Atheism, Spirituality, Boundaries, Slytherins (Week 50: This and That)

i

No preamble at all:

I feel very conflicted about my current spiritual practice, because, you see, I’ve spent three decades of my life as a proud atheist (the first fourteen years as a born Catholic). My atheism has never been a central part of my identity, as it is for, for example, the rather terrifying (and unhappy) Richard Dawkins. But it’s definitely been part of the mix in the Sorting Hat.

(I’ve never taken the Harry Potter sorting hat quizzes, by the way, but my family assures me, with no hesitation, that I’m a Slytherin. That makes all four houses represented in our nuclear family of five: Ender and Sean are Hufflepuffs, Flora says she’s a Hufflepuff but she’s really a Ravenclaw, and Cinder is definitely a Gryffindor.)

I’ve never been a cynical atheist either, usually thinking the world beautiful and fascinating even when it is nasty and cruel. The caterpillar becoming a butterfly: how fucking awesome is that? The theory of evolution to explain it—thank you, Darwin! My atheism has never been devoid of wonder and gratitude. (Only briefly, perhaps in late adolescence, when, in love with a cynical atheist, I tried to be cynical too—but, fortunately, it did not stick. Cynicism, you see, is neither attractive nor creative. You can’t make amazing shit, discover new things when you’re busy scoffing at the world.)

Anyway. So now I sit and breathe—me, the woman who always hated yoga and scoffed at meditation (almost cynically, tis true) and who will still tell you that if yoga really was the path to enlightenment, then India would be the most enlightened, peaceful, perfect society in the world and, well, caste system, sorry, you lose, you don’t get to claim enlightenment, wisdom and compassion if you have the caste system and I’m not even going to touch on the sexism. And I still think the Buddha was a psychopath and a really shitty father, and no, I can’t forgive him for leaving his little boy—what do you think your abandonment did to him, you asshole, and how much meditating did he have to do to let go of the suffering caused by his father just fucking off?

But still. I now sit and breathe. Once, twice a day. Still, alone—and suddenly part of everything that ever was and will be, holy fuck, what a feeling, and then, again, alone.

I don’t find myself in the stillness. Me, I’m always here. What I find is the rest of the world and  my very insignificant, ordinary, yet critical and magical place in it.

So.

I sit.

And breathe.

And once or twice a week, I go and I sit and breathe and chant and wave my arms around and otherwise do ridiculous things with a group of other people who are sitting and breathing and chanting and breaking down their ego. There is nothing sexy or athletic about the yoga I do—and not a single leotard or crop top in sight, by the way, although palazzo and harem pants seem to be all the rage at the moment. And I have to admit that on some level, this is my church. That being amidst other people who experience that same moment of something or other, stillness or belonging or unity or dissolution—their presence amplifies the experience. Alone-not-alone. I like it. I want it. Maybe, I even need it, although that’s still hard to admit.

I sit and breathe. Sometimes, I lie down and breathe. Walk and breathe. Yesterday, I sat on a damp, sunny hill, my back against the trunk of a tree, cold winter sunshine on my face and in my eyes, and I breathed. Then I smoked a cigar. Breathed some more.

You: Jesus, if you try to argue that cigar smoking is part of your spiritual practice.

Jane: No. It’s an indulgence, a vice. And a short-cut.

But it achieves the same thing. Time slows down, I slow down, everything else recedes, there is only the breath and the smoke.

My  morning pages are still part of my spiritual practice (year five now). And I don’t flinch every time I say “spiritual” (although, fuck, isn’t it a pain when the way other people use a word spoils it for you?). So be it. I’m a spiritual ape. I think the natural laws and yet unknown mysteries of the universe are amazing. I don’t mind, some of the time, giving them the word “divine.” After all—cosmic dust, promiscuous electrons—and that liquid caterpillar in its chrysalis—how are they less divine than the flour-free chocolate cake you made me just because you love me?

You: Chocolate cake?

Jane: Chocolate cake is divine. And so is Hafez’s poetry and the seashell ear of a child.

You: I think you’d better wrap up this essay while you still have a point and before it degenerates into utter self-indulgence.

Possibly already too late. But, time is pacing, relentlessly, and I still want to sit and breathe a while before I start doing all the things.

ii

The doorbell rings at 9 am.

Ender: Yes, you can come in. But only stay three or four hours, ok? When you’re here the whole day…

Friend: It gets boring?

Ender: It’s just too much. I need a break and some me time.

Sean overhears them. Is amazed—“Isn’t that amazing that at  nine, he can articulate that?” But then, this is my son. Earlier this week, I am seated in a loveseat at Lounge XVIII with her. The loveseat opposite us, separated from ours by a low table, is empty. The lounge is very crowded; two young men ask, politely, if we mind if they sit there. She agrees. I nod. Why not, the table separates us—and the lounge is very crowded. It is a kind, NICE thing to do.

The two young men are very young. Very drunk. Very friendly.

Too friendly.

Jane: So, you are very welcome to sit there, but we’re on a date here, and I actually don’t want to interact with you, so if you could just talk to each other and not to us?

They are… muzzled, muted. And actually, after a period of awkward prolonged silence, get up and join someone else’s table.

Her: I can’t believe you said that.

Jane: Did you want to spend the whole evening making conversation with two drunks?

Her: No, but…

No buts.

Boundaries.

I spent years teaching Flora about boundaries, how to recognize them, respect them, communicate them—how not to feel bad about having them. It was an upstream battle (forgive the mixed metaphor), because our culture works very hard at breaking down girls’ and women’s boundaries.

Nice girls smile and say yes.

Bitches have boundaries.

Well. So be it.

I am not a nice girl, and I’d rather raise a bitch than a victim.

iii

Mornings. Mornings. Mornings.

My routine in 2019 is about to get two mornings on which I have to be somewhere, perky and ON, by 8 am, which means I’ll have to get up at 6 am, which means…

Ugh.

I’m not sure I can do it. Ok, let me rephrase that. Of course I know I can do it. I will do it. I must do it. Can I do it unfrazzled, unhurried, unresentful? Taking my time for my morning pages and scalding hot coffee, my shower and my meditation, a proper breakfast?

You: Probably not.

See, this is what I’m afraid of. My story for the past 20, 30 years has been that I don’t do mornings. The last time I tried to change this and create an intense early morning work routine, I almost went crazy. (Fall 2017… to be fair, there were other reasons compounding the crazy. But getting up before 6 am did not help.)

It’s not even, I think, that I mind getting up early. Today, I was up at 7 am, and no one made me, there is no place I need to be by 8 or 9 or even 10. But… I’m just not… I’m not fast or focused early in the morning. I move like molasses or a sloth that needs to empty its bladder but, ugh, the bottom of the tree is such a long way away, is there no other way to pee? In the mornings, I move slow and I don’t like to be hurried. Hence, I’m thinking 6 am wake up time to make my 8 am commitment, not 6:30 or 6:45, which, technically, might be enough… but really isn’t. I want time to move at my sloth-molasses pace. But that means, waking up so early.

Will I do it?

We will see.

iv

Sit.

Breathe.

Boundaries.

Mornings.

Flora: I think you called me a bitch.

Jane: I said I was raising you to have boundaries.

Flora: And then…

Jane: How about… I’m trying to inject a bit of Slytherin into your Hufflepuff.

She’s not convinced. But trust me. The Slytherin do have some redeemable qualities, and not just because Alan Rickman played Snape.

Jane: You’ll thank me. I’m pretty sure, eventually, you’ll appreciate this.

Thank me, blame me.

Breathe.

xoxo

“Jane”

Professor Slytherin Glasses ;P

2018

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)

That’s not the way the pope would put it, but… (Week 32: Purpose and Miracles)

And before you know it, it’s over (Week 33: Fast and Slow)

Ragazzo da Napoli zajechał Mirafiori (Week 34: Nostalgia and Belonging)

Depression is a narcissistic disease, fentanyl is dangerous, and knowledge is power, sort of (Week 35: Introspection and Awareness)

I’m not gonna tell you (Week 36: Smoke and Mirrors)

Slightly irritable and yet kinda happy (Week 37: Self-Improvement and Self-Indulgence)

It’s not procrastination, it’s process (Week 38: Back and Forth)

Pavlov’s experiments, 21st-century style (Week 39: Connectivity and Solitude)

The last thing I remember (Week 40: truth and um, not really)

All of life’s a (larval) stage (Week 41: Stagnation and Transformation)

Damn you, Robert Frost (Week 42: Angst and more Angst)

Speaking of conflict avoidance… (Week 43: Fight of Flight)

Halloween, Samhain, All Saints Day, Day of The Dead, Candy (Week 44: Neither Here Nor There)

Again with the silver-tongued Persians, and other stories (Week 45: Silence and language)

War, Famine, Pestilence, Mornings (Week 46: Mornings and the Apocalypse)

Time flies but the Christmas tree is up (Week 47: Status quo and Change)

I didn’t kill anyone–it just smells like it (Week 48: Guilt & Poison)

You have a bad memory, while I want to rest on a flower (Week 49: Mothers and Caterpillars)

—->>>POSTCARDS FROM CUBA

nothingbythebook @ gmail.com

You have a bad memory, while I want to rest on a flower (Week 49: Mothers and Caterpillars)

I have in my notebooks, Word documents, half a dozen sketches about this week. Reflections on consent, privilege, and race. Reflections on social media, connectivity, and mob mentality—and Facebook in particular—I think I’m opting out, by the way, loves, but more on that later in the month. Reflections on teenagers and their pain and beauty. Reflections on the second adolescence that is my forties, and perhaps yours. Narcissistic reflections on what I want, what I don’t want.

Not very much angst about who I am. That, I know and you’d think everything would just flow from that. Yet, it doesn’t.

Ender: You are my Mama.

I am. And so many other things, my little love. But always your Mama, yes.

This little love of mine is nine, but when he curls up in my arms he might as well be three. I wonder if all third or last babies endure this prolonged infantalization. Sometimes, I fight it—I wish he was a tween—fuck, what a terrible word, btw, made up, imagined life phase, too-fleeting and ephemeral to matter except to marketers. And sometimes, I am so grateful I still have my baby that I am still the mom who can fix almost everything with a hug and a kiss.

Not as easy any more with the teenagers.

Sean: They’re good kids.

They’re amazing kids. But they are now metamorphosing caterpillars, caught in the limbo between childhood and adulthood, a time that was never easy and that now seems impossible.

When I meet people nostalgic for that first bloom of youth, that first adulthood, I always think they must have very bad memories. Who on earth would miss that excruciating pain of that first self-discovery and those first attempts at self-actualization?

It’s bad enough the second and third time around.

You: You in a cocoon, metamorphosing again?

I wish. There is a certain appeal in being recombinant liquid swooshing around into its next incarnation in the protective cover of a chrysalis. No. I’m no not metamorphosing. That metaphor does not fit right now.

But I’ve been running, flying very hard and I need to take a break. Rest on a flower.

Her: Just one? You’re not lusting after a meadow full of flowers?

A meadow sounds nice. Sunshine.

This week, the notebooks are full of sketches like this. This one is no better or worse than the others; representative, I suppose. And probably should not be shared either. Technically, it’s just not very good, and I’m paying a lot of attention to technique these days.

Still.

I’m also committed to a certain production schedule and deadline.

So there you go.

“Jane”

2018

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)

That’s not the way the pope would put it, but… (Week 32: Purpose and Miracles)

And before you know it, it’s over (Week 33: Fast and Slow)

Ragazzo da Napoli zajechał Mirafiori (Week 34: Nostalgia and Belonging)

Depression is a narcissistic disease, fentanyl is dangerous, and knowledge is power, sort of (Week 35: Introspection and Awareness)

I’m not gonna tell you (Week 36: Smoke and Mirrors)

Slightly irritable and yet kinda happy (Week 37: Self-Improvement and Self-Indulgence)

It’s not procrastination, it’s process (Week 38: Back and Forth)

Pavlov’s experiments, 21st-century style (Week 39: Connectivity and Solitude)

The last thing I remember (Week 40: truth and um, not really)

All of life’s a (larval) stage (Week 41: Stagnation and Transformation)

Damn you, Robert Frost (Week 42: Angst and more Angst)

Speaking of conflict avoidance… (Week 43: Fight of Flight)

Halloween, Samhain, All Saints Day, Day of The Dead, Candy (Week 44: Neither Here Nor There)

Again with the silver-tongued Persians, and other stories (Week 45: Silence and language)

War, Famine, Pestilence, Mornings (Week 46: Mornings and the Apocalypse)

Time flies but the Christmas tree is up (Week 47: Status quo and Change)

I didn’t kill anyone–it just smells like it (Week 48: Guilt & Poison)

—->>>POSTCARDS FROM CUBA

nothingbythebook @ gmail.com

I didn’t kill anyone–it just smells like it (Week 48: Guilt & Poison)

Flora: Mom? Did you  kill someone in the bathroom?

Jane: Yes. Can you smell the blood—or just the lye?

I’m not sure I actually know what lye smells like. If it has a smell. It probably does: most things that have the power to dissolve a body—or truly clean soap scum and potential mildew off a shower wall—do.

Ender: Mom? I have to go pee.

Jane: Go pee. Just don’t close the bathroom door.

Ender: I’m afraid.

Jane: It’s fine. Just don’t close the bathroom door and don’t breathe too much.

He holds it, for longer than he should.

Cinder: What are you making?

Jane: Vegetable soup.

Cinder: That looks like whale fat.

Jane: It’s chicken stock, with fat from the bone marrows.

Cinder: Whale fat.

Jane: You know what? You don’t have to eat it. But you can stop commenting on it, now.

He saunters out of the kitchen, fake-hurt, fake-upset… with an undercurrent of shame under it all. I keep on making the soup.

It’s sort of a domestic day, I suppose. Clean the bathroom, make pork chops for lunch and soup and spaghetti and meatballs for dinner. Laundry, and sweep out the entryway. In-between, all the work things… I end up not reading with Ender, twinge of guilt. But in the evening, I dance it away. It’s all right.

Guilt.

Every mother I know exists in this fairly constant grip of guilt, between the demands and obligations of the house, the needs of the family… and, not even her own needs, but the obligations that come with needing to work for a living. Whatever the job. Layer on to the job the passion and desire to do it well, to do it often, to move up whatever hierarchy exists in it… guilt, guilt, guilt. Always pulled in two, three directions.

Generally, when the house guilt sets in, I tell it to fuck off. When the work guilt sets in (as in, I should be doing MORE work), I can manage it rationally: I look at what I do do, and tell myself, firmly that it is more than enough.

But the kid guilt? Fuck. It pulsates in me, through me constantly.

You: Benign neglect. Aren’t you an advocate of benign neglect?

Jane: But when does one cross the line into active neglect?

It’s your fault, you know. Not individual you. The global you, the social you, that hasn’t yet figured out what it means to be a woman and a mother in the twenty first century, and you demand a kind of Mother Monster that does it all—and loves it, too, but absolutely loves her children and her home MORE and can demonstrate this by neglecting her work. And herself. But not too much. Because if she’s not pretty and well-taken care of physically, she loses her value too.

I’m rambling. All these thoughts seemed so much clearer as I walked the hill, taking a short break from the house, the children, and the work, and trying to reconnect with self.

Self had me thinking of all the books and movies in which the female character resents the male character’s commitment to his work, workahalic, you’re never home, you don’t have time for me and the children… because, of course, she has no commitment to hers. I remember, specifically, the passage in the Emma Jung biography, in which the author tries to make the reader sympathize with Emma (and despise Carl) because, on their first trip to Vienna, Carl spent all his time with Freud and Emma was left to tend for herself in the hotel room—or at the Freuds’ dinner table.

As I read the passage, I actually screamed at the book, “He went to Vienna to meet Freud! The pre-eminent person working in his field, his only potential mentor and real colleague! THAT WAS WHY HE WENT TO VIENNA! What did you expect him to do? Hang out with Freud in his ‘free’ time, while making Emma’s pleasure trip to Vienna his chief concern?”

But she did. She—the author—totally did. And she assumed the reader—the female reader, because after all, men don’t read biographies of women, particularly when their only claim to fame is being married to a man—would feel the same.

Poor neglected wife.

Bad selfish husband.

I am, much of the time, the selfish husband—except that I need to “balance” (there’s no such thing) my near-obsessive passion for my work with my love for my children and my concern that I don’t short-change them… because everything I see around me tells me that whenever I do anything other than hyper-focus on them, I am not doing enough.

You: Breathe.

Jane: I should have never told you about my culty yoga.

Breathe.

Dance.

On the dance floor, in the rhythm, in the noise, in the primal movement of the body, I shed the guilt. For a while. It will come back in the morning, in the kitchen. The sink, the dirty counters.

Sean: Go work in your space. Not here.

And here’s the thing: my male partner could not be more supportive. My parents could not be more proud of me. In theory, the people around me, the people who really matter—they don’t put any of this on me.

They don’t have to. I’ve internalized the prison and the prison guards, as has every woman. And when I act in defiance of them—which I do every day, else I would perish, else there would be no self, no me—guilt.

Guilt.

Sean: I think the lye has made you stoned. In a bad way.

Jane: Perhaps. I always feel housework is very bad for my mental health. I won’t clean the bathroom again.

Sean: That’s not what I meant…

The lye really is stinky.

It’s not lye, by the way. There is no lye in the stinky stuff I spray on the shower once every two years to take off all the grime and crap eco-friendly cleaners and microfiber cloths leave behind.

But there is poison.

xoxo

“Jane”

 

PS A few words about lye:

A lye is a metal hydroxide traditionally obtained by leaching ashes (containing largely potassium carbonate or “potash”), or a strong alkali which is highly soluble in water producing caustic basic solutions. “Lye” is commonly an alternative name of sodium hydroxide (NaOH) or historically potassium hydroxide (KOH), though the term “lye” refers to any member of a broad range of metal hydroxides.

Tissue digestion

Sodium or potassium hydroxide can be used to digest tissues of animal carcasses. Often referred to as alkaline hydrolysis, the process involves placing the carcass or body into a sealed chamber, adding a mixture of lye and water and the application of heat to accelerate the process. After several hours the chamber will contain a liquid with coffee-like appearance,[5][6][7] and the only solids that remain are very fragile bone hulls of mostly calcium phosphate, which can be mechanically crushed to a fine powder with very little force.[8][9] Sodium hydroxide is frequently used in the process of decomposing roadkill dumped in landfills by animal disposal contractors.[6] Due to its low cost and availability, it has also been used to dispose of corpses by criminals. Italian serial killer Leonarda Cianciulli used this chemical to turn dead bodies into soap.[10] In Mexico, a man who worked for drug cartels admitted to having disposed of more than 300 bodies with it.[11]

Source: Wikipedia

 

2018

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)

That’s not the way the pope would put it, but… (Week 32: Purpose and Miracles)

And before you know it, it’s over (Week 33: Fast and Slow)

Ragazzo da Napoli zajechał Mirafiori (Week 34: Nostalgia and Belonging)

Depression is a narcissistic disease, fentanyl is dangerous, and knowledge is power, sort of (Week 35: Introspection and Awareness)

I’m not gonna tell you (Week 36: Smoke and Mirrors)

Slightly irritable and yet kinda happy (Week 37: Self-Improvement and Self-Indulgence)

It’s not procrastination, it’s process (Week 38: Back and Forth)

Pavlov’s experiments, 21st-century style (Week 39: Connectivity and Solitude)

The last thing I remember (Week 40: truth and um, not really)

All of life’s a (larval) stage (Week 41: Stagnation and Transformation)

Damn you, Robert Frost (Week 42: Angst and more Angst)

Speaking of conflict avoidance… (Week 43: Fight of Flight)

Halloween, Samhain, All Saints Day, Day of The Dead, Candy (Week 44: Neither Here Nor There)

Again with the silver-tongued Persians, and other stories (Week 45: Silence and language)

War, Famine, Pestilence, Mornings (Week 46: Mornings and the Apocalypse)

—->>>POSTCARDS FROM CUBA

nothingbythebook @ gmail.com

Time flies but the Christmas tree is up (Week 47: Status quo and Change)

I don’t really know what happened to this week’s Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday—they flew by, proving, again that Einstein is right and time is relative. On Saturday, I played with my writer tribe and was reminded that 2018 was a very, very VERY busy year. That I remember. And today, I will chill and enjoy the snow and cold and not do very much at all. I can see the moon out the West-facing kitchen window—and it’s 8 a.m.—and it’s almost full and so beautiful. There’s a line of grey-pink light below it—the sunrise reflecting off the white of the mountains, I suppose. The noises around me are homey happy noises: the furnace kicking in to thaw the house a bit, the dog licking out every last bit of her breakfast from her bowl, the Ender murmuring to himself as he sets up his computer.

Ender has discovered magic, and is watching magic shows on YouTube. The still-illiterate nine-year-old has also discovered Siri and voice recognition. “Search for How to Magic,” he tells the computer. He’s never going to learn to read, I moan. But. He will. He will.

His elder brother, who didn’t read more than “CAT,” and that, with effort, until he was 11.5, is in Grade 11 and kicking ass in his science classes. Watching YouTube videos to supplement his Physics and Chemistry instructions—because the YouTubers explain things better than his textbooks or his teachers.

Of course, he also plays video games while watching the YouTube videos and while texting with his friends, and I wonder how that can be a thing, but I also realize—technology has rewired this generation. For good or for bad, this is how they are. And I think in some ways, they cope better with this stimulation and interconnectedness than we do…

Sean: Where’s Flora?

Jane: She went out.

Sean: Where?

Jane: She didn’t say. She said, “I’m going out.” I said, “Where?” She said, “I dunno.”

Sean has a minor Daddy freak out.

Jane: She went in the direction of Rosie’s house. And then they probably went to pick up Morgaine and Estelle, and they’re all hanging out together.

Sean: Why didn’t she just say so?

Because she wants privacy. I try to explain, but Sean is like Ender and never wants to be alone or inaccessible or unfindable. Cinder and Flora are like me. Every once in a while, they need to disappear.

On Monday, I taught the last class of my eight-week course, and one of my students gave me chocolates and another almost cried, and all of them told me sweet things, and I found myself incredibly moved and astounded by how much I enjoyed the experience—and yes, very eager to repeat it. But for now, I will have Monday nights free and I will use them to disappear.

I do wish, by the way, that there were places one could disappear—sit and be and work or play—without having to spend money on drinks and food. Art galleries, yes, but they all close so early, and malls, I suppose, but they are so noisy and full of people focused on either acquiring things they don’t need or wasting time, and the air is so bad, and then there is the outdoors, of course, but this is Viking Hell, and while the outdoors is very beautiful from the vantage point of my couch where I’m swaddled in an electric blanket, I don’t want to get lost in it at night with my notebook or laptop.

And I should smoke less sheesha and I don’t drink coffee at night anyway—and look, this is me, sabotaging my “free” Monday nights before they even happen.

No, on Monday nights, I will smoke sheesha and drink coffee—or tea—or nurse a beer and I will disappear in public places and tend to myself.

Until I teach again. I will teach again.

On Tuesday, I saw Naked Girls Reading perform The Worst Things I Ever Read, and I “met” for the first time The Golden Age and they were amazing, and I laughed, and I refueled.

On Wednesday, I tried not to totally and completely lose my shit with a racist and agist education system the purpose of which is to reinforce not just the status quo but the status past… So I’m tutoring an adult immigrant woman from Cameroon who needs to pass her English 30 equivalency to get into a nursing assistant program. She’s smart, articulate and will be totally excellent at her job. Her English is solid—she can communicate complex ideas easily and she will have no trouble communicating with either patients or doctors. What she is having trouble with is analyzing culturally irrelevant, context-free poetry and memoirs. I think she hires me to teach her grammar and essay structure. That, we cover in the first two sessions—did I mention, she is very smart. What she actually needs me for is to tell her… who Anne Page, Sara Lee, and Laura Secord were, because they’re in a poem that’s she’s being tested on. Except Laura Secord is not there as Laura Secord but as the box of chocolates, and Anne Page was never actually real in the first place, and the English tutoring lesson turns into a cultural history lesson that I’m too young to know myself and need to turn to Google for help, and…

Then there’s the 19th century memoir that’s so fucking racist, I’m ashamed to decode it for her. How is this on the curriculum, in 2018?

But, more to the point, how is suffering through this analysis going to make her do her job better?

It’s not. It’s a hoop she has to jump through if she wants the job. It’s the Social Sorting Hat. And the Social Sorting Hat favours those who… well, first, made the social sorting hat, and next, were raised and educated by those who made the social sorting hat.

Anyway. Sorting Hat. Sean and Flora are going to Harry Potter World in January. They think they’re both Hufflepuffs—I think Sean’s right about himself, but Flora’s probably a Ravenclaw. Ender, I think, is also a Hufflepuff. Rowan’s probably Gryffindor.

They tell me I’m a Slytherin without even a pause or a reflection.

I sigh.

I’m not evil, you know.

I’m just very clear-sighted and unsentimental.

It doesn’t mean I don’t love or I don’t suffer. It just means that when I suffer… I still get all the shit done. And when I love… I don’t lose sight of how wrong for each other we are. 😉

On Thursday, I teach again. And I realize that while I do really love this, it can’t come at the price of writing. But a balance, I will find a balance.

On Friday, I am sentimental. Just for a little bit. And the kids strong-arm me into putting up the Christmas tree.

And on Saturday, I get these socks:

Ender: Mama? I learned a new magic trick. Want to come see?

Jane: Coming.

xoxo

Jane

2018

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)

That’s not the way the pope would put it, but… (Week 32: Purpose and Miracles)

And before you know it, it’s over (Week 33: Fast and Slow)

Ragazzo da Napoli zajechał Mirafiori (Week 34: Nostalgia and Belonging)

Depression is a narcissistic disease, fentanyl is dangerous, and knowledge is power, sort of (Week 35: Introspection and Awareness)

I’m not gonna tell you (Week 36: Smoke and Mirrors)

Slightly irritable and yet kinda happy (Week 37: Self-Improvement and Self-Indulgence)

It’s not procrastination, it’s process (Week 38: Back and Forth)

Pavlov’s experiments, 21st-century style (Week 39: Connectivity and Solitude)

The last thing I remember (Week 40: truth and um, not really)

All of life’s a (larval) stage (Week 41: Stagnation and Transformation)

Damn you, Robert Frost (Week 42: Angst and more Angst)

Speaking of conflict avoidance… (Week 43: Fight of Flight)

Halloween, Samhain, All Saints Day, Day of The Dead, Candy (Week 44: Neither Here Nor There)

Again with the silver-tongued Persians, and other stories (Week 45: Silence and language)

War, Famine, Pestilence, Mornings (Week 46: Mornings and the Apocalypse)

—->>>POSTCARDS FROM CUBA

nothingbythebook @ gmail.com

War, Famine, Pestilence, Mornings (Week 46: Mornings and the Apocalypse)

My least favourite thing in the world—after War, Famine, Pestilence, and… what is the name of the fourth Horseman of the Apocalypse? I canna’ remember—is to wake up tired. You know? You open your eyes, reluctantly, you finally force yourself out of bed—also reluctantly—and then you—well, I—drink a glass of water that’s magically supposed to rehydrate and energize me (it doesn’t), reach for a notebook and pen, pour myself a cup of coffee (lover, I’ve come back to you), and… too often, the first words I write are, “Morning. Tired.”

I have now given up turning myself into a morning person or even a morning tolerant person. My Kundalini yoga cult wants me to wake up two and a half hours before dawn—fucking sadists. I crawl out of my bed, reluctantly, between seven and eight—which, at certain times in Viking Hell is almost two and a half hours before sunrise—but I don’t really wake up until I feel the sun shimmering on my skin through the dirty glass of the windows.

Anyway. That tired in the morning feeling? It doesn’t happen every day, but it happens too much. For no good reason. I don’t have a wee child keeping me up at night. I go to bed quite early and I don’t gorge on electronics beforehand. Sleep, when it comes, is deep. Nightmares, fairly rare. And, even when I do all the right things—morning. Tired. Not fully awake. Don’t want to get moving, going yet. Don’t make me.

I guess, theoretically, no one is making me. The pressure is all internal. (Well, and a little bit, Ender.) I feel I ought to… because the rest of the world is moving. And I am here, on the couch, notebook and pen, coffee, writing. Not even writing THE WORK but just making words and sentences, no one will read, practicing my scales, stretching on paper. Yawning on paper. When I put the notebook away—more coffee (lover… yes)—andI pick up my laptop, I stilll feel a little—yawn, moan—but once I start to work, I”m good. I go. And when I finally break the first sprint, between 9:30 and 10:30 am—depending on how much Sean fed Ender for breakfast—I am awake and not tired.

So maybe this being tired is part of my perfectly functional morning routine.

I don’t know. It doesn’t really feel like a functional feeling.

Yawn, moan.

I want to go back to bed.

But.

I don’t.

xoxo

“Jane”

PS Conquest. The fourth Horseman of the Apocalypse is Conquest. Interesting. War and Conquest. Wait. I just figured out what Conquest is a euphemism for. Ugh.

2018

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)

That’s not the way the pope would put it, but… (Week 32: Purpose and Miracles)

And before you know it, it’s over (Week 33: Fast and Slow)

Ragazzo da Napoli zajechał Mirafiori (Week 34: Nostalgia and Belonging)

Depression is a narcissistic disease, fentanyl is dangerous, and knowledge is power, sort of (Week 35: Introspection and Awareness)

I’m not gonna tell you (Week 36: Smoke and Mirrors)

Slightly irritable and yet kinda happy (Week 37: Self-Improvement and Self-Indulgence)

It’s not procrastination, it’s process (Week 38: Back and Forth)

Pavlov’s experiments, 21st-century style (Week 39: Connectivity and Solitude)

The last thing I remember (Week 40: truth and um, not really)

All of life’s a (larval) stage (Week 41: Stagnation and Transformation)

Damn you, Robert Frost (Week 42: Angst and more Angst)

Speaking of conflict avoidance… (Week 43: Fight of Flight)

Halloween, Samhain, All Saints Day, Day of The Dead, Candy (Week 44: Neither Here Nor There)

Again with the silver-tongued Persians, and other stories (Week 45: Silence and language)

War, Famine, Pestilence, Mornings (Week 46: Mornings and the Apocalypse)

—->>>POSTCARDS FROM CUBA

nothingbythebook @ gmail.com

Again with the silver-tongued Persians, and other stories (Week 45: Silence and language)

Mmm. Let’s start with this:

Unschooling looks like this:

Flora: Mom, in what grade was I supposed to learn how to calculate the circumference and area of a circle?

Jane: I dunno. Do you need to know how to do it now?

Flora: No. Just wondering.

Jane: It’s got something to do with pi and radius. Ummm… Let me think…

Flora: It’s fine. I got it. I googled it.

Sometimes, it is that easy.

Other times, the eldest child wants help with physics homework and makes you sit at the kitchen table with him he googles stuff, AND THAT’S REALLY HARD. ;P

What else? Monday, I taught, Tuesday, I played, Wednesday, I worked, Thursday, looked-like-play-felt-like-work—and I’m so sorry about that other thing—Friday, I juggled, Saturday, I tried to be lazy and it almost worked.

What else?

A quote from Olga Broumas:

She who loves roses must be patient and not cry out when she is pierced by thorns.

I sent it to a boy who desperately wants to fall in love. He can’t flip the pronoun; doesn’t understand what I’m talking about. It’s ok.

What else?

I’m supposed to be more open and honest with the people I love about what I feel, but fuck, it’s hard. I really don’t like telling you things. I prefer to write very very long stories, and bury the truth in a line on page 276.

Him: I found it.

Jane: Mmmm… no. You just think you did.

This is Rumi:

Silence
is an ocean. Speech is a river.
When the ocean is searching for you, don’t walk
into the language-river. Listen to the ocean,
and bring your talky business to an end.
Traditional words are just babbling
in that presence, and babbling is a substitute
for sight.

Also, this:

Silence is the language of God, all else is poor translation.

Those damned silver-tongued Persians, still wrecking havoc with my heart.

Still.

She who loves roses…

My parents are celebrating their 45th anniversary this weekend. Five years short of half-a-century. Crazy, isn’t it? Forty five years. Depending on the decade—month, week, day—I have seen them happy, unhappy, in love, fighting, angry, compassionate, furious, forgiving…

What they have taught me: “true” love takes a fuck load of work. Make a Disney movie about that, why don’t you?

On Tuesday, after a writers’ meeting and before a is-it-a-date-or-is-it-therapy, I smoke sheesha and write some bad poetry. Six redeemable lines. I send them as a gift, hidden in six bad verses. She accepts them in the spirit of gratitude in which they are written.

Her: And still, none of it is about me.

Jane: No. I’m sorry.

Back to Rumi:

You left ground and sky weeping, mind and soul full of grief. No one can take your place in existence, or in absence. Both mourn, the angels, the prophets, and this sadness I feel has taken from me the taste of language, so that I cannot say the flavor of my being apart.

Still.

Ender throws himself into my arms and I drown in his love, and Cinder is out all night, but then safely home, and Flora smiles at me and then delivers a scathing social critique of everything she’s ever seen on Netflix. Girls’ lunch out with my mom. Left-over macarons for Ender. Sean and I cuddle on the couch—you come for a visit.

All is well.

2005

xoxo

“Jane”

2018

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)

That’s not the way the pope would put it, but… (Week 32: Purpose and Miracles)

And before you know it, it’s over (Week 33: Fast and Slow)

Ragazzo da Napoli zajechał Mirafiori (Week 34: Nostalgia and Belonging)

Depression is a narcissistic disease, fentanyl is dangerous, and knowledge is power, sort of (Week 35: Introspection and Awareness)

I’m not gonna tell you (Week 36: Smoke and Mirrors)

Slightly irritable and yet kinda happy (Week 37: Self-Improvement and Self-Indulgence)

It’s not procrastination, it’s process (Week 38: Back and Forth)

Pavlov’s experiments, 21st-century style (Week 39: Connectivity and Solitude)

The last thing I remember (Week 40: truth and um, not really)

All of life’s a (larval) stage (Week 41: Stagnation and Transformation)

Damn you, Robert Frost (Week 42: Angst and more Angst)

Speaking of conflict avoidance… (Week 43: Fight of Flight)

—->>>POSTCARDS FROM CUBA

nothingbythebook @ gmail.com

Halloween, Samhain, All Saints Day, Day of The Dead, Candy (Week 44: Neither Here Nor There)

i

I’d like to make it really clear that Halloween is my absolutely favourite celebration-fiesta-event-thingie. But…

Flora: So, like… have we made all the holidays just about candy?

Jane: Define “we.”

Flora: Western society.

Jane: Yes.

Not that there’s anything wrong with candy, especially free candy. Except, perhaps the sugar crash that children experience on November 1… which adults take a step further an transform into utter self-loathing. Still. Before the crash, there’s the high. (And therein is some kind of not too deeply hidden metaphor for life, the universe, and everything.)

da’ boys

ii

I am helping an adult ESL learner with a grade 12 essay. Her teacher has told her that her essay must consist of 4 paragraphs, and that each paragraph has to be eight to 11 sentences long.

Jane: Your teacher is an idiot who doesn’t know how to write.

Student: But…

Jane: Fucking, seriously, Henry James and David Foster Wallace can get away with writing 11-sentence paragraphs, but only because they’re both dead and nobody really reads them.

Student: But…

Jane: A paragraph is supposed to be as long as it needs to be. A paragraph is a tool used to organize your ideas–and, to communicate with your reader. The purpose of a paragraph…

Student: But I had seven paragraphs in my essay before, and the teacher docked me marks.

Jane: As I said, your teacher is an idiot who doesn’t know how to write.

I am not loving teachers very much at the moment. Don’t get me started on Cinder’s chemistry teacher.

Jane: Honey? I met your chem teacher at the parent-teacher interviews.

Cinder: And?

Jane: If you fail chemistry, it’s probably my fault. I’m sorry.

Cinder: Fuck, Mom. I told you not to go.

Sorry-not-sorry, but if you tell me most of your class failed the exam and didn’t know how to do carry out the assignment you gave them–I’m going to tell you to consider the possibility that this is the result of you not knowing how to teach your subject.

At this point, I’d like to say thank you, Khan Academy, Google, and Internet.

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iii

Flora is just about a black belt and now officially more flexible than me. Cinder is suddenly taking Mixed Martial Arts, Thai Kickboxing and Wrestling–I guess he decided being 6’3 wasn’t intimidating enough. Their 44 year old mother still has better technique than the two of them, and she gets a little high on this for a brief moment.

my foot. really

Ouch.

That didn’t hurt, exactly, but it might. I recount the incident to the motherfucking sadist who, since April 2012, has been ensuring that I can walk upright and with controlled pain.

MFS: I’m always very proud when you get cocky, but you know it doesn’t end well.

Jane: I know. But it felt really good. Can you check to make sure I didn’t dislocate anything?

MFS: No. But I can do that psoas release you love so much.

I scream. He smiles with pleasure. I walk home, erect, strong.

iv

The motherfucking sadist and I celebrated six years together this past April, and next April it will be seven (watch Jane do math). I have, over the years, referred to him every single person who has ever whined to me about their back, shoulder, neck etc pain, or expressed a serious desire to be fitter, stronger, healthier.

Most don’t go.

Those that do… go for a while… love it… don’t persist.

MFS: Not enough pain.

Jane: Yup.

I don’t mean, by the way, that he doesn’t inflict enough pain on them. That, after all, is his specialty. I mean that there isn’t enough pain… to not going. You know what I mean? My motivation, the reason I keep on going back, gritting my teeth, doing all the things–it’s because the consequence of NOT experiencing the pain he inflicts is experiencing the pain of NOT being able to walk.

If your motivation for not going is a slight twinge in the hips or back that reminds you that you’re aging, or a slightly protruding potbelly, or flabby triceps… well, I wouldn’t go for that either.

Jane: I do occasionally dream that you’ll be able to fix me forever and I’ll just be strong and healthy without having to do any of the work.

MFS: I hear there’s a pill for that.

There isn’t. But, as Flora points out, Western society is working on it.

da’ girls

v

I’m waiting for this post to meander back towards the topic of Halloween et al. It don’t want to. It wants to delve into goal-motivation-conflict, pleasure and pain, life and death–here we go, life and death, death, sugar skulls, jack-o-lanterns.

Candy.

The children give me all their Coffee Crisps. I can’t really eat them any more–and when I do, they are not as delicious as the Coffee Crisps I remember from my childhood–fuck, I have gotten old without noticing–but I accept the tribute with gratitude. Stash them away in my studio.

Flora: This is where I get it from.

Jane: What?

Flora: My candy hoarding skills.

da’ girl went as a homicidal Red Riding Hood;
she killed the fucking wolf and she didn’t need to be rescued

The hoarding, she gets from her dad. The ability to not eat her Halloween candy for months and years–yeah, that’s probably me.

Flora: Also…

Jane: What?

Flora: Do you think I could beat you in a fight now?

Jane: Not yet. I still outweigh you and I’m meaner. But another decade. Two max. I am going to get more brittle.

She looks at my critically.

Flora: 15 years, Mom. You’ve got 15 years, and then I’m taking you down.

Sigh. The young are cruel.

I suspect I’m lucky if I’ve got a single decade. Still. Erect. Strong. Mostly pain free.

Grateful.

xoxo

“Jane”

2018

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)

That’s not the way the pope would put it, but… (Week 32: Purpose and Miracles)

And before you know it, it’s over (Week 33: Fast and Slow)

Ragazzo da Napoli zajechał Mirafiori (Week 34: Nostalgia and Belonging)

Depression is a narcissistic disease, fentanyl is dangerous, and knowledge is power, sort of (Week 35: Introspection and Awareness)

I’m not gonna tell you (Week 36: Smoke and Mirrors)

Slightly irritable and yet kinda happy (Week 37: Self-Improvement and Self-Indulgence)

It’s not procrastination, it’s process (Week 38: Back and Forth)

Pavlov’s experiments, 21st-century style (Week 39: Connectivity and Solitude)

The last thing I remember (Week 40: truth and um, not really)

All of life’s a (larval) stage (Week 41: Stagnation and Transformation)

Damn you, Robert Frost (Week 42: Angst and more Angst)

Speaking of conflict avoidance… (Week 43: Fight of Flight)

—->>>POSTCARDS FROM CUBA

nothingbythebook @ gmail.com

Speaking of conflict avoidance… (Week 43: Fight of Flight)

What? We weren’t? Let’s talk about it anyway.

I don’t like to fight. I don’t like conflict, healthy or unhealthy. I can’t really differentiate between the two types, to be honest. People start to right and I feel sick to my stomach, my heart rate accelerates, and I’m pretty sure the world is going to end AND I NEED TO GET OUT OF HERE NOW, GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY WAY—I am running for my life.

When I am pushed into a corner and forced to fight—please don’t do this to me, really… Because I have a terrible choice now. I can shut my eyes and cover my head with my hands and just let you do your thing and hope that it is over soon… or I will fight AND I WILL FUCKING DESTORY YOU. I know this. I don’t choose to not fight because I am afraid. I don’t fight because once I fight—the world will end. I wlll say and do all the things. I will win—I will survive. Youwill not. What a victory. You will not exist—your love, definitely, will not exist.

You: I see.

Jane: You don’t.

There are, apparently, other ways of dealing with conflict. Negotiation, the Third Way, Fierce Conversations, bla bla bla. I read the books. They give me tools that I can use with ease in unimportant clashes with unimportant people—sorry, with connections that, if severed, will not really cause me much grief.

I love you and I will not fight with you.

You: I see. Well, that explains a few things.

Jane: Doesn’t it?

Ender loves to fight. I hide from him in the bathroom. Cinder is like me—that is why there are so many holes in the walls in his room and two punching bags in the living room. Flora…. I am not sure. I’m worried I already broke her—that she has modelled and internalized my rather stellar conflict avoidance skills. I think, if I remember the toddler an the preschooler accurately… she loved to fight…

Anyway. I’m not sure, what if anything, I will do about this.

Do not come any closer.

I will not fight

RUN AWAY!

xoxo

“Jane”

2018

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)

That’s not the way the pope would put it, but… (Week 32: Purpose and Miracles)

And before you know it, it’s over (Week 33: Fast and Slow)

Ragazzo da Napoli zajechał Mirafiori (Week 34: Nostalgia and Belonging)

Depression is a narcissistic disease, fentanyl is dangerous, and knowledge is power, sort of (Week 35: Introspection and Awareness)

I’m not gonna tell you (Week 36: Smoke and Mirrors)

Slightly irritable and yet kinda happy (Week 37: Self-Improvement and Self-Indulgence)

It’s not procrastination, it’s process (Week 38: Back and Forth)

Pavlov’s experiments, 21st-century style (Week 39: Connectivity and Solitude)

The last thing I remember (Week 40: truth and um, not really)

All of life’s a (larval) stage (Week 41: Stagnation and Transformation)

Damn you, Robert Frost (Week 42: Angst and more Angst)

Speaking of conflict avoidance… (Week 43: Fight of Flight)

—->>>POSTCARDS FROM CUBA

nothingbythebook @ gmail.com

Damn you, Robert Frost (Week 42: Angst and more Angst)

And, well, yeah.

(This was someone’s very brilliant Instagram posted and reposted until it came to me–if you know the original creator, please let me know so I can credit accordingly.)

“Jane”

2018

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)

That’s not the way the pope would put it, but… (Week 32: Purpose and Miracles)

And before you know it, it’s over (Week 33: Fast and Slow)

Ragazzo da Napoli zajechał Mirafiori (Week 34: Nostalgia and Belonging)

Depression is a narcissistic disease, fentanyl is dangerous, and knowledge is power, sort of (Week 35: Introspection and Awareness)

I’m not gonna tell you (Week 36: Smoke and Mirrors)

Slightly irritable and yet kinda happy (Week 37: Self-Improvement and Self-Indulgence)

It’s not procrastination, it’s process (Week 38: Back and Forth)

Pavlov’s experiments, 21st-century style (Week 39: Connectivity and Solitude)

The last thing I remember (Week 40: truth and um, not really)

All of life’s a (larval) stage (Week 41: Stagnation and Transformation)

—->>>POSTCARDS FROM CUBA

All of life’s a (larval) stage (Week 41: Stagnation and Transformation)

i.

When I am unhappy, and strangers on the street tell me to smile—or well-meaning friends tell me to focus on all the good things that are happening—I want to throw things at them.

When you are unhappy, I tend to tell you… to focus on all the good things that are happening.

Hypocritical, I know.

I think the lesson of all this is when we are unhappy—we are best unhappy alone.

No, no, wait.

I know—you know—that’s not true. That’s what the demons want you to think. They want you to stay unhappy alone, isolated.

So when you are with me when I am unhappy, when I am with you when you are unhappy—let’s give each other’s pain and grief and sad the space it needs.

“I know you’re suffering, and I’m here for you.”

(one of Thich Nhat Hahn’s mantras of loving speech)

That’s all I need. That’s all you want.

Fuck, why is that so hard to give?

ii.

The teenagers, my caterpillars, are going through some ups and downs these days, and my biggest job is JUST TO BE THERE, and I don’t think I’ve worked this hard at parenting since they were mewling, helpless babes in arms, except back then, I could solve almost every ill through the insertion of nipple into mouth.

There are no solutions now. There is only—“I am here for you.”

Confession: being there for you is really exhausting.

I want a mocha, a cigar, chocolate, Hafez.

Sean brings me Leonard Cohen.

It helps.

iii.

If the teenagers are caterpillars, Ender is still a pupa or larva. I’m mixing my insect metaphors a bit, and I can’t remember which comes first, the pupal or larval stage—and I’m pretty sure these don’t occur in the creatures that then metamorphose into butterflies. Anyway. He’s still my pupa, and most of his problems can be solved with a hug or a kiss. But while his existential angst is still in the future, what he wants most is… my presence.

Here I am.

iv.

Cigar. Turkish coffee. Cuba.

I’m daydreaming about Cuba.

Trying to figure out why it was so much easier to give them all my presence there.

And I’m still not sure. What is the expanse of silence? The relative lack of responsibility? The fact that I really did not put any pressure on myself to perform, to output, to create—to do anything other than be there, with them, and with the experience… and yet I created anyway?

Can I go back to that place again?

v.

Flora: Your blog is really boring now.

Jane: You are sentient and read it now. You’ve affected what I can write about, what I can share.

Flora: Thank you.

Jane: Of course.

vi.

I am preparing a writing workshop. One of my points—my big lesson to writers—is—ready?

“You’re just not that interesting.”

Writing about self is excruciatingly boring to read.

I’m sorry. 😉

The kids won’t let me write about them.

And I feel too aware of the transience and fragility of all things to get on a soapbox and dispense advice.

Don’t worry. This year only has 11 or so more weeks. Next year, I’m only going to talk in pictures.

xoxo

“Jane”

PS The pupa just turned nine. I be in shock.

2018

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)

That’s not the way the pope would put it, but… (Week 32: Purpose and Miracles)

And before you know it, it’s over (Week 33: Fast and Slow)

Ragazzo da Napoli zajechał Mirafiori (Week 34: Nostalgia and Belonging)

Depression is a narcissistic disease, fentanyl is dangerous, and knowledge is power, sort of (Week 35: Introspection and Awareness)

I’m not gonna tell you (Week 36: Smoke and Mirrors)

Slightly irritable and yet kinda happy (Week 37: Self-Improvement and Self-Indulgence)

It’s not procrastination, it’s process (Week 38: Back and Forth)

Pavlov’s experiments, 21st-century style (Week 39: Connectivity and Solitude)

The last thing I remember (Week 40: truth and um, not really)

All of life’s a (larval) stage (Week 41: Stagnation and Transformation)

—->>>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:

PayPal - The safer, easier way to pay online!

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.”

If you’d like to make a contribution but have PayPal issues, email me at nothingbythebook@ gmail.com and we’ll work something out. J

The last thing I remember… (Week 40: Truth and um, Not Really)

The last thing that happened is the thing we remember the most; it redefines how we remember everything that happened before.

I think that’s why real time documentation is so valuable. It’s a beautiful sunny Sunday but I am very unhappy and I want to tell you I had a horrible week, but of course I didn’t.

I have proof.

On last Sunday, I was full of smiles–also, new hat! Thank you, Mom.

On Monday, I thought Cthulhu was rising:

And it was beautiful. Also, so productive.

On Tuesday, this:

 

I live in Viking Hell, and I love it not. But. It is what it is.

On Wednesday, I dared think about driving. Think.

And I got all the kids winter boots without driving, so, Victory!

On Thursday, this made me smile:

even though I felt like this:

On Friday, I found out it was almost Christmas:

On Saturday, I didn’t get to go to this:


but I got to experience this instead:

And now, that I’ve finished thinking about how my week unfolded in real time, I’m not so sad. I might even go for a walk in the sun and remember that it is a beautiful day.

You: Hello, Pollyanna. Whatcha smoking?

Jane: Can you just enjoy my attempt at reframing?

Anyway. I guess it wasn’t an awful week. But it was kind of hard. But also, full of good things. Perspective is important, right?

Right.

xoxo

“Jane”

2018

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)

That’s not the way the pope would put it, but… (Week 32: Purpose and Miracles)

And before you know it, it’s over (Week 33: Fast and Slow)

Ragazzo da Napoli zajechał Mirafiori (Week 34: Nostalgia and Belonging)

Depression is a narcissistic disease, fentanyl is dangerous, and knowledge is power, sort of (Week 35: Introspection and Awareness)

I’m not gonna tell you (Week 36: Smoke and Mirrors)

Slightly irritable and yet kinda happy (Week 37: Self-Improvement and Self-Indulgence)

It’s not procrastination, it’s process (Week 38: Back and Forth)

Pavlov’s experiments, 21st-century style (Week 39: Connectivity and Solitude)

—->>>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:

PayPal - The safer, easier way to pay online!

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.”

If you’d like to make a contribution but have PayPal issues, email me at nothingbythebook@ gmail.com and we’ll work something out. J

Pavlov’s experiments, 21st century style (Week 39: Connectivity and Solitude)

I’m reading a book set in 1936. Some of the characters have a bungalow in “the country”—this is Great Britain in the 20th century, so “the country” is an hour’s drive away from London in “bad” traffic—less by train. They don’t put a phone line in the bungalow, because part of the reason for having this retreat in the country is to get away from the phone. “It rings night and day in the London flat,” one of them says. “One can never get any peace.”

One can, of course, turn it off or simply not pick up. But it’s hard. We’re social, communicative and CURIOUS creatures. It is very very hard for us to give up social connection and information when it’s readily available.

So. Sabbaths, retreats, cottages without phone lines and wifi.

I have been struggling with this issue of constant connectivity ever since my mother bought me my first smart phone in 2013. (Mom, I am so very grateful, and I don’t know how we would have coordinated the post-flood clean up without it.) I had had a dumb cell phone more than a decade before that—I was an early adopter, I suppose—but then I lost it on a train between Toronto and Montreal in 2006, and decided to let it stay lost. Yes, it let me conduct interviews wherever I was. But it also made me available to clients and editors wherever I was. Fuck that. They did not need to have access to me on a Sunday afternoon when I was at the playground with the kids.

Now, of course, everyone expects to have access to everyone else 24/7 and freaks out if they don’t get an immediate response.

“Did you not get my text?”

“Are you dead?”

“Do you not love me anymore?”

Fuck that.

I’ve been guilty of getting infested with this anxiety myself. Fuck that. I don’t want to. I refuse.

I am going to use this connectivity, connection, communication and mind-blowingly unlimited access to information to my advantage. I’m not going to let it use me.

selfie with audiobook
headphones connect to phone
phone connects to ALL THE BOOKS IN THE WORLD

This isn’t a manifesto, really. It’s just reflection. When something keeps on making you unhappy… unhealthy… why would you keep on doing it?

it snowed in yyc this week

So if I don’t return your texts right away or don’t enter into the panic mode of your email within an hour—it’s not because I don’t love you. It’s because I’m reading books about the 1930s and writing books for the 2020s, and also, teaching Ender to read, braiding Flora’s hair, buying Cinder winter boots, and also, making soup and walking the dog and sitting in my studio with a book of Shamlou poems in my lap staring into space.

And all of those things need and deserve my attention. They world in my pocket, and my connection to you at a physical distance, is wonderful but it can wait and get its focus and attention when the world around me doesn’t need it.

on wednesday my Ender was sick sick sick
and my job was to sit beside him and hold his hand

I’m not flushing the cell phone down the toilet. I know I can’t—and I know we can’t go back. But, we can go forward, in a consciously chosen, intentional way. Not in a panic driven by pings, FOMO, texting tantrums, midnight email exchanges that could really have waited—should have waited—until tomorrow afternoon.

on friday I bought ALL THE FRUIT

I’m going to use this device, I’m not going to be its drooling Pavlovian bitch. You understand?

xoxo

“Jane”

on thursday I missed yoga and meditated here instead

2018

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)

That’s not the way the pope would put it, but… (Week 32: Purpose and Miracles)

And before you know it, it’s over (Week 33: Fast and Slow)

Ragazzo da Napoli zajechał Mirafiori (Week 34: Nostalgia and Belonging)

Depression is a narcissistic disease, fentanyl is dangerous, and knowledge is power, sort of (Week 35: Introspection and Awareness)

I’m not gonna tell you (Week 36: Smoke and Mirrors)

Slightly irritable and yet kinda happy (Week 37: Self-Improvement and Self-Indulgence)

It’s not procrastination, it’s process (Week 38: Back and Forth)

—->>>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:

PayPal - The safer, easier way to pay online!

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.”

If you’d like to make a contribution but have PayPal issues, email me at nothingbythebook@ gmail.com and we’ll work something out. J

It’s not procrastination, it’s process (Week 38: Back and Forth)

i

Lazy, rainy Sunday. I want to wander aimlessly in the rain, maybe get cold, maybe get rain in my eyes.

Sean is driving around town looking for a heavy bag and boxing gloves. The giant 16 y o wants it; we hope it will lead to fewer holes in walls. And the 13 y o is almost excited about it too.

The eight-year-old is talking in baby talk again and it’s driving me up the wall, except when it’s not.

Jane: How am I going to carry you up to bed when you’re as big as Cinder?

The eight-year old is curled up in my arms as the 16-year-old stomps into the kitchen, a storm of hormones, imagined stresses, real fears. I am helpless. All I can offer is… presence.

A stocked fridge.

I can still solve all of the eight-year-old’s problems.

That’s something, right?

ii

Saturday night, I dance. Before that, I look at something that I’m afraid is ugly and unsalvageable.

It’s not that bad.

I can work with this.

Everything is going to be ok.

In the morning, my dad brings parowki and makowiec for breakfast. I make chickpea flour crepes.

“They’re not bad,” he says, shocked.

I talk on the phone with my mother. Her sister—my godmother.

I think I’m talking to ghosts.

iii

Friday night, Leonard Cohen, as interpreted by Les Ballets Jazz de Montreal.

OMFG.

I cry.

You can’t appreciate it unless you’ve seen it live, but here is a video:

Friday day, a house full of noisy, noisy boys.

I turn a chore into a break, a taste of bliss.

Hair cut for Flora—less than a centimetre of hair on the floor.

I tell Sean he has to make me look at the manuscript today, but he’s busy at work, he doesn’t.

Everything will be all right, eventually.

Right?

I’ll look at it. Eventually.

iv

Thursday, everything goes wrong, one thing goes right.

The lengths to which I go to not look at the mess I have to deal with are really amazing. I’m full of awe at the ingenuity I exert to not look at the shitty first draft.

I must.

I won’t.

I don’t.

Thursday is my Ender-free day. I piss it away this week. I do things that look like work. They’re not.

I’m not doing the thing I need to do

I must.

I won’t.

I don’t…

v

Wednesday’s kind of a rough day all around; I end up in bed at 7:30.

Ender: I had a great day!

Oh, good.

vi

Tuesday, I decide exercise is bad for you.

But I do all the things. It’s an experiment in discipline.

vii

How is it Monday already?

xoxo

“Jane”

2018

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)

That’s not the way the pope would put it, but… (Week 32: Purpose and Miracles)

And before you know it, it’s over (Week 33: Fast and Slow)

Ragazzo da Napoli zajechał Mirafiori (Week 34: Nostalgia and Belonging)

Depression is a narcissistic disease, fentanyl is dangerous, and knowledge is power, sort of (Week 35: Introspection and Awareness)

I’m not gonna tell you (Week 36: Smoke and Mirrors)

Slightly irritable and yet kinda happy (Week 37: Self-Improvement and Self-Indulgence)

—->>>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:

PayPal - The safer, easier way to pay online!

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.”

If you’d like to make a contribution but have PayPal issues, email me at nothingbythebook@ gmail.com and we’ll work something out. J

Slightly irritable and yet kinda happy (Week 37: Self-Improvement and Self-Indulgence)

i

I have been thinking about all the things you’re supposed to do first thing in the morning. Eat breakfast as soon as you wake up. Wait, first drink a glass of water. Exercise first thing. Meditate ditto. Write before you do anything else… if we do all the things we’re supposed to do first thing in the morning, morning takes all day. Or at least, two hours.

I forgot to mention the cold shower, the body massage, the oil pulling. And, and tooth brushing, of course. Of course, brush your teeth…

I like slow, unhurried mornings. At the same time, I also really value my early morning productivity. When I start doing ALL THE THINGS first thing in the morning, I usually make a good dent in them by 10 a.m. And I feel accomplished, productive, peaceful, and not guilty for being lazy for the rest of the day.  And then, I can have breakfast, mediate, exercise, shower etc. etc.

Anyway. I’m sharing this with you because I’m trying a new morning routine. Which I won’t share with you because parts of it embarrass me a little. But my old morning routine, which was pretty functional for a long while, has suddenly stopped working.

So. I’m changing it.

Disrupting some habits.

Telling Julia Cameron I’m not so sure about those morning pages. Of course, I’m telling her so while I write my morning pages. Funny.

Telling my cup of coffee that I gave her up before and I can give her up again if she’s again become a destructive habit rather than a pleasure.

Yes, I talk with my habits.

Don’t you?

ii

I am writing in the kitchen. It’s Sunday morning. The teenagers are asleep. Sean is cooking oatmeal. Ender is watching a show on his computer. I don’t know where the dog is. The house is cold, because it’s barely zero degrees outside.

Hello September.

This is a happy moment.

another happy moment

iii

This Friday, we meet with the homeschool facilitator. After 11 years of homeschooling (if you start at Cinder’s grade one year, more if you start counting the day he dropped out of the second day of preschool), I’m blasé. She’s new and very enthusiastic. She wants to meet with us in January to discuss the kids’ halfway progress, help me fill out the report card. I sigh.

“We’ll come, of course, if you want us to,” I tell her. “But I don’t need it.”

“Some parents have a hard time filling out the report card,” she says.

“That’s because the report card is stupid,” I say. “I don’t actually fill it out. It’s designed by bureaucrats who understand neither homeschooling nor learning. It’s a waste of my time.”

I used to print out the report cards, fill in the kids’ names, and write N/A – see progress report across the rest of it in giant letters.

Then the report cards got longer and longer and I stopped printing them out. Save the trees.

I think I used to be a homeschool advocate. Now I’m just a “omg, institutions are so broken, I don’t even” crank.

But my facilitator is a functionary of the institution. I won’t punish her for having to do her job.

I won’t fill out the report card, though.

Facilitator: And what are you doing for language arts with Flora?

Jane: She’s working on her fourth or fifth novel, so… not much.

Flora: I might need to junk it, though. I don’t like my main character.

I’m having the same problem. We commiserate.

The facilitator doesn’t ask me what I’m doing for language arts with Ender. Which is good, because right now, that seems to consist mostly of him reading and writing “poop.”

Cinder went through that phase too.

I’m blasé.

I was going to show you how many meatballs Ender can eat at Ikea but I was too late

iv

I like my kids this week, although they’re also frustrating.

And I’m a bit on edge, everything irritates me.

I’m reading a lot about Ayurveda these days, so I decide my doshas are out of balance. Also, change of seasons. Or, peri-menopause.

Or, just overall fatigue.

But it was a good week. A full week. A productive week. A pivotal week.

Thank you, September.

xoxo

“Jane”

2018

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)

That’s not the way the pope would put it, but… (Week 32: Purpose and Miracles)

And before you know it, it’s over (Week 33: Fast and Slow)

Ragazzo da Napoli zajechał Mirafiori (Week 34: Nostalgia and Belonging)

Depression is a narcissistic disease, fentanyl is dangerous, and knowledge is power, sort of (Week 35: Introspection and Awareness)

I’m not gonna tell you (Week 36: Smoke and Mirrors)

Slightly irritable and yet kinda happy (Week 37: Self-Improvement and Self-Indulgence)

—->>>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:

PayPal - The safer, easier way to pay online!

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.”

If you’d like to make a contribution but have PayPal issues, email me at nothingbythebook@ gmail.com and we’ll work something out. J

I’m not gonna tell you (Week 36: Smoke and Mirrors)

Note from process journal: “FIGURE SHIT OUT.”

Right. Getting on that. Right now.

Note to self: NOT AT ANY PRICE.

Note to children: I LOVE YOU. DON’T SET THE HOUSE ON FIRE WHILE I’M OUT.

Note from SIL: 28 hours in labour.

Text from Sean on Saturday: Dad said he will be here on Monday and Tuesday.

Text from my Dad: “You are always on my mind. Have a puff for me.”

Ha.

You know what? Let’s end with this:

xoxo

“Jane”

2018

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)

That’s not the way the pope would put it, but… (Week 32: Purpose and Miracles)

And before you know it, it’s over (Week 33: Fast and Slow)

Ragazzo da Napoli zajechał Mirafiori (Week 34: Nostalgia and Belonging)

Depression is a narcissistic disease, fentanyl is dangerous, and knowledge is power, sort of (Week 35: Introspection and Awareness)

—->>>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:

PayPal - The safer, easier way to pay online!

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.”

If you’d like to make a contribution but have PayPal issues, email me at nothingbythebook@ gmail.com and we’ll work something out. J

Depression is a narcissistic disease, fentanyl is dangerous, and knowledge is power, sort of (Week 35: Introspection and Awareness)

PART I

i

13 is hard.

Do you remember?

I remember it as the year of tears. I couldn’t stop crying.

Flora’s 13 now.

I remember, I remember—but mostly, I hide from her, because faced with her volatilty, I want to yell.

Thank goodness she has a Daddy who knows how to talk to her.

ii

13 is fascinating.

We are in the line-up at Starbucks, Flora and I. I’m thinking about the story I’m not writing. Flora, I assume, is thinking about what she wants to order.

But no.

Flora: What is the most dangerous drug?

Well. I’m about as qualified to answer this as I am to answer her questions about serial killers.

Jane: I don’t know. I guess, judging by what I’ve seen of addicts in the hood… I’d say crystal meth.

Flora: Mmm.

Jane: But… there’s this thing that happens, in the media and in the cultural zeitgiest. There’s a fashionable worst drug ever. You know? In the 1960s and 1970s, it was heroin. And then in the 1980s, it was cocaine. And then, cocaine was not so bad, but crack—rock cocaine—was the worst, there was no hope of a cure of the addiction, it was a death sentence. And now, crystal meth is the worst thing ever, and marijuana is a cure-all.

I should perhaps highlight at this point that neither Flora nor I are cursed with low-pitched, mumbly, hard-to-hear voices, and the acoustics in this particular Starbucks are quite good.

The man in line in front of us turns around.

Scott: In the 60s and 70s, people served long jail terms for marijuana possession.

Jane: I think in some places in the US, they still do.

Scott: Obama pardoned most of them when he became president.

Then he flushes.

Scott: Sorry. I do psych counselling and support at festivals. So I know a lot about… this is sort of hobby horse of mine…

Jane: Then perhaps you can answer this young woman’s question. What is the most dangerous drug?

He really, really thinks hard about it. Heroin, he says, is really dangerous again, but that’s because it’s being laced with fentanyl. And, crystal meth—well, yeah, not so good. And then, when they add fentanyl to it…

Scott: They’re adding fentanyl to everything.

I don’t actually know how to spell fentanyl; I have to google it.

Scott: So really, the gist of this all is—you’ve got to trust your source.

And he shuts up and looks at me and my 13 year old daughter.

Flora: Thank you.

Scott: Um… yeah.

He looks at me. Awkward smile,

Scott: Sorry?

Jane: Thank you. No worries.

iii

Flora orders her fancy drink.

Barrista: Size?

Flora: Um…. medium?

Barrista: Grande?

Flora: Sure.

Barrista: Name?

Flora: What?

Barrista: Your name? For the drink?

Flora looks at me.

And I laugh.

Jane: What’s your Starbucks name gonna be, baby?

Flora’s real name has fewer letters than mine. But it also has a Z pushed up against a consonant that means your poor anglophone tongue will never figure out what the fuck to do with it, and the two vowels at the end are NOT pronounced the way you think they should be.

Flora: Cat.

Barrista: Is that with a C or a K?

Flora: C.

We shuffle over to the “pick up your drink” side of the counter.

Flora: Fuck. I should have said with a Q.

Jane: Or, with a silent X.

Flora: Oh, look. The drug dude’s name is Scott.

Jane: With one t?

Flora’s brow is furrowed.

Flora: I need a Starbucks name that they will know how to spell.

Jane: They ask me how to spell Jane all the time.

It’s true. They like to put a y in it. An extra e, n, an assortment of the above.

iv

While not doing my work, I watch He’s Just Not Into You. It has some fucking brilliant parts.

“So trust me when I tell you that when a guy is treating you like he doesn’t give a shit, he genuinely doesn’t give a shit. No exceptions.”

Scratch guy for person, and there you have it.

Mothers—for the love of your daughters’ future relationship functionality—when a little boy kicks her sandcastle over at a playground, when her 11 year old class mate snaps her bra—don’t tell her he’s treating her disrespectfully because he likes her. Tell her that he’s an ass who doesn’t know how to treat people with respect—and not worth crying over, much less lusting after. And then call his mother and father and tell them to teach their son some manners, and a functional mode of communication.

You: How do you know this and I don’t?

Jane: I have a father who treats me like a queen, remember?

PART II

i

Something is coming, churning. I’m on its verge and I feel it—what is it? Boom! Sometimes, it happens like that and sometimes, it sneaks in. Peekaboo. Did you see me? Yes, you’re right, here I am.

I don’t know how the breakthrough will come but I do feel it coming. I tell you about it, you tell me about yours… I’m not sure we mean the same thing by breakthrough but that, I think, is the curse of the human species. We never really know what the other is talking about.

ii

You can’t save people.

Someone I love is crying in front of me, unbidden tears, and says, “You have no idea what it is like to live with someone who has depression.”

I laugh. Like a slap.

I have no idea.

I wish.

But these stories, we don’t talk about them, because they are not ours to tell.

I tell her, the one thing I’ve learned—you can’t save people. They have to save themselves. All you can do is love them. Make sure they know you’re there for them when they come back.

And take care of yourself, because if you don’t take care of yourself, they sure as fuck won’t take care of you.

Depression is a narcissistic disease.

Sean: I’m the tone who told you that.

Jane: I know. It helped.

Betrand Russell who, I think, struggled with depression himself, knew this. The major thrust of his 1930 The Conquest of Happiness—both a prescient and a dated read, and yes, one can be both—is that happiness lies not within introspection… but in engagement with the outside world.

Martin Seligman’s PERMA model—Sean attends a seminar about it this week at the U, and we spend a little bit of time discussing the Flourish author’s insights—really says more or less the same thing.

Like most things described with acronyms, it’s kinda simplistic, but, for what it’s worth, here it is:

  • P-Positive Emotion
  • E-Engagement
  • R-Relationships
  • M-Meaning
  • A-Accomplishment

You can read more about it here.

I like a lot about Seligman’s work, except for the P part of his model—because the negative emotions, frankly, have a role to play in engagement, relationships, meaning and accomplishment too, and if you don’t know how to work with them, through them, well, then, you’re fucked, baby. But the point I’m trying to make here—which perhaps is one of the reasons I’m such a shitty meditator—is that the more you look within, the outside world becomes less and less important and real. And as the world recedes, all that exists is you and your suffering, your demons take center stage, and it becomes easier—it becomes self-evident—that what you need to do is walk into the English channel with rocks in your pockets.

Fuck you, Virginia Woolf, you coward, Lenard would have loved you through another bout of your “terrible times,” he would have endured it, for you.

And fuck you, Sylvia Plath. Did you really think your children would be better off without a mother?

No. Of course you didn’t. You didn’t think. The outside world, reality did not exists. There was only the suffering self.

Depression is a narcissistic disease.

Except those of us who don’t suffer from it but suffer alongside those who do… aren’t allowed to say so.

Because we just don’t understand.

Like a slap, the curse of the human species—we always think each of us is so fucking special and nobody can possibly understand what happens inside the Other.

Anyway.

You can’t save people.

This, I know.

iii

I finish writing a bad story and I feel good about it for five minutes, than bad about how bad it is. I text Sean.

Sean: I’m sure you’ll like it better in revisions. You know hating your first draft is part of your process.

Not always. Occasionally, there is a good, beautiful first draft. But not this time. I stare at the computer screen, chewing lip. Decide to scrub the grease off the kitchen cupboards.

iv

I am feeling unsympathetic today, and I think all you depressed, anxious people should pull up your fucking socks, get a British stiff upper lip, and just get on with things.

I know I’m not supposed to think that.

I’m supposed to take a deep breath, dip into the well of unconditional love, and be your rock.

Crash.

Boom.

Guess what? The well is empty.

And now what?

unsympathetic bitch selfie

v

Two or three years ago, I write a bad poem. I don’t remember much about, except this line:

I danced with a man who hadn’t suffered…

People who haven’t suffered are pretty happy.

But they are also, usually, insufferable.

I find this really funny.

vi

Her: You just don’t understand.

Jane: You don’t actually want to be understood.

Think about it.

vii

Crash.

Boom.

Enlightenment, breakthrough.

You can’t save other people.

All you can do is love them.

And take care of yourself first, like in those airplane safety instructions, you know? Put on your oxygen mask first.

That is not this week’s breakthrough. That, I’ve known for a while.

I try to share it with the person I love who needs to hear it. Bu I can’t save her either. She needs to figure it out herself. I can just be there.

viii

The six mantras of loving speech, by Thich Nhat Hanh:

  1. I am here for you.
  2. I know you are there, and I’m happy.
  3. I know you suffer, and that’s why I’m here for you.
  4. I suffer. Please help.
  5. This is a happy moment.
  6. You are partly right.

(The Art of Communicating)‎

I am here for you.

Except, sometimes, I’m not, because I have to go be there for myself. Do you understand?

Yes, no.

Suffering people, when things are bad, understand, feel nothing but their pain. You can’t take this burden off them.

You cannot lighten it.

And you know what? They don’t actually have the right to ask you to lighten it for them. Do you understand that?

Now, where’s that fucking oxygen mask? Put it on.

ix

It’s rainy and it’s sunny and there’s a rainbow and I don’t think the city has looked this beautiful to me for more than a year.

Boom.

Crash.

There is a crack within.

That’s how the light gets in.

Peekaboo.

Well, hello there, breakthrough.

You are not what I was expecting, at all.

You: Buddha was a psychopath, depression is a narcissist, and you?

Jane: I’m thinking I’m an empathetic sociopath. What do you think?

You: You’re something, all right.

I’m something. Something amazing.

And so are you.

But I can’t save you.

Understand?

xoxo

“Jane”

PS I don’t think this piece actually worked. This seems to be my week for shitty first, second, and third drafts. Sorry.

PS 2 Happy Pride! I danced all week. My feet and back ache, and it’s not the motherfucking sadist’s fault—he’s only responsible for the fact that my shoulders and chest hurt so much it’s hard to type. Happiness has some very strange components sometimes. 😉

2018

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)

That’s not the way the pope would put it, but… (Week 32: Purpose and Miracles)

And before you know it, it’s over (Week 33: Fast and Slow)

Ragazzo da Napoli zajechał Mirafiori (Week 34: Nostalgia and Belonging)

—->>>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:

PayPal - The safer, easier way to pay online!

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.”

If you’d like to make a contribution but have PayPal issues, email me at nothingbythebook@ gmail.com and we’ll work something out. J

Ragazzo da Napoli zajechał Mirafiori (Week 34: Nostalgia and Belonging)

i

The boy—man, I suppose, but he’s closer in age to my son than me, so, boy—is 27, and he’s a reverse immigrant. Born in Calgary—but went back to his parents’ motherland before he was two and that’s where he grew up. Now he’s back. He speaks fluent Italian and awkward English with a heavy accent.

“Sexy accent, right?”

“Right.”

He’s home but he’s homesick. Funny, hey?

I understand.

We are speaking the universal language.

Music.

I know nothing about Italian music, but Czesław Niemen—the Polish equivalent of John Lennon, I’m not exaggerating—has a couple of songs in Italian. I share them.

Then I struggle to remember… there was this song… Piazza di Napoli? No, Ragazzo da Napoli… zajechał… some type of car… and she was a gold digger and he was happy to take advantage of her… confused motivation, but her local boy—who was singing the song—was pissed, and it was Communist Poland, so don’t fucking judge her—but of course, the singer and the audience do.

I think it’s a Niemen song, because I don’t really know very much about Polish music. Niemen. Rodowicz. Czerwone Guitary.

Skip a couple of generations: Sztywny Pal Azji.

That’s about it.

I can’t find the song.

I send my dad a text late at night. It makes no sense, in two languages:

“In which Niemen song does it go—Na piazza neapoli… zajechał (some kind of car) nananana…”

But that’s all he needs.

“Mirafiori. It’s a type of Fiat. Ale to nie Niemen.”

He finds it on Youtube:

I forget about the homesick Italian boy.

I’m wallowing in… nostalgia?

Perhaps. Not really. It’s not my nostalgia. This is not my youth. It’s my parents’ youth. My very early childhood. These songs were my Raffi, my Mr. Rogers. My mom played them in Libya.

In Italy.

With Canada, came choice and English-language radio. MuchMusic and MTV.

And then CDs from Poland. But it still was Niemen, Rodowicz, Czerwone Guitary.

I’ve told you before, I have a complicated relationship with my fatherland. I don’t love it.

I also realize—I don’t know it. It’s frozen to me somewhere in a 1981 I didn’t even experience firsthand, snapshots of rather traumatic memories.

ii

The artist is a decade or so older than me. She left Poland as a toddler. Doesn’t have the facility with the language that I have. Has a much stronger affinity to the country, the culture. A hunger for belonging that she fills there, not here.

A sense, maybe, that if she stayed there—she’d be complete? Or at least… belong.

Sean comments on it. I see it too. We talk about where her hunger comes from. She knows some parts of it, not all.

She asks me, “Where do you belong?”

And I don’t really understand the question.

iii

I’ve spent the last few weeks preparing materials for a Diversity and Inclusivity panel. The exercise kicked my ass a little. Talking about trauma is retraumatizing. And in the presentation of the panel I moderate, and in the presentation of the follow up materials and resources, I’m trying to achieve something really big. I don’t want to preach to the choir and I don’t want people nodding their heads and feeling good about themselves.

I kinda want to traumatize them, to force them to have an “Aha” moment whether they want to have it or not.

You: How very manipulative of you. And you were also doing a panel on consent, I believe?

Jane: Hush.

In the midst of it all, I watch Hannah Gadsby’s Nanette on Netlfix with Sean and I realize in a flash that a) that is what I’m trying to do in this panel and these materials and b) it’s nasty and mean and traumatizing but necessary.

I want to walk you to the edge of a cliff and then shove you over and have you feel fear of death and maybe see your version of god. Then yank you back to safety—give you a few minutes to catch your breath.

And then shove you off the cliff again.

I write like that too. In the novels, after the last time I shove you off the cliff… I catch you. Soothe you. Maybe even give you an orgasm.

But this panel does not have a happy ending. It’s ends with an invitation to keep on shoving yourself (and others) off the cliff.

Sorry.

iv

You are homesick for Colombia, for your Mom, your sisters. Home.

My ragazzo da Napoli is homesick for those same things. Also, the food.

My friend from Syria is going back home as soon as he can; he’s not even here while he’s here, and everything he’s doing here is about what’s back there. Home. Sister. Parents.

My parents are here—they were always there. I think that’s the thing. The place I belong, it’s not a place.

v

One of the problems with most attempts to “educate” people on diversity and inclusivity is that we fail to address, head on, honestly, that like attracts like.

We want to be with people like us. We are comfortable with people like us.

And an inclusive country/culture is one in which “like us” is just a really fucking big circle.

Take me.

I like to think that I like variety, diversity, hanging out with people who are NOT like me.

Drill into that a little… and virtually all of my closest friends, loves, the people I spend the most time with… are like me in the ways that really matter:

They’re immigrants, third culture kids, queers, non-conformists, freaky artists, existential angsters… who don’t belong.

They’re The Other.

We’re all The Other together.

Like attracts like.

Like relaxes with like.

And I guess that’s why “inclusivity” is the better word than “diversity.” It expands… like.

Does that make sense?

Perhaps not.

vi

My kids have lived a lifetime in the same place, in the same house. I’ve given them—what I didn’t have. Just in case, you know, that was the better thing to give them. I’ve had to fight myself to give them this. I don’t want to root. My default, preferred, nurtured mode is to keep on moving.

But I wonder if… my rooted kids will be less resilient.

Drop me into a new city, country, hotel, group, party—and I’ll assess, in just a few minutes, the rules and power dynamics of the room. And decide how—if—I want to play them.

I don’t always love doing this. But I know how to do it. Pretty much flawlessly when I apply myself. Practice makes perfect.

The people in the room will enjoy their experience with me very much. And I’ll probably enjoy them. And I won’t think of them again when I leave. It will be easy to leave. Easy to walk into another room. (Also, easy to pass through that room without connecting with anyone, almost invisible, like a ghost, I can do that too.)

Unrooted.

(I am probably exaggerating for poetic licence. I’ve lived in the same place for 13 years now. I will be here for at least 10 years more. I think it’s for the children, but I suppose it’s for me too. But I think… I think if you yank me out of this soil and transplant me somewhere else… you’ll find my roots were very shallow. And they’ll thrive elsewhere. My kids? Their roots are deep, deep, deep.)

vii

The ragazzo da Napoli…

Him: You know I’m not actually from Naples? I’m from…

Jane: Hush. Don’t give me facts that fuck up the crafting of my narrative. You’re not longer real–you’re a character in my story, and you need to be a homesick, naive boy from Naples for the story to work.

Him: You’re a little strange.

Jane: Roll with it.

…is too young, I think, to really know how rooted or unrooted he is. And he thinks that I’m making a simple thing too complicated. Home is home, and also food, and speaking of, what Italian food do I like to eat, did my mom learn to cook Italian while we lived in Rome?

I think the answer is probably no—I don’t think of Italian food when I think of Italy. We ate, in Italy, Polish food. Potatoes, beets, and all the meat you could dream of: kotlety made with ground pork–mmmm, schabowe. A post-Muslim country pork orgy–except when the Jewish emigrants and Hungarian expats came over. Then, gulasz. Beef strogonoff.

“And in Libya?”

Sardines, saltine crackers, rice that had to be sifted for maggots. And caviar.

Contraband sausage.

But that’s another story.

viii

While in Denver, I make a friend who sorta lives in Orlando, but travels all over the United States for work. Orlando isn’t really home, even though his parents live near there. The rest of the family is in New York. The move to Florida was their big emigration.

I find it a bit odd that an African American family would move… like, South. You know?

He asks me if he can go “angry black man” on me for a while. I consent.

… and I can’t tell you, I can’t imagine…

But I don’t have to imagine what it’s like to be from someplace that causes you pain with its history and politics, I know what it’s like to not belong, I know what it’s like to have a very complicated relationship with the place that’s supposed to be home…

In immigrant and ex-pat communities, you’re generally supposed to be extra-proud about where you’re from. It’s sort of the thing, right? Identity. Patriotism. Bla bla.

Political dissidents tend to walk a more complicated line, of being simultaneously proud of what their country was/could be and critical of its current politics.

 “We’re all political dissidents now.”

Are we?

Third culture kids occupy a different place still. We are, I think, hyper-critical of everything. The old home, the new home, all the homes in-between. Because our experience of the foibles of the homeland, wherever it is, is untempered by love and romantic attachment.

We love, I think—our parents, our friends. The aunts and cousins we visit when we go back to our parents’ home. The people we meet in our new homes. But places, countries?

I don’t know.

Ender: Can you turn down the volume on that song?

Flora: Or, like, stop listening to it on a loop?

Cinder: Just find her headphones.

Sean: She’s sorting something out. It’s part of the process. Let her be.

(My Greek chorus.)

I’m sorting out this:

My Poland is frozen in this moment, in which one could go to jail for listening to this song:

But people listened. Gathered for live performances of it. Fought and died for the right to, you know… THINK freely and critically and be able to express those thoughts in art and in life.

They fought… for the right to WORK, really. The right to live, exist… unfettered by oppressive dogma.

Watching the perversion of all of that by the current government of post-Communist “free” Poland is disgusting.

And the third culture kid says, “What is there to love in you, Fatherland?”

And answers, “Nothing.”

ix

The ragazzo da Napoli shakes his head.

“My head is full of stereotypes about broody Slavs, moody Jane.”

I shrug.

“My head is full of stereotypes about Italian dagos. Do you drive a Fiat by any chance? A classic 1978 Mirafiori?”

“Shut up. And stop playing that old song. Let’s go eat.”

“Italian?”

“No. It’s no good here. Sushi?”

“Maybe… or, there’s this new Afghani restaurant I’ve found. They cook with love, and the whole family works there. It feels like home. Let’s go there.”

Deal.

x

Here, if you want to learn how to play Ragazzo da Napoli, you can do so here:

https://teksty.wywrota.pl/tekst-chwyty/39836-jacek-zwozniak-ragazzo-da-napoli.html

(The music is actually a cover of Italian singer’s Drupi’s 1978 hit Provincia.)

And here are the lyrics (my shitty English translation follows):

Ragazzo da Napoli zajechał mirafioriC a C a
Na sam trotuar wjechał kołami,C A d G
Nosem prezent poczułaś, już taka jesteś czuła,d G d G
Że pomyślałaś o nim “bel ami”.d G C G

On ciemny był na twarzy, a prezent ci się marzył,
Za dziesięć centów torba w Peweksie. 
Ty miałaś cztery złote, on proponował hotel
I nie musiałaś zameldować się.

Ty z nim poszłaś w ciemno damo bez matury,F G C a
Koza ma prezencję lepszą niźli ty.F G C a
Czemu smutną minę masz i wzrok ponury,F G C a
Ciao bambina, spadaj mała, tam są drzwi.d G C a

On miał w kieszeni paszport, sprawdziłaś a więc znasz to,
Lecz on nie sprawdził, ile ty masz lat.
On mówił “bella blonda”, a zobacz, jak wyglądasz,
Te włosy masz jak len, co w błoto wpadł.

Jak w oczy spojrzysz teraz swojego prezentera,
Co dyskotekę robi i ma styl.
Straciłaś fatyganta, chciał kupić ci trabanta,
Czy warto było za tych parę chwil?

Twój ragazzo forda capri ci nie kupi,
“Buona notte” pewnie też nie powie ci.
Jeszcze wierzysz, że dla ciebie śpiewa Drupi
Ciao bambina, spadaj mała, tam są drzwi.

Poznałaś Europę, więc nie mów do mnie “kotek”
Ja nie wiem, co volkswagen, a co ford,
Nie jestem tak bogaty, nie wezmę cię do chaty
I przestań mnie nazywać “my sweet lord”.

Ty nie będziesz moją Julią Capuletti,
Inny wszak niż ja Romeo ci się śni,
W żadnym calu nie wyglądam jak spaghetti,
Ciao bambina, spadaj mała, tam są drzwi.

Gdy ci pizzę stawiał rzekł “Prego, mangiare”
To pamiętać będziesz po kres swoich dni,
Tęskniąc za nim, jak panienka za dolarem.
(original line: Tęskniąc za nim, jak złotówka za dolarem.)
Ciao bambina, spadaj mała, tam są drzwi.

ENGLISH:

The boy from Naples rode up in a Mirafiori
He rolled the wheels ride onto the sidewalk
Your nose smelled a present—you’re just that sensitive
And you thought about him “bel ami”

He was dark on his face, and you were dreaming about that gift
A ten cent purse from the duty-free store
You had four zloty, he was suggesting a hotel
And you didn’t have to show your documents to get in

You went with him into the dark, lady without a high school diploma
A goat has better sense than you
Why such a sad face and a grim gaze
Ciao bambino, fuck off baby, there’s the door

(“spadaj mala” is more like “get out of here, little one,” but “fuck off baby” is the intended meaning)

He had a passport in his pocket, you know because you checked
But he didn’t bother to check your age
He said, “Gorgeous blonde,” but see how you look
Your hair’s like flax trampled  in the mud

How will you know look in the eyes of your [hometown boyfriend]
who throws dance parties and has style
You lost a serious contender, he wanted to buy you a Trabant
Was it worth it for those few moments?

(Trabant=shitty East German car, “spark plug with a roof))

Your „ragazzo” won’t buy you a Ford Capri
“Buona notte” (good night) he won’t tell you either
You still believe it’s for you that Drupi sings
Ciao bambina, fuck off baby, there’s the door

You got to know Europe, so don’t call me „kitten”
I don’t know the difference between a Volkswagen and a Ford
I’m not that rich, I won’t take you in
And stop calling me “my sweet lord”

You won’t be my Julia Capuletti
After all you dream of a Romeo different than me
In any case, I don’t look like spaghetti
Ciao bambina, fuck off baby, there’s the door

When he bought you pizza, he said, “Prego, mangiare”
You’ll remember that to the end of your days
Longing after him (chasing him) like a chick chases the dollar
(alt line: Longing after him (chasing him) like the zloty chases the dollar)
Ciao bambina, fuck off baby, there’s the door.

xoxo

“moody Jane”

More about my struggles with the Fatherland: Dear Fatherland: the pallbearers were probably not skinheads, but I don’t know, and reflections on grief, roots, and love

2018

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)

That’s not the way the pope would put it, but… (Week 32: Purpose and Miracles)

And before you know it, it’s over (Week 33: Fast and Slow)

Ragazzo da Napoli zajechał Mirafiori (Week 34: Nostalgia and Belonging)

—->>>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:

PayPal - The safer, easier way to pay online!

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.”

If you’d like to make a contribution but have PayPal issues, email me at nothingbythebook@ gmail.com and we’ll work something out. J

And before you know it, it’s over (Week 33: Fast and Slow)

This week disappears.

I have no real deadlines. A couple of rewrites. Follow-ups. Post-conference crash. Am I tired, sick, or just slow? Slow. The smoke is bad. I go to yoga, meet a friend for yucca fries, solo sheesha date, take Flora shopping, cuddle Ender a lot, I want a time-out, a vacation—I grab a night—Co-op birthday party, yes, I washed the kitchen floor but the stairs are fuzzy, ha ha.

3 families, 8 kids, tribe

I think the kids are happy this week except when Flora slams the doors or Cinder won’t leave his room.

Teenagers.

Sean has a shit day at work—I’m leaving for the night before he comes back, try make it a little better with baked apples and a curry soup.

A friend is stepping back from the world. “I need to take care of myself,” she says. “I don’t protest. “If I don’t, nobody else will.”

I pause, ponder if it’s a request, a cry for help. Is she saying, “Take care of me, a little?”

But healer and caretaker are not my archetypes.

I want to build a world in which you’re taken care of, I whisper. Taking care of your individual needs drains me.

Hypocritical?

I suppose. Or, realistic.

I rip through two books. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman:

… and I tell everyone I know to read it, best thing I’ve read in years, Sean complies—we argue about it.

and Bellewether by Susanna Kearsley:

so fun, so well-done, and my name shared space with hers in a recent conference promo, so I’m doubly pleased now. She is as good as I remember, I am as honoured.

Today, I might clean the living room. Then again, I might not.

Fun times.

Lazy pen.

This happens too—a text from a “friend,” while Sean and I are out on a long overdue date, Afghani food, look, they have sheesha (this is a bad idea, already so much smoke in the air because BC is burning), then a stroll through a new-to-us Indian spice mart—we are in heaven, looking up the names of beans (who knew there were so many varieties of mung beans and chickpeas, how, exactly, are they different?)—I don’t buy a kitschy Ganesha statue but I think about it—a text from a “friend.”

Friend. “Friend.” Facebook friend.

I suppose, ultimately, I mean acquaintance.

Friend used to be such a meaningful word. Don’t you think?

Anyway.

Text.

Quotation marks.

I only hear from her when she wants something. This time, she wants to borrow my car.

I’m perversely happy I can’t help. Because, of course, I’d say yes. Resent it.

I had to borrow my neighbours cars for eight months this winter.

Hypocrite?

I don’t think so.

I don’t only talk to them when I need something.

Today, I want to smoke cigars in the smoke and drink Scotch and Turkish cofee and read Czeslaw Milosz—listen:

LOVE
by Czesław Miłosz

Love means to learn to look at yourself
The way one looks at distant things
For you are only one thing among many.
And whoever sees that way heals his heart,
Without knowing it, from various ills.
A bird and a tree say to him: Friend.

Then he wants to use himself and things
So that they stand in the glow of ripeness.
It doesn’t matter whether he knows what he serves:
Who serves best doesn’t always understand.

via BrainPickings.org

–maybe Jack Gilbert (yes!) and not do very much else.

But.

Perhaps I’ll clean the living room. And sweep the stairs. They are fuzzy.

But.

Perhaps not.

“Jane”

Sunnyhill Housing Co-op, August 18, 2018
Happy 40th Birthday to Us!

2018

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)

That’s not the way the pope would put it, but… (Week 32: Purpose and Miracles)

And before you know it, it’s over (Week 33: Fast and Slow)

—->>>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:

PayPal - The safer, easier way to pay online!

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.”

If you’d like to make a contribution but have PayPal issues, email me at nothingbythebook@ gmail.com and we’ll work something out. J

That’s not the way the pope would put it, but… (Week 32: Purpose and Miracles)

i

This past week, I had a Wednesday deadline and a conference that started on Friday, and so really all that existed was Thursday. Monday I wrote. Tuesday, I played hooky—rafting with the kids. Wednesday, I wrote. Thursday, I pondered why I exist. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, I was building a tribe.

On Friday, before leaving for the weekend, I cover all the windows in the house with blankets. The heat wave is kicking our collective asses here. I like it hot, really, but last week finally hits too hot for me. The house is not built for this type of heat, I murmur as I dig up more blankets. We are living in a den. Thank goodness my writing space and the basement bedroom are in cool enough to breathe in.

For unclear reasons, I think about Ecuador.

The nights are already coming too soon. No more midnight sun.

I’m reading Gail Honeyman’s Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine and Steven Pressfield’s The Artist’s Journey. Except when Sean and I take turns reading Birds of Alberta to Ender at bedtime.

Sean: I didn’t think it was possible, but this book is more boring than the Reptiles and Amphibians of Canada.

He’s wrong. Do you know how many salamander species and sub-species there are in Alberta and their identifying characteristics?

I do.

I don’t find this is knowledge I really needed at the moment. But there it is. Perhaps it will come in handy at my conference.

Her: I’m a herpetologist.

Jane: Really? Have you ever seen an encina in the wild?

Her: Why yes, two years ago, when I was…

Everything has a purpose, nothing has a purpose.

Albert Einstein, allegedly, said that we have one fundamental choice in life. We can live as if everything is a miracle… or as if nothing is a miracle.

I was raised Catholic so the word “miracle” is laden with meaning and baggage—as well as a strict papal—definition. I don’t believe in Catholic miracles.

But I do believe we have this choice: to live life as if it and we have a purpose. Or to live life as if it doesn’t, and we don’t… and if we don’t… why live?

So.

I wake  up. Stretch like a cat and ponder getting a more comfotable mattress. Think about the things I need to do today, their order. Climb up the two flights of stairs to the bathroom.

Pee.

“The first thing you do in the morning sets the tone for the day.”

Come on. We all start the day with a piss. It’s a physical necessity, not a magic eight ball.

Scrape my tongue (TMI, I apologize, but btw, it’s probably the most useful thing I’ve learned from Ayurvedic cookbooks). Brush teeth. Drink water. Make coffee. Let the dog out to pee—do not lose it when I see a pile of shit by the balcony door. She has no opposable thumbs—I’m not sure she has much of a brain, either—she can’t let herself out. She’s my responsibility.

Clean up the shit—literally, but that can be a metaphor. Wash my hands.

Write.

Today, the first page is private, whining-fear-reflection. Then, this. After? Conference. I won’t have a chance to write again today. But that’s ok. I’ve done enough to keep th ehabit and to stay connected to the purpose.

Now—one more cup of coffee. A few pages of Elinor. A shower. Meditation. Breakfast (Eggs!). Pack.

And… go.

ii

I went. It was good. Repeat two more times. Crash.

iii.

[deleted]

iv.

Everything has a purpose. I have a purpose. And if I don’t… well, I have to live as if I do.

And… go.

xoxo

“Jane”

2018

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:

PayPal - The safer, easier way to pay online!

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.”

If you’d like to make a contribution but have PayPal issues, email me at nothingbythebook@ gmail.com and we’ll work something out. J

Deadlines and little lies make the world go round (Week 31: Honesty and Compassion)

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.

Work? Ha.

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.

 

judgemental confessions

Flora: Do we get the judgemental genes from Mom?

Jane: Yes.

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.

Canadian child.

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?

Radical honesty.

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.)

 

sunday

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?

xoxo

“Jane”

PS I found my phone. Dare I confess to you how very much I wanted it to stay lost?

2018

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:

PayPal - The safer, easier way to pay online!

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.”

If you’d like to make a contribution but have PayPal issues, email me at nothingbythebook@ gmail.com and we’ll work something out. J