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terrible horrible very bad day

Annals of moronic stupidity, heartsick department: Wayson asked me yesterday if I’d made sure to sign up for the Writer’s Union payout for magazine and newspaper rights to written work. There had been a lengthy court case, I knew, that writers had won, something about being paid for rights, something like that, what do I know, I’m just a writer. I had received notices from the Writer’s Union of which I’m a member, but they were COMPLICATED, you know, you had to READ them and figure them out and so I paid no attention. I was away, too, strolling the Champs Elysees rather than sorting through email from the Writer’s Union of Canada.

I woke up at last at Wayson’s urging, logged on, found out that I am eligible for compension for over forty articles for the Globe and other papers and magazines. And that the deadline for the applications for compensation was last week.
Wayson said the payouts might be in the thousands.
There is a slight possibility of an extension of the deadline, for @#$%^&* morons like me. I have written to the Union asking if I may boost that possibility by falling to my knees and begging. No response.
No sympathy for this cretin. It simply did not occur to me that I had written enough to make a difference. I’m so used to assuming there’s no money in this business that I ignore any possibility that might lead in that direction. Unbelievable. Beyond stupid.
Then, later yesterday, I reached up to my right earlobe and discovered that one of my little diamond stud earrings was missing. They were a Christmas gift from my mother years ago and I almost never take them off. One has gone. And then after my home class last night, one of my students came back to the house, frantic – her car was missing. She had parked it slightly jutting out into the very wide driveway of the condos next door and, we discovered on phoning the police, one of my neighbours had called a towing company and had her towed. She’s in her eighties and it was minus sixteen last night.
I battled rage at myself, at my neighbours and at the universe, but only briefly. Another student in class read a piece about a mutual friend of ours, a talented writer younger than we are who is losing the fight with a virulent cancer. I remembered what matters and put my miniscule woes to rest. A waste of valuable time and energy to fret about money and things – earrings, a blue Honda Civic that was reclaimed, a neighbour’s intolerance.
Lesson learned, however. From now on, you may be sure that I will be reading business emails with a great deal of care. If you see someone on her knees, praying in some public place, it will be me.
One of my most feverish Grade 13 essays is still stored in a box, somewhere around here. It’s about J. D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye. That year, 1965-66, was my big Salinger year. Was there an intense artistic kid anywhere in those days, busy defining him or herself as a sensitive outsider battered by the System, by the Man, parents, school, the crazy capitalist phoney goddamn world for Chrissakes, was there a poor crazy screwed-up teenager anywhere in North America who did not absorb Salinger’s opus at one gulp and live Holden Caulfield for months or even years? I loved that book so much I wrote a very long handwritten essay about it, then moved on to all his other books, some of which I did not understand. I did not understand why Seymour was so goddamn sensitive he had to shoot himself because his wife was so crass. How did suicide help anyone? The Glasses were so perfect and the rest of the world so ugly. Where did that put me, intense, sensitive 15-year old Beth Kaplan in Grade 13 at Lisgar Collegiate Institute in Ottawa? Living with my crazy parents who did not understand me in a world that wanted to bomb the Vietnamese back to the Stone Age?
It may be a cliché to call Salinger the voice of a generation. But he was.



One response to “terrible horrible very bad day”

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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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