Saturday, August 26, 2023

New Old Clothes; Nice Men

Well, it didn’t take long. I’m rockin’ my monologue, so I’m excited about the festival and doing it again now that I have the whole thing down.

Yesterday was a really lovely day because I spent the entire day alone. Clouds rolled in. By midday, there was a thick cover of clouds but no sense of impending rain. Still, I brought all the seat cushions in just in case. When it’s cloudy, it calms me. Sunshine energizes me and I feel I must be outside doing things, but when the clouds roll in, they slow me down. I love to get a book and onto the chaise to read.

The weekend is predicted to be clear and hot, so I’ll likely be busy. Today was a wonderful day of watering, reading and rest. The best part of the day was tidying the guest rooms because Julien and his gal pal are coming to stay Sunday night. It wasn’t the tidying, it was discovering all my old skinny clothes in the guest closet. I tried on about 20 pairs of shorts and pants, and they all fit. I’m thrilled to finally be free of all my fat clothes and back into glorious colour and proper tailoring.

The other nice thing that happened yesterday was when I went next door with a bag of apples for the guys building Jorgé’s workshop. It was gifted with some apples, but far too many for me to eat, so I took a bag of them over and met the three construction guys. They were so, so friendly and grateful for the apples. We had a really nice chat and I came home, as so often happens, happy to remember that men can be wonderful.

I grew up afraid of men. They mocked me, belittled me and bullied me. Not often, but enough to make me think men were not worth my time, so it still gives me a thrill to meet genuinely lovely, friendly men. All three guys thanked me using my name. Plus, when I got home, I realized I had spoken fluently with strangers. That’s a big achievement for me.

At 5:30, actual rain. It lasted perhaps 2 minutes, but it was rain.

I listen exclusively to classical music. Prior to the onset of FND, I hardly ever listened to it. But just as FND caused me to become intolerant of city life, changing to classical music happened for the same reason. Sadly, however, CBC radio, which is how I listen to classical music, is all classical music only from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm. Earlier and later, they play the kind of music I listened to all my life—popular music. Weekends are great! There’s Saturday Afternoon at the Opera, Paulo Pietro Paulo for 4 hours every Sunday, and my favourite: Choral Concert.

The norm with classical music, is to introduce each piece by announcing the composer, the musicians by their collective name and soloists by name, the conductor and often the date of the recording and its label. In pop music, the only thing you know is the name of the singer. What a huge difference in terms of respect for creators!

My friend Beth often references the poverty of writers. She means money. But the term “writer” covers a very broad spectrum of behaviors and experience. I was a technical writer—a writer for hire, and I did very well. But not because I was a good writer. I was successful because I was a fast writer. I loved writing, so I’d work all night, weekends, and for weeks at a time. 

The other reason I was successful was that I was a good marketer. By ads and business cards said, under my name: “I’m as good as my competition, but much quicker.” My textbook on professional practices for visual artists made me 100 grand and one very, very generous contract I had lasted 26 years.

But the biggest difference between my experience as a writer, and Beth’s (who writes creative non-fiction), is that I was respected as a technical writer. Successful writers who create stories for public consumption can do very well, but a huge portion of people who think of themselves as writers, don’t. But worse, I don’t think they get much respect based on my own experience.

I self-published my textbook that did so well because I was discouraged by the publishing industry. Once it started selling and I started doing workshops based on the book, publishers were coming to me. The most lucrative offer had me earning about $3.00 or $4.00 per book. By publishing it myself, I earned $17.34 per book, so I rejected both serious offers.

I never thought of myself as a writer. When I started, I thought of myself as a hack for hire, but when I turned 30, I thought of myself as a technical writer. Also, I can write scripts, but I cannot write fiction. Fiction writing is where a lot of the poor writers are.

The two things I loved when I was in school, were art and writing. For many art assignments, I drew letters and words. I even made a few manuscripts and learned calligraphy so that I could create an illuminated version. I aged them with tea, oil and a touch of vinegar. Beth and I share a common origin story. She kept what she called a diary. I kept what I called a journal. It was an illustrated diary, with fabric samples, drawings, photographs, ticket stubs, letters from friends or parts of them, dried flowers, etcetera. Souvenirs of my life and ideas.

Now I blog.

When I was a with the Tyrell’s, I was outside with friends, or alone in my room. I had dinner with them. At first, my room was upstairs on the same floor as them. They were always downstairs on the dining/living room/kitchen floor. Each floor had their own bathroom, so it was living separately. I spent a lot of time during those years, lying inverted on the stairway, peeking down into the kitchen. When I was lying on the stairs, I was lying on a red carpet.

Banning me to my room really was banning me to the top floor of our home. I enjoyed the company of our two cats, Sam and Aleck, and our dog, Jennie. The cats came up with me. Jennie was Don’s dog. After Connie had a stroke, she lived 24/7 in their bedroom, so I moved to the basement where there was a fireplace, and full of bookshelves. I read every book on the shelves. 

So here I am six decades later, on my own, reading every day in a room with a big red living room carpet, and in the company of 2 cats and a dog I adore, and a fireplace. 

And the seasons, they go round and round
And the painted ponies go up and down
We're captive on the carousel of time
We can't return, we can only look
Behind, from where we came
And go round and round and round, 

in the circle game.

~ Circle Game, Joni Mitchell

Today has dawned bright and sunny as predicted, and all the gardens are moist, so I get the entire day to myself. I look forward to a visit to the farmers’ market this morning, reading and napping in the afternoon sunshine, a spa, a dinner with Nancy and Kris at Woodfire.

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