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

i

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

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

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

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

So. I’m changing it.

Disrupting some habits.

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

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

Yes, I talk with my habits.

Don’t you?

ii

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

Hello September.

This is a happy moment.

another happy moment

iii

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’m having the same problem. We commiserate.

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

Cinder went through that phase too.

I’m blasé.

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

iv

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

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

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

Or, just overall fatigue.

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

Thank you, September.

xoxo

“Jane”

2018

The year started with a Monday; so does every week (Week 1: Transitions and Intentions)

Easier than you think, harder than I expected: a week in eleven stanzas (Week 2: Goodness and Selfishness)

A moody story (Week 3: Ebb and Flow)

Do it full out (Week 4: Passions and Outcomes)

The Buddha was a psychopath and other heresies (Week 5: No Cohesion)

A good week (Week 6: Execute, Regroup)

Killing it (Week 7: Exhaustion and Adrenaline)

Tired, petty, tired, unimportant (Week 8: Disappointment and Perseverance)

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

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

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

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

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

The cage is will, the lock is discipline (Week 14: Up and Down)

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

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

It’s about a radical, sustainable rhythm (Week 17: Sprinting and Napping)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The summer was… SULTRY (Week 25: Gratitude and Collapse)

It’s like rest but not really (Week 26: Meandering and Reflection)

It’s the wrong question (Week 27: Success and Failure)

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

Hot, cold, self-indulgent as fuck (Week 29: Fire and Ice)

In which our heroine hides under a table (Week 30: Tears and Chocolate)

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

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

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

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

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

—->>>POSTCARDS FROM CUBA

The best things in life and on the Internet are free, but content creators need to pay for groceries with money. If you enjoy  Nothing By The Book content, please express your delight and support by making a donation via PayPal:

PayPal - The safer, easier way to pay online!

You: “But how much should I give?”

Jane: “I get $1 each time a sell a traditionally published book, so my bar’s set really low, love. Want to buy me a cup of coffee? That’s $4.75 if you’ll spring for a mocha or latte. Bottle of wine? My palate’s unsophisticated: $19.95 will more than cover it.”

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

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

PART I

i

13 is hard.

Do you remember?

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

Flora’s 13 now.

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

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

ii

13 is fascinating.

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

But no.

Flora: What is the most dangerous drug?

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

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

Flora: Mmm.

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

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

The man in line in front of us turns around.

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

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

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

Then he flushes.

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

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

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

Scott: They’re adding fentanyl to everything.

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

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

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

Flora: Thank you.

Scott: Um… yeah.

He looks at me. Awkward smile,

Scott: Sorry?

Jane: Thank you. No worries.

iii

Flora orders her fancy drink.

Barrista: Size?

Flora: Um…. medium?

Barrista: Grande?

Flora: Sure.

Barrista: Name?

Flora: What?

Barrista: Your name? For the drink?

Flora looks at me.

And I laugh.

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

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

Flora: Cat.

Barrista: Is that with a C or a K?

Flora: C.

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

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

Jane: Or, with a silent X.

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

Jane: With one t?

Flora’s brow is furrowed.

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

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

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

iv

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

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

Scratch guy for person, and there you have it.

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

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

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

PART II

i

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

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

ii

You can’t save people.

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

I laugh. Like a slap.

I have no idea.

I wish.

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

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

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

Depression is a narcissistic disease.

Sean: I’m the tone who told you that.

Jane: I know. It helped.

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

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

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

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

You can read more about it here.

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

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

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

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

Depression is a narcissistic disease.

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

Because we just don’t understand.

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

Anyway.

You can’t save people.

This, I know.

iii

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

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

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

iv

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

I know I’m not supposed to think that.

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

Crash.

Boom.

Guess what? The well is empty.

And now what?

unsympathetic bitch selfie

v

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

I danced with a man who hadn’t suffered…

People who haven’t suffered are pretty happy.

But they are also, usually, insufferable.

I find this really funny.

vi

Her: You just don’t understand.

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

Think about it.

vii

Crash.

Boom.

Enlightenment, breakthrough.

You can’t save other people.

All you can do is love them.

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

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

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

viii

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

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

(The Art of Communicating)‎

I am here for you.

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

Yes, no.

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

You cannot lighten it.

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

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

ix

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

Boom.

Crash.

There is a crack within.

That’s how the light gets in.

Peekaboo.

Well, hello there, breakthrough.

You are not what I was expecting, at all.

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

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

You: You’re something, all right.

I’m something. Something amazing.

And so are you.

But I can’t save you.

Understand?

xoxo

“Jane”

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

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

2018

The year started with a Monday; so does every week (Week 1: Transitions and Intentions)

Easier than you think, harder than I expected: a week in eleven stanzas (Week 2: Goodness and Selfishness)

A moody story (Week 3: Ebb and Flow)

Do it full out (Week 4: Passions and Outcomes)

The Buddha was a psychopath and other heresies (Week 5: No Cohesion)

A good week (Week 6: Execute, Regroup)

Killing it (Week 7: Exhaustion and Adrenaline)

Tired, petty, tired, unimportant (Week 8: Disappointment and Perseverance)

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

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

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

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

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

The cage is will, the lock is discipline (Week 14: Up and Down)

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

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

It’s about a radical, sustainable rhythm (Week 17: Sprinting and Napping)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The summer was… SULTRY (Week 25: Gratitude and Collapse)

It’s like rest but not really (Week 26: Meandering and Reflection)

It’s the wrong question (Week 27: Success and Failure)

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

Hot, cold, self-indulgent as fuck (Week 29: Fire and Ice)

In which our heroine hides under a table (Week 30: Tears and Chocolate)

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

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

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

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

—->>>POSTCARDS FROM CUBA

The best things in life and on the Internet are free, but content creators need to pay for groceries with money. If you enjoy  Nothing By The Book content, please express your delight and support by making a donation via PayPal:

PayPal - The safer, easier way to pay online!

You: “But how much should I give?”

Jane: “I get $1 each time a sell a traditionally published book, so my bar’s set really low, love. Want to buy me a cup of coffee? That’s $4.75 if you’ll spring for a mocha or latte. Bottle of wine? My palate’s unsophisticated: $19.95 will more than cover it.”

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

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

i

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

“Sexy accent, right?”

“Right.”

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

I understand.

We are speaking the universal language.

Music.

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

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

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

Skip a couple of generations: Sztywny Pal Azji.

That’s about it.

I can’t find the song.

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

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

But that’s all he needs.

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

He finds it on Youtube:

I forget about the homesick Italian boy.

I’m wallowing in… nostalgia?

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

In Italy.

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

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

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

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

ii

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

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

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

She asks me, “Where do you belong?”

And I don’t really understand the question.

iii

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

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

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

Jane: Hush.

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

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

And then shove you off the cliff again.

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

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

Sorry.

iv

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

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

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

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

v

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

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

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

Take me.

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

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

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

They’re The Other.

We’re all The Other together.

Like attracts like.

Like relaxes with like.

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

Does that make sense?

Perhaps not.

vi

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

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

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

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

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

Unrooted.

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

vii

The ragazzo da Napoli…

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

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

Him: You’re a little strange.

Jane: Roll with it.

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

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

“And in Libya?”

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

Contraband sausage.

But that’s another story.

viii

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 “We’re all political dissidents now.”

Are we?

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

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

I don’t know.

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

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

Cinder: Just find her headphones.

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

(My Greek chorus.)

I’m sorting out this:

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

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

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

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

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

And answers, “Nothing.”

ix

The ragazzo da Napoli shakes his head.

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

I shrug.

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

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

“Italian?”

“No. It’s no good here. Sushi?”

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

Deal.

x

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ENGLISH:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

xoxo

“moody Jane”

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

2018

The year started with a Monday; so does every week (Week 1: Transitions and Intentions)

Easier than you think, harder than I expected: a week in eleven stanzas (Week 2: Goodness and Selfishness)

A moody story (Week 3: Ebb and Flow)

Do it full out (Week 4: Passions and Outcomes)

The Buddha was a psychopath and other heresies (Week 5: No Cohesion)

A good week (Week 6: Execute, Regroup)

Killing it (Week 7: Exhaustion and Adrenaline)

Tired, petty, tired, unimportant (Week 8: Disappointment and Perseverance)

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

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

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

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

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

The cage is will, the lock is discipline (Week 14: Up and Down)

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

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

It’s about a radical, sustainable rhythm (Week 17: Sprinting and Napping)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The summer was… SULTRY (Week 25: Gratitude and Collapse)

It’s like rest but not really (Week 26: Meandering and Reflection)

It’s the wrong question (Week 27: Success and Failure)

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

Hot, cold, self-indulgent as fuck (Week 29: Fire and Ice)

In which our heroine hides under a table (Week 30: Tears and Chocolate)

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

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

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

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

—->>>POSTCARDS FROM CUBA

The best things in life and on the Internet are free, but content creators need to pay for groceries with money. If you enjoy  Nothing By The Book content, please express your delight and support by making a donation via PayPal:

PayPal - The safer, easier way to pay online!

You: “But how much should I give?”

Jane: “I get $1 each time a sell a traditionally published book, so my bar’s set really low, love. Want to buy me a cup of coffee? That’s $4.75 if you’ll spring for a mocha or latte. Bottle of wine? My palate’s unsophisticated: $19.95 will more than cover it.”

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

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

This week disappears.

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

3 families, 8 kids, tribe

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

Teenagers.

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

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

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

But healer and caretaker are not my archetypes.

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

Hypocritical?

I suppose. Or, realistic.

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

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

and Bellewether by Susanna Kearsley:

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

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

Fun times.

Lazy pen.

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

Friend. “Friend.” Facebook friend.

I suppose, ultimately, I mean acquaintance.

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

Anyway.

Text.

Quotation marks.

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

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

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

Hypocrite?

I don’t think so.

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

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

LOVE
by Czesław Miłosz

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

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

via BrainPickings.org

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

But.

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

But.

Perhaps not.

“Jane”

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

2018

The year started with a Monday; so does every week (Week 1: Transitions and Intentions)

Easier than you think, harder than I expected: a week in eleven stanzas (Week 2: Goodness and Selfishness)

A moody story (Week 3: Ebb and Flow)

Do it full out (Week 4: Passions and Outcomes)

The Buddha was a psychopath and other heresies (Week 5: No Cohesion)

A good week (Week 6: Execute, Regroup)

Killing it (Week 7: Exhaustion and Adrenaline)

Tired, petty, tired, unimportant (Week 8: Disappointment and Perseverance)

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

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

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

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

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

The cage is will, the lock is discipline (Week 14: Up and Down)

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

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

It’s about a radical, sustainable rhythm (Week 17: Sprinting and Napping)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The summer was… SULTRY (Week 25: Gratitude and Collapse)

It’s like rest but not really (Week 26: Meandering and Reflection)

It’s the wrong question (Week 27: Success and Failure)

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

Hot, cold, self-indulgent as fuck (Week 29: Fire and Ice)

In which our heroine hides under a table (Week 30: Tears and Chocolate)

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

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

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

—->>>POSTCARDS FROM CUBA

The best things in life and on the Internet are free, but content creators need to pay for groceries with money. If you enjoy  Nothing By The Book content, please express your delight and support by making a donation via PayPal:

PayPal - The safer, easier way to pay online!

You: “But how much should I give?”

Jane: “I get $1 each time a sell a traditionally published book, so my bar’s set really low, love. Want to buy me a cup of coffee? That’s $4.75 if you’ll spring for a mocha or latte. Bottle of wine? My palate’s unsophisticated: $19.95 will more than cover it.”

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

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

i

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

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

For unclear reasons, I think about Ecuador.

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

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

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

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

I do.

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

Her: I’m a herpetologist.

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

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

Everything has a purpose, nothing has a purpose.

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

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

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

So.

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

Pee.

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

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

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

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

Write.

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

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

And… go.

ii

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

iii.

[deleted]

iv.

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

And… go.

xoxo

“Jane”

2018

The year started with a Monday; so does every week (Week 1: Transitions and Intentions)

Easier than you think, harder than I expected: a week in eleven stanzas (Week 2: Goodness and Selfishness)

A moody story (Week 3: Ebb and Flow)

Do it full out (Week 4: Passions and Outcomes)

The Buddha was a psychopath and other heresies (Week 5: No Cohesion)

A good week (Week 6: Execute, Regroup)

Killing it (Week 7: Exhaustion and Adrenaline)

Tired, petty, tired, unimportant (Week 8: Disappointment and Perseverance)

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

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

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

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

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

The cage is will, the lock is discipline (Week 14: Up and Down)

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

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

It’s about a radical, sustainable rhythm (Week 17: Sprinting and Napping)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The summer was… SULTRY (Week 25: Gratitude and Collapse)

It’s like rest but not really (Week 26: Meandering and Reflection)

It’s the wrong question (Week 27: Success and Failure)

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

Hot, cold, self-indulgent as fuck (Week 29: Fire and Ice)

In which our heroine hides under a table (Week 30: Tears and Chocolate)

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

—->>>POSTCARDS FROM CUBA

The best things in life and on the Internet are free, but content creators need to pay for groceries with money. If you enjoy  Nothing By The Book content, please express your delight and support by making a donation via PayPal:

PayPal - The safer, easier way to pay online!

You: “But how much should I give?”

Jane: “I get $1 each time a sell a traditionally published book, so my bar’s set really low, love. Want to buy me a cup of coffee? That’s $4.75 if you’ll spring for a mocha or latte. Bottle of wine? My palate’s unsophisticated: $19.95 will more than cover it.”

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

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

from the process journal

Lists, lists, lists, write them all down.

Lists, lists, lists. But first, more coffee.

what happened this week?

Monday, I mixed up days and times, showed up for an interview 24 hours early, oops, better early than late. But then, a surprise Moscow Mule in the middle of the day—that was lovely. Drove gaggle of teenagers to the Secret Spot. Thunder. Hail. Tarp. Goofs. So happy.

Sean: I can’t believe you left them by the river in the middle of a hailstorm.

Jane: I only pick fights I have a chance of winning.

Tuesday, I did ok. Sheesha date with Sean in the evening, Tarot cards. Kids just chilling, calm. I taste happy.

Wednesday, I should have worked but I didn’t. Instead, moody, angry, clouds gathering. In the evening, a trip to the 1920s with someone new—an awkward encounter en route with someone old. Thoughts in  duty, responsibility, red flags—burlesque dancer bodies.

The less said about Thursday, the better. To be fair, it came with a trigger, but the trigger came very late in the day and just accelerate the spiral, did not cause it.

Work? Ha.

I made three suppers worth of meat though—lamb meat balls with cumin, mint, and lemon, also fresh garlic, so good, crispy fried chicken from deboned halal drumsticks, and prepped cornish hens and veg for roasting on the cooler morrow.

Take that, bad, no good day. Still functional.

Friday, a little better, not much. No work.

Today is Saturday. And I’m writing if not quite working, so that’s something.

 

judgemental confessions

Flora: Do we get the judgemental genes from Mom?

Jane: Yes.

Sean: But you should have seen Mom’s friends in university. Compared to them, she’s an angel of tolerance.

I think, honestly, we’re all judgemental. We have brains, judgement, discernment. We are supposed to use them. There’s a difference between judgement and intolerance. I look at you. I listen to your story—of course I form a judgement of some sort, good, bad. Even indifference is a judgement.

Flora doesn’t care about the nuances of judgement. She’s flipping through photo albums. The year is 2009. My brother’s wedding in Poland.

Flora: OMG, this entire family is white. That is so weird.

Canadian child.

Jane: They’re all Polish.

Flora: But look at them. They’re all so pasty white. Look, I totally don’t look like a vampire by comparison.

Jane: They have cloudy winters in Poland. And, it was a very rainy May and June that year.

Flora: And nobody has any eyebrows.

Well. That I can refute. I present the bushy eyebrows of her maternal grandmother’s family-which I’ve inherited, as has Cinder.

Flora: And your boobs are gigantic!

Jane: I’m six months pregnant!

Well. Five. But with baby number four, so I look… well. VERY pregnant. And the boobs are gigantic. Bigger than my head—which is also rounder than the face I’m used to seeing right now—in every picture.

I tell Flora how, when you’re pregnant, one day, you wake up, and your breasts defy gravity and pop out of your bra, and hurt so much, don’t really enjoy the aesthetic effect. And you don’t let your lovers touch them.

Flora: Remind me why people have children again?

Immortality, baby. Immortality.

radical honesty and radical compassion, draft 1

I have a friend who practices radical honesty. She’s utterly committed to living in and expressing her truth.

She hurts people a lot.

What I admire the  most about Cheryl Strayed is that she practices radical compassion. Read Tiny Beautiful Things or listen to the Dear Sugars podcast for edification.

I practice neither radical compassion nor radical honesty, but of the two I would choose compassion. Because little lies are what makes the world go round, don’t you think?

You: Do you lie to me than?

Jane: All the time.

Me, myself and I are hanging out in my head practicing radical honesty with each other—except, really, it’s just wanton cruelty. I demand one of us lets me have some delusions and dreams. The other two laugh.

I am meditating again, and it’s not going well. I mean—I mean, I am fighting myself to sit to breathe, to stay. I don’t want to be there with myself (never mind me and I).

But. I must. Fighting myself is part of the process (don’t ask what process, I really can’t elaborate). Sit. Close them eyes. Breathe. You only have to do this for three minutes.

After the timer dings, I stay still for a few seconds more. See? That wasn’t so bad. What are you afraid of?

Radical honesty.

When untempered with radical compassion, it is a destroyer.

Sean: I know I’m not supposed to tell you you’re doing meditation wrong…

Jane: Hush. I’m breathing.

(July 24, 2018)

radical honesty and radical compassion, draft 2

Mmmm. Wow. A little too honest. Let’s let that one sit for a while in the darkness of the computer filing system.

(August 3, 2018)

professionals suck it up

Her: How was the rest of your wee? Are you feeling better?

Jane: All right. I think I will work today.

Her: That means you are finally feeling rested? 🙂

Jane: It means I have four days to write five articles and I’d better get off my whiny ass and get them done.

I work with gritted teeth on Saturday until I hit a bit of flow—ride it for a while—try to prolong it. Fail. Pull out my laptop at a Sunday wedding between the ceremony and reception. Sneak off to the car during cocktail hour and pound the keys for a bit; arrive late for dinner.

Deadlines. I fucking love deadlines.

(Like, seriously. Not ironically.)

 

sunday

I’m at a wedding in the mountains, a setting so majestic and beautiful even I believe in gods as I breathe the mountain air—mere laws of sicnece could not creative this—a divine breath was necessary, if only in the human imagination.

Weddings are strange things—collections of strangers and best friends, family reunions, chosen family reunions, and “yes, we have to invite Aunt Augusta, honey, I know it’s your day and you hate her, but ‘she’s family.’”

… a radically honest and untempered with compassion essay on love and marriage follows—I write it, decide not to share it, and that’s my act of compassion.

Also, I lose my phone. Which is my camera, daytimer, watch, newspaper, library, connection to the world.

Whatever will I do?

xoxo

“Jane”

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

2018

The year started with a Monday; so does every week (Week 1: Transitions and Intentions)

Easier than you think, harder than I expected: a week in eleven stanzas (Week 2: Goodness and Selfishness)

A moody story (Week 3: Ebb and Flow)

Do it full out (Week 4: Passions and Outcomes)

The Buddha was a psychopath and other heresies (Week 5: No Cohesion)

A good week (Week 6: Execute, Regroup)

Killing it (Week 7: Exhaustion and Adrenaline)

Tired, petty, tired, unimportant (Week 8: Disappointment and Perseverance)

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

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

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

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

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

The cage is will, the lock is discipline (Week 14: Up and Down)

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

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

It’s about a radical, sustainable rhythm (Week 17: Sprinting and Napping)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The summer was… SULTRY (Week 25: Gratitude and Collapse)

It’s like rest but not really (Week 26: Meandering and Reflection)

It’s the wrong question (Week 27: Success and Failure)

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

Hot, cold, self-indulgent as fuck (Week 29: Fire and Ice)

In which our heroine hides under a table (Week 30: Tears and Chocolate)

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

—->>>POSTCARDS FROM CUBA

The best things in life and on the Internet are free, but content creators need to pay for groceries with money. If you enjoy  Nothing By The Book content, please express your delight and support by making a donation via PayPal:

PayPal - The safer, easier way to pay online!

You: “But how much should I give?”

Jane: “I get $1 each time a sell a traditionally published book, so my bar’s set really low, love. Want to buy me a cup of coffee? That’s $4.75 if you’ll spring for a mocha or latte. Bottle of wine? My palate’s unsophisticated: $19.95 will more than cover it.”

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

In which our heroine hides under a table (Week 30: Tears and Chocolate)

the week, in brief

Monday—it’s ok, it’s ok, everything is ok. Tuesday—so fucking mopey, kill me now. Wednesday—a little better, maybe, anyway, I’m getting shit done—but I don’t want to talk to you. Thursday—ugh. Friday—all the things, solo sheesha date—hello, self—sleep. Saturday—fucking done, now writer tribe, children, art, Guinness. Sunday—it’s too hot, but we go to the Glenbow anyway, hello, how are you.

real things

Cinder wrote his English 10 final on Thursday—year one of high school officially over, praise the Lord. Jane finished her shitty first draft of the new WIP on Saturday. That felt good for about seven minutes. Flora was mopey on Friday, so we went on our first girl date in forever. It was nice. Fuck, her brothers are noisy. I sorta understand why she complains so much about them, even when they’re being “good.”

I interviewed four local superstars, experiences that left me energized. The purpose of passionate people, I think, is to infect others with their energy. To make us see—look, here is a life well-lived. Appreciate it, laud it. But I think too often, the side-effect of these lives is to make us feel bad about ourselves. We don’t think, “Here is a life well-lived, and that’s awesome” and use that as fuel to lift ourselves up. We think, “Here is a life well-lived… and oh-my-god, my life is shit by comparison,” and we tear ourselves down.

I don’t think that, by the way.

Their stories fire me.

They also tire me, though. Just a little bit. I’m still trying to find a place to rest.

big things

I am writing and thinking about radical honesty and radical compassion, and my overall dislike to the word radical. I think, in the end—radical and dogmatic are basically a synonym.

You: Suddenly a centrist?

Jane: An inadvertent iconoclast.

meditation

I miss Cuba.

Fuck, do I ever miss Cuba.

And it’s summer and hot now, and so I can’t pretend it’s about the winter.

I don’t actually miss Cuba as Cuba, you know. Much as I rag my children about it—I also like being able to flush toilet paper down toilets, drink water from a tap, and just run to the grocery store for things I want and need—or imagine I need—at my leisure.

But I miss—I miss the silence. I really miss the silence.

I miss the time and space I had to be in my head.

… and yet… I sabotage my chances at solitude ALL THE TIME.

Interesting, isn’t it?

And is it solitude I want… or that particular solitude I had in Cuba?

Or do I just want to smoke cigars and drink Cuba Libres every day?

Maybe I just don’t know what I want.

No. I do.

the teenagers

…keep on surprising me. When did they get this clever? And why do they always want to have those in-depth, earth-shaking conversations at 10 pm or midnight, when my eyes are closing and my brain is foggy?

The teenagers are also humbling me. I decide they are the Universe’s way of making sure the average human doesn’t get too full of herself as she hits her peak. I mean, really. Here I am, and, all my whining and whinging notwithstanding, I’m pretty together. I’m doing some awesome shit. I’m, if not quite at the peak of my creative powers, pretty close to seeing how to reach that summit. I fucking rock.

Enter teenager and the “OMFG can my mother possibly be this stupid?” look.

Sigh.

Flora’s particularly good at it.

Every once in a while, she pays me a backhanded compliment.

Example:

Flora: You’re not as lame as most moms.

At least Ender still thinks I’m perfect.

Cinder: Enjoy it while it lasts.

Jane: I will.

Cinder: You’re not lame. You’re just weird.

Well. There is that.

on housework

I start cleaning the kitchen—on Monday—and then, of course, as a result, I rearrange all the furniture and throw shit out and change things—and then end up sitting under the kitchen table, not weeping exactly, but just pondering… how long that pasta sauce has been under that baseboard and how much effort should I expand on dealing with it, and if I don’t… does it really matter?

Flora: Are you crying?

Jane: No.

Flora: Are you hiding?

Jane: Maybe.

Flora: Do you want some chocolate?

Teenager or not, she loves me.

Cinder: Like I said, weird.

Ender: Pillow fort!

On that note… next week, I will try to be less self-indulgent.

Maybe. 😉

xoxo

“Jane”

2018

The year started with a Monday; so does every week (Week 1: Transitions and Intentions)

Easier than you think, harder than I expected: a week in eleven stanzas (Week 2: Goodness and Selfishness)

A moody story (Week 3: Ebb and Flow)

Do it full out (Week 4: Passions and Outcomes)

The Buddha was a psychopath and other heresies (Week 5: No Cohesion)

A good week (Week 6: Execute, Regroup)

Killing it (Week 7: Exhaustion and Adrenaline)

Tired, petty, tired, unimportant (Week 8: Disappointment and Perseverance)

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

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

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

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

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

The cage is will, the lock is discipline (Week 14: Up and Down)

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

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

It’s about a radical, sustainable rhythm (Week 17: Sprinting and Napping)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The summer was… SULTRY (Week 25: Gratitude and Collapse)

It’s like rest but not really (Week 26: Meandering and Reflection)

It’s the wrong question (Week 27: Success and Failure)

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

Hot, cold, self-indulgent as fuck (Week 29: Fire and Ice)

—->>>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

Hot, cold, self-indulgent as fuck (Week 29: Fire and Ice)

i

I’m in Denver, Colorado this week—fire and ice—when I’m outside, the sun beats down on me and threatens to melt me down into a pool of biomass, human goo—when I’m inside, the air conditioning freezes and shatters my atoms—I am not a body but a collection of icicle shards.

You: Are you having a good time?

I don’t know.

I think, after I leave, I will tell you—Yes! I’ve had fun. Right now—I am glad I’m here. I want to be here. It’s important to be here. But am I having a good time?

I don’t know about that.

ii

I’m away from my fam this week and I miss them—don’t miss them.  I don’t miss them in the mornings when I can be utterly selfish and just about me and do all my own things. I miss them at bedtime for a while—nobody to give goodnight kisses to, however will I sleep?—but then crawl into bed when I please as I please, knowing no one will wake me up in the night—yes. It be heaven, just a little taste of heaven, my darlings.

I love you, my darlings. But I am treasuring these slices of solitude.

iii

Busy-not-busy, tired-not-tired, missing-not-missing, what do people want? People want to be loved and understood. They want to belong.  They want to be part of something greater than themselves; among them, a few also want to contribute to this thing greater than themselves.

Most basic needs, those.

Moses gave them stone tablets and a codified religion.

What am I giving them?

(Don’t worry, I’m too lazy to start a new religion. But everything boils down to this, really: people want to be loved, understood, to feel they belong… to have a chance to contribute—often in as small and effortless way as possible—to THE THING. Wait. That gives me an idea…)

iv

Busy-not-busy-busy-not-busy. Do I want it this much? I don’t know. Not at any price.

v

I’m meeting dozens, possibly hundreds, of people every day. I’m listening. Trying not to talk too much but to really listen. Look for seeds, beginnings. Try to figure out—what will I nurture when I get back home? How do I choose?

You: I thought your motto was “why choose.”

Jane: You always have to choose. Something.

Sometimes, I panic. Today, I won’t.

vi

So many ideas. Not enough time. But that’s not true. I have all the time there is—I have all the time I need—I have everything I need, and when I don’t have something, I ask for it.

vii

I’m home.

Post-conference crash.

Thinking about radical honesty and radical compassion—I’ll tell you about it later. Missing strangers. Reluctant to see friends. So much to do.

I have all the time I need.

Breathe.

xoxo

“Jane”

PS

You: Self-indulgent as fuck.

Jane: And that, my love, is the beauty of a not-for-profit blog.

2018

The year started with a Monday; so does every week (Week 1: Transitions and Intentions)

Easier than you think, harder than I expected: a week in eleven stanzas (Week 2: Goodness and Selfishness)

A moody story (Week 3: Ebb and Flow)

Do it full out (Week 4: Passions and Outcomes)

The Buddha was a psychopath and other heresies (Week 5: No Cohesion)

A good week (Week 6: Execute, Regroup)

Killing it (Week 7: Exhaustion and Adrenaline)

Tired, petty, tired, unimportant (Week 8: Disappointment and Perseverance)

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

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

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

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

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

The cage is will, the lock is discipline (Week 14: Up and Down)

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

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

It’s about a radical, sustainable rhythm (Week 17: Sprinting and Napping)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The summer was… SULTRY (Week 25: Gratitude and Collapse)

It’s like rest but not really (Week 26: Meandering and Reflection)

It’s the wrong question (Week 27: Success and Failure)

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

—->>>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

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

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

 

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