My new book “Midlife Solo” is now available.

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hearing the truth

A great day; a hard day. The sun shone but it was cold – a few degrees above. Last U of T class, a spectacular group. William wrote a hilarious yet moving piece about the struggle to come up with a piece of writing, that seemed to speak for everyone. We had our usual end of class party, with food and wine and great, great stories.

At the very end, as I often do, I read a bit from my own work, so they get a chance to hear what I’m doing, and to critique me. This time, I read a scene from the memoir, and then I read the email I’d received only an hour before leaving for class from my friend Rosemary, a brilliant editor who’d read the manuscript. Reading it aloud helped me process, though, in truth, I didn’t really need to. I knew it all.

What she said is what almost everyone else has said, only I couldn’t hear it until today: the book as it is, she wrote, though well written, evocative and enjoyable, would be hard to find a publisher for because it’s a “niche” book, of interest mostly to women my age. Most men wouldn’t get its romantic excesses, and the young women of today would find its stories of courtship quaintly old-fashioned. Self-publish, she said, market the hell out of it, and then write the story I want to read – the family story about you and those powerful, difficult parents lurking in the background. Which, she said, if well-written, could interest the big publishers.

If well-written. Oh well, that’s easy.

I told the class, I’ve been working on this “niche” material for years. But what that means is that I wrote what I could, I told what stories I could while my mother was alive. I was not ready to go into other territory. Now my dear mother is not here to know what I’m writing about our family, and I am free. So – here we go.

I will self-publish because, as Rosemary says, this book is ready now. And though it’s light, it still means a lot to me, and God knows, there are a lot of Beatle fans out there. I imagine a lovely little book and hope it finds its place in the world. But while it does so, I will be busy writing something else.

That’s what I told the class. A hard truth. Writing is never wasted, I said, even if it goes nowhere. And then we ate and drank a bit more and that was it, another term over. Home, freezing on the bike, to drink wine and depress myself by reading about our poor beseiged city. Jesus God, it’s beyond belief. It’s like someone has taken the worst-behaved kindergarten kids ever and blown them up to grown-up size, no, bigger than that, and let them loose. Genghis Khan’s toddlers at City Hall. Big fat mean bully brats, running our city. Here’s the end of the eloquent Andrew Coyne’s latest. Go, Andrew!

Even in the midst of Monday’s mayhem, his apologists were holding him to the standard of a Friday night beer league goon: “He was provoked.” More culpable still has been the unwillingness of political leaders, notably his federal Conservative allies, to denounce Ford in the terms he deserves. The provincial Tory leader, Tim Hudak, deserves credit for pledging his support for provincial intervention, should that prove necessary. But the Liberal premier has said she will not without an invitation from the council, and the council seems disinclined to issue such an invitation.
The rest of us are, in a sense, handcuffed. We simply don’t know how to respond to this level of misconduct, this sort of contempt for social norms. At some level, our whole system depends upon people, however badly they may behave, staying within some sort of limits. But the Fords have demonstrated they are under no such constraint.
All of which should make abundantly clear that it is time to put aside the therapeutic language, the Oprah-like pleas to the mayor to “get help” or “seek treatment.” We are long past that point. The mayor’s actions Monday were quite deliberate. They reflected the influence, not of intoxicants, but his own limitless ego and unformed character. As such it is not Ford who has the problem; it’s the city. The message he needs to hear, from every corner, is not get help, but get out.

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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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