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Best of Born to Blog?

My friend Margaret in Vancouver echoed the other day what friend Ellen had previously suggested – that I turn excerpts of this blog into a book. “Best of Born to Blog,” said Margaret. At first I dismissed the idea – who would want to pay money, even not very much money, to buy a book of these ramblings? At least the writer of Julie and Julia had a goal that readers could get behind and cheer – what is the goal of these posts? To get through life with a bit of grace, humour and fellowship, I suppose.

Well, I thought, perhaps that’s enough of a goal. So I’m going to take a look at what’s there and see if it’s worth putting it on paper as well as on the shining screen. I believe in books. After the apocalypse, when Canada has reinstated the death penalty and the streets of Toronto are desolate with savage gangs, the wealthy driving by huddled in tanks, when the tsunamis of global warming hit even here, where will our computers be then? Useless bits of junk. What will still be useful? Low-tech paper, pens, pencils. Books.
Oh oh getting apocalyptic again. Bad days for us lefties – Harper does whatever he wants and only a small band of concerned citizens notices or cares, and poor Obama is getting smashed on all sides. Very depressing.
On a cheerier note – PLEASE! A cheerier note! – I made a wonderful discovery yesterday. Rooting in my shelves for memoir material, I came across the baby book I’d forgotten my mother giving me years ago. Luckily for me, she is a hoarder, and what I found was a treasure trove of my own past. The bill for my birth, for example, at the New York Polyclinic on West 50th – only blocks from Sak’s Fifth Avenue, I’m proud to note, and a few more to Time’s Square. My parents paid $1.00 for the baby bracelet and $1 a day – $7 for a seven day stay – for a “Flat rate maternity hospitalisation without caesarean section.” $55.15 in all. What a deal! For $55 they got me! Does it get better than that!
A list in my father’s handwriting of names considered: Nadia (his mother’s name), Wendy, Elizabeth, Julia, Madeleine, Nina, and Cynthia, and for a boy, Neil, Gregor, Terence, Eric, Michael (his father’s name and the one they chose nearly 4 years later for my brother). Among the names crossed out, thankfully, are Cornelia and Astrid, Hector and Denis. Hector! Dad named all our pets after Greek heroes or gods. I’m sure we had a cat named Hector, at one point. My cat was officially named Ariadne, but I called her Wussoo.
My mother has kept her notes both before and after my birth: “August 1st, 1950. It’s now 7 a.m. – we just arrived from Great Neck and it seems like the day! I can’t really tell how often I’m getting pains now, but I think about every 10 minutes. G. was magnificent driving in, altho’ we overshot a turn or two.” My father arrives with some things for her – undoubtedly a cup of tea. “We should have got notepaper too,” she writes on the back of a Packard Motor Car Company service manual. And a mere twelve hours later, there I was, though she was out cold and didn’t see me till the next day.
Most thrillingly, she has written down and counted my first words – nine at 13 months, including, “NO!”, 56 at 16 months, 103 at 18 months and at 22 months, I have mastered the useful sentences, “Gone office in car,” “Duck open the mouth,” “No like it,” and “Leave me alone Mummy.” You can get far with those.
What a gift. Many thanks, my mother. I have been the same kind of hoarder and obsessive note-taker for my own children, but as far as I can see, they are not writers, so all that stuff is just amusing and mildly interesting to them. But for me, this is rich, invaluable material. On this bleak, snowy morning, I am on the trail, nose to the ground, sniffing for clues.

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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