My new book “Midlife Solo” is now available.

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Last night, a clichéd dark and stormy night, rain lashing the earth, I put a moisturizing product on my hair, covered it with a shower cap, and went to bed. At 1 a.m. – I checked the time – I snapped awake at the sound of the back gate clicking; the tenant who uses the gate is away, so I went on high alert. I thought I heard movement on the deck below my second floor bedroom, and remembered that I’d turned the motion sensor light off when gardening back there, to save money and energy. Bad move. I keep a flashlight by my bed and swept it below, but seeing nothing, concluded the noise must be raccoons.

And then I heard it, the unmistakable sound of a heavy footstep outside the windows opposite my bed. Someone was on the narrow balcony there. I leapt to my feet, wearing only a large plastic shower cap, wrapped myself in the curtain and opened it a crack.
There he was – an older man in a hoodie, two feet away in the rain and darkness. We stared at each other in shock. I opened my mouth and in my loudest voice shouted, “Help! Police! Help help police!” He looked at me in disbelief – the shower cap, the curtain, the scream – and moved off, not fast, mind you, but he climbed down from my balcony onto my neighbour’s deck, over her fence and off. As his grey pony-tail vanished, I was shouting still.
No one heard me. All my condo neighbours to the south must be away. I stood there, wrapped in my curtain, trembling. I’d shouted so loud, my throat was raw. But he was gone.
It happened once before, opening the curtain to come face to face with an intruder a few feet away. After that, I installed motion sensor lights on the balcony – which don’t seem to be working. Maybe I turned those off too. It took me quite a while to fall back to sleep.
It has been one of those weeks. The absurd basement saga continues, endless issues with pumps and traps and roots and vents, some caused simply by my last tenants pouring massive quantities of grease down the sink – more than a thousand dollars worth, so far, and more to come. There are worrying concerns, this term, with both my U of T and Ryerson classes. And it’s hard to admit, but the brilliant accomplishments of my former student Laurel affected me too. When she told me, in her usual funny, self-deprecating way, about her prestigious award and good time in New York, I wasn’t jealous. I’m extremely proud of her; she deserves every bit of her grand success. But I could not help but compare myself, and I felt like a loser. No awards for my book, my God, barely any sales, slow progress on the next one whereas Laurel has already sold her second picture book … something in me twisted and felt sad and defeated.
For a bit.
I may be positive and cheerful, but I am also a woman who has spent a lifetime moving, as I pointed out here once, from very neurotic to kind of neurotic.
But I will not, as they say, go there. No, to put it more clearly – having gone there, I left immediately. Why should I feel diminished by the well-deserved success of a terrific writer? Or by practical issues that are normal in any life, or even by a burglar on the balcony? I am profoundly grateful for every particle of my life.
Things pile up sometimes, that’s all.



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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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