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A very good Friday

Here’s the good news: brain and lungs returning. Much better than yesterday, though not perky, by any means, still coughing, sneezing, snorfling, still dizzy, with aches. But compos mentis.

Which is perfect, because here’s more good news: I am all alone here. Perhaps only another writer can understand what this means – a cosy, extremely quiet apartment, enough food to survive on, no one around – I only know my mother’s old friends Jeannie, who’s away, Shan, across the hall, and my cousin David who lives nearby, who’s keeping away because of my bug. I talked out loud once today, a long call to my mother to tell her, once again, how grateful I am that she bought this lovely place many years ago, and that my father and uncle made that possible. How I wish she and sister Do were still healthy enough to come down for much of the winter, as they did for so long. Only my mother could have found a Mark Rothko print in sunny yellow, turquoise and white, which hangs, seven feet high, on the wall facing me. Rothko, always so dark in his purples and mortal reds and blacks, here like a joyful day at the beach. Which of course is what this place is about.
But – even better – today was cloudy. Warm but cloudy with a hint of rain. So perfect for the writer. I had a stroll on the beach, along with seven other people; I sat at the pool alone, reading, in long black clothes. But mostly, I sat in this living-room, tackling my manuscript. For fun, I read from the nine “New Yorkers” and six “NYT Book Reviews” that I brought with me; this place is about trying to catch up.
As I ate my healthy frozen pizza dinner, I read Thomas Friedman’s editorial in last Sunday’s NYT. He compares today’s Republican voters to people playing Scrabble who look at the letters they’ve selected and see that no word is possible. They put letters back, hoping for a new outcome, but none appears. He speaks of the 3 great challenges facing America now: how to respond to this era of globalization and information technology; huge debt and entitlement obligations; and how to power the future, and points out that not a single Republican candidate has come up with a solution or even a proper discussion of these issues. They’re now a radical party, he says, not a conservative one.
“Would someone please restore our Republican party?” he says. “The country is starved for a grown-up debate.”
That’s the country I’m in right now. But today, except for being able to watch Rachel Maddow on MSNBC, which we can’t do in Canada, I, sitting here in the deep dark quiet, wouldn’t know it.
Another wonderful moment in this silent day: friend Lynn wrote from France, telling me that if I went to the iTunes store and clicked quickly on the Paul McCartney offering as it went by, I could enjoy a 50 minute concert with him. So I did. Just me and Paul and iTunes, he sitting on a stool, that fantastic band behind him, Diana Krall, so beautiful, on piano, a small audience, a small orchestra of strings. Just a nearly seventy year old man, singing the old songs that mean so much to him. I thought of all those ballads, from “Till there was you” on, the sweetness of his voice and his soul. Yes, thank God for the sharp wit of Lennon to pull him up and out. But hearing him croon so simply, it’s hard to believe this is the voice that screamed out “Helter Skelter” and other savage rocking tunes. What a range.
Music I can wish you, merry music when you’re young,
And wisdom when your hair has turned to grey,” he sang, in that haunting song from my favourite musical, “Guys and Dolls.” As it ended, he choked up. “That’s a parent giving advice to a kid,” he said. “Hoping for the best for them. That one always gets me.” Me too, Paul. Because the merry music in my youth came from you. The wisdom, I had to acquire for myself. And it’s funny, but wise though we may be, neither he nor I have hair that’s turned to grey.
So that was my day. Recouperating, a walk, a concert, a chat with my mother, a frozen pizza with a little shiraz, and work. This, my friends, is bliss.



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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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