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OK, I'm cheating. I actually began this funny project on December 21, but it seems to me that no one will be able to read my little screeds (should anyone at all wish to) unless the entire month is filled. And there is the opportunity to go back in time, so to speak, to the beginning of the month. So, in the next five days I'll try to fill up all the little squares from the beginning of the month to make a full set. And besides, it's a good challenge for me--both the 100 words and the writing!
(written dec 26) Christmas dinner with friends--sort of. My dear friend Joan, her (very) drily witty boyfriend (if that word can be used for a couple in their 60s) Jim, her son Kyle (who has grown up astonishingly), and Joan's friends Joanabbey, John, and Joanabbey's son Adam. It is the latter three who were the "sort of" at this affair. Joanabbey ever so earnest, John ever so brash, and Adam a slightly sullen, wondering-what-I'm-doing-here piece of eye candy. At any rate, the dinner was lovely and I kept Lacey from sneaking anything off the table.
(written dec 26) Boxing Day morning. Outside my office window the trees are wiggling back and forth in the wind that will be blowing in the freezing rain later today. They are involved in a sort of shuffling old man's dance, unable to move their feet but jiggling their upper limbs in some semblance of rhythm. When the wind stllls, they rest; when the gusts are strong they wave frantically against a colourless flat sky that looks soft but isn't. Later, they will be dressed in icy jewellery and if the sky clears by nightfall they will sparkle in moonlight.
(written dec 27) last night's insomnia. I had taken a nap in the afternoon, which didn't help. At midnight I was not ready to sleep, so I worked on the UBC manuscript for a while, then I tried Sudoku, which is usually a killer, but no, the light went off, the light went on again, the dog was whining, the wind was whipping, I read for a while, the radio on, the radio off ... I dozed and then I was awake and then there was a flash and a pop and the transformer blew at the end of the street
(written dec 27) Oliver's hijinks at the barn Christmas week. Monday night I apparently forgot to bolt his stall door shut. Oliver obviously tries everything when he's bored, and he butted the stall door open and made immediately for his favourite toy, the spigot that turns the water on to fill his bucket ... Ariane found him when she came in to do midnight check. He was standing in a growing pool of water, the hose extension in his mouth, trying to look innocent ... Good thing Ariane has a sense of humour! But then, Oliver will make just about anyone laugh!
(written dec 28) I have yet to figure Oliver out. He goes from relaxed to tense in a second and we get into a fight over which way we're going and how. I'm not sure what I'm doing in the saddle that brings these fights on; I think it may have to do with how I use my weight and it confuses him. Or maybe the new saddle is not fitting very well yet. Either way we had some unpleasant moments in our ride today, but it worked out better in the end. At least I can stick with it.
(written Dec 28) Yesterday a friend tried to get me to say that I feel superior to people who get professionals to train their horses. I stuck to my relativistic guns: people have horses for different reasons and some people don't want the experience of training their own horse. I understand my friend's concern with ruining her horse, but I think that if we don't want to ruin our horses we just shouldn't ever ride them. As hard a time as I'm having with Oliver, it's a process that we are both going through, and I hope we're both learning.
(written dec 28) having a horse is a funny thing. We don't want to hurt them, but we want them to submit to us. They weigh half a ton, and as heavy as I may be I'll never weigh that much! We romanticize our horses because they are beautiful and noble-looking (we discount the fact that we have to shovel up their excrement every day!) and we have a fantasy about being one with them rather than being the dominant one in the relationship. But they are nevertheless domesticated animals who have served a purpose for thousands of years.
(written dec 31) Waiting for the party to start. Everything just about ready except for the things that must be done close to the time when people might arrive--adding the champagne (cheap stuff) to the punch, setting out the nibbles, lighting the candles, adjusting the lights, preparing the music mix--oh, and getting dressed appropriately, something that I always forget until the last minute. It's hard not to worry that no one will come, to remind myself that it doesn't matter, those who make the trip will enjoy howling at that blue moon out here in the ex-urbs.
[written Jan 2] the new year starts slowly, quietly, sneaking in to being through recovery from party, a velvety weekend, napping, not feeling totally well, taking care of what needs to taking care of. It takes me days to clean up after a party. Today I noticed a wine glass between dowels of the bannister. These are the things that take time to see! kicking into gear, that is the next step. I always look to morning to provide that energy, so tomorrow morning it will be, up, at 'em, going through last month's work to see what I'm owed...
(written Jan 3) Oh the quintessential winter day! the snow not monstrous but constant, steady, steadfast. The wind billowed it about, playing with the roads, building little drifts that set drivers' teeth on edge. The huge fir outside the bedroom window looks like a monochrome abstract patchwork, scraggly blocks of dark and light, shifting only slightly in the gusts. I didn't even bother with the trail this morning, not feeling up to slogging through knee-deep snow, no matter how light, but shovelled instead--the walk three times, the driveway twice, pushing civilization back against the wilderness of the snow.
(written Jan 3) How do I find a way to ride Oliver? Today it was a constant battle, Oliver not wishing to go in certain directions, not wishing to take my directions. Perhaps it was me; I haven't ridden him since Tuesday what with two full days preparing for the party, and somehow the communication got lost in that five days? Or perhaps he is not happy with his new saddle--I get the feeling that he's not comfortable with his tasks at the moment. I wish I could find the way to make him a partner in our enterprise.
(written jan 3) I have to push ahead. Push ahead to finish this month so that it is complete and readable. Readable by who? I talk about L. being self-referential--what about me? What about this? Would I really want anyone to read what amounts to a personal diary? Is every life equally interesting? Surely not! So, is prattling on and on simply hubris? Is it really important for me to exercise myself this way? Will something--"something"--come of it? The very thought makes me laugh. Oh well, it becomes habitual, the habit of putting down 100 words.
(written Jan 5) I am feeling completely stymied by Oliver. Hard to believe that a couple of weeks ago I was on such a high with him. I am worried that the new saddle is not working for him as well as it is working for me, and that's a frightening thought. So, yesterday, I decided that we would simply relax on our ride. And, unlike previous rides when I had tried this, I was actually able to leave him on a long rein at the walk and trot, and later canter, and try not to stress him or myself.
(written jan 5) So Oliver and I walked on a loose rein. If he wanted to put his head to the ground, I let him. I steered him just with leg and weight, and I took the reins up a bit when we approached the "scary" spots. Then we trotted the same way, just big figures and as large as we can get in the arena. Eventually, we also cantered this way. Also eventually, I did take up the contact with his mouth and try to put him together a bit, but the theme was even rhythm, not longitudinal flexion.
(written Jan 5) I am hoping that whatever sourness is going on in Oliver's brain will be assuaged by this very simple, relaxed work, without me ragging on him constantly. He showed a bit of the same behaviour that he had shown the day before--completely jamming up going to the right and refusing to move--but I tried to keep my composure, turn him in a small circle to the right, then stretch that circle out till he was going where I wanted. I have to figure out what I am doing that causes this. Oliver's a hard horse!
(written Jan 7) I always have something to be unhappy about. Usually it has to do with things hanging on in my mind. Today, it is procrastination about doing my invoicing for December, already very late. The very thought makes me sweat. I hate doing my invoicing, and I always feel relieved when it's done. I can count how much money I actually made in the past month (or be worried if it's not enough) and clean up my desk at the same time. So, why don't I do it? Or are there other things, deeper things, on my mind?
(written jan 7) The day after my old friend from England was here. I realize that she drank almost a bottle of wine; she was gulping it back in hearty swallows the entire afternoon yesterday, relieving me of the open bottles left over from new year's eve. In retrospect, I found her visit a bit depressing--all that wine down her gullet, all her revelations about sex and entanglements and self-worth and weight loss. Perhaps it is because I have given up on all of those things and don't like to hear about strivings--too much energy and aspiration.
(written Jan 7) I'm almost caught up! I will have a first bunch to publish. Though why anyone would want to read this, I don't know, and I can't imagine who I will tell about it. I wonder anyway about the nature of blogs and other ways of publicizing ourselves--does it make the world more interesting or just more full of crap? And which one is this? I feel the same way about my photographs, really: what drives me to take those pictures and then display them on Facebook as if they are something special? And then, who decides?
(written Jan 8) This is the final catch-up on December, so it will be a complete batch. I guess it's a time to contemplate on the exercise as a whole. I still haven't figured out why I am doing this and whether it is helping me in some way: is it unblocking my desire to write? Don't know. Is it causing me to produce something of value? Doubt it. So, why do I continue? Perhaps someday something will come out of me that will surprise me and inspire me to take the exercise beyond this format to something else.
what a scary thought, to actually write something every day for a month. Of course, it's something I think about--in fact, it's something I do almost every day--e-mails, the occasional journal entry, letters ... but i never force myself to write, and I become lazy. It's so easy to become lazy. Already, I'm looking at the word count below and thinking, a hundred words--it's a lot! so, we'll see what happens. We'll see if it's possible to fill up this little box, with a hundred words, every day. I hope I can keep the commitment to myself.
This morning's dream: I am lying on a table in an examining room. A white-coated doctor and nurse are decoding a message on a big table. They invite me to play poker, so I go sit at the table with them and some other attendants. As we play, someone hands me a bunch of sales slips on heat-sensitive paper, long ones like you'd get at the grocery store, paperclipped together. On the back of them, handwritten, is a message about someone who's very sick and needs financial help. I realize no one would help me. I wake up.
What is the the nature of small? I feel myself retracting, I find myself thinking about details only, I find my sphere of experience shrinking to the minute--in both time and space. Is it the desire not to know? Is it the desire not to hear about the extravagant adventures, both good and bad, of my friends? Is it fear of being touched--both physically and emotionally? It is snowing so I shovel the walk. It is garbage day. I must go into the city today. I must translate several thousand words. One foot in front of the other.
moments of unalloyed happiness: anytime I play with my dog; coming in first at the Ottawa Horse Trials in 2004 with trusty Beau Regard; with Marc on the way to Niagara Falls the climb down the cliff to the waterfall ca. 2000; time spent with Susan, Heather, Binx, or Joan; being a finalist for the GG Award in 1993; being on the hill above Corner Brook, Newfoundland, 1972; dancing to really loud music with people watching; last summer, flinging my clothes off, jumping in the pool, and sitting naked on the deck afterward. Is all the rest tinged with angst?
Reveillon at the Ducharmes'. The one rule about Reveillon: you are invited once only, and that invitation is for life. I hadn't gone in several years--lack of energy to stay awake long enough in the evening--but yesterday I told myself all day I was going. And at 10 I fired up the truck and drove into the city, telling myself that if there were no cars in front of the house I would turn around and drive back home. But there were cars, and hugs from the entire family, and the same cast of characters--warmed my heart.
Yesterday as I was trying to stay awake after a short night's sleep after driving home from Reveillon, I had "Criminal Intent" on TV. What a strange show, though ultimately rather predictable. At any rate, at one point the profilers talked about a person's "love map" being fully drawn by the time the person is six years old. This struck me as sadly deterministic--and a great reason to blame our parents for our failures to love and be loved. Of course, psychoanalysis does the same thing--archetypal relationships and all that. Where is the hope for such as me?
tossing and turning last night as the wind whipped the freezing rain against the window and the dog whined. Light off, radio on. Radio off, light on, Sudoku. Light off, light on, book. Light off... I was awake to see the flash and hear the pop of the transformer blowing at the corner of the street, and for some time after, contemplating a morning without lights and coffee... but this morning the power was back, the clocks on the kitchen appliances flashing. All of the young birches bordering the street are bent double, making a series of glittery, icy arches
some days 100 words is hard. I'm not sure how to put this day together, I'm scattered among the work, the chat, the TV, the dog ... unable to keep my mind on anything at all. This comes when there is pressure--pressure for the party on thursday, pressure to get the damn editing job done, not to mention the translation. so this is just a rattle on and on. I guess there are days like that, right, when you can't think of anything that anyone, much less you, would want to read. and so the discipline is just typing. Right?
A chilly morning, the cutting wind pushing the cold into my face. The random 100-word entry on the home page this morning voices a concern similar to mine about the smallness of one's life and a sense of envy of people who have bigger things to write about. I agree. And yet, making details a virtue is something I try to cultivate to compensate for the lack of bigness of my life. If I can't go big, why not go very small! My photographs are about details. Sometimes it is difficult to lift my eyes and see the horizon.
oh, yikes-the first day so far I have not thought about writing here early in the morning! It has been a day of domestic whirlwind. Tomorrow, new year's gathers here, twenty or thirty people, small by the standards of my party-giving heyday, but I haven't given a party for ages and it always makes me edgy. Add to that the fact that I have been living here a year and a half and it looks like I moved in yesterday... So, boxes unpacked, paintings hung on the wall, furniture moved--this is actually why I'm having the party!
A blue moon on new year's eve. I love astronomical things. One of my favourite memories of living on Saint-Zotique is when Frances, Laurie, Suzie and I took our deck chairs and the eye protectors that you could pick up anywhere in town and champagne and popcorn and went up the wide expanse of roof in the late afternoon and treated ourselves to the spectacle of the full solar eclipse, all several hours of it. Then, drunk, three of us took a taxi downtown to a gallery opening and, energy finally depleted, ate in Chinatown in post-eclipse darkness.
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