Sunday, November 30, 2003

Indulge me. I am in that rare state called "happiness."

Yesterday, Brendan sent me a quote by Abraham Lincoln: "Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be."

This morning I drove my friend, Penelope, to the airport. We had dinner last night with Rob and Isabel, her daughter but we wanted some private time - time to tell the honest-to-goodness truth about how we feel about our selves and our lot and, as I was going to Ikea anyway, I offered her the ride. (She doesn't allow me to indulge her often.)

I met Penelope first year university, way back in 1969. We both majored in theatre and became friends because both of us were afraid to sing and so the director of the program allowed us to take singing classes together - a required course. In those days, she wore nothing but purple and was smart (still is) and funny and the bravest woman I knew - she did some nude modeling for the art program to get over her self-consciousness. I was so impressed.

When "Penny" finished university and found that acting was not going to pay the rent - nor was her English degree - she decided to go to McGill and study law. After articling, she flew to the Yukon to work for a small law firm. She only intended to stay for a year or two but there met Roy, a home-steader, who did New York Times crosswords - that caused her to salivate. She called me one Christmas with the news that she had just married and was expecting her first child. Over twenty years and two daughters later, she still lives in the Yukon with Roy. Her first daughter is studying at Simon Fraser.

So we talked about the old days, our bodies with their new aches and pains, our men and children, our dancing and present activities. And then I told her I was happy with my life.

This doesn't mean that all is perfect, least of all me. But I am happy.

Saturday, November 29, 2003

Saturday afternoon, I'm sitting in my little house in the garden playing on Amazon, searching for all the books that I've ever wanted to read and compiling a wish list. I'd really like to do away with Christmas - the gift part that is - but Rob, for one, likes giving and receiving presents. He's already sent me a selection of books and music he'd like. Not last year but the year before, I requested that my gifts be handmade and not cost. Rob wrote an account of our first ten years together. I loved it. He promised to write sequels but, to date, hasn't. That's the kind of gifts I like best.

This morning, I went to my Plum writing meeting at Wenda's where we ate scones and grapes, drank good strong coffee, spoke of writing, wrote, and laughed. I love the way that we laugh together. These women are good for my soul. We did a number of writing exercises - short spurts - for upcoming contests and we decided unanimously that Shirley's acrostic and Wenda's story of 69 words were the winners. All was light-hearted and when we attempted a story on sisters - Wenda had a unique take on what sisters are.

We decided that the four weeks from our last meeting was just too long to be apart so we're going to meet every second week. Surprisingly (or not) some very good stories have developed from our writing exercises. Vaughan read a short erotic piece that began at Wenda's table, from a line Shirley provided, that has just been published in an anthology. She read from the glossy new BOOK, Hot and Bothered 4. It was such a pleasure to see her name and story in print - as if they were in lights. I think we plums are just beginning to find our wings.

Later this afternoon Rob and I are heading downtown to meet up with my longest friend, Penelope, who is a lawyer in the Yukon, and who is in town for a court case.
Thank goodness it's Friday. I'm weary. I drove Gill to her 7 a.m. class (inhuman), went out to breakfast with my friend, the outdoors woman, Suzanne, and then went to work. So here I am, late in the day, in my little house preparing my cover letter for Elm Street and Playboy (Kate's suggestion. If the mainstream mags won't buy, try one that's interested in female sexuality. I once had a therapist who had a story published in this magazine. I liked him best of all the counselors I've ever seen so I decided if it's good enough for him, it's good enough for me. Besides Kate says that Playboy pay well. Now that would be a novel thing - to actually get paid for my writing. I am usually paying to enter some literary contest.)

This morning I found a package of black licorice, tied with a ribbon, and a note from Gill in my bathroom drawer. What a wonderful awakening. She thanked me for rescuing her the other day when her spirits were down and included part of a poem she wrote in Northern Ireland. (She has given me permission to include it.)

"I return home to my mother
who still hasn't eaten her scone
from the bakery that's shut down.
She's praising a poet
reminding me to dream big,
to earn my own living,
not to underestimate myself.
She sees some power in me
that I don't acknowledge
no matter how hard I squint to see."

Tonight Gill and Mike are going out and Rob is working. I'll have the whole house to myself. I just might have my own private dance. Tomorrow I will reunite with my plums for a writing feast so I want to go to bed early and sleep well. A comforting dream is on order too.

Thursday, November 27, 2003

Another day. I finally went for routine blood tests this morning. There is a required ten hours without eating or drinking and you'd think it would be easy for me. Not. I keep such strange hours that if I wake at five or six and have to wait till 7:30 without a coffee, when the lab opens, I feel bereaved.

After the young woman drained some of my precious blood, I went to Delaney's and had a coffee and muffin and wrote about Marion Woodman. Last night at the Jungian meeting I was doing the same. I want to understand her better as a woman, wife, and divine presence. (I don't know how else to describe her special aura.)

I am writing from memory so don't quote me. Marion began as a parson's daughter, a father's daughter. She grew up, went to university, married a professor, and taught school. She describes her life as middle-class prosperous. One day she tried to hail a cab and failed. She realized she was a woman who couldn't manage without a husband, as a woman alone. She decided to go to India by herself; where, after falling ill, she had an out-of-body experience. She had to consciously decide whether to live or die. All her support systems were gone. She had to live by instinct.

When she went home to her husband and teaching position, she found she could not exist as she had before her Indian experience. Two years later, she went to England to a Jungian analyst. (I don't know if her husband, Ross, was with her or not.)

She returned to Canada and resumed teaching - work she loved - to earn money to train as an analyst in Zurich. Earning the money herself was important. As the time approached for her to leave, she wrote a resignation letter to the school, tore it up, and then once again fell deadly ill. When she recovered, her husband put her on a plane to Zurich. He knew she had to go. (I am so admiring. At each parting, he did not know if their marriage was over or not.)

She returned to Toronto, to her marriage, and started her practice as an analyst. She wrote books and started her body/soul workshops. Her energy flowed. Ross said that when he woke each morning, she had already left their bed, and was working.

After a number of years, she fell deadly ill again. This time with cancer. At first, she wouldn't allow Ross to accompany her for treatments as he had his own health issues. When she recovered, she published an edited version of her private journal, "Bone" written during this period. This was the first time, she read her diary to her husband.

Soon after the book was published, I heard her speak at Christ Church and then attended a weekend workshop with her and Robert Bly. I couldn't take my eyes off her. She was magical. I had the same feeling when I saw Martha Graham give one of her last performances. They appear as stars - more of the heavens than of the earth - and yet both are (were) solid, body, human.

I dug out the old program from the Martha Graham performance. The reviewer, Walter Terry writes:

"When I first met Martha Graham in 1936, I felt instantly a force, a power, an energy that I had never experienced before.... I know now that she herself generates energy from some self-replenishing well... She has been called a high priestess (which she hates) and even a goddess (a designation which she has reserved for her idol, Ruth St. Denis...)

I felt Graham's force as I did Woodman's. They both give so much to their audience. Is it their strength or love, I felt? (Is love the right word? I don't mean a sentimental small thing.) Was it simply their joy at being alive.

I want to live such joy. So I continue to think about Woodman. I loved "Bone," reading of the more than human soul who struggled to live her ideas and ideals. She knew the scientific world were not believers of dreams, soul, and poetry. She knew her doctor did not believe that looks can kill. She does. She changed doctors.

What sustained her was love for her own body and Ross. When she read the paper or listened to the news, she wondered why she wanted to stay alive. She wrote that it was for her marriage.

Marlene said that Woodman is on her fourth marriage to Ross. I like this. I don't believe in marriage where two cling. The old idea of marriage - always together - doesn't work in my mind. But if one or two can drop traditional bindings and re-define or even re-create this state sanctioned by god and state, it may work.

Lots to think about. But I must run.

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

I have just sent emails to Northern Ireland, France, and Vancouver. I love this means of communication. "Why then, the world's mine oyster, Which I with sword will open." If only the rest of my life were so easy.

I am trying, this morning, to make peace with myself. I am a tough woman. I keep thinking of Woodman and her line "Bringing the inner and outer worlds into harmony is living one's destiny."

I don't want to be swept away and put out with the garbage. Or in Mary Oliver's word's: "I don't want to end up having simply visited this world."

The other date Kate sent me an email and said that she sends out three proposals a week. She does this with a toddler underfoot. I told her that she puts me to shame. She told me that there is no shame.

There is no shame, I believe, it I try, if I keep putting my writing out. There is no shame even if I'm not published. But there is shame if I bury my head and tell myself that I'm simply not good enough, that I may as well give up.

I thought the other day that yet another rejection didn't affect me. But it does. I have lost enthusiasm. And still, I don't understand why one of the publishers I've sent "Dangerous Liaisons" to, doesn't see that it is interesting and worthy. A few weeks back, Kate sent me an article from the Toronto Star that I quoted in my query to the same paper:

"On October 19, 2003, Toronto Star columnist, Antonia
Zerbisias, writes that 'What the media need is more
sex' and specifically notes newspapers' hypocrisy
in never mentioning genitalia."

So I sent them my article that outlines a brief history of the clitoris and its importance to women and men. They rejected it. Is this tiny rosebud so insignificant? Do they fear it? Perhaps if I called it by another name? Are we not all sexual beings?

I'm fed up but I will send the story out again - as is - no euphuisms - and see what happens.


I'm also going to send my mother story out again - but that appears to be another sore spot. I'm at a loss.

Okay Kate, you have challenged me. Three of something will go each week. Why not?

I have just arrived home from working. Two images sit in my mind.

At the store, I held a month old baby girl - a female in miniature - in my arms.

I walked home and stopped for a coffee and read a few pages from "The Pregnant Virgin." Marion Woodman is in India on the ceiling of her hotel room, looking down at her sick middle-aged body covered in vomit and excrement. Mentally, she gives it a kick. She knows she can abandon it and die.

So, first, I see new life, sweet smelling, trusting, and secondly, not-so-young life, foul smelling, questioning.

Woodman writes: "All my life I had hated my body. It was not beautiful enough. It was not thin enough. I had driven it, starved it, stuffed it, cursed it, and even now kicked it, and there it still was, trying to breathe, convinced that I would come back and take it with me, too dumb to die."

Sounds like me.

I'm wondering all kinds of not so profound things like "what happens that makes us despair of our physical selves " and "perhaps this is the way life is supposed to be. This is the challenge."

Gill and I will soon attend our first yoga class. Mike may join us. The day has disappeared.

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

It's the end of the day. I am nearly absolved of my sins. I have been cleaning all day and there is something quite lovely? peaceful? about having the house clean.

I'm down in my little house reading poetry. I can't help being a crazy woman.

This is a poem for Rob, for me.

Rainer Maria Rilke

You see I want a lot.
Perhaps I want everything:
the darkness that comes with every infinite fall
and the shivering blaze of every step up.

So many live on and want nothing,
and are raised to the rank of prince
by the slippery ease of their light judgments.

But what you love to see are faces
that do work and feel thirst.

You love most of all those who need you
as they need a crowbar or a hoe.

You have not grown old, and it is not too late
to dive into your increasing depths
where life calmly gives out its own secret.

Monday, November 24, 2003

I can't write today. Too much turmoil. But, if nothing else, I don't want to spoil my perfect attendance record. So here I am.

The only news is that I received another rejection notice for "Dangerous Liaisons." Sometimes I feel one could write and write and never get published even though the writing is worthy.

I'll keep going - for a while anyway. I am not Van Gogh.

I've decided to clean the house in way of penance.

Sunday, November 23, 2003

Sunday and I've playing with a story since six this morning. I intend to publish. No more dancing around the issue. This year and next, I intend only to dance on tables - as many as possible.

Yesterday was a delight. Gill and I met Marlene and her niece, Chelsea for lunch on Granville Island. Although Chelsea is a year younger than Gill, these two blondes appeared to have more in common than hair colour. (And this biological factor does not denote intelligence.) Amongst other topics, the "girls" spoke of high school and the younger students who dress beyond their years and don't show the proper respect to their seniors (meaning Chelsea and Gill.) They also discussed Raves that neither have attended - perhaps because of lack of opportunity - but also because they would have to do chemicals to stay awake all night. (Even though I was on the cusp of the acid era and many of my friends indulged, I didn't. I was too afraid of losing myself. I never feared that it may damage my brain cells.) Gill and Chelsea thought they might attend one together and drink themselves silly as both love to dance. (And as Marlene and I do too, we suggested we may tag along. They weren't impressed. I don't often feel old but with these two, I suddenly felt as if I were carrying a cane and hobbling.)

We said good-bye and Gill and I headed to Fourth Avenue to do some shopping. We ran into Chelsea and Marlene again in a little shop where the two "babes" had their eye on the same skirt. Afterwards, Gill and I shopped the secondhand stores where I found a Parisian jacket to keep me warm, for a song. It's not really a beauty but it looks new and will keep the cold out. It is unbelievably cold this year in Vancouver. In the thirty years that I have lived here, I have never felt such a need for protective layers.

After Fourth, Gill and I headed to Robson Street where she found a pair of fancy embroidered sneakers. We didn't arrive home until six. I was exhausted. Unlike my daughter, I am not a shopper but I did enjoy the time together.

At the moment, I'm trying to think of some dessert that I can make for a group of fourteen at Helen's this evening. She leaves for Australia in early December and this is her farewell bash. I'm going to miss this friend of mine. When I moaned, how dare she leave me, she laughed. "Look who's talking."


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Saturday, November 22, 2003

Damn, it's cold out. I just went down to the water and stared at it, looking for inspiration. Crows screeched at me, wanting some of my blueberry scone but I ate it all myself. It's hard eating carbs in my house. I went to write but my fingers were too numb.

I'm feeling good. Rob and I went out for dinner last night and talked about not talking. We resolved to try to approach the other when rendered speechless. I know this won't be easy but there are so many things I love about this man. (I went around yesterday singing Mary Magdalene's song from Jesus Christ Superstar - "He's a man, just a man, and I've had so many men before in oh so many ways... he's just one more." I am feeling a little devilish.)

We went out to a comedy club after dinner where most of the comedians - all men, unfortunately - were around the same age as my sons. There were some good jokes but most I feel were aimed at a younger audience - humour about "wet spots" and dope - but as I type this I remember Rob and I walked along a dark alley before the performance and Rob lit up so he'd be more receptive. Okay, so I had a puff or two too and we both entered the club with "illegal smiles".

By the time the last comedian came on stage, I was yawning but still it was good to get out with Rob.

Friday, November 21, 2003

Another day. Woke up remembering part of a dream but then lost it. I hate this.

Last night I was miserable and tried to do some sewing but couldn't find the machine
booklet so I could adjust tension, etc. I sewed anyway but with much displeasure. The
thread kept breaking. I hated the machine. I was stupidly angry at it for not allowing me
to do well the small job I had promised to do.

When the phone rang, I answered it but my voice was brittle. The young woman, who was calling for Mike, asked if she had called too late. I said no. She was just hearing my bad mood.

Trudging up the stairs to bed, I found an envelope from Gill on one step with two poems she had just written. Her mood is as bleak as mine. I worried that I had infected her. I stood at the bathroom counter and scribbled her a long note. We haven't had time to talk yet. She is so precious this girl of mine. I worry that she thinks she has to be perfect, as I did, to be loved. And even though, what my mother would define as "perfect," is different from my definition, I still worry. How can one get through to one's children and make them realize that "mother" is just a person. She is not infallible.

I slipped away to the store early this morning so I wouldn't have to be around people and changed the window display and a few mannequin's outfits - the trick is to team an ugly or boring piece of clothing with something beautiful and entice people into buying. Sometimes it works.

I also talked to Kate today via email. We're going to try three magazines for my "Dangerous Liaisons." As long as I'm doing something re my writing, I feel as if there is hope.
I'm feeling drained. The Jungian meetings always do this to me. And I'm not alone.
Another woman said that she can't sleep after the weekly get-together.

I had dinner with my eldest son before the meeting. I very much like our one-on-one dates. There is never small talk. His curiosity about how the mind works surprises me. He does considerable research. He is coming into his own, on his own.

It wasn't that long ago that I used to beg him to do homework. One teacher said that she thought it a honour that he consistently attended her class. Others were not so lucky. (The public school system did not stimulate either of my sons.)

The sixth chapter in Marion Woodman's "The Pregnant Virgin" is about Relationship - mostly male and female although she does use the word "partner" at times. At one point she speaks about the feeling function in women.

"She is constantly waging inner warfare, fearful of acting on her own 'foolish' needs, fearful of the scorn of her partner's logic if she discloses what is crucial to her heart. Denying the truth of her feeling, she goes along with what is eminently logical. The real issue is not brought to consciousness: in accepting the masculine standpoint, she is betraying her own soul."

I thought that I had reached a time in my relationship that I was no longer afraid, that I no longer betrayed myself. I was wrong. This afternoon I mentioned something to Rob, a situation that I felt was unfair. He said, "I'll take care of that." End of discussion. I couldn't open my mouth to say a word for a good five minutes. I felt as if I had been slapped in the face. And then I felt shame. I didn't have the guts to start the conversation again.

So what am I to do with myself? Last night I wrote on "Where is the fear? What is the task?" (And I read. I don't know why it is so difficult for me to read. I only know I feel fear that others will know me. I mean really know me. And smart ass that I am, I have been telling myself all week to drop the facade, say what I think - "so what if others see your vulnerabilities, see you for what you are because that is who you are.")

"Where is the fear? In my body. I feel the flesh moving away from the bone. I once set a mirror on the floor and looked down at my face. All the flesh hung loose. My features were unrecognizable. Is this where the fear is? In aging? Maybe but I don't think so."

And I go on, god help me.

And then I finally reach the point where I write:

"Where is the fear? In my voice, in my pen, fear of losing everything, fear of not measuring up, fear of being myself, of self exposure, of loss of love, of breaking down, of being thought weak, tough, mean, crude, irreverent, cold, cold as ice..."

And I go on again.

And then I ask, "What is the task? The task is consciousness - only that."

When it comes right down to it, I'm sick of fear. Then why the hell am I still afraid?

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

I'm lost in a fog today but I'm liking the feeling. For the first time in ages, I've been able to move slowly and savour whatever.

This morning, I returned to an email sent from Bruce Holland Rogers. "I took a break from fiction in 1994 to help a young Bosnian refugee write her war memoir. Despite my agent's best efforts, we never found a publisher for this book. I couldn't stand the thought of Jasmina's story going unread, so I finally published the book myself."

Holland Rogers sent the introduction and three chapers and I read the first chapter of The River Runs Salt that told of the young woman's adolescent in a small Bosnian village. It's quite lovely and as a way of support, I'm going to order the book though I fear, the tales she has yet to tell.

I also finished the fifth chapter of "Pregnant Virgin" and felt I had absorbed little so I went down to the water and read it again. This read sent my head spinning. For instance:

Woodman quotes Jung: "When an inner situation is not made conscious, it happens outside, as fate."
I know this is true and although I'm not prepared - at the moment anyway - to reveal my fateful situation, I am more than grateful for the experience as disruptive as it was. My world changed.

The chapter is mostly about relationship but here Woodman includes the male as well as the female point of view: "What is crucial to a woman may not seem important to her partner, but if she denies her feminine feeling, both may live to regret her self-betrayal. The same is true for a man. If he habitually ignores his feeling in favor of a rational standpoint, he too is betraying his own soul."

I just remembered a short story I wrote several years ago. I'll quote myself:

"Is it a sin to want experience? I feel that I should apologize. Ridiculous. I will not let others dictate what I can or can't write. I will not let others edit my life. Carolyn Heilbrun says that a woman's usual fate in literature is marriage or death, the end. I can't live such fiction. Nor write it. What do I do to my children if I leave them thinking that everything was always rosy in their parents' marriage? What happens when they discover that their own marriages aren't fairy tales? Do I really do them a favour keeping my big mouth shut?"

Sometimes I'm smarter than I think.

Now I will continue my musing about relationship in the big house with a broom and mop in hand. If it weren't for a friend sleeping over tomorrow night, I probably wouldn't bother. (Is this shallow of me?) But it won't hurt to feel a little virtuous.
I add this in the spirit of self-indulgence.

I went up to the big house. Mike was playing his guitar and singing. Gill was asleep. I poured myself a glass of wine. I didn't quite feel like a bath. So I stood and read Marion Woodman. She is speaking (writing) of going to Winnipeg to talk in a hospital. She knows the doctors will be condescending. She tells herself she won't defend dreams, soul, metaphor, and love. She believes they will think her perhaps a poet and that, to them, is insignificant. No matter.

I come back out to my house and read poetry. This book that Bett gave me appears to be sectioned into themes. The section I've arrived at is about darkness, drabness, lack of passion, lying low.

I wish I had more courage to allow myself to be.

I love this poem by David Whyte:


"When your eyes are tired
the world is tired also.

When your vision has gone
no part of the world can find you.

Time to go into the dark
where the night has eyes
to recognize its own.

There you can be sure
you are not beyond love.

The dark will be your womb

The night will give you a horizon
further than you can see.

You must learn one thing.
The world was made to be free in.

Give up all the other worlds
except the one to which you belong.

Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet
confinement of your aloneness
to learn

anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive

is too small for you.
It's a miserable day out. I can hear the rain too clearly in my little house. I don't like it much although I suppose I should, being nature and all that watering of the parched earth.

Some days, I simply feel weary for all kinds of reasons. Today is such a day. I had a meeting in the morning with Walter and Clare, the accountant for store. I'm being ordered to spend more money. Such a pain. I'd say I'm cautious by nature in this department but perhaps I'm wrong. I don't know how to judge. If I've learned anything on this good earth, I've learned that people are damn right weird about what they spend (or charge) their hard earned bucks on.

Soon, I plan to run to the big house and climb into a hot bath and then I intend to hibernate - until I finish the next chapter in "The Pregnant Virgin".

Time has been escaping me. I have to remind myself to breathe.


Tuesday, November 18, 2003

The day is almost gone. I did wake early and come out to my little house but then I remembered I had to speak to Gill and went inside. When she left for school, Rob woke so I spent a little time with him and then I went to work and did some display for the store event this evening. I left early afternoon and picked up Gill and we went to Costco for water, cheese, and chicken - and all those things that we use in bulk.

But when someone asks me what I do with my time, I shake my head and can't remember.

I carried Marion Woodman's "Pregnant Virgin" with me thinking I'd have time for coffee and a read but no luck - I only managed to read a page.

Yesterday Richard drove me to the Dialogue meeting and, like today, it was raining hard - our front hall is leaking badly - and he said that before Leil (his "soul mate") called and reminded him about the meeting, he intended to stay the day in bed reading. I liked him immediately. I wouldn't mind a day in bed with a good read. Soon.

I don't how to explain the "dialoguing" except it's about trying to catch the thought process. One person speaks. Another comments. But, as one woman commented, it's not just about "talk" - feeling has to enter into it and be expressed... oh dear, I'm not explaining this very well. The idea is to say what you think and then say what you think about what you thought or said - catching the thought behind the thought.

I like this very much. I can't remember any time that I was in a group of people - male and female - where every one tried to be so open. A lot of the discussion revolved around those moments during the week that, for some reason or another, a person was not able to speak up and tell how she or he honestly felt; or, if they did, the words, were not received in the vein they were given.

As I write this blog, I'm trying to explain the power of Dialogue but I feel as if I'm doing a shitty job. (I also think I have a foul tongue. But if I cleaned up my language, I wouldn't be true to myself. I like harsh words.) Furthermore, in order to explain myself better, I'd have to describe the conversation in detail and this I won't do - it would not be kind? ethical? generous? to tell what any of the others said. It doesn't matter that it is highly unlikely that anyone who reads this blog would know the people involved.

So now I'm wondering why I'm even trying to explain "dialogue". Is it interesting to know that there are people who think open conversation is important enough to congregate once a month or more?

After the meeting, when most had left, Rob arrived with another woman - a house guest of Leil - and we sat and ate copious amounts of food - the hostess is not only good-looking and smart, she can cook - and talked some more. (It felt strange having Rob there. Richard said that he was going to observe if I was different with my "husband" present. I forgot to ask him if I was. I don't think so. Well, maybe I'm quieter. Maybe not. It could be that my energy was waning by the time he arrived - a side affect of rising early.)

I enjoyed myself. Rob said he did too. And he doesn't lie.

Sunday, November 16, 2003

This writer is weary. It's been a busy week. But next looks like it will be much lighter and I'll have time to reflect on all that has passed.

Last night I went to a birthday party - a surprise (which is why I didn't mention it in my blog yesterday) for my sister Donna's 50th birthday at my baby sister Bev's house. I cooked a roasted vegetable dish (although Bev and I laughed and said that we should really leave the vegies raw as an ode to Donna's contribution to our Thanksgiving feast) and Bev roasted lamb.

Bev and Bill had just been on a whirlwind visit to Ontario for a medical convention and taped my mama and sister, Gael, sending their best wishes to Donna.

Donna doesn't mind turning fifty. After a long, difficult time with her husband and then the misery of breaking up a long relationship, she is enjoying herself. She has a new love with whom she has just spent three weeks in Maui. She is radiant.

The strangest part of last night was seeing Bev and Gill together. They look alike and have similar personalities. But thank goodness, unlike Gill, Bev is gloriously pregnant. The baby is due to appear around my mother's arrival date of December 9th. He or she will be my parents fourteenth grandchild.

This morning, I baked a cake but alas there weren't fresh berries to be found and I had to resort to frozen ones. And now I will shower for my Dialogue group.

Saturday, November 15, 2003

This morning I was up at six helping Gill set up her garage sale. I helped until her friend arrived at nine. Since this time, I have been working in my little house completing my story for the CBC contest.

I am just leaving to mail it, ready or not. I must admit that I feel a little virtuous. I now have four pieces out in the world.

If only one finds a home, I will be happy.

The rest of day, I will keep veiled until tomorrow.

I went to the store early thinking I'd be out by early afternoon but one job led to another and before I knew it my day was shot. No time for writing or editing further.

I did finish my Irish story at 10:30 last night - after tapping for an hour. And although I know it ain't perfect, it's complete. One final edit tonight and out it goes - gulp - without help from my editing friends who always catch me on a verb or two.

Do even good published famous writers screw up on the simple things such as verb tense? It would be a relief to know they do.

I've just sent Mike out for a pizza. Gill is out. Rob is working so I should be able to put in a few hours - if I can keep my head up.

How do I feel? Drowsy. Tired beyond belief but I think I can edit. I think I can. I think I...

Thursday, November 13, 2003

I feel reluctant about writing my blog lately. I think perhaps I am exposing too much of myself.

Last night I had the strangest dream. In one part, a piece of my face drops off - but the piece doesn't look like skin. It resembles a white plaster cast. The same thing happens to a woman standing beside me. We aren't hurt or in pain. We simply accept the dropping away as normal.

I am still working madly at my Irish story but fear it lacks focus other than highlighting in areas, the emphasis on religion in Northern Ireland.

I am still working on spring orders for the store. I can't seem to spend enough money.

Soon Helen will pick me up and we're going with Kathy, seamstress extraordinaire, to India town to find silks and brocades for purses for the store.

After, I'll hopefully have time for some more writing before I tap my way into the evening.

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

I am in a foul mood today.

This morning I reluctantly signed a slip for Gill to go on the Grad ski trip. I didn't want to sign for several reasons. First of all, the company organizing the event requires all the money now (the event is in January) plus a $25 damage deposit in case any member of the grad class commits an act of vandalism. Once you sign and pay, that's it - no refund - not even illness or death is a good enough excuse. Secondly, the company accepts no responsibility for accidents - minor or major or fatal - even if they are the negligent party.

But Gill is anxious to go. She listens to my objections and tries to soothe me but she wants to go. And so I, loving her and not wanting to disappoint her, dutifully albeit angrily fill out the forms and sign the cheques, feeling all the while like a bad mother. I tell myself that Gill is seventeen, mature for her age, responsible, as are her friends. But what about the rest of her class? But I sign and that's it. Cloud descends. I will not rest easy until she is safely home.

In a more positive vein, Helen did "body talk" on me last night. I don't really understand what the tapping and touching can do but I am obedient, lie flat, place my hands where she tells me and hope that some magic is at work, that I will learn to care for my physical being more.

Yesterday, Kate's live journal informed me that the CBC contest deadline is fast approaching. For some reason, I thought it was early December. When I checked their website, I found out that the submission deadline is indeed November 15th and furthermore, they have cut their non-fiction category except for travel writing. What I planned to send won't work. The only piece I have on hand is my Irish story but it's not nearly long enough. This morning I tried to expand it to the required word count but don't know if I can do it. And a little negative voice in my head keeps saying, "Why bother. You don't have a hope in hell of winning." But I may as well give it a shot.

To work.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

I have been so religious about writing this blog that I can't bear to miss a day. But I've been writing all morning - finished one story - or almost - and want to work on another so I don't feel inclined to unburden myself here.

What is happening to me? I have energy. Ideas are flowing.

Last night, I attended another Jungian meeting at Marlene's. We were discussing the longest chapter in the book. There was so much to take in that I was overwhelmed. I did write - about food amongst other things - and I realized that I haven't cooked a real meal since Thanksgiving. This made me feel "creepy" at first. I thought myself a failure. But buried amongst my ramblings about eating were the lines "I've prepared food for too many years. I'm bored. I have no desire to cook. Gill, Mike, and Rob have been making the meals."

Afterwards I thought, "Why not. They are as capable as I am in the kitchen. And it's more difficult to please everyone these days as Gill doesn't like carbohydrates and Rob is limiting himself."

I do not have to express my love for my family through food. I am so relieved.

I gained other insights last night as well. But I'm still sifting through them. I am a work in progress.

Monday, November 10, 2003

Yesterday I spent time in my secret world. What do I mean by "secret world"? The world that I create in my little house in the garden. Sometimes, rarely, but sometimes, I come to my house and feel so good, body and soul, that I remove my clothes and write naked.

Several years ago, Marlene introduced Eric Maizel to her journal writing class. Maizel works with artists, writers, dancers, painters, musicians, and the like, who are blocked or who feel that their work needs to be revitalized. He suggests creating in the nude as a means to liberating the spirit.

D.H. Lawrence wrote a poem about baring all:

Moral Clothing

"Only when I am stripped stark naked I am alone
and without morals, and without immorality

And if stark naked I approach a fellow-man or fellow-
they must be naked too,
and none of us must expect morality of each other:
I am that I am, take it or leave it.
Offer me nothing but that which your are, stark and strange.
Let there be no accommodation at this issue."

I simply want freedom to be.

Without clothes, I am a painter's model. True to life. I don't hide a crease or wrinkle or hair. I am a woman in her fifties. I am not paper thin. I am not perky. I am not smooth. My body shows my inheritance and history.

In the fourth chapter of "The Pregnant Virgin" Woodman writes "A body whose wisdom has never been honored will not easily trust."

I wish that when I was Gill's age, I honoured my body more. I wish that I had liked it. Working in a clothing store, I see many women who are at war with their bodies, who despise their shape, who want to hide their "flaws." I tell these women that they are voluptuous even beautiful. (I know it sounds corny but it's the truth. I'm sick of women criticizing their own flesh when there's nothing wrong with it.) And although I have done the same damn thing as these women, I've stopped. As of today.

Now to work.

(Am I exposing too much of myself? My intellect says "Deal with it."
My emotions shudder and wonder what I will tell next.)

Sunday, November 09, 2003

I woke after nine as last night I was out way past my bedtime.

It was a dark and starry night. Five women - Bett, Shirley, Marlene, Maureen, and I - met at Marlene's for a potluck feast. The moon - symbol of the feminine - was full. The last time we were together under a mysterious sky was in the south of France.

We began with cheese, olives, nuts, fresh strawberries, grapes, and wine; moved on to spicey soup, beet salad, and vegetable-strewn lasagna; and finished with chocolate, apple pie, icecream, and more chocolate. A Fellini-like feast. Shirley was the first to succumb to the overabundance and lay on the floor until her senses returned.

Marlene sat at the piano and began to play and sing joyful, soulful, melodies. She was joined by Maureen and Shirley. Bett and I lounged on the couch and demanded plaintive tunes and were not heeded until Marlene left her perch and put on a CD "The Best of Leonard Cohen" - how I love his lyrics. (In our younger days, Rob and I would make love to his poetry.)

By candle and moon light, furniture was shifted, and amid books and remnants of the feast, we began to move our glorious flesh in time to the music. We twirled, bent, preened, alone together. We paused, replenished ourselves with wine and water, cavorted again, paused again and divulged bawdy jokes, chuckled, laughed, roared.

I looked at my watch. It was past the bewitching hour. We disrobed and chanted around a cauldron celebrating the splendor of our bodies and our wishes for fulfillment... only kidding.

It was nearly one when I drove Shirley home and as I had been drinking water, not wine, for hours, I drove home - sated and content.

Ain't life wonderful?

Saturday, November 08, 2003

This morning is a luxury. I have no appointments or obligations. I woke late - after six - as Rob climbed into bed. After working all night, he is dead tired, cold as ice. He said the only reason that they finished shooting was that Halle Berry was too tired to perform. (Rob says that she is lovely, like Gill, natural and sparkling without the usual star ego.) I wrap myself around him, trying to pass on some of my sleepy warmth. He is asleep in seconds.

I make myself a coffee and slip out to my house in the garden, write in my private journal, and read Kate's livejournal and latest column, and Shirley's weblog. I love this way of keeping up with my friends.

Last night, Bren, Gill, and I went to hear Brigid Molloy speak at the Planetarium. Molloy is originally from Newfoundland. Although she lived in the States for many years, she still has a Newfie accent that borders on Irish. She is 72 years old and spent 35 years of her life in a convent before a voice in her head told her she'd had enough. She ignored it until she attended a Jungian lecture and soon after went into analysis.

Molloy is a hoot. With her round figure, white hair, glasses, and mannish suit, she reminded me of Santa Claus. And she was just as jolly. She had the audience in stitches, especially when she spoke of ego and pronounced it "eggo." The evening was billed as an "An Introduction to Jungian Psychology" and although I knew much of the material Molloy covered, I enjoyed her explanation and frequent quotes. And she did clarify some areas, especially in regards to "eggo" where I was hazy.
(I nearly ask Marlene to explain "ego" at our last Jungian meeting but worried I'd sound too simple.)

Molloy said that ego begins to develop at two years. We create "masks" or "personas" whenever "self" is unacceptable and in order to gain acceptance in the world at large. In mid-life, one sees that one has been wearing masks and hiding self. (Self, in Molloy's words, is one's "regulating centre", "indestructible inner authority", and "divine part." This is no longer acceptable to self.

My thoughts are drifting. I think of Helen Luke saying something to the effect that if one wants to die well, one has to live well. A poem by Longfellow comes to mind:

"O ye dead Poets, who are living still
Immortal in your verse, though life be fled,
And ye, O living Poets, who are dead
Though ye are living, if neglect can kill
Not in the clamour of the crowded street,
Not in the shouts and plaudits of the throng,
But in ourselves, are triumph and defeat."

In mid-life, self becomes more demanding than ego. (Mine definitely is.) But one must first remove one's armour. It is difficult, even painful, to be unclothed. One feels so naked, so vulnerable. Molloy said that between ego and self in a barrier of pain.

I was very aware that Brendan and Gill were sitting beside me. I hope that when they reach middle-age, their barriers will be less dense than mine.

She also described "shadow" as the "good and bad in you that you have pushed down and not dealt with" and "complexes" as "the hot spot in the psyche - the sores" that are connected to emotion and personal history. I kept recording her words and quotes: "The brighter the persona, the darker the shadow." "That of which I am ignorant, owns me."

There was so much to take in in one evening.
I have no time to organize my thoughts. I woke early enough, drove Gill to school, but we decided once we'd arrived that coffee at Torrefazione would do more for our souls than her 7 a.m. French class so we left.

I worked in the store for six hours and arrived home to find a gorgeous bouquet of yellow flowers on the doorstep from a customer whose pants I took to San Francisco for repair. It was a small gesture on my part - and such a magnificent one on hers.

I have no time to write (I need to wash my hair - an excuse I used to use to avoid going out on dates - Rob caught me on this one) and then I'm meeting Bren for dinner and going to a Jungian lecture. And to be truthful, I just can't do it (writing that is) at this time of day.

Thursday, November 06, 2003

This morning I woke early and went out to my little house. Rob still wasn't home from work. When I came in, he was fast asleep.

Yesterday, I spread all the information for spring clothes on my dining room table and started to methodically go through them and order what the women in the store agreed looked good and would sell. Only trouble is that I haven't spent nearly enough money. Is this not every woman's (person's) dream? The voice of authority saying "You have not spent enough on clothes. You must find more and more and more until you have used all the allocated funds."

Amid the ordering and laundry, I've been thinking about this public journal, worrying that I am crossing boundaries and exposing what should be kept hidden in my private journal. I think of Marion Woodman and how, up to the last minute, she wasn't sure that she wanted "Bone" published.

I worry that what I express, in my desire to be open and honest, has a manipulative aspect but as I write this, I think that this is not my intent (or rarely.)

As these blogs accumulate, I am seeing myself more clearly. Some aspects of self disturb me but I am finding en masse, they are revealing the pitfalls in my thinking. I am glad for this clarification.

For instance, it is easier to write about hating myself than it is to write about loving myself. I have been told, through responses to my blog, that I am not alone. This morning I asked myself: "How can so many express their love for me and I can express my love for them but I can't express love for myself?" And I answer: "Because one isn't supposed to love oneself. I learned this as a child. Loving oneself is vain. But how can I feel that I'm giving anything of worth if I am worthless?"

I do a song and dance here in my private journal. (This morning I'm writing and responding to the fourth chapter in "Pregnant Virgin".) And when I've read the line "Now she can displease the collective and instead of feeling the terror of rejection, know that she is blessed among women" I realize that although
I still fear rejection, I also feel "blessed among women." Such a relief.

A line from a country and western song keeps running through my head

But I've got friends who love me
And they know just where I stand
It's all a part of me
And that's who I am...

I must run to work. Tonight I'm taking a tap dancing class - the last time I wore tap-shoes was twenty-eight years ago.

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

An hour from now my friend Bett will be in court with her ex-partner, Tony. Bett is a loving, caring, open, intelligent, sensitive, sexy, woman. She lived with Tony for twenty-two years. He ended the relationship. She paid for the house and the apartment (with her inheritance) and registered them in both their names. Tony is younger and still working. Bett has retired. Her financial future and security will be decided in court today. I hope and pray that all this will be taken into consideration and that she gets a fair settlement.

Last night, Helen came over and I told her about my heaviness lately and pointed at "The Pregnant Virgin" and said "that book is responsible." (I know this is only partly true but I like to be melodramatic.) She said "good". She said that the heavens are also responsible. I am where I should be. Helen is a believer in astrology. I do not believe or disbelieve but I am open to different ways to interpret this world. This morning, she sent me an article about the full moon, an extraordinary full moon, that will appear Saturday night:

"On November 8th, 2003, at 5:13 pm (Pacific Standard Time) we have a Full Moon with a total eclipse of the Moon. The Harmonic Concordance is the result of how the planets meet in the sky. They create a six-pointed star or Star of David... [This means] a very rapid liberation and a profound awakening for those willing to take the risk to come fully into present time, without any attachment of any kind, living in consciousness with an open heart and a spirit of oneness, and of community with humankind.... The Harmonic Concordance is an opportunity for liberation into the soul power."

I opened my poetry book to find the next poem is "Wild Geese" by Mary Oliver. This was the first of many poems that Marlene read to her journal-writing class at UBC. This was the poem that my friend Leslie painted on my nap-sac. Every single line is rich and full of meaning. From the first sentence "You do not have to be good." To the last "Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,/ the world offers itself to your imagination,/ calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting-/ over and over announcing your place/ in the family of things."

All this heady stuff is difficult for a simple Irish woman but mad passionate fool that I am, I take it all in, and feel my spirit rising.

Today I will be sensible and place spring orders for the store - scary - what if nothing sells and try to finish my "fun" article.

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

Oh dear, I don't know if what I'm about to write (what I have written already in my journal) is for public consumption or not. I hate my moaning and groaning. How dare I? I have such a good life. I have family and friends who love me. I have so much.

I need some fortification. The next poem in my book is "Love After Love" by Derek Walcott. (How can each poem be so appropriate to my mood?) The lines that hit me hardest are "You will love again the stranger who was your self./ Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart/ To itself, to the stranger who has loved you/ All your life, whom you ignored"

Last night I nearly cracked at the Jungian meeting. We were speaking of anger and differentiating between feminine and animus. Woodman says "Feminine anger cleanses; animus anger leaves me tense." And I realized that I seldom get angry and when I do, I become frightened, lose my voice, and hold all in. When something or someone provokes me, I always ask myself "Am I justified in feeling angry?" And it's a relief when someone tells me "Yes. I would have been angry."

But this need for outside affirmation? approval? agreement? strikes me as immature. Why don't I know when I'm being appropriate myself?

When I began writing, I had to hold myself together, contain myself before I could sort out where my surplus emotion was coming from.

I asked myself: "What has been bothering me?
A hundred thousand tears. I want to be so wise... I will not fall apart. What do I mean by fall apart? Crying like a baby. When did I learn to contain myself? When did I stop crying? I haven't cried in a long time. I used to go and hide somewhere and cry my eyes out... I'd cry until I felt cleansed... I think I feel a failure..."

And I move on to specifics. It appears that I can express my feelings to close friends, to those who express her or him self to me, but I seldom do this with Rob. Nor does he do this with me.

I make excuses. He works long hours and when he's not, I'm at work or at a meeting. We hardly have time for the day-to-day. It's as if the heavens were conspiring against us.

I who so believe in listening and dialoguing find myself unable or unwilling to do so with this precious man of mine.

What do I do with this grain of truth?

Monday, November 03, 2003

I'm anxious today. Everything I try to accomplish takes so much time. I tried to mail four boxes for Rob this morning but, after spending a hour in "Mailboxes" and hearing the options and the price (over $600) and that they won't insure several, I didn't know whether to mail them or not so I didn't and am still waiting to hear from Rob. (A sound mixer cannot leave his cell on during shooting.)

I began the day writing a story about "fun" and after several hours of serious work, I realized I was oxymoronic. Writing about fun is difficult even subversive. And I'm still without an ending.

My life is so rich at the moment that I'm having trouble finding time to think let alone write. I wish I weren't a snail.

Yesterday, I went to my second Dialogue meeting. I felt as if I were living a dream. I have never been to a place where women AND men listen hard and speak their thoughts. I found it extraordinary that grown men spoke openly about being insecure, nervous, and hesitant. I have heard women do this but seldom men. This is such a shame. I found out that we are members of the same race. (I just had lunch with a woman friend who is undergoing chemo and yet every night, her husband tells her that she is stupid. Before cancer, she used to take it. Now she walks away.)

Why is there so little dialogue in our day to day lives? The group also spoke about listening. I mean really listening - not thinking one's own thoughts while another is speaking and waiting to get a word in. I think I mentioned it before but I'll repeat myself. One of the best definitions of love (or the one that appeals to me) is "rapt attention."

Rob just called and I have to run out and mail those damn boxes. And so my life continues.

Sunday, November 02, 2003

I erased yesterday's blog.

I've had an uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach since yesterday. My complex? I'm feeling negative and I don't like this. I reach for my poetry book for inspiration but I've come to the end. All seems bleak and then I realize I can start at the beginning again.
The first poem is "When Death Comes" by Mary Oliver.

Marlene quoted a few lines from this poem last week when I was feeling down about Carolyn Heilbrun's death:

"When its over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it's over, I don't want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don't want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.

I don't want to end up simply having visited this world."

I sigh too often. I am frightened too often. I hate this about myself. Rob said this morning that I sometimes say too much in this blog. But this is what I want. Yesterday I said too little. I edited myself to the point where I felt useless and boring. I hate doing this more than its opposite. I am not a subtle person. I am not unintelligent but I am simple. I speak the obvious. I write the obvious. Susan once told me that this is difficult to do well and I do it well. If you know Susan, you know that she is not generous with complements. What she says, she means.

So what am I to do with myself? I went down to the water this morning but it didn't console me as it usually does. Perhaps it is too damn cold out. My fingers and feet were freezing. I shall have to invest in some cold-weather clothing. I'm told that it's going to be a cold winter.

The Plum meeting yesterday was good, more than useful. We had each researched a literary journal or magazine and were able to discern each editor's preferences. We agreed that literary journals tend to be slightly pompous. They publish works by writers who have a long line of credits. I pushed the idea of simultaneous submissions. Why should the lowly beginner have to wait up to six months (nine months to be read by "A Room of One's Own) only to be refused. I think we should up our slim chances. If the journal or magazine in question doesn't specifically say "no simultaneous submissions" I'm going to do it (I already have.) Vaughan mentioned that one writing teacher said that even if they say not to, the novice should submit to more than one publication. I have been a "good girl" long enough. We also spoke of writing contests. You have to pay up to $25 to submit and this can become costly. The chances of winning are also slim - and the decision is usually made by one published author who bases her or his choice on personal taste. Bah humbug. (I just noticed I had a new email and I opened it. It was from Kate and she says that she's jaded too but doing something is better than doing nothing. I agree. I'll keep entering these contests. I did get lucky last year.)

Wenda and Vaughan also brought some new work to the table for suggestions. Editing someone else's work not only helps the writer but the editor. I always learn something about my own writing when I look at someone else's. And it's fun to brain storm. Sometimes we get downright silly but I love the craziness and the laughter and surprisingly, it also can be productive.

In the evening, Rob and I went to a masquerade party in Mission. I went as Anais Nin in a lace dress draped with velvet scarves borrowed from Marlene. I felt quite exotic. Oh and I also wore a pendant with a picture of the real Nin at my throat and carried "Under a Glass Jar". Rob went as a devil with red cape and horns. (When we arrived at the house, I secretively pasted a sign on his back that read "horny devil". So childish of me.) I knew no one and simply wandered with a wine glass in hand. No one asked who I was supposed to be. I talked little. But the house was quite spectacular. The wine and food were good and when I was offered a little paper cup with jello in, I accepted and swallowed one, two, three, only to find out later that they were vodka shooters. We only stayed a couple of hours and I fell asleep in the car on the way home. Don't think I'm really party girl or woman material.