April 29, 2010
Once I got it through my head that I did not have to start revising at the beginning — I know, every story has a beginning, middle and end but not necessarily in that order — I clicked on chapter five which deals with my first visit back to Dumbarton, 1955. The hard part dealt with my father — his reaction to me and mine to him. My shock at the handsome young soldier of my memory now a seedy old man. He was bitter — full of self pity and I in turn was full of righteous indignation at the realization that he expected something from me. This man who had not contacted me in over fourteen years. It is hard to write this stuff knowing what I now know about the disease of alcoholism. Revisiting the scene is not as painful as the initial episode — now it is more a feeling of regret that I could not resolve anything before he died, alone and impoverished.
April 27, 2010
Yesterday I was thinking about what to include and exclude from the memoir. Writing can be hard work. What images come to mind that are meaningful? I have an image of a child in a crib. I know that child is me. I am crying and my face is to the wall. There is an old nursery game. ‘Walter, Walter wallflower growing up so high we are all children but we must all die, except for (and a name is given) fairest of us all, she can dance and she can sing and she can knock us all down. Fie, fie. fie fie shame, turn your face to the wall again.’ Because my face is turned to the wall it seems I did not expect rescue from this strange crib in this strange room. I know now that I was left with strangers because my mother had to go to work. I have looked for the meaning of the nursery rhyme and game but although I have a list of the meanings of lots of them, this one never shows up but I know it exists just as I know the image is real.
April 24, 2010
Last week I came across a sweater I had almost finished a long time ago. The pattern was titled Marge’s Alpaca Jacket. Well, I thought if I am not going to write, I can at least finish this sweater. My mission this year is to finish things. I look over the knitting project and see I have finished the back and the two fronts but on a closer look I see that I have knitted both sides of the front the same so it would only do for a person with both arms on on the same side. I’ve seen people bring these sad sweaters to the knit shop. There is a notice on the knit shop wall that asks if you had a bowl of stupid for breakfast. I must have had more than one because the project just gets worse. After I rip and fix one front and I relax and move on to the sleeves. I knit away but when I measure the second sleeve next to the first I see that something is wrong. I have knitted a third front. Again I rip and fix. Now the sweater is ready to put together. I lay it all out but again something looks not quite right. While knitting one front I must have changed to a smaller needle. Why? I have no answer. Oh but I do. I had chemo brain. It is a proven fact that strange things happen to the brain during chemotherapy. This project should be renamed chemo. brain jacket. Could this be a lesson for my memoir? I will think of the scattered chapters as bits and pieces that can be ripped, fixed, and put together in a way that makes sense — a way that fits.
April 23, 2010
Went to the reading group at the library yesterday. As always it was inspirational. The father daughter relationship in the book (The Distant Land of My Father) evoked long buried feelings of regret for the unresolved relationship or rather lack of one I had with my own father — regret for things past. Perhaps in my memoir I can come to a resolution and that this perhaps will spur me on to organizing the chapters and may even lead to a more organized life.
April 19, 2010
I hope this reaches the correct destination. I have been involved in getting my memoir in order.