Tag Archives: wine

Nanowriwon’t, or how my life conspires to prevent me from writing…


Okay, it’s morning. I’m awake, perky, eager for the writing demons to take over my head and heart and fingertips and maybe even help me type without the need for constant correction. It works best if I don’t look at what I’m typing, so I can’t see the wiggly red lines under everything. Why, oh why, didn’t my mother let me take touch-typing when I was at school??? She said, “No, daughter mine, that WILL NOT DO. You will end up being a secretary and I won’t have it.” So untrue. She should have realized by then that she was the only person I would ever take orders from. Sometimes I even ignored her. Not often, though. She was ferocious.

Still and all, I miss the touch-typing skills. By the time I decided I needed to learn it, I’d already developed my three fingers and thumb method and that, my friends, is impossibly hard to retrain.

So up I spring, joyous, ready. But wait. What sound through yonder door breaks? Tis the dog, and his walk must begin. Well, fair enough. I can’t expect to have him cross his legs until I finish the novel, tentatively titled “Stigmata”.

Of course that’s a working title. Of course I know there have been other books and movies and such already written, viewed and trashed with that title. But it’s a good short form for the story I plan to write. I already have the visual. I need a visual to start a story. It’s my method.

But first, the walk.

We meet everyone today, which means the walk is punctuated with pauses to allow said dog to smell other dogs in areas I avert my glance from, plus the usual inanities of conversation over a pooping dog, which of necessity are distracting and yet not so much so that you lose the location of the poop, which you must them carefully enclose in a bag for disposal. Perish the thought you leave a bit behind. And heaven forbid the dog urinate on the condo’s lawn, as hordes of shrieking aged ladies will drive by in their Lincoln Continentals and throw tissues at you (used) from their sleeves and say such ridiculous things as, “We prefer they don’t,” nose wrinkle, “urinate on the lawns.”

It’s tougher than it looks, this dog walking routine. But finally we are done and I tell myself, well, that was a good thing. The air is fresh, it was good to get out and around as now my brain is freshly aired and ready, yes ripe for the task.

I turn on the computer.

There’s a whine at my feet.

Ah, yes, dog needs feeding. So off I go again, scraping something into the dog’s bowl that looks suspiciously like the stuff I just picked up in my precious bag. He ignores it. He wants the milk from my cereal, which of course requires that I pause to have some cereal. All good, I think. A brain needs carbohydrates to work. I eat, and look wistfully at the coffee pot. Ah, the heck with it, I argue. Caffeine is a writer’s best friend. I make a pot, which requires some hovering because I have foolishly become attached to a Bodum and must wait and stir the coffee grounds with a special spoon until it is perfectly dark and then push down the handle just so before I can drink it. I’ve even knitted a coffee cozy to keep the Bodum warm. That was on another day I was going to write. It’s brown and I haven’t sewn the buttons on it yet, but not today, I tell myself firmly. Today I write.

Back to the desk, and I open my email, just to check for emergency notices which I am sure to get because my life is very very important and if I don’t check and respond to email (well, and Facebook) right now the entire earth will be suspended in space and time.

So now it’s noon.

The dog needs to pee again and is lounging around with a chew toy in his mouth looking at me like I am the most horribly neglectful pet parent the world has ever created. At some point in my wasted morning (though I did have a good conversation with my sister on Google chat and we sorted out some things about siblings and travels and stuff), he’s eaten his food and licked the bowl absolutely clean, and then gone rummaging in my yarn for a treat I unwisely laid under it last night.

I detangle.

We walk.

It’s lunch, so I eat.

It’s two o’clock and I’m feeling a bit sleepy. Perhaps if I take a nap, I’ll be much more able to write later in the day. I’m always best in the evenings, I tell myself. I work quickly then, feeling the panic of an unused day leaning on me.

But I suddenly realize – other than the walk, I haven’t exercised.

We all know how important regular exercise is to the body, and to the mind. I’d better get in a few moments on the bike before I get started. I wipe off the dust and sit in place. Hmm. Need a book to read while I cycle. Go get Kobo, wait for it to wake up, start reading Lawrence Block’s “Spider, Spin me a Web”. It’s almost the same thing as writing, reading about writing, right?

I do my fifteen minutes, arguing that I’ve walked at least fifteen and have met my required “thirty minutes a day or die” requirement.

I smell bad.

I skipped a shower this morning, as I was so keen to get writing this morning. Now I can barely stand myself. My hair itches.

And I know I’ll be more awake if I have a shower. Isn’t everyone?

It’s now six pm.

The dog is looking at me with a lean and hungry look. I go to feed him again. He ignores it. He would prefer my dinner leftovers, but I’ve decided in the interest of actually getting something, anything written, I am going to skip dinner and just drink wine. Antioxidants, right? I might have a carrot or two later. I need to lose weight anyway.

The image of food is dancing through my head. At least I think it is food. The wine has made me a bit muzzy. I watch a few videos on YouTube while I sober up.

I have never been so hungry. I want beef, and lots of it. I happen to have some stew made up in the fridge, but since I abhor microwaves, I have to heat it up on the stove. Which requires some hovering, since it sticks to the pot as I have so frequently burned things in it.

And of course I must have more wine.

I eat. The dog licks the plate. We are both happy.

There was something I was going to do, but I have no idea what it was.

Never mind. Tomorrow I will rise with the sun and leap into writing, fresh and vibrant and alive.

Solitude, flavoured by wine


What is it about solitude that is so enhanced by a glass of red wine, a slice of melted cheese, some really good bread, dipped lightly in olive oil and vinegar? Something about the savouriness of the repast, simple though it is, moves aloneness from loneliness to solitude. The slight shock of the wine on the tongue, the creaminess of the cheese, the slight, undeniable back of your mouth shimmer of fermentation…it all seems appropriate to a late spring afternoon in my eyrie above the busy street.

I am reading a fabulous book while I savour my solitude and my wine. It is “Are you Somebody?” by the brilliant Irish writer, Nuala O’Faolain. It is her autobiography and it rings with truth, poverty, and total lack of self-pity.  How I aspire to her graciousness! I aspire to her grasp of the world and her place within it, I envy her her unencumbered life (though I would never return my children, troublesome as they sometimes are), I long for her casual acquaintance with stellar writers through the 60’s and beyond. I most of all aspire to her acceptance of life as it was, gritty and often sad, lonely and yet fascinating, observed through the minute exacting eye of a true artist.

I’m envious.  As I read, I think about my own memoir, how very different it would be – my tales of being raised Catholic in the US, of going to nursing school and trying against all odds to fit within that caring mold, my dry and destructive life as a military wife in a military that treated women in a 1950’s way in the 1990’s, my years of pretending to be a caregiver when all I truly want to do is flee to somewhere where I could have flowing white curtains on my boudoir windows and a fluffy featherbed on my mattress, fresh bread just down the street, savoury cheeses and wines within a block, men with impossible names and sultry accents and urgent sexual needs and mouths that kiss with flavours of olives and nicotine and champagne and dark chocolate and deep deep coffee.  I long to grow herbs on my wire fire escape and use them to flavour hedonistically wonderful stews made with shabby ingredients that I somehow wrest into deliciousness with the addition of lashings of butter and garlic and wine. I long for red red lipstick and plunging necklines and a body that could bear it instead of my rounded matronly and totally inadequate form. I wish for overhearing the bells and songs of a nearby convent or retreat like the one in Quebec City, where holiness reaches into you through the air without even having to consider the inhalation.

I long to escape the banality of life in Ontario to the special banality of life in Europe, or Halifax, or someplace entirely new. I long for the company of compadres, people who understand without being told. In a writer’s life, I am hopelessly outclassed and hopelessly inexperienced when speaking to real writers – I don’t want to write silly pieces, but rather plumb the depths of human thought and emotion in my writing – yet, I am totally unprepared for such an exploration, having suffered through American High School and then focused on learning nursing, not literature.  I’ve taken writing courses, but the inspiration provided by this one book is more than most have ever given me. I feel ignorant, small among my betters, inadequate to even begin the task I have set for myself. Were it not for one writer who taught me once, years ago, I’d never have dared try again – for that, Ms. Christina Decarie, I am truly grateful.

And yet, I have so much to learn!

I’m off to wallow again in the glorious writing of someone who was a master of the art. Please God, let a wee bit of it rub off on me.

Oh – Nuala O’Faolain died in 2008, of cancer. there is a lovely short article about her here.

I am grateful to the reading group at Collected Works (of which I am not yet a member) for steering me to someone I might otherwise never have found.