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in bed with the sun

I’m in bed with my face angled to receive the rays of sun sizzling over the roofs of the condos to the south, into my bedroom window. Last night, my most extreme insomnia yet, spectacular – woke up at 1.30 a.m. and fell asleep again from 6 to 8.30. And after I’d spent hours that morning with my face planted in front of a little light box, designed to combat Seasonal Affective Disorder. I’m also fighting a cold and my throat hurts, plus dizzy eyeballs and achey body – welcome to January! There have been perkier times, let’s put it that way. Please don’t invite me out dancing tonight.

My friend Anne-Marie and I went dancing on Saturday night, however. Our friend Nancy White’s daughter Suzie was part of a Spice Girls tribute called Wannabe at El Mocambo, and what fun it was. They had the hair, the makeup, the outfits and extreme platform shoes – all the girls good singers, and a great back-up band, everyone, stars and most of the audience, under the age of 30. Suzie in a dark angular wig looked just like Scary Spice, only prettier and friendlier. “Do you remember the 90’s?” asked the MC, and everyone roared. “What do you remember from the 90’s?” he asked and people shouted out answers. “Tupac!” said one.
Forget the 90’s, I thought. My husband and I separated in 1990, and I, without a single practical skill, became the unemployed single mother of a 6 and a 9 year old living in a disintegrating old house. And then, just for kicks, I began psychoanalysis four days a week. There went the 90’s. Not my favourite decade, not one I conjure back for joy, though all that pain was vitally important in my life’s journey. Obviously a good time was had by all those kids, who were in their teens then – as was my daughter and her best friend Holly, who were there, dancing, too.
I’ve been doing some excavating these days – getting all the family 16 millimetre film and home videos transferred to DVD, and, last week, taking a box of messy reel to reel tapes to a sound studio called Number 9 – how can you tell the owner is a Beatles’ fan? (Another clue – his son is named Jude. We had a long heart to heart, as you can imagine.) The box had been sitting in Mum’s basement and then mine for decades, the tapes marked tantalizingly – one that indicated a recording of the family in the early Fifties, and another that I hoped was my father talking about his life. $500 later, yesterday, I brought home seven CD’s.
Much disappointment. The family had been taped over with Beatles music – aaagh, my brother! Nothing of my father, just scientific conferences he’d taped, and programs of CBC’s Rawhide, who was my parent’s friend in Halifax in the Fifties. I was heartsick. But then, two treasures. There’s an excerpt from a musical I was in in 1977 called “The Club” – we taped a few songs for the CBC, including my (untrained but enthusiastic) solo. And then, my mother’s terribly British voice saying, “Beth, New York, at two and a half months,” and some brilliant cooing and gurgles. Later, a meal in Halifax in 1951 with my parents and American grandparents, me at 10 months banging on a child’s piano. It’s almost worth $500 for that alone. “That’s it, play the piano, sweetheart,” says my Jewish grandmother anxiously, my grandfather in the background complimenting my mother, perhaps insincerely, on her hamburgers. (She never got the hang of hamburgers.) Nettie and Mike had driven from New York to Halifax to see their first grandchild again. Moi. A much-loved baby, playing the piano.
It’s Wednesday – will I drag myself to Carol’s class? We’ll see. In the meantime, don’t move, little sunbeam, there are two enjoyable books to finish: “The chairs are where the people go,” a series of thought-provoking chats with Misha Glouberman, and “Pulphead,” a superb book of essays by John Jeremiah Sullivan. More coffee.

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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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