Friday, April 30, 2004

I've had a lazy day, trying to work Psyche into a story that might not want her. What fool would want to write while the dust and laundry pile up around her? What fool would pour her heart and soul into a story and then, after weeks, months maybe, not know what to do with her manuscript? Make that plural.

This morning, Gill told me that she was proud of herself. She made a teacher angry because she questioned her mark on an English test. She interpreted the mood of a poem differently than the teacher and Gill told her that she would like another teacher's opinion. The second teacher agreed with the first (could it be that she had little choice? - and Gill wasn't asked by either teacher why she felt so strongly) but still she is proud that she had the courage to stand up to an authority figure. I wouldn't have had the nerve in high school. Although I love poetry, I hated the way we had to dissect poems. And I feel, like Gill, that there is more than one way to read a poem.

I have no idea where the day has disappeared. I was still in my night gown well after noon and finally threw on some clothes to mail tax forms. But my story wouldn't leave me alone and I took myself down to the water and wrote some more.

This evening I'm going out with my sisters and Gill to see "Maggie's Getting Married" at Presentation House. Should be fun as my sister Donna/Maggie is getting married. I'm wondering what message, if any, the play will have.

Monday, April 26, 2004

Home again and out in my little house. How I miss it when I'm away. This is the one place that I know I can be alone and think and write. It was impossible when away to do any creative writing as I was in a room with Gill and Helen but no matter; I love these two women and there was always chatter and laughter. Felt like being in a women's dorm.

The first day of market Gill went with Walter and Helen and I and became our model. It's really difficult to buy without seeing a garment on a body. The only problem was that everything looked good on Gill. The second and third day, Gill remained at the hotel and shopped when the stores were open for her grad dress. She bought two. One short little floral number and one long elegant black Audrey Hepburn-like gown. When she tried the latter on for Helen and I, and then left to change after receiving our approval, Helen cried. I mean she literally cried. Tears were running down her cheeks. "She looks so beautiful." She did with her long lithe body. Where did this elegant young woman come from? I tried on a dress too but looked so old and dowdy, I didn't leave the change room. I read once, when I was doing my research on mothers and daughters, that mothers are often envious of their daughters. I'm not. I love my daughter's beauty but what makes me sad is that I didn't recognize my own when I was Gill's age. I was always so critical. And now, as I age and see the lines and lumps of time, I am still critical. This makes me angry because I know at a gut level that loveliness is a state of mind. I need to find my way to that state.

Although there were a few disappointments at the show - lines that we depend upon that didn't measure up - there was enough, I hope, to fill the store with colour and style. Now I have to settle down and sort through all that we thought would work and place the orders. This is the hardest part. I'm given a budget for each department (tops, bottoms, dresses, coats, accessories) for each month and must make sure that I spend what must be spent to guarantee projected sales and that all will work together and is coming in at a good time. This is scary business because I don't know if it will be a warm or cool fall and what people will want or need.

On the ride home, I read my latest story to Helen and Walter to see if they could help me find a way to close it. They didn't but it did help to read it aloud. I'm hoping that some creative genie inside me will offer up a more conclusive conclusion.

When we arrived home, Brendan was there. He has moved back for a few months to give himself time to find a new apartment. I'm happy that he's there. Already, he has cleared one room and is painting it. Although I consider myself a minimalist, Bren is even more so. He needs simplicity and order and I'm hoping he'll inspire Rob, Gill, and I to clear up the clutter. (When he and Gill took off for a walk after dinner, Rob said "He's a man now." Oh I know it is obvious but it's hard for parents to see their children as adults.)

Interestingly, I attended a seminar at 7:45 in the morning on the last day of market. One of our reps was giving a talk on Feng Shui. The emphasis was on removing clutter from one's business but I could see its ramfications at home, in my writing house, and even in my writing. The Oxford dictionary defines "clutter" as " a crowded and untidy collection of things." Melanie described it as "stuck energy." And she noted that saving something because you might need it some day keeps you in a place of lack. "Instead, affirm that you will have the resources to create what it is you need as you need it" by clearing and clarifying. Good advice.

Must shower and go to store and start clearing and clarifying orders.

Friday, April 23, 2004

I've been having crazy days and nights and I don't have time to explain as in 20 minutes, I'm on my way to Seattle for a buying trip with Gill (for the first time) and Helen and Walter. The females share a room. Walter gets a closet. Oh we shall have fun.
And we will work hard.

All day, as I've been running I've been thinking about the demon lover (the topic for discussion at the Jungian meeting last night.) When I think of demon, I think of devil; and when I think of demon lover, I think of the devil in the film, Rosemary's Baby. This is not quite what Marion Woodman had in mind but I found my mind last night too dense to decipher her meaning. This chapter was - agreed by most present - the most difficult one so far. I have some ideas about how to approach Woodman's material - always rich and dense and disturbing - and hopefully someone of them will find their way into my journal and I'll be able to discuss this subject more lucidly when I return late Sunday or Monday.

I'm taking five books with me, fool that I am. I always do this and Rob always laughs at me because I hardly ever get beyond one. But how am I to know what I will feel like reading?

Hope the sun keeps shining. Write my writing friends. Good luck with your move Bren.


Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Last night I went out with Marlene and Bett to celebrate my birthday. It's three weeks past but this is the first time we've been able to come together. I like these birthdays that go on and on.

I caught a bus across town - something I haven't done in a long time, I realized, as I didn't know how to insert the transfer ticket. I don't mind bus travel but half way through the journey, a blind woman climbed on board with her dog, sat beside me, pulled out her cell phone, called several friends, and told them loudly how tired she was, how she had worked since eleven, how she didn't want to go out in the evening. Usually I hate cell phones and I wasn't especially keen on hers but I was happy to see and hear that she was able, without the use of her eyes, to get around, work, and play. What surprised me was her rudeness. Without apology, she pushed her way past several people, demanded a particular seat and, after her phone calls, yelled at the driver to tell her where she was and to notify her when he reached a particular stop. I keep thinking about her, wondering if her gruff manner, is a way to avoid sympathy from strangers.

Every writer should take a bus now and again.

I met those two wild women friends at a new bright Greek restaurant on 4th near Alma. We shared a Greek platter and a chocolate "eruption" dessert, and although I wanted to discuss Euripides and Pisidia (in view of the Greek kouros with blue eyes waiting on us - yes, he was nude), they preferred to speak of dark-skinned men in the southern States. I simply had to come down to their level.

The evening was lovely and we did speak a little of the French Workshop where the three of us will be room-mates. I'm getting excited - over the workshop that is.

Bett returned home with me to spend the night. I waved her off this morning, and have been working in my house ever since. Oh dear, I just noticed the time. I have to be at the store in ten minutes.

Must run.

Sunday, April 18, 2004

Sunday morning and I've been out in my little house since before five. Gill is in the big house preparing for the Sun Run - 10K around the city of Vancouver.

This week has been too crazy but I did resolve several issues at the store. On Thursday night I met Lisa there who arrived with a bottle of wine - "for inspiration." We worked steadily for over two hours and transformed the place. I acted as her assistant. She's fast and good. Now I can hand over this part of my job to her. On Friday, I worked the entire day and taught Carol how to price merchandise. Although it'll take a few more lessons, I'm well on my way to more freedom. I will simply do the buying. This will give me enough hours - especially during market times - enough satisfaction (I'm seeing that I have an eye for style and colour) - and leave me more time for writing.

On Friday night, I went to a lecture by Christine Mulvey, a Jungian analyst from County Wicklow, Ireland. She was lovely, with a lilting voice and soft smile. Her intent was to take "a gentle look at childhood and how it can shape and influence our adult lives." Before becoming a Jungian analyst, she worked as a psychologist with abused children. She said she wasn't ignorant of the perils of childhood but wanted to balance the scale and tell of the good side, noting that even the most abused child has some source of light. She accompanied her talk with pictures of children and written quotes by Jung.

"To remain a child too long is childish, but it is just as childish to move away and then assume that childhood no longer exists because we do not see it. But if we return to the "children's land" we succumb to the fear of becoming childish, because we do not understand that everything of psychic origin has a double face. One face looks forward, the other back. It is ambivalent and therefore symbolic, like all living reality."

Mulvey did not succumb to the fear of being childish (not that she was childish but childlike in her simple, straightforward manner.) She said she was nervous, smiled, played part of her CD - a piece of traditional Irish music, followed by a male voice reading one of her poems - showed a photo of her niece playing with a stuffed animal, and asked the crowd, "Do you remember a time when you felt this must joy?"

She spoke of Jungian analysis and said that when a new analysand arrived, she often wondered what he or she was like as a child.

"The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct acting from inner necessity. The creative mind plays with objects it loves."

The play theme appears to want recognition in my psyche. It is coming at me from many directions in many forms. Earlier, I was playing on the internet and found this quote by Brenda Ueland: "[I]magination needs moodling - long, efficient, happy idling, dawdling and puttering."

The plums yesterday, amongst other things, workshopped a story I'm working on. Vaughan apologized but said that it wasn't complete. I had to somehow bring it back to the opening. So while Rob watched the hockey game, I went out to my writing house (with a glass of wine, I admit - "for inspiration") and through dawdling and daydreaming, puttering too, it's almost finished.

I am pleased. Now if I could only remember my dreams. I'm making a concentrated effort to write them down, notebook and pen beside the bed, but they're damn and determined that I will not have my way. I'm going to have to become devious.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

"You come to love not by finding the perfect person,
but by seeing an imperfect person perfectly." (Sam Keen)

Sweet Gill just brought a breakfast sandwich to me.

I've been reading about love, heart, and soul this morning.

I listen to my heart. It is racing.

Last night Marlene read a passage from Paula Reeves' book "Heart Sense: Discovering the Intelligence and Memories Stored in Your Heart." The heart holds the life and knowledge of its owner in its tight little fist. I only listen to mine when it makes its presence known - like now. What is its quickened pace trying to tell me? I wrote about this last night. It wants me "To slow down, to stop performing."

This is not my imagination. My blood pressure has been high for several years. After the accident, it rose more. I'm still waiting for a report from my doctor after wearing that cumbersome monitor for twenty-four hours.

I appear to be running, always running. Out to my house in the garden to write. Into the big house to grab a bite. Out to write in my journal. On to work. Back to house in the garden to write again, answer correspondence, read, write, and then back to store to work, work. And so I live my life.

I'm not liking this life at the moment. Heart racing. Shoulders aching. I'm carrying too much of a load. I have to stop being Leslie. She's dead. I want a few more years. I have a lot to sort out but I know, in my heart of hearts, that I have to extricate from the store or, at the very least, relinguish many of my responsibilities. Surprisingly, I requested that a good display person meet me at the store this evening to rearrange all. I think she's good. If she can do this, I will hand the job over to her.

And I must leave soon to take my mother to airport. I thought about telling her to take a cab. Simple solution. A few hours more for me. But she would feel lonely and I think, how many more years, will I be able to extend myself for her? So I will put all else aside and drive her.

Monday, April 12, 2004

Another day and I'm delighted as I woke at 3:30 a.m. Since I went to bed at 7:30, I feel refreshed and have managed to accomplish a lot of writing and soul work. I even caught a dream.

In the early hours, I called Susan and Bedding in France. Sue Standing, the poet, is visiting Castelnau at the moment. I am envious but not too much so as I have much too much to do here.

I have two stories to send out. More really. So I began researching places to send them. This drives me crazy. So time consuming and I feel defeated. There are two many good writers in the world. But come to think of it, I don't think this feeling defeated is especially negative. It allows me to fling out my stories without feeling hopeful or disappointed. I tell myself I'm collecting rejection notices.

Meanwhile I continue to write "shitty" concentrating on the motto "quantity not quality". I actually feel that I'm making some progress.

My reading is also informing my writing. Vaughan recommended "The Deep" by Mary Swan and I finished it this weekend. It tells the story of twin sisters who move to France during World War 11 to help in the war zone. The author is parsimonious in the telling. Short chapters from a number of points of view. What excites me about this novella is, not only the tale itself - the story of twins who act like one, their dysfunctional family, and the inhumanity of war, but its unconventional format.

It reminds me that a writer can break all the rules in constructing a book, that I specifically can allow my material to take its own shape. In a sense, it gives me permission to play - a theme I've been hearing from a number of directions lately.

I often say that I play the fool. Talking to Susan this morning must have reminded me of a note she sent me over a dozen years ago and that I read from time to time.

"I wish I had the courage to be a fool. At least you have taught me with all this clamour to see clearly that is what I want. It's also what I respect in other people, really respect. Being happy and having the courage to be fools is very much the same thing. Let's be happy."

Sunday, April 11, 2004

It's a beautiful Easter Sunday. The turkey in the oven, there since 9:30 this morning, has the whole house smelling delicious. Last year at this time, Gill and I were wandering around Dublin and she remembered Easter and gave me a chocolate egg. This year she has given me two Godiva chocolates.

Easter used to be a grand affair in this house with an elaborate egg hunt and a feast for the entire family and friends. This year it is quiet.

Mike, who has to work all weekend, save today, is not coming for dinner. He wants some quiet time. Bren is content reading and may also decide not to make the trek across town.

My children are teaching me that all doesn't have to be traditional.

I am content. Last night, Rob and I went to visit a woman who I worked with in Toronto many years ago and her spouse. When the guys were upstairs enjoying the view of Vancouver, that was truly magnificent - a sweeping vista of the city, North Shore, water, and mountains - Patsy and I talked in the kitchen. She said that she has never heard a man speak of his wife with such pride as Rob did, when they last met. I felt so good.

"You have to be careful telling things.
Some ears are tunnels.
Your words will go in and get lost in the dark.
Some ears are flat pans like the miners used
looking for gold.
What you say will be washed out with the stones.

You look a long time till you find the right ears.
Till then, there are birds and lamps to be spoken to,
a patient cloth rubbing shine in circles,
and the slow, gradually growing possibility
that when you find such ears,
they already know."
(Naomi Shihab Nye)

Friday, April 09, 2004

This morning I drove my sister and niece to the airport and arrived back home around one and edited some stories. At four, I took a break, and went out for dunch or, should that be, linner - lunch and dinner - with Gill. We shopped a little and I returned to my writing. I am wearing a halo this evening.

At the Jungian meeting last night, Marlene spoke of her trip to Atlanta, Georgia that sounded like a woman's dream world, and then on to discuss the fifth chapter of "Addiction to Perfection." How does Woodman reach so many different women (men?) with her writing? At break, Marlene told my blog address. I felt strange. Isn't this what I want? Readers? Yes, yes, but I am so self-indulgent here. Strange... one woman wrote about "indulging", how she saw it as negative and would like to change her thinking. I love the word. Indulge the senses. Indulge the self. Indulge, indulgence, three hundred days of indulgence - a gift of time to explore self. (This is the title of my book in progress.)

Am I indulging myself these days? At Double Dave's the other night, my sisters and I sat in his sun room that looks over his garden, with its great magnolia tree, and spoke of making love and sex. Rob and Brendan sat deep in conversation at the other side of the room.

Donna, or rather Maggie, sat with her beau, touching and fondling, and we discussed the difference between fucking and making love. I became the devil's advocate (where does this expression originate?) and said that if there was a difference, fucking was better, earthier, sexier than the more ephemeral "making love." This love business keeps confusing me. It's not that I don't believe in love or that I don't feel it - that vast sweep of emotion that makes me tender and kind to another - but I've never found a definition that encompasses the word. At one time, I thought "rapt attention" was better than most but I'm not so sure now.

So there we sat - the Wetherall women - in Dave's sun room, me cross-legged on his day-bed, saying anything that came into my head - more I think to sort out my own thoughts than to be contradictory. (Marion Milner said that she used to think that thinking brought clarity but then realized conversation with others was the truest way to know one's self.)

Several weeks ago, I wrote a story about Sophia - the blunt speaking old woman. I took on her personality with my sisters. Damn it. Sometimes I sound so sure of myself. I'm not at all. Rob looked over, heard me pontificating, and said I was holding court.

I was thinking today about my bluntness, my unwillingness to add frills to experience and how I often despise myself for this and then the sudden thought came, that perhaps this is not a bad quality. I love people who are no-nonsense, who tell it how it is. IT. Speaking about it, what is the difference between making love and fucking? Nancy Friday says that naturally it's nicer to have sexual intercourse with one's love but it is important to know the difference between sex and being "swept away" in some romantic haze. Women have to admit, she says, that they are sexual beings, that they need and want to fuck, before they can truly enjoy themselves and feel their own power. It's much more fun than letting another second-guess our needs or us ministering only to their needs.

It is important to play. My mother once said that life is not about play. It's about responsibility. But my mother lies.

This is what I wrote about last night. Gulp. It is so difficult to tell on one's first love. I wrote to the quote: "'The unlived life of the parents may manifest in the daughter some kind of eating disorder.' What have I been trying to swallow that is not really mine to eat?"

And I wrote about my mother's lies, about all the times she lied to her children and how she asked us, time and time again, to lie for her, and how I crossed her on occasion. I hated lying. My mother is a strong woman who made a name for herself in politics but still, she admitted to me that she is insecure, that she was always trying to prove she was worth something (a familiar theme in my family.) But how, I questioned in my writing, can one who has lied all her life, like herself? And how does this relate to me?

I didn't swallow her lies but I found it difficult to trust her. And if one can't trust one's mother, who can one trust? I need too much reassurance. Is everyone like this? I find it so difficult to read my writing to strangers. I think that I act, that I write, in reaction to lies. Still it is difficult.

Enough. I need a glass of wine. And where did that damn halo go?

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

I have been sitting in my little house over an hour, trying to recall a dream, searching on Amazon for books I want to read, and daydreaming; knowing I have a lot to accomplish today, namely editing several of my stories, writing orders for store, sending last of accounts to our accountant.

My trip to Los Angeles to buy fall lines was strange. It's the first time that I've done this alone. I borrowed Rob's digital camera and took my computer to record what I thought would work for store and made copious notes but still I felt out of my element as if I were an imposter, not a buyer for a small boutique that some say is unique in Vancouver where several television personalities and film wardrobe people shop. I am not that interested in what people wear. Leslie loved clothes and no matter how ill she was, no matter what size she wore, she always looked expensive and elegant. It took her at least an hour in the morning to dress and do her makeup while I have a hard time stretching my morning ablution to fifteen minutes.

After denying any interest in clothes, I did find several lines that excited me - fanciful organzas and velvets - that I wouldn't mind draping on my body. But the important thing about buying for a store is looking beyond oneself. One buyer who I met there said that she had a difficult time ordering anything that she would not wear but she was more of a standard size than I am and Lesliejane caters to some very large women who like to dress flamboyantly. (I find it curious that these women appear to like their bodies more and are much more creative, decisive, joyful than smaller women with more classically beautiful bodies who I'd like to knock on the head. Sometimes when I am on the floor and I hear one complaining about her body, I tell her to stop, that she is beautiful. I could write an article on this topic.)

Yesterday, I worked all day in the store. Thank goodness my sister and niece dropped in and took me out for lunch. I still have problems breaking to eat when I have too much to do.

And Gilly fed me an amazing meal last night and Rob just called down and offered to make breakfast. I am so lucky.

My luck continues. Tonight, Double Dave is cooking up a feast at his place for my family. Dave loves my mother. He even has a picture of her hanging in his kitchen. For some reason, this enormously rotund gay man and my seventy-six year old conservative mother get on famously. And my sister, Gael and my niece, Emily - who requested that my boys come too as she hasn't seen her cousins for at least six years - will be there as well as my sister, Bev and doctor Bill and baby Cameron. Helen who is an adopted sister will join us. I wonder if it is alright to dance on tables in presence of family.

Rob has just called me for breakfast. Then I will begin my work.

Thursday, April 01, 2004

I'm off to Los Angeles in the morning so I probably won't be writing this blog for a few days but I wanted to add a footnote to my birthday celebration. I received so many wonderful gifts and they continued into today - Shirley dropped by and gave me a collection of essays in an anthology called "Desire." - and Mahala, the beautiful brown-eyed blonde from Florida who I met in the south of France sent me a message that sounds like a poem.

"Your blog on the 29th of march blew me away, past the trees outside my window, past the ocean that I love so dearly, and transported me to you, in the south of France, as I hug you, see you sitting in the window, preparing the love in the kitchen, embracing me and all, setting out my sleeping bag and preparing the nest of love for me in the corner.
Oh, I am so happy that you were born!"

See what happiness brings. I hope I can hold onto it. THANK YOU. EVERYONE.