from the process journal
Lists, lists, lists, write them all down.
Lists, lists, lists. But first, more coffee.
what happened this week?
Monday, I mixed up days and times, showed up for an interview 24 hours early, oops, better early than late. But then, a surprise Moscow Mule in the middle of the day—that was lovely. Drove gaggle of teenagers to the Secret Spot. Thunder. Hail. Tarp. Goofs. So happy.
Sean: I can’t believe you left them by the river in the middle of a hailstorm.
Jane: I only pick fights I have a chance of winning.
Tuesday, I did ok. Sheesha date with Sean in the evening, Tarot cards. Kids just chilling, calm. I taste happy.
Wednesday, I should have worked but I didn’t. Instead, moody, angry, clouds gathering. In the evening, a trip to the 1920s with someone new—an awkward encounter en route with someone old. Thoughts in duty, responsibility, red flags—burlesque dancer bodies.
The less said about Thursday, the better. To be fair, it came with a trigger, but the trigger came very late in the day and just accelerate the spiral, did not cause it.
I made three suppers worth of meat though—lamb meat balls with cumin, mint, and lemon, also fresh garlic, so good, crispy fried chicken from deboned halal drumsticks, and prepped cornish hens and veg for roasting on the cooler morrow.
Take that, bad, no good day. Still functional.
Friday, a little better, not much. No work.
Today is Saturday. And I’m writing if not quite working, so that’s something.
Flora: Do we get the judgemental genes from Mom?
Sean: But you should have seen Mom’s friends in university. Compared to them, she’s an angel of tolerance.
I think, honestly, we’re all judgemental. We have brains, judgement, discernment. We are supposed to use them. There’s a difference between judgement and intolerance. I look at you. I listen to your story—of course I form a judgement of some sort, good, bad. Even indifference is a judgement.
Flora doesn’t care about the nuances of judgement. She’s flipping through photo albums. The year is 2009. My brother’s wedding in Poland.
Flora: OMG, this entire family is white. That is so weird.
Jane: They’re all Polish.
Flora: But look at them. They’re all so pasty white. Look, I totally don’t look like a vampire by comparison.
Jane: They have cloudy winters in Poland. And, it was a very rainy May and June that year.
Flora: And nobody has any eyebrows.
Well. That I can refute. I present the bushy eyebrows of her maternal grandmother’s family-which I’ve inherited, as has Cinder.
Flora: And your boobs are gigantic!
Jane: I’m six months pregnant!
Well. Five. But with baby number four, so I look… well. VERY pregnant. And the boobs are gigantic. Bigger than my head—which is also rounder than the face I’m used to seeing right now—in every picture.
I tell Flora how, when you’re pregnant, one day, you wake up, and your breasts defy gravity and pop out of your bra, and hurt so much, don’t really enjoy the aesthetic effect. And you don’t let your lovers touch them.
Flora: Remind me why people have children again?
Immortality, baby. Immortality.
radical honesty and radical compassion, draft 1
I have a friend who practices radical honesty. She’s utterly committed to living in and expressing her truth.
She hurts people a lot.
What I admire the most about Cheryl Strayed is that she practices radical compassion. Read Tiny Beautiful Things or listen to the Dear Sugars podcast for edification.
I practice neither radical compassion nor radical honesty, but of the two I would choose compassion. Because little lies are what makes the world go round, don’t you think?
You: Do you lie to me than?
Jane: All the time.
Me, myself and I are hanging out in my head practicing radical honesty with each other—except, really, it’s just wanton cruelty. I demand one of us lets me have some delusions and dreams. The other two laugh.
I am meditating again, and it’s not going well. I mean—I mean, I am fighting myself to sit to breathe, to stay. I don’t want to be there with myself (never mind me and I).
But. I must. Fighting myself is part of the process (don’t ask what process, I really can’t elaborate). Sit. Close them eyes. Breathe. You only have to do this for three minutes.
After the timer dings, I stay still for a few seconds more. See? That wasn’t so bad. What are you afraid of?
When untempered with radical compassion, it is a destroyer.
Sean: I know I’m not supposed to tell you you’re doing meditation wrong…
Jane: Hush. I’m breathing.
(July 24, 2018)
radical honesty and radical compassion, draft 2
Mmmm. Wow. A little too honest. Let’s let that one sit for a while in the darkness of the computer filing system.
(August 3, 2018)
professionals suck it up
Her: How was the rest of your wee? Are you feeling better?
Jane: All right. I think I will work today.
Her: That means you are finally feeling rested? 🙂
Jane: It means I have four days to write five articles and I’d better get off my whiny ass and get them done.
I work with gritted teeth on Saturday until I hit a bit of flow—ride it for a while—try to prolong it. Fail. Pull out my laptop at a Sunday wedding between the ceremony and reception. Sneak off to the car during cocktail hour and pound the keys for a bit; arrive late for dinner.
Deadlines. I fucking love deadlines.
(Like, seriously. Not ironically.)
I’m at a wedding in the mountains, a setting so majestic and beautiful even I believe in gods as I breathe the mountain air—mere laws of sicnece could not creative this—a divine breath was necessary, if only in the human imagination.
Weddings are strange things—collections of strangers and best friends, family reunions, chosen family reunions, and “yes, we have to invite Aunt Augusta, honey, I know it’s your day and you hate her, but ‘she’s family.’”
… a radically honest and untempered with compassion essay on love and marriage follows—I write it, decide not to share it, and that’s my act of compassion.
Also, I lose my phone. Which is my camera, daytimer, watch, newspaper, library, connection to the world.
Whatever will I do?
PS I found my phone. Dare I confess to you how very much I wanted it to stay lost?
The year started with a Monday; so does every week (Week 1: Transitions and Intentions)
Easier than you think, harder than I expected: a week in eleven stanzas (Week 2: Goodness and Selfishness)
A moody story (Week 3: Ebb and Flow)
Do it full out (Week 4: Passions and Outcomes)
The Buddha was a psychopath and other heresies (Week 5: No Cohesion)
A good week (Week 6: Execute, Regroup)
Killing it (Week 7: Exhaustion and Adrenaline)
Tired, petty, tired, unimportant (Week 8: Disappointment and Perseverance)
Professionals do it like this: [insert key scene here] (Week 9: Battle, Fatigue, Reward)
Reading Nabokov, crying, whining, regrouping (Week 10: Tears and Dreams)
Shake the Disease (Week 11: Sickness and Health… well, mostly sickness)
Cremation, not embalming, but I think I might live after all (Week 12: Angst and Gratitude)
Let’s pretend it all does have meaning (Week 13: Convalescence and Rebirth)
The cage is will, the lock is discipline (Week 14: Up and Down)
My negotiated self thinks you don’t exist–wanna make something of it? (Week 15: Priorities and Opportunity)
An introvert’s submission + radical prioritization in action, also pouting (Week 16: Ruthless and Weepy)
It’s about a radical, sustainable rhythm (Week 17: Sprinting and Napping)
It was a pickle juice waterfall but no bread was really harmed in the process (Week 18: Happy and Sad)
You probably shouldn’t call your teacher bad names, but sometimes, your mother must (Week 19: Excitement and Exhaustion)
Tell me I’m beautiful and feed me cherries (Week 20: Excitement and Exhaustion II)
A very short post about miracles, censorship, change: Week 21 (Transitions and Celebrations)
Time flies, and so does butter (Week 22: Remembering and forgetting)
I love you, I want you, I need you, I can’t find you (Week 23: Work and Rest)
You don’t understand—you can’t treat my father’s daughter this way (Week 24: Fathers and Daughters)
The summer was… SULTRY (Week 25: Gratitude and Collapse)
It’s like rest but not really (Week 26: Meandering and Reflection)
It’s the wrong question (Week 27: Success and Failure)
On not meditating but meditating anyway, and a cameo from John Keats (Week 28: Busy and Resting)
Hot, cold, self-indulgent as fuck (Week 29: Fire and Ice)
In which our heroine hides under a table (Week 30: Tears and Chocolate)
Deadlines and little lies make the world go round (Week 31: Honesty and Compassion)
—->>>POSTCARDS FROM CUBA
The best things in life and on the Internet are free, but content creators need to pay for groceries with money. If you enjoy Nothing By The Book content, please express your delight and support by making a donation via PayPal:
You: “But how much should I give?”
Jane: “I get $1 each time a sell a traditionally published book, so my bar’s set really low, love. Want to buy me a cup of coffee? That’s $4.75 if you’ll spring for a mocha or latte. Bottle of wine? My palate’s unsophisticated: $19.95 will more than cover it.”
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