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

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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