On not meditating but meditating anyway, and a cameo from John Keats (Week 28: Busy and Resting)

Cliche of the week: less is more.

Moving on:

Busy, busy, busy, busy—no. Stop. I hate feeling busy—I hate using the word ‘hate’—should I just say ‘don’t like’? It doesn’t matter—semantics—STOP!

My friend Lisa says reframe it. ‘When I tell people I’m busy, I feel frazzled, When i acknowledge life is full at the moment, but these are all the things I want or need to be doing right now—that’s different.’

I like that.

‘I like to keep busy,’ he says. I make big eyes.

‘Why?’

I’m not really busy right now. Really. All things considered—24 hours in every day, seven days in the week, and I sit on the balcony every day with my notebook or  my books, occasionally smoke a cigar.

But I’m too busy to weed my garden. Btw, that means I don’t want to do it.

Busy-not-busy, I do have a lot of balls in the air right now—a couple of them are flaming swords—and keeping them in motion requires effort and concentration.

But.

Also.

This:

Much of my time this past year, whether actively engaged in a task or not, has been spent in a state of potential availability. Waiting to be called, needed, interrupted.

“Mom. I need help—I don’t understand this math question at all.”

“Mom! I’m hungry!”

“Mom, I need a hug, I’m sad.”

I’m not complaining. Let me be clear here—I’m not complaining. I’m stating a fact, and I’m sharing an observation and an important one: it is only recently that I’ve started to realize and acknowledge that this state of… waiting… of being available… of simply being here if they need me… is… I was going to say exhausting, but scratch that. I’m not complaining, I’m not being negative. I’m acknowledging: this state, it takes effort. It takes effort. It is not restful.

Resting in the middle of motion; negative capability.

John Keats coined the phrase “Negative Capability,” saying that it is the essential characteristic of a poet, writer, artist and defined as “that when man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason.”

I’ve been familiar with the phrase for a long time; it comes to the fore again this week. I share it with a few friends. And I try to see if there’s a way to applying it to my busy-not-busy-not-rested…. because I think I need to find a way to rest while I am, in effect, coiled in a spiral, waiting to be called into action.

“Mom!”

“Jane!”

“Coming, I’m coming.”

I have not been meditating or gong to yoga lately. Busy-not-busy, honestly, I just didn’t want to. The times I could have spent in silence and not thinking, I’ve been putting earbuds in and listening to Nero Wolfe stories I know off by heart. Numbing or reflection? I don’t know. One or the other, perhaps, both.

What am I afraid of, busy-not-busy?

Good news, bad news in the same day, same hour. Both feel disruptive—I’m going to meditate, I am. Lie down in the half-dark of my bedroom and do a long yoga nidra practice that doubles as a nap.

I tell Flora, Cinder, Ender.

“Do you need anything from me before I go downstairs? This meditation is an hour.”

Nobody needs me, wants me.

“Don’t come down, don’t knock on my door—don’t come down to put in laundry. I’ll come up when I’m done.”

Everyone nods.

I go down at 2:30 and I fade in and out of yogic sleep during the practice. IT is good.

3:10. The bedroom door creaks open.

“Are you done, Mom? Did you fall asleep? You said you’d come upstairs when you were done? I thought you forgot.”

That was not the 8 year old, by the way. That was the 16 year old. Math is done, but he needed help with high school English.

“Coming.”

Getting angry that your meditation practice is interrupted seems a little… ironic? So I don’t. On the surface at least.

 

Busy-not-busy, I think I am happy. It doesn’t look like happiness always. I think it is the happiness I want—laced with pain as well as pleasure, chokful of purpose.

But I am tired and I don’t want to be tired. I want to be rested.

And I want to rest in-between those moments of effort, because I can’t take a week in which to lay dead to the world on a beach.

Speaking of resting in-between:

I don’t romanticize my labours and births. They were long and hard and they hurt and I was so happy when they were over.

But. What I remembered with acute pleasure from the process: learning, eventually, to rest fully and completely between each contraction. I have never been so limp, so liquid, so totally non-effort as in that tiny space—four minutes, three, two… one—after the peak and before the beginning of the next wave, when there was no pain, no crescendo, just—nothing, stillness, rest.

It’s morning. Balcony. Sun. Coffee. Notebook. Pen. Sylvia Plath’s Letters beside (Sylvia Day on my mind).

Negative capability.

Footsteps on the stairs, and here comes Ender and Maggie.

“Mom! Where are you?”

“I’m here.”

I’m here.

Breathe.

This is perhaps the most important, most demanding part of my meditation practice.

I’m here.

Breathe.

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)

—->>>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 the wrong question (Week 27: Success and Failure)

I.

My friends and I, my loves and I, we spend a lot of time talking about the meaning of life. And I know—I really do know—that the meaning of life is to, you know, live the life. That’s it, really, and all the angst is superficially over-intellectualized crap that, if we could completely and totally let go of, we would be tranquil. I know this. Sean knows this. Most of us know this.

And yet, here we go again: Why are we here? What do we do this for? Is it enough?

I have an engineer friend who, when I go do this place, tells me sternly to shut up my monkey brain—and he’s not using the Buddhist concept here, he’s referring to my too-clever-for-itself monkey, whose immense curiosity and agility invented—well, everything, from the wheel to the nuclear bomb, and the unfortunate unintended evolutionary side effect of which (nothing in evolution, by the way, is intended, not really—it just happens—that’s the meaning of life—isn’t that marvellous and crazy?) is all this self-doubt and questioning and spiralling and chatter.

I don’t spiral much, not really, but when I do, it is quite spectacular.

Anyway, this day, we do not talk about the meaning of life. We eat pancakes and drink cocktails and then then have cherries and steak for lunch and demand a delivery of chicken and beer for supper. Somewhere in there, we make arrangement for smores.

We are, on this day, pretty much perfectly happy. All the existential angst is in the background. The foreground is—friends, food, drink, pleasure.

Would only every day feel like this.

wednesday

I was here…

…and I worked this:

Bucket list moments.

II.

I want you to read this:

My name is Wil Wheaton. I Live With Chronic Depression and Generalized Anxiety. I Am Not Ashamed.

I don’t, by the way, live with chronic depression and generalized anxiety. I live with chronic existential angst, which is a very different thing and manifests not in unhappiness, but in this bone-deep desire to make sure that my life matters, makes a difference, is neither cosmic accident nor irrelevant blip in the unfolding of the universe… contrasted with the awareness that actually, if the universe is the backdrop, I am an irrelevant blip, a cosmic accident, and any attempt to matter is arrogant, foolish, and pointless, oh-my-god-why-am-I-here?

Ender: Mom! I’m hungry!

I make the nth burrito of the day. This is, of course, one of the reasons that I am here. Is it enough?

I just think this is really funny.

III.

Sean: Maggie, we have something to tell you. This may come as a shock to you. You’re adopted. Jane is not your real mother.

The dog dances in circles on the floor and stares at him with a look of dumb love in her eyes.

Jane: Would you guys stop calling me the dog’s mother. Please.

Sean: Did you not hear me? I just told her she’s adopted. And broke her heart. The poor, poor puppy.

True story: I had a dog before I had kids. I loved her, probably too much.

This little thing? She’s just a dog.

I am NOT her mother.

Cinder: But she really, really loves you anyway.

I don’t. Not really.

The rest of them do.

Me… I think she’s ok.

Cinder: You are the favourite child.

Jane: Well… um… you know…

Cinder: Do you want to break the dog’s heart again?

Sigh.

Jane: Maggie? Walk?

She dances circles around me and stares at me with dumb love in her eyes.

tuesday

Fabulous book launch. Much joy.

IV.

2014 was sort of a hard year for me and mine, and I spent much of it in a fog of shock, but that does not excuse the fact that I saw this video for the first time last week:

So do you think Weird Al suffers from existential angst?

Or is he perfectly happy?

I’d really like to know…

V.

I’m lighting incense off the stove because I can’t find any lighters of matches in the house.

Cinder: There are like five lighters in the house. Why are you doing this?

Jane: Where are these lighters you speak of? In your room?

Cinder: In the bathroom, behind the jar full of nail clippers. There’s one only lighter on the floor of my room. And I need it to build a flamethrower.

I so didn’t hear that and you so didn’t read that.

Jane: Can you get me a lighter?

Cinder: Flora! Get Mom a lighter!

Jane: Dude! I asked you!

Cinder: But I hate the smell of incense.

Flora: So do I!

And Sean’s allergic to it, so I burn incense on the balcony or on the patio, when nobody else is around.

Secret incense burner, that’s me.

I smoke cigars on the balcony too—oddly, they complain about that less.

thursday

surprise delivery from Damascus

VI.

The ghosts from the past are extra active this week. Maybe there’s something in the air or in the stars. I am happy-sad, exhausted-mad, angry-hopeful. Also, resigned.

All at the same time.

The question she wants to explore with me this week is… success and failure. What is it, exactly? How do you define it? How do you measure it?

I yawn.

I can’t define success or failure. Nor do I want to. Because, although I don’t know very much, I do know this:

Those are the wrong questions. The irrelevant questions. Get bogged down, get lost in definitions and semantics if you want to.

This week, there is no success, there is no failure.

There is only being alive.

And I am.

xoxo

“Jane”

PS There is a box of cookies in my studio right now. It was bought here:

Hashtag… perspective.

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)

—->>>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 like rest but not really (Week 26: Meandering And Reflection)

monday

I want to crash, but instead, there is laundry and cleaning to do, and the children want supper. All right. All right. I cook and do battle with the kitchen.

I lose.

But. I do cook.

tuesday

I spend the day in gratitude. And, I almost rest. Almost.

wednesday

Errands! And, I rearrange my space. You know what’s coming.

But first—I drive out to visit a friend in the country and feed a nine week old calf from a bottle and meet a redneck with a heart of gold who gives me a cheap Indian cigar. Also, see baby owls learn how to fly. Beautiful.

thursday

A rough day. Damn anniversaries. I read Hafez.

friday

I fall to pieces.


“If There was Something To Desire,” Vera Pavlova

saturday

I lie on the ground. Dance on me; I will not get up.

sunday

I am Canadian.

newsflash!

I just arm-wrestled my 6’3 tall 16 y o son & won & I only had to cheat a little. ;P

In other news, the 13 y o-almost black belt is now officially more flexible than her elderly mother. But, I can still kick her in head. She wasn’t expecting that.

I can still kick the 8 y o’s butt at everything. Except for video games.

How brief the reign is.

overheard

Sean: And that’s the last time I bring you guys free syringes I scavenge at work!

Sometimes, I just don’t want to know.

Flora: I hate you! You’re ruining this hippy family.

That’s to Cinder. Who’s going to a real bricks and mortar school next fall. She disapproves. Me? Mixed feelings. But generally, I think he’s ready; he’s gonna be all right.

Cinder: Did you know that Hitler had literally one ball? There’s an article in The Guardian about that today.

We google it and verify the research, and then find this video:

We call it social studies.

other things

I don’t know, my love. Life can be good and one can be sad all at the same time, right?

Right.

I go to bed every night with Rex Stout’s Archie Goodwin. Nero Wolfe’s there, too, but it’s all about Archie.

this week

I don’t know, my love. I need to rest, I realize, but I seem to have forgotten how to do that.

I will stretch out in the sun every chance I get this week, like a lazy cat.

And on rainy days, I will smoke sheesha and dream.

Life can be good and one can be sad at the same time.

xoxo

“Jane”

PS

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)

—->>>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 summer was… SULTRY (Week 25: Gratitude And Collapse)

This week was too full and intense to be documented; in any event, it mostly belongs to the other Jane. But here is an homage to my heroines:

Thank you, my darlings.

“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)

—->>>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

You don’t understand—you can’t treat my father’s daughter this way (Week 24: Fathers and Daughters)

A good friend and I were talking a while ago about catcalling construction workers, strangers on the street telling us to smile, and the worst parts of #metoo, and I realized our fundamental approach/reaction to living in our somewhat fucked up patriarchal society was different.

We were neither of us immune from its ills, because neither of us had a penis.

My friend was diminished and destroyed by every encounter. There was less and less of her left, and I knew this, saw this. Her reaction to each of these interaction, really, was to internalize the blame and to look for the solution within myself. “What have I done to provoke this?” “How can I shrink myself, change myself to avoid this in the future?”

Me? I won’t pretend I wasn’t affected—fuck, of course I was.

But my core, base reaction?

“What the fuck is wrong with you—you can’t treat my father’s daughter this way.”

And there, loves, you have the core difference between me and my friend—and, also, the cure for patriarchy.

It took me a while—40+ years, apparently—to realize the full value of the gift my father gave me. I always knew he loved me, of course, and unconditionally. But this is not the difference—my friend’s father loved her too.

My father didn’t just love me. He saw me, from the day I was born, as a full human being—he is an atheist, as am I, or else I would say a divine being—and he treated me with that thing we give the word respect.

It’s not an easy word to define, don’t you think? Respect. It carries so many nuances and cultural overtones. I’ve been struggling to adequately put into words what it is that my father did, because it seems to be almost too simple to have given me the power it has.

But this is it, this is all, this is everything: he treated me, acted, always, as if I mattered. He infused me with a sense of self-worth that’s, so far anyway, proven to be virtually invulnerable to the worst the world has thrown at me.

He did this—well, first let me tell you how he didn’t do this. He wasn’t perfect—when I look at those father’s days cards that say, “You are everything I could wish for in a father!” they are to me a lie. They have been plenty of times that I’ve wished my father was different. I see plenty of flaws in him—and he has always seen most of mine. He didn’t sit me on his lap and say, “You are beautiful. You are smart. You are strong.” Well—possibly, he did—most likely when I was too young to really hear, or when I was asleep. It doesn’t matter. I knew, from the beginnings of memory, that my father thought I was beautiful, smart, strong, IMPORTANT. That I mattered. That my thoughts mattered, my feelings mattered. He talked to me when I was ten—this I remember vividly—the way he talked to adults. He expected me to use my mind, my discernment, my voice.

He expected me to use my voice.

(He bought me my first typewriter, my first computer.)

He disagreed with almost every major life choice I made. My first love, my last love. My choice of degrees, teaching overseas. Quitting a prestigious and stable job for freelance writing. Selling a house and moving into a commune—er, co-op. Homeschooling his grandchildren. Phasing out the profitable freelance writing for the riskier business of writing risque books… His response to each of those decisions was not an enthusiastic, “You go, girl!” It was more along the lines of, “You terrify me. This is a terrible idea. You really shouldn’t do this. Oh. You’re doing this? Well. I got your back, woman. Whatever happens, I’m here, and whatever you do—you’re important and you MATTER.”

I matter.

I have walked through life with this seed mantra inside me—I did not need religion, yoga, meditation or therapy to uncover it. When, at 14 years old, I stood at the head of a martial arts class composed primarily of men in their 20s, 30s and 40s—I knew I mattered and I acted accordingly. I counted, commanded—they jumped. I saw nothing strange about this—although they occasionally did. I was my father’s daughter—this was my due…

When, at 24, I had to argue with boardrooms filled with silverbacks in their 50s who thought they ruled the world, I entered those situations with my father’s power, belief, and strength inside. I mattered. I would be heard.

I expected respect. And I got it. And when I didn’t…

“What the fuck is wrong with you—you can’t treat my father’s daughter this way.”

And that attitude alone changed, defined the situation.

Because my father thought I mattered—I knew I mattered. And so… well, it didn’t really matter what YOU thought, you see. I mattered, I was important, I had a voice—I had boundaries, power, wings, all the things—and if you thought I didn’t matter, if you tried to diminish me… well, you were clearly wrong. There was no argument, no fight, really: you either saw that I mattered and treated me accordingly… or our encounter, professional, romantic, whatever, was terminated.

I know it sounds as if I am oversimplifying it. I don’t believe I am—I think that’s really how it was.

I don’t know if my father would call himself a feminist. He is an Eastern European male of that generation, and he likes women to be ladies and thinks men should be men, and carries within him all sorts of unexamined stereotypes from his particular culture and upbringing. But see… apparently none of that matters. All that matters is that he raised a daughter who knew she mattered.

And he changed the world that way. He really did. I chose to have my children with a man who a) also knew I mattered and b) is raising our daughter to know she matters and c) is doing the same with his sons. And my father had a son too, who now also has daughters, as well as a son.

Each of them matters. Each of them knows they matter: that other human beings, regardless of gender or any other variations, matter.

If that’s not revolution, I don’t know what is.

Thank you, Daddy.

Happy Father’s Day.

I love you.

Marzena

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)

—->>>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 love you, I want you, I need you, I can’t find you (Week 23: Work and Rest)

My Twitter feed informs me that a new study from some psychology department at some famous university has found that having one lazy day a week lowers your risk your heart attack, stroke, depression, death etc etc.

(I’m not sure how one lows one’s risk of death… after all, we all die. Eventually. It’s sort of a given, and the people who don’t accept that piss away their entire lives unhappy.)

“Keep the Sabbath day holy.” Right?

That’s the whole point of Wayne Mueller’s quite lovely book Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal, and Delight in Our Busy Lives, parts of which I’ve read intermittently over the past very busy year (two?), during which I feel I’ve been keeping nothing particularly holy…

This Sunday, though, I collapse.

My body experiences an exhaustion so intense it feels almost like pleasure—in the morning, I stretch out on the sofa in the kitchen, I do my morning writing prone, I’m not sure I have the energy to get a cup of coffee… but it feels so good.

Ender wakes up. Cuddles. Breakfast.

We are out of clean dish towels, too, so when I go downstairs to let the dog out to pee, I pop a load of filthy kitchen laundry into the wash. First need to take Sean’s clean laundry out of the dryer—in the process discover a pile of laundered bedsheets. Decide to change the sheets on our bed, cause they’re getting kinda gamey.

Back upstairs. I’m up, so… I pour myself a second cup of coffee.

The doorbell rings. A friend for Ender.

I let him in and follow him upstairs. Sit down again, fingers on keyboard—just a few small tasks to get down on paper in draft form before…

It’s Sunday, day of rest, I have an event planning meeting ten to noon, right—shower, clothes—Ender wants second breakfast, just cereal baby, Mommy’s gotta go.

My event planning meeting takes place in the basement community room of a Coop grocery story. We’re planning When Words Collide, a genre reader-writer con. We’re kind of amazing—we’re sold out. And the festival doesn’t happen until mid-August… but we’re in such good shape for it, we cancel the July meeting.

I multi-task at the meeting—sending out the action-emails decisions at the meeting propel me towards, because I know that when I get home, I will stretch out on the sofa in the kitchen and want to do NOTHING.

But first—I have a lunch appointment. I need to break someone’s heart, tell them I don’t want to be their friend or lover. I could say nothing, do nothing… let the connection wither, peter out, disappear.

But I like things to be clear.

It’s not awful, but it’s not fun either.

Home, home, I want to go home and rest.

But first—I’m by the Co-op. What do we need? Eggs, bread, bananas. Any fruit or veg on sale? The peppers are very cheap… but I’m too tired to sort through them and find the ripe-yet-not-rotten ones.

Home.

Flora’s up, Cinder’s gaming, Ender’s hungry.

I make him a ham sandwich. Flora claims to have eaten. Good.

Laundry into dryer. Towels into washer. Are there dirty towels in the bathroom? I go up—yes. Also, the toilet is kinda gross. Where’s the Vim?

Scrub.

Couch. Stretch. Yes. No. Wait. Not yet. Supper. What the fuck am I going to feed everyone for supper?

Frozen chicken thighs, black beans, garlic, potatoes going a little soft. Oven. Done. Good.

Sean comes home in time to open the oven for me. Asks me about my day, my lunch.

Makes me a better one.

I finally make it back to the sofa… eat my papadums and hummus in a prone position. Yes.

I was thinking I’d go into Inglewood and put up posters today, but it’s raining, and… I don’t want to get off the couch.

Cinder stomps around upstairs. Angry. Video game, biology? I don’t know; I don’t want to know; I don’t want to go up—I want to lay on the couch and DO NOTHING.

But maybe I’ll walk with Cinder to meet his math tutor. Just to move this lazy body a bit. Wake up.

Sean drives him instead. I stay on the couch. The bottle of Alberta Dark Horse Whiskey he got me for my birthday is almost empty—I blame the math, by the way, have I told you? High school math has driven me to drink.

Still. There’s enough for a half-shot. I pour it. Handful of cashews.

“Mom! I’m hungry!”

“Cheese tortilla?”

No. He wants a ham sandwich. Good thing I bought that bread.

Sean comes back and asks me if I want to go for a walk in the wind. I don’t, not really, but I should. I stumble downstairs—the dog follows me, thrilled.

A short walk.

We talk about Inglewood. Posters?

But when we get home, he irons and I go have a bath with P.G. Wodehouse.

Sofa. Sean’s still ironing. I’m flat on my back in the world of Jeeves.

Texts from people wanting things.

I close my eyes. Tomorrow. I’ll take care of those things, tomorrow.

Cinder comes back—needs help with biology now. But that’s Sean’s baby so I stay on the sofa.

Flora now does her laundry, transfers the clean kitchen laundry to the top of the dryer and the bath towels into the dryer. Good. I try to remember if, when I stripped our bed this morning—did I remake it? Or did I just strip it?

I could go downstairs and check, but, stairs.

I do the dishes instead. Realize that sometime while I wasn’t paying attention—perhaps while I was in the bath—everyone ate supper. It looks like the potatoes-chicken thighs-black beans thing turned out really good.

But I don’t want meat. I want bananas and chocolate chips.

I mix them with granola and coconut milk, also some walnuts, and that is my supper.

Sofa. Jeeves and Wooster. Also, Twitter.

But I’m too tired to be funny or interactive.

Ender on my lap, stretched out. Sean at my feet. The dog.

We’re talking about scary geopolitical shit and history and what the world will look like for our children, and we don’t know—I want to disappear back into P.G. Wodehouse.

Biology’s done, Cinder’s gaming. Flora’s out of sorts, she’s not sure why. Hugs.

“Bedtime?” I ask Ender. He’s not sure. But agrees.

Sean does too. Goodnight kisses all around; Ender and I go up to bed, Sean goes down.

Bedtime reading is Moomin. I love Tove Jansson.

It takes the boy a long time to fall asleep. I listen to old sad music from a sad friend as he tosses and turns.

He doesn’t fall asleep until 9:44. I come downstairs. Flora’s kneeling in front of the fridge.

“I’m hungry, but I don’t want to eat more chicken,” she says.

I offer to make her a cheese tortilla before I go to bed—she folds into my arms in a gesture of gratitude.

Tortilla.

I stretch out on the sofa for a few more minutes.

A day of doing nothing, when you have children and responsibilities, looks like 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)

—->>>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

 

Time flies, and so does butter (Week 22: Remembering and forgetting)

the week, in brief, according to my iPhone

Sunday: Star Wars; Monday: mopey; Tuesday, cherries; Wednesday: meat sale at Safeway; Thursday: paying for pain; Friday: firepit; Saturday: oppositional defiant disorder; Sunday… I don’t want to do anything, but I took Flora to Value Village and Hot Topic and cleaned house.

the week, slightly expanded, according to my memory

Honestly, I don’t know what the fuck happened to the week. It flew by at an absolutely insane speed. I do remember this—Cinder had a chem lab due and about five math tests, including a unit final, and he got a fucking 94% on the Rationals unit final even though the only thing I knew about rationals that I could impart to him was that the denominator of a fraction can never be a zero (I think? am I right)—and we went to see Flora and Ender’s facilitator about their year-end… no, wait, that was last Friday… what did we do this week? Math, chem, math, chem, physics… drove Flora to Tang Soo do, but only once, Sean took her on Thursday and Friday, what did I do on Thursday and Friday night?

Math?

I had an event on Saturday, so a little bit of prepping for that, but really, not that much, and a big event in the pipe the end of the month, but really… seriously… where did this week disappear to?

This is why I keep a process journal. So I can look at it, and go—oh. Right. ALL THAT STUFF. All the things.

And this is why my work process journal is not separate from my life / kids / personal process journal. “2000 words on AIC, math with Cinder, laundry, Safeway, yoga nidra, SS post.”

All the things.

Still.

This week.

Where did it go?

…time flies when you’re on deadline

…and even meditation doesn’t stop it.

Still. I have all the time I need. I take pause on Monday, Saturday, to chill. Whiskey. Cigar.

Love.

friends far away

It’s funny, you know, it doesn’t matter if you’re in Edmonton or Colombia—if he’s in Syria or Red Deer. Away is away, and I miss you.

poetry

I have not been reading or writing any these days. Poetry requires time to be slow. You cannot rush reading a moment, and you cannot rush writing a poem.

But when a poem comes… it stops time.

Prose… not so much, actually. With prose, time flies.

So. I guess that’s what happened. 19K new words, a synopsis, a pitch. Among other things.

Time flies.

Except when it crawls…

writer tribe

Saturday, I spend with my writer tribe. I’m supposed to spend it seducing readers, but it turns into more of a writer thing. It’s all right. Apparently, I desperately needed that, because I am so fucking happy at the end of the day… and silly.

Look:

Well. That seems a good note on which to end this week. I remember, now, on Sunday, I felt angry and disappointed, resentful. But I don’t have those feelings now. The week ends, glorious.

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)

—->>>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

 

A very short post about miracles, censorship, change: Week 21 (Transitions and Celebrations)

in brief

Monday, I turned 44 and I did all my favourite things, went to bed happy. Tuesday, I shared good news with the world, also did math with Cinder, was not so bad. Actually, it was AWFUL, and yet, not so bad. Wednesday, weepy, no real reason, every reason, maybe I missed you, maybe I missed me, but I went to yoga so that was good. Thursday, Cinder turned 16 and I felt so small and so shocked. My giant baby. Friday, a good day productive but well-paced. Saturday, overcast, and I don’t know, yoga, sheesha, or bed?

I chose Rex Stout.

numbers

This week, I turned 44 and baby turned 16, and my mother couldn’t stop saying, “44!” which I suppose I get—my being 44th is rather ardent proof she’s not…

When I look at Cinder, it’s not so much his age that astounds me as his size. I mean—I grew, HATCHED this giant. That used to be inside me, that came out of me. I am… well, astounded.

I’ve told you before, love, that existence or non-existence of God is irrelevant to me because, caterpillar. I mean: the metamorphosis of a caterpillar into a butterfly is miraculous and divine enough on its own—there is no need for more.

This week, I feel the same about the journey of the of the human from egg+sperm to baby, toddler, teenager!

It’s a little harder to see old age as a miracle and I suppose that is the task I will set myself as I age. I hope I will find something divine in wrinkles, brittle bones, and white hairs. And that aching knee and malfunctioning hip…

apropos nothing in particular

I miss you.

censored

[————————————]

Sometimes, I really miss the freedom of blogging anonymously.

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)

—->>>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

 

Tell me I’m beautiful and feed me cherries (Week 20: Excitement and Exhaustion II)

sunday-monday-tuesday-wednesday-thursday-friday-saturday-sunday

This is all you get this week.

Sorry.

I had AN INCREDIBLE WEEK. I’m on my way home. Almost back. Almost home.

I am happy-grateful-flattered-thrilled-goofy-high-giddy.

You: Gambled and won?

Jane: Worked my ass off, found allies, got results. Isn’t that better?

I am so happy. And I am so tired.

And I am almost home.

monday

Today, I turn 44. It’s such a nice number. So I think this is going to be… an extra-ordinary year.

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)

—->>>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

 

You probably shouldn’t call your teacher bad names, but sometimes, your mother must (Week 19: Excitement and Exhaustion)

sunday

Airports. Security lines. Delays. Coffee. Water. That peculiar combination of excitement/exhaustion that comes with travel.

these are the people in my neighbourhood …

monday-tuesday-wednesday-thursday-friday-saturday

The theme is “getting ready.” I tell Flora I’m scheduling my panic and nervous breakdown for Friday and Saturday. It actually hits on Wednesday. Which is good, because on Friday, I have to go see Cinder’s math teacher.

i’d rather be writing

speaking of math, sort of

I could tell you how much I hate the formal school system and the people it produces. But I won’t. I’m trying to understand and breathe and not judge too much—but, more importantly, to not compromise what I can control—which is my responsibility to my son. Which includes relearning way more high school math than I ever thought I’d need to. And taking two hours I don’t have to ensure his path in the world is not compromised by the… well, laziness of other people, really.

Anyway.

It’s Mother’s Day today, so I want to tell this story: in the first few weeks that we were in Canada, the principal of the first Canadian school I went to decided that an immigrant child couldn’t possibly have written the essay I had written as my first language arts assignment, and called in my parents to discuss with them the difference between helping their daughter with her homework and plagiarism.

I suspect, in a way, it was kindly meant, if patronizing.

My dad, who spoke decent English at the time, was working two jobs and going to school, so my mom, who was only working one job (and going to school) and who spoke Polish, Russian, Latin, Italian and a smattering of Arabic, but not yet very much English, was the designated parent who came with me to my first conflict with higher authority.

I don’t remember much from that meeting, really, except for the aura of ridiculousness. Translating what the teacher was saying to my mother. Which was, essentially, that the essay I had submitted was clearly not the work of a 10 year old ESL student, and that it was important for my parents to understand that while helping me with my schoolwork was wonderful, doing my school work for me was WRONG.

Funny thing: it must have been clear a few minutes into the meeting that their premise was wrong. I mean, if someone did help me write that essay (they didn’t), it clearly wasn’t my mother. But they had their script and it was too late to deviate from it, apparently.

They spoke in English. I translated the accusation—really, what else was it?—into Polish.

“Say that again?” my mother said.

I said it again.

“Let me get this straight. They’re accusing me of writing your essay for you?”

I shrugged.

“They’re accusing you of cheating?”

“I guess.”

“Can you please tell that fucking whore that she’s full of shit?”

I started to translate.

“I don’t know how to say ‘whore’ in English,” I told my mother. Whore (kurva) in Polish, by the way, is THE nasty swear. Like “motherfucking cunt – cocksucking son of a bitch” all rolled into on and then some.

“’Bitch?’” my mother suggested.

our little bitch …

audiobook interlude

On the plane, I listen to Rex Stout’s Four To Go. It’s a digital file of a recording made for a book-on-tape back in 1979. The tracks include slice-of-history moments such as “this book continues on side B of the cassette”—including instructions to how to turn the tape over. Also, sometimes, the narrator stumbles–and they didn’t fix it. It was on the tape, after all. What could they do?

It’s quite marvellous, though, that the publishers did not take the effort to just, you know, clip those bits for the digitally distributed version. I have some experience in how comparatively little effort it takes to do that… but then, I am enjoying the ahistorical moment.

I’ve spent bits and pieces through the week reading a thoroughly terrible Rex Stout novel, The Hand in the Glove, featuring not Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin, the characters he is (justly) famous for, but an attempt to write a young female detective.

The novel is so bad, I can’t stop reading it.

Sean: I know. Could you stop, so that you stop talking about it?

Jane: It’s like… it’s like when you witness a trainwreck, right? And you stop and you can’t help, but you look. First out of morbid curiousity, but then… you want to know, are there any survivors? I want to know… is there anything to be saved out of this novel?

I actually really love reading bad books by authors I adore. Because it gives me hope. Agatha Christie wrote some massive stinkers. Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey is kinda bad. Charlaine Harris has brilliant books and awful books. Zadie Smith’s Swing Time—while not awful—is still unfinished on my kitchen table…

Even the great ones write shitty books sometimes. See? It gives me hope.

Probably the worst thing about The Hand in the Glove (and there are so many bad things about it) is that Rex Stout is an old conservative (and misogynist) man trying to write a tough (but sexy) female character in her 20s. OMG.

I read some excerpts to Flora. She fake-pukes, then sends me this:

Jane: As I’m reading this book, I’m hyper-aware of how close it is to my breasts.

Flora: Weird. When I was on my phone sending you that meme, I didn’t think about my nipples once.

Jane: But as you walk back to your desk—nimbly—will you feel them rubbing against the thin fabric of your shirt?

Flora: I’ll try. But I never have yet. Do you think men write like that  because they’re always thinking about what their penises are doing and feeling?

We both turn to Sean with scientific curiosity.

He stares at us as if we are aliens and leaves the kitchen.

you probably shouldn’t call my teacher names

Memory is a funny thing.

The story I’m telling you… did it really happen the way I think it did, now? That was… 33 years ago. I don’t remember, I don’t remember, I don’t remember.

I don’t remember—I guess way back during that parent-teacher meeting, I must have said something like, “My mother says that you should have some evidence before you accuse me of cheating.” Or maybe I even said, “I don’t know that world in English. Like a female dog? But it’s an insult.” Or maybe my mother and I negotiated a more benign response. It doesn’t really matter. What I remember from that event is—my mother stood up for me, 100%, against… well, experts.

It was the first of several skirmishes my parents –my mother in particular—would have with school authorities over the “as short a time period as possible get me the fuck out of here” time I had to spend in the school system before escaping to university.

They were always, in every situation, my allies, my protectors.

This is a good memory to be revisiting on Mother’s Day.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.

really, this week was kinda whack

Monday, I didn’t go to yoga. But we did math and laundry. Tuesday, I didn’t go to yoga. But I wrote, hard, and sent all the emails. Also, math. Wednesday, as I mentioned, slight nervous breakdown. Also, inter alia, vibrator shopping—a prize, use your imagination, you know the sorts of things I do for money—also chocolate, bath bombs, and scotch tape and ribbons.

You: You know, you should just tell them…

Jane: Hush. Half-truths make life much more interesting.

Thursday… I don’t go to yoga again, but I spend some with the motherfucking sadist. I tell him I’m getting fat and weak and achy. And he makes me lift heavy things and pokes me until I cry, and I feel much better.

I tell him I bought sensible shoes for my trip, and have given up on ever wearing fuck-me heels anywhere but the bedroom, and we both take a moment to be sad about that.

Friday, I am a warrior and advocate and fuck, does it ever take a lot out of me. I’m a bit shocked at how deflated I am—at Flora’s Tang Soo Do class that evening, I can’t work. Wander along the abandoned traintrack in the slightly creepy industrial neighbourhood where she trains. (Why are all martial arts schools located in slightly creepy industrial neighbourhoods?)

Him: Cheap rent?

Jane: Right.

Saturday—packing. Weighing. I feel fat.

Sean: I thought you were weighing the suitcase.

Jane: Yes, but I had to weigh myself first. Fuck. How have we done this to women?

Saturday, Sean buys a week’s worth of groceries (we wish) and preps meatballs, hamburgers, and taco meat for the week. We keep on reminding the elder two—“When Ender asks for food, you need to feed him. He’s not just asking for food. He’s asking for love.”

Sean’s sister is coming to hang with him on Monday. My mom’s got the other weekdays covered, including Friday, when Sean will be shooting off-site and unavailable for emergencies.

Mom: Don’t worry about it. I’ve got you.

I know. I know.

by the way

If you had parents who were your allies and protectors? You grew up in privilege. No matter how hard things were otherwise.

My mother’s example of how to stand up for me, beside me—I’m only now starting to appreciate that a gift that was. How much POWER she gave me.

You see, maybe I was 10 and little… but I was not alone. I was not weak. I was not vulnerable. If you were going to pick on me—my mother was going to kick your ass, no matter who you thought you were.

Power. Privilege.

A gift.

Thank you, Mama.

so, sunday

I’m writing on the plane. Cowboys to the right of me (they’ve got the boots), hippies to the right (dreads and tattoos). One of my writer tribe is actually on the plane with me—we spend the lay-over in Denver chatting. She’s a dozen rows in front of me on the plane. Writing? Reading? Guaranteed, it’s one or the other.

The kids and Sean will be having lunch soon. About now? Probably. You are still away. I start to think about all the people I love and the different places they are. I feel their breaths, hear their heartbeats.

On a plane, somewhere over Nevada. This is a happy moment.

teeter totter you’re my otter …

xoxo

Jane

mandatory travel selfie

i kid you not, i get to sleep here for the next week

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)

—->>>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 was a pickle juice waterfall but no bread was really harmed in the process (Week 18: Happy and Sad)

on the writing schedule

monday yes, tuesday yes, wednesday yes, thursday yes, friday yes, saturday no, sunday, no you need to take a break today too—four out of seven days, remember, and you did five already.

proof I feed them; not jut occasionally

on matt haig

Sometimes, I read a book so good I weep because I WILL NEVER WRITE IT. I feel that way with Kurt Vonnegut, actually. Everything he’s written.

And Matt Haig. OMG. How To Stop Time is probably NOT as good as The Humans, which I absolutely adored… but it doesn’t matter. It’s still so good, the idea is so brilliant, the insights into love so profound—I rip through it hungry, elated.

Zadie Smith’s Swing Time lies unfinished on my kitchen table. The climax is coming, I think. I’m not sure. I can’t remember the main character’s name. Maybe she doesn’t have one. Maybe that’s the problem.

 

the pickle juice incident

This is on Thursday:

Jane: Help! Help! Bring me towels! The pickle jar tipped over and is bathing everything in the fridge!

Flora: How many towels? All of them?

Jane: I don’t know! It’s a 1 litre pickle jar, and all of the juice is out! How many bath towels would it take to mop that up? Is there an equation for that?

Flora (to Cinder): I blame you. All that math has scrambled her brains.

But she brings me ALL the towels. Doesn’t offer to help de-pickle juice the fridge and the produce.

Later, Cinder complains that the bread tastes funny.

Jane: Like pickles?

Cinder: No, like… what did you do to the bread? Did you dunk it in pickle juice?

Jane: Nothing. The pickles attacked everything in the frige. I wiped it off and dried it out.

Cinder: You’re lucky I’m really hungry and Nutella just takes over.

on the sun

It’s good and it makes me want to live. Soon, it will start to rain, so I drink every moment of sunshine like every Vitamin-D deprived person who lives in Viking Hell should.

on saying goodbye

On Thursday—the day of the pickle juice incident—I say goodbye to a friend. Who may or may not come back… I realize again that, no matter what he says—I don’t really expect him to. Just like with you—you’re by the ocean, on a holiday. A week, two, you said? I don’t remember, because while you’re gone, it’s forever. I don’t believe you will be back. Until you are.

So every goodbye… is so final.

You: Fuck, you need therapy.

Jane: I know. Morning pages are cheaper.

From How to Stop Time by Matt Haig

melancholy

On Friday, I’m melancholy—because, goodbyes are hard and also forever—and I fucking swear if one more person tells me to cheer up or put a smile back on my face I will kick them in the gonads, but hard.

I WANT to be sad. I WANT to grieve and mourn. Let. Me. Be.

on obfuscating reality

I haven’t been meditating as much this week. Yoga nidra mid-day if I’m exhausted or end-of-the-day if I can’t sleep. Some meditation on the breath exercises. But not my regular practice. I can’t tell you why, exactly. I’m not more busy, really—and that’s not an excuse.

I just perhaps don’t want to be still this week… I don’t want to be still.

I feel a funny frenzy inside me. Rising, falling. I don’t want to still it.

so this happens

That’s Kristan Higgins. THE Kristan Higgins. And that’s me. And I got to spend like 12 hours mining her brain.

And that, in that picture, is a happy moment, from a happy day.

(That was Saturday.)

back to melancholy and friday

Melancholy, I work, and I make food, and I do all the things.

Start reading Alex Beam’s The Feud—the story of how Vladimir Nabokov and Edmund Wilson pissed away their friendship.

God, I love Nabokov. Even his obnoxious parts.

Do you ever have this strange insight into a writer, artist through his work—like you know more than his biographers, the experts who’ve gone through the dates, the documents, the correspondence? You haven’t—I haven’t—but I’ve read his books with a tenderness, a violence, an obsession… he is in me.

I feel that way about Jane, too. Hafez.

I haven’t danced with Hafez for a while. I can’t yet; he will just feed the melancholy.

I turn my attention to Nabokov, at third hand.

little boy lost

On Sunday, I find a little boy lost and it shakes me up. But I don’t want to tell you more about that. Then, writer tribe, sheesha, a lot of walking… three glasses of water in a pub because the idea of a beer is repugnant.

on the kids

There are still three.

Cinder goes out with friends on Friday night and doesn’t come home until 1 am. I’m not nervous, at all. Really.

Flora wants to spend Saturday at the mall with her friend. They’ll get there on their own, on the train. Totally fine with that, I swear.

Ender crawls into my lap while I’m writing. “I’m hungry.” I make him a tortilla.

You ask me if I’m ever nostalgic, for when they’re little. I answer, a little too abruptly, “Fuck, no.”

I think you’re romanticizing the past. I’m not sure if you remember—how much work they took when they were little. The diapers. The sleepless nights. The temper tantrums?

Or their fragility. Do you not remember the weight of the awareness that the survival—the entire survival—of this tiny creature was dependent on you? That if you fucked up… this part of you would DIE?

Now… they’re more and more responsible for their survival. Which is also frightening… but in a different way.

Anyway. No. I’m not nostalgic. I don’t know that things are easier (I still maintain… things don’t get easier, they get… different). But they are. And they are interesting.

And the kids are interesting. Much more interesting when they were squealing babies, pre-verbal toddlers.

Sean: I guess this is where Flora gets her dislike of babies from.

Jane: Shut up. You don’t like babies either.

Squealy, stinky things.

But I love MY babies. Especially now that they’re out of diapers and what not.

Dumpster diving for books at Calgary Reads

xoxo

Jane

PS Yes. Weird week. But I spent a lot of time laying in the sun like a cat. So. ‘s all right.

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)

—->>>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 about a radical, sustainable rhythm (Week 17: Sprinting and Napping)

in brief

Monday: 1600 + 600

Tuesday: 1200 + 1400 + 400 + 455 + 675

Wednesday: 425 + 747 + 425 + 700

Thursday: 917 + 476 + 375 + 428 + 875

Friday: 399 + 751

Saturday: 879 + 493 + 992

Sunday: day of rest… um, fine, a window to pound out 1200.

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that wasn’t math; this is math

Cinder finishes the quadratic equations unit on Friday. I almost die.

But before death… a break-through.

Really.

I’ve figured out what my problem with math is. You see, I don’t understand X’s motivation and backstory at all. Where does he come from? Why is he is mysterious and elusive? Does he get off on being an unknown? Does he get turned on by people’s attempts to solve him? How, exactly, is he related to a, b, c and, above all, Y? (Also, K and H, and where the fuck did that q-squared come from??)

Is it a passionate relationship or merely one of convenience? Does he resent how easily his value changes—how arbitrary it all seems to be? Actually, does he want to be part of that damn square in the first place? Wouldn’t he rather be part of a triangle? Wait—there he is, part a triangle! Is that the same x? Or his evil twin brother? Were they separated at birth?

And where is their mother? Could she recognize them? Or is she somehow beholden to Y? OMG, is that it? Does Y hold some terrible secret over her, blackmailing her, and is X putting himself into all these awkward equations to save her?

Cinder: Mom? It’s just an equation. See, x is…

Jane: Hush. I think I just figured out my entry point into math. Ok, first, this isn’t X. I can’t work with X. Let’s call him Sebastian…

ruthless radical prioritization, sort of

On Thursday night, one of my writer tribes hosts a Time Management workshop. As you know, I’m a little obsessed with time management. And not in the “squeeze every minute out of every day kind of way.” More in… maximize flow kind of way. It’s an interesting thing though: I’ve build my entire life around my desire to NOT have to get out of the bed the crack of an alarm clock. To not have to chase other people’s unreasonable schedules: to NOT struggle to get three children out of the house at 7:30 am to drop them off at day care, school whatever before I careen to an office cubicle (with the hope of graduating to a room with a window before the close of my career—no, wait, we’re getting rid of offices bwahahahaha, back to the cubicle with you!).

This is a conscious choice—and this is something I’ve given up a certain amount of financial security and stability for… and yet, as I wake up when I want to on a Monday morning (which, by the way, is not noon, but sometime between 7 am and 8 am anyway—just not with an alarm)—or I lie down for 20 minutes  in the middle of the afternoon of a challenging day… I feel guilt.

I’m prioritizing rest and sanity at the moment. Because productivity and creativity are actually impossible without them.

I’ve told you about my sankalpas, right?

Here’s one that I return to:

My days flow with a rhythm that nurtures and inspires my Self and my family.

So when I tell you I’m busy… it means I’m not doing my ruthless radical prioritization right. I’m not prioritizing that nap.

This morning, I am writing on the balcony in the sun. Priorities. Peace. Yes.

anatomy of a good week

I wrote 15K on the main WIP last week—just on that WIP, not counting the journal, this project, a sketch of another idea, etc. I have written 15,000 words in a week before. 50K, once. And I’ve done 15K in a day.

The problem…it’s not sustainable. You know? You cannot—I cannot—do several 50K weeks in a row. Or several 15k days in a row.

Never mind for 10 months.

I’m planning a marathon. Well. Not a marathon. That’s not quite the right metaphor. Damn sports metaphors. So easy—so inaccurate.

I’m planning for… 10 months, more of days that flow with a rhythm that nurtures and inspires my Self and my family.

Those will not come while I’m pounding out 15K a day or 50K a week.

But… this 15K a week?

It was easy. EASY.

sunday

Don’t we look like babies? Happy anniversary, my lobster.

I’ve seen the future. Everything’s going to be just fine.

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internal versus external processor

I have a really good story for you about this, but I can’t write it today, because, ruthless radical prioritization.

;P

Don’t be grouchy.

I’m gonna leave you with this:

BTW, it was nothing much. Or if it was—I can’t find out anything about it on Twitter etc. So. It didn’t really happen.

xoxo

Jane

PS In conclusion:

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)

Looking for Nothing By The Book multi-media Postcards from Cuba project?

This was the first “listening” postcard:

and here’s all of the first three series—->>>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

An introvert’s submission + radical prioritization in action, also pouting (Week 16: Ruthless and Weepy)

monday

Meh.

tuesday

… had a nice rhythm. Except for the afternoon of MATH HELL. But then, writer tribe in the evening, always good. In the interim… an attempt by someone (not me) to create drama. Sidestepped. Ruthless radical prioritization for the win!

wednesday

My mom’s over, and she’s telling me she’s leaving Monday, movers, help Dad, etc. The timing of the move’s not stellar—what with her being away, and it being the weekend of Sean and mine 18th anniversary on the 29th (happy anniversary to us, thank you). But the movers are coming on Friday, the 27th.

Jane: Oh, the 27th, that’s perfect—I’ll book the day off, and I can be available to Dad all that day for whatever he needs.

And then. My eldest.

Cinder: Book off? You don’t work.

There’s this sound I now make when they say that.

Jane: What the fuck do you think I do all day?

Cinder: I dunno. Meditate?

I just really don’t know what to do about this.

thursday

I’m sad and moody. Just because. Even spending time with you didn’t really help.

Moody. Feeling… out of step, out of synch. Not really here.

Sudden burst of productivity. Bam.

And… moody again.

Sheesha.

Numbing activity? Self-medication?

Whatever. Give it to me.

friday

… a spectacularly good day. Tell me—what is it, exactly, that makes the difference between a good day, like today, and a meh-day like Monday and a moody day like Thursday?

I really don’t know.

Was it the community potluck?

saturday

Sunbath in the morning, writing, coffee, cigar.

First rain of spring.

Mom-and-daughter date, first one in a long time. She spoils me rotten.

Writer tribe.

sunday

…all the feelings.

happy anniversary, my favourite motherfucking sadist

The good thing about Thursday was that I spent 30 minutes of it with the man who gave me back my mobility (my life, really) after I told him—“I want you to get me straight and get me walking again. Give me that, and I’ll deal with the pain.”

He took my at my word, and never once asked me not to scream so loud—although we did stop meeting in the public gym after the first couple of sessions. We didn’t discuss it, really. Just mutually agreed that working out of his home gym traumatized fewer bystanders.

He made me cry twice in the space of this 30 minute session.

MFS: It’s not really crying if the tears just stay in the corners of your eyes.

Jane: And it’s not really screaming unless the neighbours call the police?

Anyway. That was… holy fuck, babe, that was six years ago now.

Thank you.

 

gratitude

Thursday actually really wasn’t a bad day. Really.

I was just sad. Moody.

It was sunny but not sunny enough and not wintry but not springy enough.

I read Natalie Goldberg’s The True Secret of Writing and loved it and loved her and accepted her as a teacher. And accepted we wrote for different reasons.

And tried to figure out, exactly, why it was that I write.

I tried to tell you. You didn’t like how I framed it. You didn’t like the idea of my needing an audience.

When you write, you, like Natalie, write to make sense of yourself to yourself. Your journal is enough. Your blog is set to private.

Me, I think stories exist to be shared. An unshared story is an untold story—is not a story.

You: But then your entire value of yourself is in the hands of others. What if they don’t like your story?

On a good day, the answer to that is, it doesn’t matter whether they like it or they don’t like it. But it matters that they—at least some of them!—hear it.

Because otherwise… it doesn’t exist.

You: If the next sentence out of your mouth is, “And so I don’t exist,” I will throw this pillow at you.

I say nothing.

Am grateful that you exist.

the sketch of an idea

…actually, I’m not going to share it with you, but, yes, it has been a productive week.

Productive doesn’t always mean happy. But it does bring with it a measure of tranquility.

I wish—I do wish I knew how to find tranquility in stillness.

Cinder: So all that meditation isn’t working, hey?

Jane: You are still in the doghouse over your last comments.

Cinder: Go meditate some more.

I meditate on how much the Buddha pisses me off. Write furiously afterwards.

Sean: If I tell you that you’re doing this whole meditation thing wrong, will you get angry?

Jane: No. I realize I’m doing it wrong. I don’t want Enlightenment if it comes at the price of detachment. Remember? The Buddha was a psychopath.

… speaking of psychopaths…

The teenagers come into the kitchen at 8 pm on Friday night as Sean and I are talking about BIG PHILOSOPHICAL THINGS.

(Including, for reasons I won’t go into, psychopathology.)

And join in the discussion.

For hours.

Ender crawls into my lap at about 10 pm.

Ender: Bed!

Jane: A few more minutes, babe. Cuddle up here…

Teenagers are like wildlife. You don’t wanna spook them when they come close to you by being… too enthusiastic. Nor do you want to be the one to walk away, you know? Who knows when next that magnificent wild animal will deign to visit with you?

introvert versus extrovert

On Saturday, my mom and I go out for coffee and to wander all the vintage clothing stores in Kensington. She spoils me rotten—I have a new wardrobe for my conference #gratitude #abundance even a purse. I do manage to buy her the $2.75 coffee. But not lunch.

We have a great time—I want to be very clear on this. We have a great time.

When we part—she is energized and she will carry that energy into her interaction with the world, my dad.

I am exhausted and overstimulated, and I don’t want to talk to my children, and go hide from them on the balcony with a cup of tea and chocolate, even though there is no sun warmth there anymore.

Introvert. Extrovert. Defined.

 

submission

I am reading Zadie Smith’s Swing Time, and she stops me dead:

What do we want from our mouthers when we are children? Complete submission.

Oh, it’s very nice and rational and respectable to say that a woman has every right to her life, to her ambitions, to her needs, and so  on—it’s what I’ve always demanded myself—but as a child, no, the truth is it’s a war of attrition, rationality doesn’t come into it, not one bit, all you want from your mother is that she once and for all admit that she is your mother and only your mother, and that her battle with the rest of life is over. She has to lay down arms and come to you. And if she doesn’t do it, then it’s really a war…

Zadie Smith, Swing Time

I read the paragraph to Sean; he frowns a little.

she really said this to me…

Flora: Mom? Did you always suck at doing the dishes, or is it something you practiced getting bad at so that the rest of us would do them more often?

I give her the stink eye.

But I’m not mad.

The truth is actually quite complicated. And what she said… it’s kind of part of the truth, too.

all the feelings

On Sunday, I had all the feelings. The morning was perfect, the afternoon productive (although not in my favourite way), the evening, the demons came.

I meditated.

Cinder: Like I said, I don’t think it’s working.

Jane: It’s this or smoking marijuana, and I don’t want to set you a bad example.

Confession: I really love saying shit that makes them shut up and do this, “What did she mean, exactly?” thing with their brains.

ruthless, radical prioritization

… yeah …

For the record. Please. I’m not a bitch and I’m not a machine and I’m not an automaton without feelings.

But I score off-the-charts on executive function / capability, and I know precisely how precious my time and my energy are.

I love you.

I’ve got to go do things now.

xoxo

“Jane”

PS 

 

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)

Looking for Nothing By The Book multi-media Postcards from Cuba project?

This was the first “listening” postcard:

and here’s all of the first three series—->>>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

My negotiated self thinks you don’t exist–wanna make something of it? (Week 15: Priorities and Opportunity)

in brief

Monday I spent in bed with a sick Ender, break for walk in the sunshine, reflections, the question—what do I want?

Tuesday, like a bolt of lightning on a bright sunny, a reward for kindness, I suppose—a chance to peer into my father’s soul 30 years ago. OMFG, what a gift, what a surprise.

What a price.

Worth it.

Wednesday, torture. Tequila.

Thursday, no sun, no spring, no hope, cruel clarity. But I worked.

Friday, I prepared the balcony for spring. It’s coming, it was in the air today, yes! I cooked love. I got love. Then missiles over Damascus; frantic texts to family. Everything’s different when you watch it from up close—nothing’s black and white.

Saturday, writer tribe, a cop who may or not be a sociopath—the question, really, was he born like this or did his job make him like that? I teeter on the edge of asking the question, come close. A few hours with my love and Frida. Then, an old friend in the sunshine; I think about buying a cigar. No. Instead, Japanese scotch—or do I mean whiskey? Sushi. Reflections on how we aged; how we changed… not at all.

Sunday… I think Sunday is going to be full of surprises. It’s not over yet.

knock, knock

Jane: Who’s there?

X: Opportunity.

Yes.

Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes!

Wait.

Radical prioritization.

Sometimes—often—no.

But today? YES.

negotiated self

William James (brother of Henry, the novelist, and Alice, the diarist, who would have been a novelist had she had a penis or been born even 50 years later) posited that in any interaction between two individuals, there were six persons present (six men, actually—not his fault, I asuppose, as Ursula K. Le Guin so sharply observed, women hadn’t been invented yet… anyway… I’m paraphrasing him to be more inclusive, because now I exist and so do you).

And so when we are together, you and I:

  1. You as you think you are
  2. You as I think you are
  3. You as you really are
  4. I as I think I am
  5. I as you think I am
  6. I as I really am

Currently, in the theory of the negotiated self, psychologists argue that there is no such thing as the self as it really is—that the self is always constantly negotiated in social interactions. Always negotiated. Never absolute.

I think they’ve just told us we don’t really exist.

Pinch me.

Kiss me.

Am I here?

turkish delight

I have a friend named Fatih, and there’s a neighbourhood called Fatih in Istanbul that’s now Syria away from Syria—and I’m writing about a woman named Matilda, and I give her an ex-husband called Fatih.

My friend is not impressed. Fatih the fictional character is not… well. He’s short, for one. And has many other flaws (and possibly, a very small penis, although we haven’t gotten to that part in the story yet).

Fatih: If you give Fatih a very small penis, our friendship is over.

Jane: Well, he’s comic relief.

Fatih: A small penis is not funny. Just change his fucking name!

But I have to call him Fatih, because, you see, Matilda is very fat, and there’s a scene with in a little convenience store in which the clerk calls her Fatih’s Fat Matilda, and OMFG, do you hear that cadence?

My friend is not impressed.

I shouldn’t have told him anything. Sigh.

(the above story, by the way, isn’t actually true, not exactly)

(but it’s a good story, and I will keep on telling it, until everyone believes it’s true)

unschooling looks like this

Jane: Ender-love-of-mine, please understand this. I have no desire to teach you to read until you really, really, really want to learn. When you are ready, when you want it—I will sit here with you for hours. But if you just want to go play Minecraft—go. I have nothing vested in this: I will not fight, make you, force you.

(I’m paraphrasing myself.)

Ender: I want to learn!

Jane: Then you have to look at the fucking letters and not make faces at the mirror.

Ender: How do you spell fucking?

Fuck.

Parenting fail, again.

Unschooling win. (This was on Thursday. In case you care. I don’t.)

why natives hate tourists

I’m reading Natalie Goldberg still—Thunder and Lightning: Cracking Open the Writer’s Craft this time—and still arguing with her in my head (in this book, she really admits to me her novel as shit, a thinly disguised memoir that took her nine years to write and that her New York editors, despite the phenomenal success of Writing Down the Bones, pushed to revise and revise, and kinda sounded reluctant to publish, and to be honest, I’m kind of gleefuly here, I whisper to her, “Ha, Natalie, //I//  know the difference between fiction and memoir, //I// know how to write a story that’s not about me and my neurosis, //I// know how to keep the reader up all night with events I’ve never experienced—only imagined… and I can take that from idea to clean draft in weeks not years, ha, ha, ha—okay, yes, I’m arguing with the Goddess of North American Freefall Writing, sorry, but despite all the voices in my head, sometimes it gets a little lonely inside the work…)

Anyway. I’m reading Natalie Goldberg and she’s quoting Jamaica Kincaid:

That the native does not like the tourist is not hard to explain. For every native of every place is a potential tourist, and every tourist is a native of somewhere. Every native everywhere lives a life of overwhelming and crushing banality and boredom and desperation and depression, and every deed, good and bad, is an attempt to forget this. Every native would like to find a way out, every native would like a rest, every native would like a tour. But some natives—most natives in the world—cannot go anywhere. They are too poor. They are too poor to go anywhere. They are too poor to escape the reality of their lives; and they are too poor to live properly in the places where they live, which is the very place you, the tourist, want to go—so when they natives see you, the tourist, they envy you, they envy your ability to turn their own banality and boredom into a source of pleasure for yourself.

Jamaica Kincaid, A Small Place

A few thoughts: I have spent much of this terrible winter wishing to be back in Cuba, occupying the responsibility-free role of tourist, not-native, not-of-this place person. Now I remember the shame and guilt that came along with the pleasure. Right.

And I remember how important it is for me to have a life, build a life from which I don’t want to escape—from which I don’t need a vacation.

(Can you think of anything worse—more banal, to use Kincaid’s word—than living your life FOR your vacation? Ugh. No, no, no. Not me.)

I also think—I must read everything Jamaica Kincaid has ever written. This is what I do when I suddenly, violently fall in love with a writer, a voice. I drink her, drown in her, until I’m sick of her. And then I leave her—but she never leaves me.

(This is  why we read, why I write. Why musicians compose and play, why artists create. It’s the only everlasting, unconditional love there is—falling in love with, using up art—giving yourself up to be loved, to be used.)

(That was either a profoundly deep thought, or a stupidly pretentious one, but I’ll let it stand.)

canadian spring

…is here. I think it’s here.

But I’m afraid to take the winter tires off my car just yet.

…good thing I didn’t…

and also, this

How I spent Sunday night. Existential angst notwithstanding, life is good.

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)

—->>>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 cage is will, the lock is discipline (Week 14: Up and Down)

monday

… started and ended in tears, but in-between, it was a good, good day. It flowed. Isn’t that kind of amazing?

tuesday

… was a hard day. I struggled—to focus, to breathe, to do. I took Ender swimming, drank in his joy. Made a good supper. Struggled. If you ask me about what, why—I can’t even really tell you. It was just a hard, hard day.

I’m reading Natalie Goldberg’s The Great Spring: Writing, Zen, and This Zigzag life. Also, Karen S. Wiesner’s Writing the Fiction Series and Jesse Warren Tevelow’s Authorpreneur.

Meh. I don’t know.

Mostly, I think despite writing about them for the better part of two decades… I’m not an entrepreneur. And I’m not an entertainer either.

I’m not so sure, today, Julia Cameron’s Artist’s Way Koolaid notwithstanding, that I am an artist.

Who am I?

Natalie is writing… memoir. Again. As always. I lie in memoir. Again, as always. So I suspect everyone else does too. But maybe she doesn’t. Maybe it’s all true. Maybe she really remembers things like this… (She doesn’t. It’s all story. I know.)

But—there are some true things there. She really loves, loves, loves some of the places she has lived in. Taos, New Mexico in particular. (She writes as if she loves them—which is more or less the same thing, as far as the reader and posterity and manufactured history is concerned.)

I wonder what it would be like to really love… a place.

I don’t love my city. I don’t mind it. Sometimes (not in February or March, or this fucking snowy April, why?), I like it, a lot.

And I love my tiny little patch of it, my Sunnyhill, my hill, this bit of river, wilderness, the Common, my weed patch.

But this city? Not so much. Have I loved any place I’ve ever lived?

I tell people I loved Montreal. But I didn’t, not really.

Today, I don’t love anything. It’s one of those days.

Struggling.

The day will end.

Maybe, as it ends, in the end, I will love. Or. Cry.

Sleep. Will Wednesday be better?

wednesday

yes.

thursday

Thursday starts with a disappointment. No, that’s not quite true: Thursday starts with my morning pages, this habit Julia Cameron inculcated in me about four years ago now. And say what you will about Julia (there are moods in which no one is more critical of her than I), in the four years since I’ve been doing morning pages, I’ve written four novels, dozens if not hundreds of poems, and my creative non-fiction output has been… beyond steady.

So Thursday morning starts with my morning pages. Then the disappointment. I text you to share it—Julia taught me that too. Before her, I used to suffer alone and be proud of it. You say, this time, all the right things. Almost.

You: What did I do wrong this time?

Jane: It doesn’t matter. You tried.

You offer to come over, to offer solace in person. I refuse. I don’t want you to hold my hand while I weep. I don’t even want to weep. I have plans for the day—a routine and tasks—and I don’t want them derailed by a text, an unplanned disappointment… or even your visit.

When I make decisions like this, you sometimes think I don’t love you. It’s not that at all. It’s just that… I know I have to follow my schedule, my planned rhythm. Today HAD to be a work day. I am two weeks, more, behind because of my illness. So. Thursday, I work. I am disciplined, and that soothes me much more than talking with you about what sucks would.

In the granola-New Age-voodoo circles that I move in, people place a high value on flexibility and spontaneity. They equate them with creativity and freedom, and they define freedom as lack of structure, lack of planning, lack of… routine.

I value freedom too. But I define it different. Not as a lack of constraint or structure. Nor as chaos. Freedom is… the freedom to do the work, live the life I want to live—the passion I want to embody.

And that kind of freedom requires discipline.

Internal discipline. Self-discipline.

My self-discipline manifests in routines, rituals, commitments to self… and following through on those commitments.

I like a touch of chaos, too, of course. There is a lot of chaos, creativity, unpredictability in my life. But what makes my life and its creative chaos possible—makes me thrive in it—is routine and discipline.

Morning pages. Coffee. Work sprint one—do day’s critical task here. Breakfast. Shower. Meditation. Reading with Ender. Work sprint two, the less-creative-but-necessary-task—these are the anchors of my morning, the building blocks of my morning routine. They make it possible for me to be FREE to take two hours of the middle of my afternoon to go to the Y, to my culty yoga… or to spend the afternoon smoking sheesha and staring out a window… Return to chores, kids,  and work sprint three (mundane tasks) in the hours that abut prepping supper or cleaning up after it.

Flora’s martial class, three times a week. Chore? No. Routine. Focused one-on-one time with my girl—sometimes all she gets from me, that time in the car, but sometimes, that’s all she wants, needs. And for me: an hour and a half, every Tuesday, Thursday, Friday to write-read-proof-reflect.

The Y on Monday and Friday, Kundalini yoga on Wednesday and Saturday.

Anchors.

Have you noticed, though, that when people say, “You’re so disciplined!” it’s this odd compliment? They’re not sure if they’re giving you (me) a compliment… or telling you (me) that you’re boring.

Freedom to do what you want, if you what you end up doing is squandering your time and passion and talent, is worthless.

You:  I’m not mad you didn’t want to see me on Thursday.

Jane: Good.

What was this little segue about?

Disappointment. Discipline.

Routine.

Freedom.

interlude: The Great Spring

It will not stop snowing in Calgary—no one has told the weather gods that it’s April and for fuck’s sake, enough with the unique snowflakes, give us some boring, same-everyday sun and some green grass and leaves and shit, will you?

I’m still reading Natalie Goldberg’s The Great Spring: Writing, Zen, and the Zig Zag of Life.

I start reading it on Monday, and it disappoints me. I don’t like it. I bitch to Sean about how all Natalie knows to write is these stupid memoir vignettes (and who wants to read those?), self-indulgent blog posts really (shut up), and who is she to be a writing teacher anyway? She’s only written one novel. And nobody’s read it. It’s probably bad.

Sean shuts me down. Not intentionally—I think he’s a) trying to be fair to the Great Natalie Goldberg, author of Writing Down the Bones who changed the way writing is taught in North America and b) trying to redirect me from what we both know is a destructive unproductive place: envy, resentment, anger, defensiveness, insecurity.

I turn my anger and resentment towards him and to go bed crying. And hating Natalie and the literary establishment that made her god. With only one crappy novel under her belt.

But I keep on reading the book.

I finish it on Wednesday, and by Thursday, I think it’s good. I also realize that for Natalie, writing is not what it is for me. It is, in the end, a spiritual practice for her. Another way of reaching Zen. Enlightenment. Ironically—for one who is a writing teacher—writing is not really about communicating. Sharing with an audience. That purpose of writing is, to Natalie Goldberg, secondary.

But I think our commitment to practice—writing practice—is similar. In one of the closing chapters of the book, “Lost Purse,” students ask Natalie for… what else, the secret to writing.

The students say:

“I have to be trust myself!”

“I have to have courage.”

“Speak from my heart.”

“Know myself!”

Natalie sighs.

Crinkles her nose.

“No. No. No. Not even close. It’s not about how you feel.”

“You. Have. To. Pick. Up. The pen—and write. Just. Write.”

“For years, that’s all I’ve been saying. If it’s hot out, write in the heat. If it’s cold, pull on a sweater and write. … Act. … Writing doesn’t ask you to be any different from who you are right now. Not better. Not more.”

Pa-dum-pam.

friday

I finally feel myself. Awake. Mind sharp. My faith in my capabilities mostly back. My demons, caged.

Funny, you know, I use a few metaphors with my demons—in all of them, they are contained. Not banished. Not invisible—I am not safe when I can’t see them. No, I’m safest and happiest when they’re caged—not lurking in the shadows of the edges of my consciousness. Caged, contained—the cage is my will. They exist. I acknowledge them. I see them—I put them in the cage. The lock on the cage, what is it?

I suppose it’s discipline.

Back to discipline again.

Such a loaded word these days. Perhaps it always was.

I often wonder—is it an innate quality or something that needs to be—that can be—cultivated? When does discipline—of the self—morph into self-repression? Or inflexible near-OC behaviour?

Why am I thinking about this?

I guess because I’m planning, effectively, a 31-month—33? maybe 36 actually… fuck, my math sucks, probably even more… 40?—a 31+ month experiment that will require more sustained discipline than I’ve deployed in my life for a while. Can I do it?

Sean says cautious things.

Jane: You don’t think I can do it.

Sean: That is not what I said!

Ok. It isn’t. But that’s what I heard. And it’s fair. What I’m planning is bigger, x7, and longer, x10, and scarier, and harder than all the crazy shit I’ve done so far, and it requires a tenfold leap of faith and…

You: Can you just tell us what you’re planning?

Jane: No. I don’t want your advice. God knows I don’t need a reality check. Or input from—excuse me—lay people. Full of opinions but no experience.

You: What are you saying?

Jane: Your opinion and input will carry no weight with me.

You: Bitch.

Jane: And I can’t afford to be infected by your fear or doubt.

You: Like I said—bitch.

Whatever. I prefer… self-aware.

speaking of self-aware

I’m taking a course that requires me to take the Myers-Briggs / Jungian personality test.

I come out an almost perfect midline personality (I’m also, btw, on every test I’ve ever taken, 51/49 right-brained and left-brained):

  • Introverted (I) 61.11% Extroverted (E) 38.89%
  • Intuitive (N) 53.66% Sensing (S) 46.34%
  • Feeling (F) 55.88% Thinking (T) 44.12%
  • Judging (J) 53.33% Perceiving (P) 46.67%

Except, as you see, the introvert is in some ascendance over the extrovert. (If you want to take the free version of the test, btw, here ya go: http://similarminds.com/jung_old.html

Jung, by the way, coined the terms Introvert and Extrovert, as well as synchronicity. Jung was an introvert, and Freud was an extrovert, and there you probably have the root cause of their break-up.

All week, I’m reading The Introverted Entrepreneur: Amplify Your Strengths and Create Success On Your Own Terms by Beth L. Buelow.

This resonates:

Introverts are internal processors. Their primary source of information and point of reference comes from within themselves. This doesn’t mean that they are self-absorbed or oblivious to others: they simply rely first and foremost on their inner thoughts to guide them. … When an introvert receives information, she takes it in and flips it around in her mind until it’s right side up enough to be shared with the world.

I’m not always an introvert. But I’m always an internal processor.

Sean: I know.

(He’s not.)

I’m also reading Seth Godin’s We Are All Weird: The Rise of Tribes and the End of Normal

and I find myself thinking that, ultimately, there are two kinds of people. People obsessed with slotting everyone into Category A and Category B…

…and people who think Category A and Category B aren’t sufficient. Should we perhaps subdivide Category A into A1, A2, A3, A4 and so forth?

I want to be neither.

You: Unique snowflake.

Jane: I want to recognize and worship everyone as a unique snowflake.

You: That doesn’t sound like you.

Jane: You don’t really know me.

…the landscape of you and me

When I am still feeling ery said and sick and unsupported, I text with my friend the practicing Buddhist almost-monk. Er, nun. About life, sex, relationships, dharma.

She says:

“You’re brilliant and adorable and wonderful and everything is going to work out perfectly. Smooch snuggle kiss.”

And also:

“What would happen if there was nothing to fix, nothing wrong, nothing ‘fucking complicated’ about you?”

Jane: I would be terribly boring and that would be even worse.

Ego.

I want to be a unique snowflake.

Demons: You are utterly ordinary.

*I also take the DISC test. Here are my scores:

week versus day

When I am having a bad day, I will sigh and cry, “Will this day never end!” And, when it is a very very bad day (like the Wednesday of Week 12), I will actually go into bed, turn off the lights, pull the covers over my head, and wait for the day to be over.*

*I have three children, of course, so this is generally a figurative rather than a literal act.

When it’s a bad week… month… you can’t do that.

Anyway. It wasn’t a bad week. Or even a rough week. It just had some… you know. Rough spots. Bad thoughts.

You: And that disappointment.

Jane: It’s all good. I’m already over that. It’s Sunday.

I was happy on Wednesday. Productive on Thursday and Friday. Playful among all the chores on Saturday.

But I’m looking forward to Monday. My mini New Year. Blank slate.

kids report

I do want to tell you that this week, I was a very present mother and I experienced minimal guilt. Ender and I read every day—with a view to him mastering the art, not just at bedtime. I sprayed Bactine on Flora’s had when she cut it falling down in the alley and I paid attention to her fully when I played her chauffeur. I encouraged Cinder to NOT rush into his math test until he understood the material, and I helped him figure out how to identify the range of a quadratic equation (thank you, Khan Academy, fuck you, official math textbook). Ender and I went swimming, too. Everyone seems happy, thriving.

Can I sustain THAT for 31-36-40 months?

Maybe.

And I can’t start until I believe the answer is yes.

You: Idiot.

Jane: Shut up.

You: Also, hypocrite.

Jane: Fuck off.

I know… I know… the secret. Chunk it. Think in segments. Days—weeks—months (hours and minutes). Chapters—scenes—paragraphs—sentences—words.

Buildings blocks.

But I need to see and trust and commit to the big picture.

You: Well, I think you should…

Jane: Shut up. I did tell you, did I not? I don’t want your advice.

I’m just sharing some of doubt and process and demons because I’m tired of you thinking I have no feelings.

But that’s another story.

Ender: Mama! Tortilla?

Sigh.

Jane: Coming.

It’s the sixth cheese tortilla I’m making him today…

i’m hungry

When Flora says “I’m bored,” she means her demons are rattling the cage and she needs to be held and loved and told she exists and is an important, unique snowflake.

Ender’s code phrase is “I’m hungry.” When he says he’s hungry, he means “I need you to show me that I’m important to you and that you will take care of me.”

So while, when Flora says, “I’m hungry,” I can tell her to eat an apple or go scavenge in the fridge, when Ender says, “I’m hungry,” I have to make him the fucking tortilla.

And not grumble if he doesn’t eat it all.

It’s sort of a metaphor.

These days, though, he’s going through a growth spurt, so he eats most of the love I make for him.

When Cinder experience existential angst, he punches holes in the walls, runs up and down the hallway, or throws himself on the floor and cries.

He’s the kid I understand best.

(I leave it to you to slot us into the Introvert/Extrovert categories if you like)

I love them all so much it hurts.

speaking of pain

I’m now 100% sure the Buddha was wrong about pain, suffering, and desire. Cowardly rather than enlightened, actually. So is that… a meditation fail? Or my own enlightenment?

lifestyle

Sean’s trying to diplomatically describe to Flora why we don’t spend a lot of time with a family with whom it would be… convenient, let us say, for us to have more of a relationship with.

Sean: In case you haven’t noticed, they don’t really share our hippie lifestyle.

Flora: Wait. We’re hippies?

Sean: The only reason we don’t live in a tent on Vancouver Island and shit in a hole in the woods is because I’m here.

Jane: Hey!

Flora: OMG, you’re right. I never thought about it. If it was up to Mom, we’d be like Pippa’s family and travel around the world in a camper van, wouldn’t we?

Ok, so that’ s been my dream since I’ve been, like, 12, and I’ve been trying to figure out how to make it happen with them for years, and those three months in Cuba were the closest I managed to come to it, and…

Flora: I love you so much, Dad.

Jane: Hey!

Flora: I love you too, Mom. But you know what else I love?

Cinder: Toilet paper and flushing toilets?

Flora: Word.

Ungrateful bastards. (For context, see POSTCARDS FROM CUBA)

saturday

On Saturday, a stranger from Egypt helps me articulate an odd truth about myself,* we put together Cinder’s bed,** and Sean and I take a trip to the 1920s, where I taste Virginia Woolf (she’s too sweet, I tell the bartender, and he sours her with a twist of lemon) and Sean puts Daisy Buchanan to his lips.

*It’s not an epiphany, exactly, but it’s this…

You: Another thing you’re not going to share?

Jane: No, you can hear this one.

I don’t expect people to be there tomorrow.

Ponder the implications of that for a minute or two…

**When I say we… I guess I really mean Sean and Cinder, although I helped carry things up and down the stairs, and cleaned the gooey corners in the teenager’s room.

Also, there was this:

Cinder: Mom! We lost a dowel! Where is it?

Seriously. How the fuck should I know?

But. Here’s the thing:

Jane: It fell on the second landing—I’ve put it in your room on the Lego shelf next to the castle!

Also, this:

Sean: We need the vacuum cleaner!

Jane: It’s broken! Broom?

Sean: No! Gum and a pencil!

I’ll leave the “why” to your very capable inference capabilities.

i really said this to my son

Jane: While you’re up and I’m here sitting on my ass, could you get me my Guinness from the fridge?

Cinder: Doesn’t it have wheat it in?

Jane: It’s my binge day.

Cinder: Isn’t it illegal for me to get you alcohol?

Jane: I can’t send you to the liquor store to buy me beer. I can send you to the fridge.

Cinder: It still sounds sketchy.

Jane: For fuck’s sake just get me my beer!

sunday

I know exactly what I want.

And how to get it.

Oh, if only I could package that feeling in a pill, tonic, or mantra…

xoxo

“Jane”

PS This week, I’d like to give the last word to Seth Godin. Two non-sequiturs, but they connect dots for me:

“Some people are more comfortable believing that there are no edges, that everywhere is like it is right here. That they are normal, that everyone is normal, and that ignorance is bliss. If everyone could just be normal (like them), they’d be happier.”

“I’m running out of patience for people who would further their personal or media goals by dividing us in exchange for a cheap point or a few votes. If members of a tribe encourage schisms and cheer on the battles, is it any wonder that it’s hard to create forward motion? When we’re not in sync, power is dissipated.”

Seth Godin, We are All Weird: The Rise of Tribes and the End of Normal

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)

—->>>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

Let’s pretend it all does have meaning (Week 13: Convalescence and Rebirth)

in brief

On Monday, I manifested abundance, on Tuesday, I shopped for olives, on Wednesday, I learned ALL THE THINGS, on Thursday, I vibrated, on Friday, I chased bliss, on Saturday, i incubated, and on Sunday, I was dutiful. Crashed.

actually, what matters the most…

On Friday night, Cinder came back from Kelowna, with bleached-blue-pink hair and a bad cold, and a lot of stories.

Jane: How was your trip?

Cinder: Good.

Sean: Did you have fun?

Cinder: Yes.

Jane: What did you do?

Cinder: Stuff.

Shut up. For him, that’s eloquent.

The stories will come, in blurts and jokes, over the next year or so. Or maybe not.

Not everyone has to be a storyteller.

but if you are a storyteller…

…your life has very limited meaning without an audience. I mean, you can talk to the voices in your head, of course, but apparently that’s not considered super-healthy. To that end, I’m reading this:

Your A-Game by Damon Suede and Heidi Cullinan. I’ve had the chance to meet both these peeps in the flesh last year, and will be meeting them again soon, and when I do, I will slobber them with wet kisses—ok, maybe just awkward hugs—because, yes, thank you.

speaking of slobber…

On Friday, my photographer-artist friend sent me this picture:

Artist: Helen Frankenthaler circa 1956

and this quote:

“I’ve seen women insist on cleaning everything in the house before they could sit down to write… and you know it’s a funny thing about housecleaning… it never comes to an end. Perfect way to stop a woman. A woman must be careful to not allow over-responsibility (or over-respectabilty) to steal her necessary creative rests, riffs, and raptures. She simply must put her foot down and say no to half of what she believes she “should” be doing. Art is not meant to be created in stolen moments only.”

― Clarissa Pinkola Estés

related

On Sunday, Sean scrubs the stove top and the kitchen floor around the stove and sink.

Jane: Thank you.

Gratitude is easier this week. It is in no way related to my meditation practice.

happy egg

On Sunday, it’s Easter, but it’s so fucking cold, we cancel the Easter Egg Hunt for the community kids. They’d be heartbroken, if it wasn’t so cold outside that if they ventured out,  THEY’D PROBABLY DIE!

You think I’m exaggerating.

I might be exaggerating. Just a little.

But OMFG, it’s April and it’s so cold, and I want to go back to Cuba.

Flora: Here. Have some chocolate.

incubating

So what was happening this week, professionally, creatively: I was collecting… eggs. LOL. Seeds. Ingredients? Something. Yes. I was definitely collecting.

Not making the connections between them yet. But. Collecting.

because

On Monday, my friend from a lifetime ago (we agreed not to do the math; it makes us feel old) and I decided that even if life did not have meaning and purpose, we had to live as if it did. Because otherwise, what’s the point?

Flora: Experience?

Jane: Just for itself?

Flora: Why not?

Jane: … it just doesn’t seem… you know… enough.

Apparently, I’m not just a shitty Buddhist and an apostate Christian, but I’m kind of a terrible hedonist, too.

Flora: Well, that’s why I believe in magic and unicorns.

Cool. Wish I did too.

But. I don’t.

But this week, I  live as if I do.

reading

I’m reading Toby Lester’s Da Vinci’s Ghost AND Catrine Clay’s Labyrinths: Emma Jung, Her Marriage to Carl, and the Early Years of Psychoanalysis. Not exactly at the same time—I tear through Da Vinci’s Ghost first, because I’m a little obsessed with the Vitruvian Man right now, and that’s the lens through which Lester is telling Leonardo’s story (so good)—and I plod through Labyrinths more or less after, because I thought I was going to be all into Jung and Jungian analysis right now, but I think I’m already over Carl, and Emma does not redeem him.

But. Da Vinci’s Ghost?

So Good.

I text this quote from the book to my friend the much too talented and frustrated artist:

She texts back: “The photo didn’t come. It’s not getting the orgasm I think.”

I know, on two different phones, an entire city apart, we are both peeing ourselves laughing, and Leonardo’s atoms are giggling somewhere out there too.

also, I drank Anais Nin

I did. She was delicious. Thank you for taking me there, my love.

angst report

Well. I think it’s there and maybe always will be. But remember what my friend and I decided on Monday?

You have to live as if life—LIFE with a capital “L” and your little life too—has meaning and purpose. Whether it does or not—maybe you will never know.

Fuck, faith is hard.

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)

—->>>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

Cremation, not embalming, but I think I might live after all (Week 12: Angst and Gratitude)

monday

paying the price for overdoing it on sunday, will I never learn?

(probably not)

BUT I actually… can I tell you? Can you handle this?

I’m enjoying the sick. (Well, except for the sharp pain in my throat and chest.)

I was SO FUCKING TIRED.

Ok. This time, I’m going to rest until I get better.

The only thing I’ll DO today is some tax-related receipt hunting.

(I did it. It was exhausting.)

And now… an evening of stillness and silence.

And… it’s not boring.

Ok, it sort of is.

But in a nice way.

W-O-W.

tuesday

I’m so sick of being sick, I can’t tell you.

I possibly disease her.

Her: I think I’m getting sick. What were your first symptoms? Sniffles and a sore throat?

Jane: No, I started with existential angst, the conviction that nothing in the the world was worth doing, and narcolepsy.

Never really had a runny nose–and the sore throat kind of came after the hacking and coughing.

But all my colds go to my soul and lungs and not my sinuses.

Hack.

Angst.

Hack.

Overheard as I go up the stairs to the bathroom to cough/pee/puke (my stomach’s fine—I’m just coughing so hard, none of the sphincters work when the hacking gets going):

Sean: What the hell are you doing!

Flora: He swung at me!

Sean: That is no reason to attack him with a crochet needle!

Flora: I didn’t attack him! I just pointed it in his direction!

Sean: As he was swinging at you! I get that he’s annoying you, but if you punctured his stomach with that, you could have killed him!

I don’t quite know which “he” Flora was threatening. It doesn’t matter. I decide not to interfere.

Hack.

But I pull myself together enough—and medicate myself enough—to attend a friend’s event. I try to keep my coughing contained.

Sleep the night through… although there are some rather odd dreams.

wednesday

The coughing subsides but the existential angst gets pretty intense.

Ender keeps on interrupting his video game playing to give me hugs. Little empath.

I take Cinder to his math midterm. Try to breathe in his stress and anxiety, and, on the out breath, send him my love.

Spend his test trying to clear my chakras. Pretty sure I fail, wail in existential angst instead.

I was going to tell you more about my Wednesday, because I thought it might be instructional. But as I try to put it into words, it just feels self-indulgent.

It ends like this, though—in bed by 6 pm, I’m trying to accept a) that I’m really really sick and b) I just need to rest and everything will be a little better tomorrow and c) I am NOT alone and unsupported and abandoned and my friends aren’t all awful people who don’t give a fuck about me and don’t understand how difficult on the ego and heart EVERYTHING I’m doing right now is (even though it feels like that, because, did I tell you, when I am sick, it’s always in the lungs and soul) and d) cough-hack-wheeze, fucking hell, no more coughing, I CANNOT STAND THIS—and Sean tries to console me, but what can he do? Life is not worth living and I will probably die of this horrible cold anyway and I just want to lie here alone in the dark and feel sorry for myself.

Sean: Text me if there’s anything I can do for you.

Jane: ((moan)).

(You think that’s the end—that’s just the set-up.)

Fading in and out of sleep—cough, hack wheeze—sneeze—fucking hell, I AM NOT DEALING WITH CONGESTED SINUSES ON TOP OF THIS, is it not bad enough that I’m pretty sure what I need to do tomorrow (if I live) is get a job as a barista at Starbucks (they probably won’t hire me, I never did learn how to foam milk properly) or a greeting clerk at Wal-Mart (it wouldn’t be so bad, right, maybe I could try to unionize them, get fired, sue them, and find purpose in life that way)—suddenly, lights, Sean.

Jane: Say that again?

Sean: He’s fine—but it will need a couple of stitches—I’m just going to take him to the Sheldon Chumir.

Cinder, playing with scissors. Cut. Blood. Stitches.

Ok, really, it’s just a little cut, comparatively. But it’s enough, bucket of cold water. Focus. Purpose. Hugs. Sean and Cinder leave, and Ender comes into my bed.

Laptop.

“What where you watching with Daddy, sweetie?”

Big Bang Theory. Season six or nine—I can’t tell, sick, confused. And you know, my brain hurts and my soul is on fire—but OMFG, how awful and sexist and UNKIND is that show? I shudder. But I suffer through two episodes with Ender. Then watch and listen to him fall asleep beside me.

The other two are back in a couple of hours.

Flora: Stitches? What? What did I miss? How?

Cinder’s almost proud.

Sean’s sniffly.

Fuck.

Cough. Hack. Wheeze.

thursday

Sean and Cinder leave the house at 6:30 in the morning in an Uber. Cinder’s taking the Greyhound to Kelowna to visit his pack for Spring Break—Sean’s dropping him off at the station. I get up to say goodbye… then fade back into a harsh sleep until Ender needs breakfast.

You bring me soup in the morning, and my mom takes the kids out for lunch, so for most of the day, I lie on the couch and plan my funeral. Cremation or embalment and an open casket?

My grandfather was embalmed. It was a little frightening… it was so clearly not HIM you know. Just a body.

Cremation, I decide.

In the evening, I’m supposed to be at three different places—want to be at all of them—thought I could somehow manage to put in an appearance at two, maybe even all three. But I can’t get off the couch. I could maybe crawl off. And get dressed.

One of the events is a friend’s book launch and let me tell you—Nabokov and I both keep track of who doesn’t celebrate our most special days with us, I know how important being there is.

I can do this. I can get up. Get dressed.

But I can’t drive.

Uber.

$$.

Demons.

OMG, why is trying to sort this out so hard.

I grasp at straws. He proposes a solution that complicates his life and really ruins his night. But he delivers me to the book store—I deliver congratulations. I think I might pass out in the car on the way home.

Home.

Sean’s not quite as sick I was… but well on his way. And working, pushing through, external schedules, no choice.

I feel a pang of guilt. Crawl up the stairs. Read briefly to Ender, cuddle him as he falls asleep.

Think about shiny things, and that I probably will live.

It’s just a cold.

friday

I have a date with Michelle Obama today, just me and 5 or 6,000 other Calgarians.

And I am not missing THAT no matter how sick I am, so I carefully coach my body into a state of suspension, hibernation. I do nothing. I move slowly. I make food. Slowly. I read The Artist’s Way, solace. Around noon I start to feel like I might definitely live—and I make myself go back to the couch and DO NOT START SPRING CLEANING or doing the taxes or writing or anything. Just… rest. Wait for Michelle. Wait for Michelle.

Michelle.

Yes.

And I’ll tell you why this was so important in some more detail another time (maybe) but for now, I’ll just tell you this: she is an antidote and good medicine.

I will definitely live.

saturday

Ugh, I’m not so sure about that. But Sean’s a deflated comatose balloon now, a hacking wet noodle, and he might die, so I guess I better rally myself so our kids have at least one parent.

Also, back before I started dying again, I made plans to go pick up a new bed for Cinder this morning, and so… my dad, his almost-antique truck (we call her “Molly”), a trip down south.

Shiny things.

It’s all good.

Back home.

My dad and I aren’t quite up to lugging the bed pieces up the three flights of stairs to Cinder’s bedroom (I check on Sean—not dead, but definitely not up to being actively vertical), so we unload them by the door and tarp them.

The local bottle picker (no longer homeless—long story, not fully relevant to today’s drama) volunteers to help me when I’m ready to lug them inside, as does my next door neighbour.

I am surrounded by people who support me and do things for me.

Gratitude.

Ok. I’m clearly getting better.

sunday

I need to not do much and take it slow today, so that I can shake this disease. But it’s hard, because it’s sunny, and the house is a mess, and the sunshine is coming through the Eastern balcony windows in a way that highlights all the dust and fingerprints on the windows.

I give the windows a half-ass wipe. Also clean the bathroom, because furry things are starting to think about growing in its corners.

Enough.

No more.

I will definitely live.

But I will also definitely rest.

My mind feels sharper—and I feel kinder—and I feel, again, that my existence has a not just benign, but beneficial purpose—but my body feels soft and not just muscle-less but bone-less. Walking up and down the stairs takes effort. Sitting takes effort.

I find a comfortable half-reclined position in my space. I’m going to stay here. Until Ender needs a tortilla or ham bun. Flora went to Safeway yesterday—they can eat buns and chips and bananas today while Sean fades in and out of conscious—in-between editing a video—and I… try very hard to not feel guilty about the fact that I’m NOT on deadline and I can just rest.

So many interesting emotions this week.

Grateful.

xoxo

“Jane”

PS And that’s what I wore to see Michelle.

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)

—->>>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

Shake the Disease (Week 11: Sickness and Health… well, mostly sickness)

In summary:

Monday was an emotional rollercoaster; Tuesday an emotional hangover. Wednesday—CRASH! Thursday, so, sick, I planned my funeral. (I wasn’t going to invite you, by the way. Just because.) Friday, I decided I was going to live; Saturday, I felt loved. Sunday, the coughing started.

To flesh things out a bit:

I got really, really, really SICK. I suppose it started to germinate Monday, poked through Tuesday, and flourished Wednesday and Thursday–those two days I felt so weak and exhausted that I essentially floated in and out of consciousness on the couch (thank goodness it’s in the kitchen, cause the kids still needed to eat).

Have you ever noticed that when your body is not well, your mind is convinced that there is NOTHING right with the world?

BTW, my OCD documentation indicates the source of my illness pretty clearly:

From the process journal, Sunday: “I needed to chill and rest but I felt GUILTY about it. I know this is ridiculous. I’ve worked so hard. I need to rest. But the guilt comes nonetheless. ‘Do More.’ No REST.”

Music, anyone?

I think this should be the soundtrack to this post:

On Friday, I explored my issues with the Buddha, in some detail:

According to most tradition, Siddhartha Gautama left—another word for this is abandoned—his wife and son to pursue wisdom and enlightenment. And, so we say 27 centuries or so later, he found it.

So I wonder… was his son proud? Did he grow up thinking, “Wow, my Daddy’s the Buddha!”

Or did he think of the Buddha as… “that bastard who walked out of my life and wasn’t that present when he was in it in in the first place”?

Sean: You realize every time you write something like that either your mother or my mother is going to call to ask if we’re all right?

Jane: I love you, darling, and you’re so fucking wise and insightful, but you’re not the Buddha and nobody thinks you are.

Sean: I love you, darling, but I also know you mostly write in metaphor.

True.

But there’s no metaphor here. The more I think about it, the more I think the Buddha was a selfish jackass who was afraid of life.

(Sorry, Cara.)

Flora: Does anyone in your yoga cult read your blog?

Jane: Probably not. Why?

Flora: Cause they should probably ex-communicate you.

Jane: I think only Catholics do that.

Speaking of Catholics—I’ve spent much of this sick week watching G. K. Chesterton’s Father Brown series on Netflix. (G.K., by the way, stands for Gilbert Keith—I know you were wondering, so I googled it for you.) I don’t know if it’s any good. I’m mostly unconscious as I watch it.

I really like how green England is, though. In spring. Apparently also fall and winter.

Outside my window, Viking hell is melting and creating ruts so deep, they trap SUVs. (On Wednesday, coughing and feverish and naked under my snowsuit, I try to dig a neighbour out of one of the ruts. Cinder, in shorts and a tank top—Canadian child—helps. We fail; need to call a tow truck.)

On Saturday, there was synchronicity up the wazoo:

…but I’m not going to tell you about that, because it was all too specific and requires too much backstory, and there was a horse involved. Also, Eric Carmen’s “Hungry Eyes” and a pie (pastry, of an undefined kind) topped with whipped cream and a burlesque dancer wearing an apron on which cherries whirled.

But no green beer.

Still. I decided I was glad I lived. And I felt loved. Which was a definite sign I was going to live and defeat this man cold.

Hack. Cough. Wheeze.

Oh, I forgot to tell you:

On Friday, I decided I was going to renegotiate my entire relationship with money.

I have a new sankalpa. And I’m soon going to be rich.

Yes, I was on drugs. Fuck off. I had a blinding, incisive insight.

You: Care to flesh that out a little?

Jane: Um, yeah, not really. Like Saturday’s synchronicity story (unintentional alliteration, by the way), it’s all too specific and requires too much backstory. But stay tuned: I’m sure I’ll spin it all into a cohesive narrative at some point. How can I not?

It seems to me I’m forgetting something…

I’m sure I’m forgetting something…

I was, after all, very, very sick.

Sean: Was?

Jane: Cough, hack, wheeze. I did sit ups and squats today AND went out for lunch with a beautiful woman AND articulated perfectly why “retirement” was intellectual suicide AND made supper AND did my laundry AND… OMFG, I’m so tired, cough, cough, cough, cough, cough…

I remembered!

Right. So I have a question for you. Do you think The Buddha Was a Psychopath: A Mindfulness Manual for the Rest of Us is a marketable title for a book?

This may or may not be related to my drug-induced paradigm shift re: money.

Cough.

Hack.

Wheeze.

xoxo

“Jane”

PS If I don’t make it, you can come to the funeral. Dress to the nines.

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)

—->>>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

Reading Nabokov, crying, whining, regrouping (Week 10: Tears and Dreams)

sunday

Process Journal, 7 am: “OMFG, this is such a happy moment.”

I think I start to cry at 9:30 am. Jesus fucking Christ.

monday

The less said about Monday, the better. No, really. Let’s move on.

tuesday

I don’t know. Good, bad. Mixed up. Sad, ugly. The dominant theme is “abandoned,” which is interesting but I’m not quite together enough to explore it. And a fevered Ender—he needs to be in my arms, most of the day. But that gives me rest, is good.

I read Vladimir Nabokov’s Letters To Vera, an antidote and simultaneously a poison.

Cinder and I have a fight, sort of about math, ultimately, about power. I think we both lose.

I cry some more.

wednesday

am

I want today to be a better day, and I have pretty damn impressive will power. I do. Granted, this week it seems drowned by a flood of tears, but surely? I know the tips and tricks, tools and techniques to pull it off, pull it out.

The question is, do I want to?

I think, much as I disliked the past 48-72 hours, I needed them. Maybe I need one more sloppy, wet, weepy day. In Bone, Marion Woodman has a line:

“Don’t worry about my tears,” I said. “Better rolling down my cheeks than blocking my kidneys.”

Maybe this particular dam just needs to to… fuck I don’t know how to finish that metaphor, it’s stupid.

pm

I do some of the things but Ender has a relapse, we cuddle on the couch. You come to visit… I feel distant and don’t want to address it, I want to be inside myself right now; let me.

thursday

Thursday was… complicated.

friday

I don’t know. I suppose it was a transition day. I worked, juggled. But generally neither cried nor stressed.

saturday

I performed. Well. Do it all out, bring it all, spend it all.

I did.

I’m channelling Annie Dillard here, by the way, what she said was:

“One of the things I know about writing is this: spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now. The impulse to save something good for a better place later is the signal to spend it now. Something more will arise for later, something better. These things fill from behind, from beneath, like well water. Similarly, the impulse to keep to yourself what you have learned is not only shameful, it is destructive. Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you. You open your safe and find ashes.”

Annie Dillard, The Writing Life

In the evening, I took all my nutrients for the day in a pint of Guinness. Two. Three.

I’d do penance on Sunday, I decided.

But I was lucky; I didn’t.

sunday

Sunday was… perfect. Except in the night. Crappy dreams.

WEEK 10 APPENDIX

nabokov, i

When I was seventeen, I used to write on average two poems a day, each of them taking me about twenty minutes. Their quality was doubtful, but I didn’t even try to write better then, thinking that I was performing little miracles and that over miracles I didn’t need to think.

Now I know that, indeed, reason is a negative part of creativity and inspiration a positive one, but only through their secret conjunction is the white spark born, the electrical flicker of perfect creation.

Vladimir Nabokov, Letters to Vera

notes on the discovery of the clitoris

In 1558, a Venetian professor, Matteo Realdo Colombo—he had studied anatomy with Michelangelo, btw, stumbled upon a mysterious protuberance between a woman’s legs.

So he was examining a patient and he discovered this “button” and he noted that she grew tense as he manipulated it, and that it appeared to grow in size at his touch.

“Clearly, this would require more study.”

After examining scores of other women, Colombo found they all that this same, responsive protuberance.

He reported his discovery of the clitoris to the dean of his faculty. And… he was “arrested, accused of heresy, blasphemy, witchcraft, and Satanism, put on trial and imprisoned. His manuscripts were confiscated, and his discovery was forbidden to be mentioned.”

Sources: The Anatomist, by Frederico Andahazi
referenced in Sex at Dawn, by Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jethá

nabokov ii

Text to Sean:

Nabokov also noticed when his friends and colleagues didn’t show up to his readings… and resented it, years, later.

I guess all artists are a little petty.

Text from Sean:

It’s not petty. But non-artists don’t understand. But I guess the still resenting it years later part doesn’t sound so good.

Nabokov also had to beg for reviews. And money. (And work.)

When he was already regarded as the foremost writer of his generation, in several languages.

Sigh. Is this perspective, or a sign that I should get a “regular people” job?

kids and dharma

Discussing Stephen Cope’s The Great Work of Your Life, Sean and I make a discovery. Well. I notice—as he’s reading it, I didn’t notice it the first time—that all the dharmic lives Stephen Cope is examining, the great and the small, are single, childless people.

Then I stop. I’m wrong. Jane Goodall was married (twice) and had a son. Robert Frost had a whole gaggle of children. Marion Woodman, married. Gandhi had four kids too.

But the way Cope wrote the book—they might as well not have had them. Their children, their families do not figure in their dharma story—except, insofar as Mrs. Frost and Mrs. Gandhi and Mrs. Goodall (Jane’s mother) enabled them to live their dharma.

I get… kind of angry. And get a little homophobic: Cope is gay, at the time of writing of the book partnerless and childless. (Old, too, I add acerbically.) What does he know about a mother’s dharma?

“He says events change your dharma,” Sean says. He’s still on the Marion Woodman section of the book, in which Woodman embraces the wound, makes living with cancer her dharma (of the moment). “Children change your dharma too. Once you have them—they become your new dharma. Or part of it, anyway—they affect it. Hugely.”

As he says this, there’s an explosion of noise inside Ender’s bedroom and four eight-to-ten year old boys clamber down the stairs. Fully armed.

“I fought that, denied it for a long time,” Sean says as they run past us, down the stairs, and outside.

I don’t think I did. Or did I? I think… I always knew I had to ride both of these horses. That I would not, could not choose one over the other.

But it never was—still isn’t—an easy choice. Robert Frost never had to agonize over whether he’d be a poet or a father of four children. But I bet you Jane Goodall thought long and hard about the impact having little Hugo would have on her career, life, plans. She had to…

nabokov iii

Nabokov is in Paris… or somewhere. I can’t remember. Vera is in Berlin, on her own. with their one-year-old baby. He writes her a letter every day. Complains that she doesn’t write to him often enough.

He ends up having an affair later that year. Neglected.

From the perspective of time, it’s kind of funny.

The marriage survives.

But she never writes him as much as he writes her. Of course not.

nabokov iv

Maria Popova is writing about Zadie Smith on Brainpickings this week, and Zadie Smith is writing about Nabokov:

When I write I feel there’s usually a choice to be made between the grounded and the floating. The ground I am thinking of in this case is language as we meet it in its “commonsense” mode. The language of the television, of the supermarket, of the advert, the newspaper, the government, the daily “public” conversation. Some writers like to walk this ground, re-create it, break bits of it off and use it to their advantage, whereas others barely recognize its existence. Nabokov — a literal aristocrat as well as an aesthetic one — barely ever put a toe upon it. His language is “literary,” far from what we think of as our shared linguistic home.

Source: Zadie Smith, Feel Free
https://www.brainpickings.org/2018/03/08/zadie-smith-dance-lessons-for-writers/

I’ve told you about all the bad books I’ve read lately, right?

Zadie Smith tells me, “Nobody really expects to write like Nabokov.”

But… I’d rather have him as my model, mentor and inspiration, than The National Enquirer. Or my Twitter stream or Facebook feed.

And I think… I thinks she’s a little wrong about the dichotomy. What makes Nabokov Nabokov—for me, THE foremost writer of the 20th century, no one comes close—is that he used “the language of the television, of the supermarket, of the advert, the newspaper, the government, the daily ‘public’ conversation” in aesthetically perfect, transformative ways. Despite the fact that he read and claimed to understand Ulysses (and perhaps he did), Nabokov is perfectly, terrifyingly comprehensible.

I finish Nabokov’s Letters to Vera on Friday; it’s time to re-read… well, all of him. I’m going to start with Pale Fire. End with Lolita.

xoxo

“Jane”

PS It wasn’t a bad week, you know. Just not a simple one. And I’m really glad I let myself cry for three days. I needed it.

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)

—->>>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 the Postcards project and other 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

Professionals do it like this: [insert key scene here] (Week 9: Battle, Fatigue, Reward)

monday

I write and then I vegetate except for when I do battle with the fridge—totally unfulfilling, but someone had to take that bitch down—rearrange all the furniture in the kitchen (and then put it back), go to yoga, do two loads of laundry, and murder all the dust bunnies hiding under our bed.

I also find my good water bottle and favourite vibrator, so, you know, it’s all worth it.

You: You’re not going to use that, are you?

Jane: I’ll clean it. Really, really well.

You: I don’t even want to look at you right now.

I also walk to Safeway in the sun with the Ender. Buy meat, bath salts, candles and flowers.

Ender: Candy?

Jane: Ok.

Ender: Drink instead of candy?

Jane: Sure.

Ender: The big bottle is cheaper than the little bottle. Look.

Sigh. Ok.

He carries a 2l bottle of Sprite all the way home, chugging from it at irregular intervals.

tuesday

i

[insert key scene here]

Fuck.

And what key scene would that be?

What?

Cryptic notes to myself are just so enchanting.

 

ii

True thing: marination is alchemy and it transforms a $1.76 (for two) steak into a masterpiece. The secret is plenty of lemon juice.

I have no lemon juice, but there is a very old lime on the counter.

Flora: Didn’t you just go to Safeway yesterday?

Jane: Hush. The alchemist is at work.

Key scene, key scene, key scene…

iii

Coffee with neighbour, friend of many lifetimes. The Ender roams in the background; the Flora is in the next room. Headphones on, but always listening.

We talk about almost important things, but fairly carefully.

iv

Lunch out. Big eyes that blink too much. Small mouth. Swollen lips. The  most delicious gluten-free muffin ever… that turns out to be gluten-friendly. Someone has a sense of humour, fucking bakers, I’d be so angry at you, except THAT WAS THE MOST DELICIOUS THING I HAVE EATEN in…. aaaah.

Suddenly, snow in the sunshine.

I decide the lunch with a beautiful woman, never mind the delicious white wheat flour muffin, OMFG, fuck being responsible, GIVE ME MORE—is indulgence enough, and I will not smoke a cigar today.

The snow and icy wind influence my decision. Just a little.

v

Science happens without much need for intervention, correction or encouragement.

Jane: So, you? Math?

Flora: Ugh.

Jane: I know. Just a little?

Flora: Shouldn’t you be teaching Ender to read?

Jane: Ugh.

Mostly, I’m hoping Minecraft teaches him.

Hey, it worked with Cinder.

vi

Flora peels the potatoes while I meditate.

But there’s a text from her on my phone when I come out.

Flora: Where did you go?

I decide to text her back, instead of finding her.

Jane: I was hiding in the basement. That’s where I usually am when you can’t find me.

I think I’m so funny.

vii

The invasion of the neighbourhood boys while I make supper.

Blue: Is Cinder doing math today?

Jane: No.

Blue: Thank god.

Pre-calculus math isn’t just ruining my life. It’s affecting the quality of life of everyone in the neighbourhood.

(I think I’m so funny. But… so does she…)

Her: Hey! New story idea! Harried mom has to trade sexual favours with hot young math teacher/tutor to help her child.  Just putting it out there.

Jane: You know… that totally has legs…

Jane: Actually, fuck it as a story. I’m going to go out and seduce a hot young math tutor. And then, maybe, I’ll write about it. Win-win-win scenario. 😉

You think I’m kidding. Ha.

viii

I’m reading, simulatenously, Apartment Therapy by Maxwell Ryan, The Art of Organizing Anything by Rosalie Maggio, and Original Light  by Snatam Kaur). I should be reading billionaire romances. Four more to go… no, three—before March 7.

I’m not sure I’ll be able to persevere.

Sean: What’s the penalty if you don’t finish all the books you’re supposed to judge?

Jane: Eternal shame. You know I have to finish. I’m genetically incapable of not finishing. Sob.

(This is not funny. It is utterly tragic.)

(The Art of Organizing Anything is both funny AND tragic.)

ix

I steal Blue’s mother’s car to take Flora to her martial arts class. Then, for reasons I don’t quite understand, end up reading articles about / by Jungian analyst Marion Woodman.

I should be writing that missing key scene.

Reading billionaire romances.

Something.

Instead:

“The conscious feminine gives us the courage to love an acorn without knowing what an oak tree is.”    —Marion Woodman

And:

“Love is the true antitheses of fear. It expands where fear constricts. It embraces where fear repels.” —Marion Woodman

And this one is my favourite:

“Presence is holding love without twisting it into your desire.” —Marion Woodman

(Sean is reading the Marion Woodman part in Stephen Cope’s The Great Work Of Your Life, so I think I start googling her for context. And to find out if she lived or died.)

x

Sort of on topic:

synchronicity is “the simultaneous occurrence of events that appear significantly related but have no discernible causal connection.”

I think Carl Jung coined the word. Or at least redefined it.

“Jung believed that many experiences perceived as coincidence were due not merely to chance, but instead potentially reflected the manifestation of coincident events or circumstances consequent to this governing dynamic. He spoke of synchronicity as being an “acausal connecting principle.”

Source: http://www.thinking-minds.net/carl-jung-synchronicity/

I guess I might have been familiar with the concept before Julia Cameron, but it was really only after reading The Artist’s Way that I started to really think about synchronicity.

“When I teach and I explain to my students the concept of synchronicity, they may at first protest that such a concept seems too good to be true. Not wanting to be gullible, they exclaim, ‘Julia! Do you really believe the universe opens doors for us?’ I tell them yes, and I ask them not to believe me, but to keep track themselves of the instances of synchronicity they now encounter.”

Julia Cameron

So I’m thinking about synchronicity chiefly because she’s experiencing crazy synchronicity (and is a little worried, a little fey—is something bad going to happen soon?) and also because…

I don’t know.

 * * * [insert key scene here] * * *

wednesday

i

The morning starts with those thoughts. Is it worth it? Why bother? What sets them off is the Twitter account of a podcaster. I’ve followed a few friends who podcast. And now, Twitter keeps on suggesting podcast accounts I might be interested in.

THERE ARE SO MANY.

Ditto youtubers. Bloggers. Authors.

SO MUCH NOISE.

Maybe the biggest service I can do for the world is to shut the fuck up…

Listen. Instead of talking.

Read. Instead of writing.

BE instead of creating… things nobody needs, notices because they are too busy shouting about their own drama, trauma, passions.

Maybe I need to stop.

Maybe I should get off.

The thoughts crate a peculiar sensation. The opposite, perhaps, of the still-point yogis chase—although it feels still, too—I am very still—and the world is swirling around me, a cacophony of noise, podcasts, vloggers, bloggers, youtoubers, genre authors, critics, reviewers… trolls.

Everyone is talking, all at once.

STOP!

What will happen if I fall silent?

I should close my mouth and find out.

I close my eyes instead.

ii

I decide the key scene is not so much missing as buried.

I. CUT. HUNDREDS OF WORDS. MAYBE THOUSANDS.

Fuck, that felt good.

 

iii

Seesha. The Man On The Moon.

Searing sadness. Just such… searing sadness.

How is it possible to find happiness and rest and peace in the heart of such searing sadness?

But it is.

(a sense of safe place, I can’t explain it otherwise; a place of rest)

(I want to honour this moment, this night, this experience–I don’t yet know how)

thursday

Up too early. Smell of sex in the sheets, the air. Morning air so cold.

“What will you do today?”

“I have to finish a story…”

I finish more quickly than I expect; there is a smell of violets in the air.

I do all the things at home; take the train to the university. Russell Smith is speaking on what is authentic in art.

I’m… interested and yet disappointed.

And I’m so… frustrated by art and academics apparently working so hard to make themselves irrelevant.

You want to meet me in the evening; I say no. Choose solitude, home instead of you; you understand.

But instead, I end up in a bar with a bevy of artists.

We none of us know why we do what we do. We just… Compulsion, vocation?

I don’t know. And there is no answer at the bottom of the Guinness glass.

friday

I spend the whole day reading Marion Woodman’s Bone.

Well, I also help Cinder with science. Read Bone (Jeff Smith’s) to Ender. Make food, go to yoga (I think I hate yoga) (I think I hate exercise) (I definitely don’t like “the gym”) (please, spring, come soon). I think a load of laundry gets done somewhere in there. I might answer an email.

Oh, and I burn through a billionaire romance (I told you; don’t ask—it’s work; it’s necessary, but I’m NEVER going to do it again).

But mostly, Friday, I spend with Marion Woodman.

Bone seduces me, transposes me, transforms me.

“Returning to my self-discipline routine. Taking time and energy to do my exercises, walking half an hour every day, and gently dancing. Not relying on housework to give me the exercise I need. Feeding myself the vitamins and remedies… Not begrudging myself the rest I need. Visualization and mediation hold the days and nights together.”

Marion Woodman, Bone, December 18, 1993

“Thinking about passion and the dark feminine and how they are related to creativity and healing. This relationship is one of the biggest tasks of the Crone: holding he opposites in conscious aging—holding passion for life in balance with acquiescence in death, holding the spiritual womb always receptive to the creative spirit and choosing the new wholeness…”

Marion Woodman, Bone, October 7, 1994

This is not from Bone, but it is Marion Woodman:

“A mother who is identified with being mother has to have children who will eat what she gives them and do what she wants them to do. They must remain children.”

And this is Italo Calvino, on Carl Jung, quoted in Bone:

“Jung’s method, which bestows universal validity on archetypes and the collective unconscious, is linked to the idea of IMAGINATION as PARTICIPATION in the TRUTH of the world.”

(capitals mine)

In the evening, Edward Sorel reminds me that Carl Jung was a raging anti-Semite.

Boo.

There are no heroes.

Sean comes home in the evening bearing presents.

I change my mind. Go to bed with Vladimir Nabokov and Vera, and Frida, unopened, but beside us.

Sean joins us after his bath.

saturday

i

It’s two days before an anniversary I’m not going to celebrate. It’s fine. I’m fine.

Because, Leonard Cohen:

Take the word butterfly. To use this word it is not necessary to make the voice weigh less than an ounce or equip it with small dusty wings. It is not necessary to invent a sunny day or a field of daffodils. It is not necessary to be in love, or to be in love with butterflies. The word butterfly is not a real butterfly. There is the word and there is the butterfly. If you confuse these two items people have the right to laugh at you. Do not make so much of the word. Are you trying to suggest that you love butterflies more perfectly than anyone else, or really understand their nature? The word butterfly is merely data. It is not an opportunity for you to hover, soar, befriend flowers, symbolize beauty and frailty, or in any way impersonate a butterfly. Do not act out words. Never act out words.

[…]

Speak the words with the exact precision with which you would check out a laundry list. Do not become emotional about the lace blouse. Do not get a hard-on when you say panties. Do not get all shivery just because of the towel. The sheets should not provoke a dreamy expression about the eyes. There is no need to weep into the handkerchief. The socks are not there to remind you of strange and distant voyages. It is just your laundry. It is just your clothes. Don’t peep through them. Just wear them.

Leonard Cohen, Death of a Lady’s Man
Quoted in Brainpickings

ii

You text to see if you can come over.

Jane: Yes.

But you will have to compete with Vladimir, Vera and Frida for my attention.

I am a terrible friend.

iii

A cat n mouse game via text. I decide I definitely don’t matter, don’t exist.

iv

I try to convince Flora to eat expired yogurt.

Jane: It smells fine!

Flora: I can’t believe you’re trying to make me eat expired diary. What sort of mother are you?

Jane: You’re so lucky. When you live on your own and I come over–you’ll never be stressed about having to clean your house or what to feed me. You can feed me expired yogurt–well, you can’t, because I don’t eat diary, but you know what I mean–and…

Flora: I’m not feeding you anything when you come over. I’m gonna be like, remember that time you didn’t feed us lunch for six months? No snacks for you!

Jane: Seriously?

Flora: Also, you’re not going to want to come over, because I’m going to have seven snakes.

Jane: Seven?

Flora: Seven. Crazy cat ladies are so passe. I’m going to be the crazy snake lady.

I don’t mind snakes, actually. It’s the smell of their liquid feces that turns my stomach. Did I ever tell you about the time we had cornsnakes and they escaped… and we never found them? I will, the next time you’re over, and sitting in a badly lit corner…

v

Saturday night. Sheesha with tribe–the YYC Queer Writers and I take over a Lebanese eatery and sheesha place. Make the owner uncomfortable. He knows me–doesn’t mind when I came alone or with one or two friends… when the queers take over two of his tables? He looks twitchy. Or are we projecting?

We are not their target audience. But it’s good to shake things up. Right?

An evening of unexpected blasts from the pasts, connections… glimmers of the future.

She comes and holds my hand, and…

Her: Ready?

Jane: Yes.

We go.

You: I’m going to strip you naked and paddle your ass raw for all this vague-blogging.

Jane: Promises, promises. But–seriously, this is all for me. When I’m here, on this page, in this space? I’m writing, playing, working out shit… for me. You get to have a peek. Appreciate that. Don’t ask for more.

I work at appreciating what I get. Don’t ask for more.

You: Liar.

No. Not really. Remember my original sankalpa? I’m still working with it, a little:

I ask for what I need.

I have everything I need.

I just… sometimes… often… want more.

But I have everything I need.

(Cohesive narrative be damned.)

sunday

The psychic who used to live next door is coming to dinner. I can’t wait. I miss her so much I can barely bear to hear her name spoken by people. (In the conversation with the bevy of artists on Thursday, I realize I have intense abandonment issues with which I deal by not attaching to people until I’m pretty sure they’re going to be around for a while. And then, when they leave… well. That’s the topic for another book… and another year’s or decade’s worth of therapy.)

But, she’s coming. I’ll feed her. Love her. Try to forgive her for leaving me. I haven’t yet; to be honest, I probably never will (I hold grudges).

Still.

I have everything I need.

Sort of.

xoxo

“Jane”

PS Jung 101 Courtesy of Sonoma U. Just in case I go Jungian on you, so we have a common language.

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)

—->>>POSTCARDS FROM CUBA