of love that fills in the spaces around one’s life, enriching it.

The kind I would still like to find.

So the three in sequence makes me feel a bit sad, a bit lonely. I feel an ache. It’s not painful, just a bit of a gap.

Which is what makes me want to write.

 

*Of Anita Brookner, Wikipedia has this to say: “Her novels explore themes of emotional loss and difficulties associated with fitting into society, and typically depict intellectual, middle-class women, who suffer isolation and disappointments in love.” Hmmmmm. I think I may have found a kindred spirit.

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Nanowrimo, or why it’s a darn good thing I’m an introvert

1 11 2016

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Ah, blissful solitude.

Solitude with the sounds of silence or rock and roll or even really old-time gospel music, while my fingers make strange movements and my brain creates a world in my head.
It’s a strange thing I spend most of my time doing – creating. Either I am wrestling with tiny bits of fluff and very very very sharp needles (with barbs), or I’m trying to get my  stabbed fingers to type coherent sentences, to create emotions with words.
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It can’t be done in polite company.

I’ve just spent the last two weekends at craft sales, filled with delightful people who create worlds, too, who toil in obscurity for the love of what they do. Filled, too, with the people who like created objects, the ones who may shop at Walmart for this and that, but who appreciate the time that crating from nothingness takes.

And of course the others, the scoffers, the bargainers. “Is that your final price,”
one woman asked me, for a handstabbed sculpture that I worked on for hours. I wonder if she’d accept the same treatment from her boss. “So, I didn’t really appreciate that hour you put in the other day – how about we just split the difference in your hourly wage and what I think you’re worth and let it go for that?” Or the ones who asked, “Are those made out of dryer lint?” Sigh.

I find it amazing that it is only women who ask to bargain, even professional, well-paid women, like C D on CTV, who tried to get a sale price on one of my critters. It’s like they feel fellow women don’t deserve a just wage.

But I digress. Most of the passers by were lovely and I particularly enjoyed when they’d smile at the things on my table, their eyes lighting up, even if they didn’t stop.

But I’m full up with people now. I need to extrude them onto paper, take the characters and the facial expressions, the sayings and the smiles and extract the good stuff and make them into new real people on paper. Maybe.

I signed up for the Iceland Writers Retreat next April. Why? It’s a silly thing, really – I haven’t been published in years, I write here rarely, I’ve taken enough writing seminars by now that I can never make back the money in writing.

BUT! Iceland!!! Northern Lights!!! Writers!!! ICELAND!!!

(many many handsome northern men)f3b4ba47b9e999a871f1a618a12cdc9e

So I tell myself that the only way I can rationalize such unreasonable expense is if I get published before I go and by ye gods I shall do it if I perish in the attempt. I’m using Nanowrimo this year to jump start my writing, to force my unwilling hands and brain to the keyboard. Tomorrow, around working on some commissions from my sales: two chihuahuas, a gecko, a moose, etc., I’ll be looking for places to publish my past work and writing more to spec. I have a hot date with the Writer’s Market and Duotrope and Places for Writers and more to find people looking for what I can write. Nanowrimo is for the first drafts of these projects. I know it’s supposed to be so you can write your novel, etc etc etc, but I prefer to write short. 50,000 words is a lot of articles written, a short story or two, a novella and change. It can be done.

And bliss, I can do it in my solitude, with dear cat Bendicks and Betta fish Bob for company and the sounds of life outside my windows. And of course, the occasional refreshing foray into the world for refills of inspiration and madness. And characters. I’ll be looking at you….

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I hope….





Going to ground

23 04 2014

Time is creeping on….

I’ve made a vow to myself to tie myself into writing for the next several months, stay focused, try to avoid distractions. I’ve signed up for a high intensity writing course and I want to devote the amount of effort needed to get good results and not waste my or my mentor’s time. Which means cutting some ties, removing myself from some activities, stopping myself from my involuntary volunteering.

Ah, the volunteering. You see, it’s a problem I have. I’m not sure if it’s because of my Roman Catholic inoculation of guilt, or the inner knowledge that I am not the person I want to be, but I find myself endlessly wanting to throw myself into things to help out, to atone, to serve. Maybe I just need to go to Confession.

I’m not sure wanting to help is necessarily a BAD thing, but it means I tend to overcommit and get confused. And waste time, and exhaust myself. All foolishness I should have learned to give up when I developed MS. But I struggle on, silly me.

Detaching from people is difficult, too. It is hard not to give offence when you are really setting boundaries, especially when your boundaries have been too flexible in the past. Poor judgement, the need to be liked, the desire to be loved and wanted – well, they all play in to wavery boundaries and the loss of goals and focus. I’ve always been slightly scornful of those who are able to set firm boundaries with their time – how uncaring! How selfish! How cold!

How accomplished they are now.

And there is a part of me that says I have a gift, sometimes, with my words. I can touch people, I can tell a good story, I have something I want to do with my writing. When I allow myself to immerse myself in it, I can make some headway. But I consistently shortchange myself.

So I’m going to go to ground this time. I’ve allotted myself time for ukulele, as it gives my soul wings. I will continue with my rug hooking, as the fibres and colours speak to my heart. I’ve booked in time for exercise as my MS won’t stop moving unless I fight against it every day. My family always has first dibs on my time – as the woman said in the coffee shop, “Ah birthed ’em”, so I’m always going to be there for them.

There are my dear friends, MB, H, B, P, L, T and W. Always a space in my life for them, though the times may be shorter than in the past. I hope they’ll understand. 

And then there’s Mr. PH. He I can’t put off, ever. For one thing, he’s my conscience, quite able to nag as needed. For another, I’m too fond of his dear phlegmatic British self.

Finally, Mr. Bendicks, my furry friend. I can’t put him off, either, but that’s primarily because if I do he stands all over my dasjbbdfgl;hf.

The course runs until late fall this year. Wish me luck with focusing. It’s with Humber College, and I encourage writers to explore it. Task for today, continue reading the recommended text, Janet Burroway’s Writing Fiction: A guide to Narrative Craft.





Fresh sheets….

22 03 2013

I spoil myself, I truly do. Within reason, of course….
Sleep is so so very important to me. Maybe it was the years of shift work as a nurse? Maybe the years of child rearing? Maybe the twitches of MS and all that jazz…
But sleep, ooooooh. It’s nice. A comfy bed is my happy place. Always when I am asked to imagine such a place, I think back to a room in a hotel in Interlaken, Switzerland, with tall windows opening out over the lake, a cool breeze playing with white muslin curtains, and the BED!
It was all in white. Tall, high off the ground, with box spring, mattress, feather bed (!), bleached white sheets, pouffy comforter and those wonderful square German pillows…
I have only to think of that room, that bed, and my blood pressure drops, my pulse slows, relaxation soaks up my feet like warm caramel.
So I try to recreate that feeling here, in my home bed. I buy myself high thread count sheets and even sometimes iron them with lavender water, so that clouds of fragrant dreams bop around on the ceiling.
The very best time is when the sheets and I are freshly bathed before I slide between them. The window, open, lets a slight chill fill the room. This requires nestling into the comforter, pulling it up over my shoulders.
One foot out, always, for temperature regulation.
Bliss.
Sleep well…





Non-negotiables in relationships…

27 02 2013

images-2It’s almost the end of February, and I have to say I’m glad – I’ve been participating in NaBloPoMo on the theme of love and relationships and my friends, reading the posts, call me to ask if I’m okay, check in about my mood, etc. I think they think I am heartbroken – but I’m not. In fact I am happy with things the way they are now – I’m free as a bird, able to meet new folks and get to know them, eager to learn new things and new people. Yep, still doing the dating thing and the associated hair tweezing and nostril hair trimming (honestly!) and searching for the perfect undergarment to make me look lithe and tall…(instead of the spherical current appearance), but overall, content.

I’ve enjoyed looking at the concepts of love and relationships, but, frankly, I’m more interested in other things. Friendship, purpose, life, music… Love is murky enough without having to come up with things for a blog post about it.

Next month’s theme is Risk. MUCH more exciting, and yet it also involves a bit about love and relationships, too. Because, really, entering a relationship involves taking a risk. Will you be able to stand each other long-term? Will they be able to stand you? How much time should you invest in figuring this out? As a friend said to me, there aren’t that many more moments left…how many should be spent with this person?

I don’t know that answer. I remember talking to another friend who discussed the concept of non-negotiables in a relationship – not a shopping list of what you want, cos that’s not realistic. Everyone at our age comes with lumps and bumps and oddities that you balance out in looking at the whole picture.

But it IS worth figuring out your non-negotiables, cos otherwise you can waste a lot of time rationalizing your choice and still come up uncomfortable.

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Here’s my list, for your amusement, and in no particular order. Maybe it will help with your adventures:

1. No addictions – no alcoholism, drug abuse, exercise addictions, over-reliance on motorcycles for manhood, no workaholism or addiction to porn.

2. No history of violence. No incarcerated time. No lawsuits pending.

3. If he has kids, he’s gotta love them, even if they don’t love him back.

4. No married folks. Preferably has respect for his ex. Understands his contribution to any failed relationships. Tidies up his own life before he tries to enter mine.

5. Capable of self-entertainment, has friends other than me, understands the concept of personal space, doesn’t need to be plastered all over me all the time.

6. Capable of plastering himself all over me sometimes.

7. Good kisser. Some say it can be taught, but if you haven’t learned by age 50, it ain’t happening, man. Sorry.

8. Financially responsible.

9. Intelligent, well-read, motivated. Curious about life.

10. Able to see the foolishness in life and laugh about it, and cherish the glory in life and laugh about it, as well.

Hmm. Seems like a long list, doesn’t it? But over the past few years, I’ve met many a person who ALMOST passes muster and I spend time with them, only to realize that if even one chunk is missing, I can feel it, like a hole in my tooth. I’ll worry at it and worry at it and never feel right.

So, fussy I shall stay, I guess. In the meantime, I’m meeting a bundle of interesting people, and that is enough.

NaBloPoMo_032013_465x287_RISK

Why not take a risk and join in?





Midnight on a snowy evening…

10 02 2013

There’s something about midnight on a snowy night. Sounds are muffled, few cars are on the road, the plows have already been by and their flashing lights have spun out across the snow.
It’s quiet in my suburban apartment. Too quiet. I can hear the ticking of all the clocks in the apartment, the slight twanging of the heaters.
At times like this, the idea of having another breathing body in this space is enchanting. I miss hearing someone else inhaling and exhaling. I miss curling up in bed with someone, breathing the same air, touching them on the hand or overlapping legs or curling around them. I miss going to bed with someone, having the last laugh of the day together, getting and giving a goodnight kiss.
Of course, that’s the good stuff. After all that, there’s often the snoring (his and mine), the too hot body next to mine, the lack of sprawling space.
I’ve chosen this life, for a bunch of reasons. I’m used to it; I cherish my solitude. Not that I’d never give it up, for the right person…maybe…
There’s this wonderful song that has a line in it : “if she knew what she wants, he’d be giving it to her”. I’ve probably never known what I wanted. I think I want it all – a loving relationship, my own space, enjoyable sex, a bed to myself, someone to laugh with, someone to be quiet with.
It should be possible, right?
Meanwhile I sit here, alone, listening to the ticking, not lonely, not sad, but a wee bit wistful.





Settling, or, is it ever worth it?

9 02 2013
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from the awesome Last Kiss archive…

An old and dear friend of mine just posted on Facebook an analysis of Pride and Prejudice by Joshua Rothman from the New Yorker. It discusses the choice by the plain and undesirable Charlotte to marry the offensive Mr. Collins. The author’s perspective is that Charlotte was being extremely sensible, given the time in which she lived. Charlotte also acted as a soothing balm to Lizzy’s romantic thrashing and leads her to understand that perhaps accepting Mr. Darcy wasn’t such a bad thing after all.

Lizzy learned that despite marriage, women remained who they were, and could still be friends and confidants despite the presence of men and housewifely duties.

The core of a person isn’t so easily changed; and, conversely, a person can change a great deal, can navigate her way through extreme circumstances, and still remain herself.

Read more: http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/books/2013/02/on-charlotte-lucass-choice.html#ixzz2KQ2tXBxJ

I’m not sure about this. I’ve never met a woman yet who remains unchanged by the Imagepresence of a man in her life. We’re still too bred to please others, to adjust ourselves to the irrational amongst us, often the men in our world. We still have some inner drive that tells us we aren’t complete without a man, so we drop everything to try and hold onto them. At first.

The problem these days is that we don’t put up with it for as long. We have options now – we are financially independent for the most part or have some escape routes available to us that aren’t as damning as they used to be. So while we may try and please our men for awhile, we get tired quicker and leave. Which I suppose is a good thing…

Until we come to the conclusion that we truly are unloveable and stay with the latest fellah, no matter how unsuitable.

I like men. I enjoy their company. Sometimes, when I am feeling tired or blue or unsuccessful or fat, I think to myself, well, I should just settle, and keep this one or that one.

But it isn’t the right thing, really. I know it isn’t, and that I’ll be restless sooner or later and escape. Or become disengaged, step back, not participate in the relationship anymore.

I’m not Charlotte, nor am I Elizabeth. I fortunately don’t live in the times they did. I, unfortunately, am less willing to believe that living with the wrong man isn’t damaging.

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