Here is the most recent revision, only two jackets stuck together this time: a 1980’s padded-shoulder blob version of a biker jacket with only ¾ length sleeves, and a classic men’s Harris Tweed. The difficult, and it turned out, best part, was fitting the double breasted biker to the single-breasted tweed. I added a front tweed panel with a slanting part of one of the leather sleeves, the zipper ending up roughly in c-section surgical position. This ended up creating a nice slit under the main closure – a surprise to me; I love it when this sort of thing happens in freefall.
But unfortunately, I don’t have a Harley.
And I am leaving Saskatchewan, where I was born, where there’s room under the wide sky to imagine anything. My feelings surrounding leaving are complicated by a time earlier in my life when I had to face the possibility of leaving everything behind.
It’s a cliché to call death the final journey, but, when you’re getting ready to go, that’s how it feels. After I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease seven years ago, when I was already stage 4B and my body was beginning to shut down, when I had been given a 50/50 chance of survival, half of my psychological time was spent trying to survive, and the other half was spent preparing to go.
And it was this place, this house, this province, I was going to have to leave.
Dying, for me, meant everything was dying. I thought a lot about never seeing the grass and sky again, in addition to family, friends, home, and unfinished work. It was the unfinished work that bothered me the most, my children not yet one and four, my first novel needing 6 more months of work, the next two only half begun.
For months I couldn’t get out of bed much. I watched the people around me, and let them go. They needed to do things. They need to get on with their lives, and I didn’t.
I had to step back within my mind and learn not to torture myself for things that weren’t my problem anymore – even my children. I put off writing letters to their future selves until it couldn’t wait any longer — the week of my last chemotherapy and emergency surgery, when it seemed I might not live to leave the hospital again. The letters are still there, in the pages of my journal, one of them telling my daughter that I knew who she was, and loved who she was – so strong – even though she was only eighteen months old.
A large part of preparing to die was lying to myself. Some people suddenly find god and a desperate belief in eternal life – go into denial about dying — but my lie was telling myself my children would be just fine without me. The myth of eternal life horrified me, because this would mean I would forever know that I had left them – a hell for me indeed — even if I was in the clouds, among wings and harps and song. My only acceptable idea of “heaven” was being able to continue with my life.
Since then, I have refused to fly alone out of Saskatchewan, away from my family, my house, my friends, my sky, my grass — away from everything I might have shut my eyes to forever, seven years ago.
My children are now 8 and 11. And I was with them. My first novel has been published, the second is in publisher’s limbo, the third is well on its way.
So. This must be heaven.
But now we are selling our house and moving to British Columbia.
I won’t be wearing the Harris Tweed Biker Bitch, driving a Harley, and laying rubber. My wheels are a minivan, with husband, two children, two dogs and two gerbils.
The move will force me to join a wider Canadian literary community, force me to travel.
But as long as I live, I will come back to my grass and my sky. It’s not dying to me.
Here I go.
Remedia Amoris, The Cure For Love by Ovid, The Daily Render by Nikolas R. Schiller.
Consequences, Penelope Lively.
The Universe and the Teacup: The Mathematics of Truth and Beauty, K.C. Cole.
“… it was a mathematical theorem (Gödel’s theorem) that proved some truths can’t be reached by the road of pure logic at all.”
Mathematicians like to use the word ‘deconvoluted.’
Lovely quote from Einstein: “As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain, and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality.”
How to Date in a Post-Dating World, Diane Mapes.
No Respect: Intellectuals and Popular Culture, Andrew Ross.
Good stuff if you can get past the bafflegab.
In Praise of Younger Men, Sandy Fawkes
This is one for the how to behave yourself shelf – The How to Behavior Shelf. Hilarious and sad at the same time, this woman tells my mother’s generation to get over their divorces and sleep with as many younger men as possible, after they’d spent all their lives trying to be properly repressed and not want anything but being a stay-at home mother. I think of Saskatchewan farm wives of the 1970s. I think cultural whiplash.
The Equation That Couldn’t be Solved: How Mathematical Genius Discovered the Language of Symmetry, Mario Livio.
Wins for longest sub-title and for the number of times the word ‘seminal’ is used, which I didn’t think could be used seriously anymore, but apparently it’s okay if you’re a male scientist waiting for the next mathematical messiah. Perhaps it shows why there is a glass ceiling for women in the sciences. Can a woman write something that’s seminal, or is it ovular, or do we simply write with blood, once a month?
A Venetian Affair, Andrea di Robilant.
Non-fiction, and some fascinating details. Cassanova lends his, ahem, ‘hand’ with birth control, and the code of where to wear, and how to interpret, a beauty spot:
The Appassionata: at the corner of the eye.
The Coquette: above the lip.
The Galante: on the chin
The Assassina (the killer): at the corner of the mouth, the choice position, I think.
While the Sun is Above Us, Melanie Schnell.
An excellent novel, by a master of restraint – shockingly good for a first book. The trade in women is still too common in parts of the world, and it’s too often respected as a “cultural” or “religious difference” by the West. Whether sold, kidnapped, or “given” by their own fathers, women often have no children to love other than the children of men forced on them, or who force themselves.
Schnell writes one good book, but more are needed, more about the wives who weren’t the favorite wife out of five, about the many men who couldn’t buy even one wife, about the slaves who no one would come to rescue.
How do women love their children, so often also the children of their rapist? This is only just beginning to be studied – this mixture of hate and love… this instinct, used.